By: Jack Thallman, Red Phoenix Correspondent, New Jersey
The violence in Palestine continues to escalate as Israel carries out massacres and provocations. At the time of writing, over two hundred Palestinians and ten Israelis have been killed. The disproportionate death toll will not be surprising to anyone familiar with the so-called “Israel Palestine conflict”. Recent events exemplify the asymmetrical nature of this clash between oppressor and oppressed.
Like all incidents of large-scale violence within the borders of Israel and Palestine, these hostilities are the result of the systematic ethnic cleansing of the Palestinian people – a crime which has been ongoing for several decades. More specifically, this escalation began with the anticipation of an Israeli Supreme Court ruling that was scheduled for May 10.
The court planned to decide on the fate of Palestinian families living in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood of East Jerusalem – an area which Israel has no legal jurisdiction over under international law. 78 Palestinian residents of this area are being threatened with what Israel calls “evictions”. Israel smokescreens the issue as a “real estate dispute” between individual property owners and tenants. In reality, it is a targeted act of ethnic persecution of indigenous people by an occupying force that has invaded their land. These families in Sheikh Jarrah are not being targeted for falling behind on rent. They are being targeted because of their ethnic, religious and national identities.
Palestinians in Sheikh Jarrah took to the streets to protest this abhorrent threat of ethnic cleansing. Soon, protests broke out all throughout occupied East Jerusalem. Israel responded how Israel usually responds to protests – with violence. However, this time they took measures that were extreme and provocative even by their own reprehensible standards. Israeli security forces raided the Al Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem – one of Islam’s holiest sites – multiple time. They teargassed worshippers and shot them with rubber-coated steel bullets, resulting in hundreds of injuries. This act of religious persecution took place during the holy month of Ramadan.
Hamas responded by threatening Israeli civilians with rocket fire. If Israel failed to withdraw troops from Al Aqsa and Sheikh Jarrah by 6pm on May 10, Hamas would fire a barrage of rockets into Israeli neighborhoods. Israel, in characteristic fashion, displayed its commitment to injustice and violence by refusing to back down. After the deadline expired, hundreds of rockets were fired. Israel’s Iron Dome missile defense system intercepted rockets, but many passed through, striking Israeli civilians.
Israel responded by massacring dozens of civilians in Gaza with airstrikes. Apartments blocks, schools and media buildings were destroyed. Zionist propagandists try to justify these atrocities by claiming that Hamas hides weapons in every building that Israel bombs. Some of these buildings do contain weapon caches, but even if we assume that all of them do, this argument is grotesque and absurd. Imagine if this happened in the United States. If an American school was being used to store weapons, and there was a threat that these weapons could harm civilians, would the US military have the right to simply destroy the school and kill children?
This argument, put forth by Zionists, resides in a genocidal mindset – one that sees Palestinians as less than human. Under this framework, Palestinians can be slaughtered in dozens or hundreds – and that’s okay – because the slaughter might potentially save the lives of perhaps five Israelis. It should be noted that these atrocities against Palestinians do not save any lives, and in fact endanger Israelis. But even if we accepted the theoretical framework of Israeli apologists – if we accepted the notion that mass murder of Arabs is justified if it saves a few Israelis – we would be accepting the mentality of genocide.
It is unclear how far recent developments will escalate. In 2014, a similar buildup of primarily Israeli escalations resulted in Operation Protective Edge – a Gaza massacre that left over two thousand Palestinians dead, mostly civilians, including over five hundred children. By contrast, seven Israeli civilians and sixty-six soldiers died. Civilian deaths are always tragic, but the staggeringly disproportionate death toll demonstrates that this was not a war, but a massacre.
Operation Cast Lead was even more disproportionate. In the winter of 2008-09, about thirteen hundred Palestinians, mostly civilians, were killed in Gaza. By contrast, thirteen Israelis, mostly soldiers, were killed. That’s a hundredfold difference in deaths. In term of civilian deaths, it was closer to one Israeli killed for every three hundred Palestinians killed. If you see these numbers and still believe that Israel’s actions were justified, it can mean only one thing – you don’t view Palestinians as human beings.
Under these desperate circumstances, it is more important than ever to stand in solidarity with the Palestinian people. The United States plays an integral role in propping up Israeli apartheid, but support for the Palestinian people is increasing among Americans. Democratic and Republican politicians, such as Biden, have held an almost unflinching support for Israel’s brutality, but the people have not. At this point, it is mostly only ardent Republican voters, and politicians of both parties, who stand with Israel. But the growing awareness of the American people on this issue shows no signs of slowing down, especially thanks to social media. As Americans citizens, we must smash the genocidal consensus of our ruling class and demand an end to the genocide of the Palestinian people.