Israel’s government claims its military was defending Israel against “terrorists” aboard the Freedom Flotilla that was bound for Gaza with humanitarian aid for Palestinian refugees in Gaza. The coalition of international human rights volunteers had no guns. The IDF was heavily armed.
Israel controls all entry points to Palestinian territory in Gaza — which is not part of Israel — essentially blocking access to Palestine. Journalists, doctors, students, and humanitarian aid volunteers have all been denied access to Gaza. The Palestinians who struggle to subsist there are locked in. They cannot leave except through points of entry and exit controlled by Israel — including by sea. They languish in destitution.
Their homes and infrastructure destroyed by IDF bulldozers, tanks, and heavy artillery, Palestinians have no means of building their own viable society. They are denied the means to provide for themselves the most basic of human needs. One and a half million people are living there in the largest open-air concentration camp in the world.
Israel deploys well-heeled, well-armed military forces against a trapped and defenseless civilian population in Palestine, deliberately keeping Palestinians from being able to build and sustain viable life. Israel controls everything that enters or exits Palestine by air, land, and sea. Not just the ingress and egress of people; but medical equipment, food, building supplies, textiles, children’s toys, and school supplies. It’s not about defense against “terrorism”, or about Israel’s “right to exist.” It’s about a vicious form of capitalism known as colonialism. Consider:
All of humanity can be divided into three groups — A, B, and C. Group A is made up of those who live primarily off of stock dividends, interest payments on their bond investments, royalties on their land and mineral rights, inherited money, and rents for their real estate. In other words, Group A derives its livelihood from passive or unearned income generated from the capital it owns. Groups B and C comprise the remaining 99% of humanity. Group B lives primarily off of wages, salaries, tips, commissions, fees or pensions. Group C are those remaining billions of people across the world who don’t even get that — they live hand-to-mouth on whatever crumbs they can scrounge.
Group A obtains wealth by imperialist or colonialist measures by deracination— driving the people off of the land either by genocide, incarceration, or other means of expulsion, and de-skilling and disenfranchising the remainder by forcing them to work for subsistence wages out of lack of options. Group A can also be called the “Owning Class” since they own most of the world’s resources and means of production. Group A also owns a lot of the government or the state.
Group A has very politically active elements that make careers out of protecting the interests of Group A. Those politically active members of Group A become presidents, parliamentarians, prime ministers, Congressmen, Secretary of the Interior, Secretary of the US Department of Defense, CIA directors, Joint Chiefs of Staff, FBI directors, military intelligence, etc., whose function is to keep the world safe for the Fortune 500 companies — the people in Group A — so that they can extract the value from the natural resources and exploit the surplus value from the labor of Group B, and squash any populist uprising.
In order to deracinate Palestine — including Gaza, the West Bank, and Arab communities within Israel itself — Israeli military operations have damaged infrastructure and the Israeli government crafted a list of forbidden goods that cannot be delivered by humanitarian organizations to the Palestinians which have absolutely nothing to do with Israel’s right to defend itself against terrorism. Instead, it has everything to do with ethnic cleansing and genocide with land expropriation as the motive.
Imperialist governments of the West have long defended Israel’s right to exist. Since its artificial creation by European and American heads of state in 1948, Israel has only allowed its indigenous Arab peoples — the Palestinians — the right to barely subsist. Power and privilege are a dangerous narcotic; more potent and addictive than any opiate. Violence used to protect privilege destroys those who bear the brunt of its force, and it consumes those who use it to become masters of the universe.
Israel uses sophisticated aircraft and navy vessels to bomb densely crowded refugee camps, schools, apartment blocks, mosques, and slums. To attack a population that has no air force, no air defense, no navy, no army, and no artillery units, no mechanized army or command to control — and calling this “war” — seems ludicrous. But in a sense, it is a war — a class war. It’s class genocide. For its victims, capitalism is cruelty; not freedom.
Israel speaks to Palestinians in the language of intimidation, contempt, and death.
Those who orchestrate such aggression do not understand the insatiable rage born of long-standing policies of humiliation, violence, and human rights violations. A mother whose child dies because of a lack of vaccines or proper medical care does not forget.
A child that witnesses his sick or injured grandmother dying while being detained at an Israeli check point does not forget.
Pregnant women denied access to hospitals who suffer permanently maiming injuries from difficult labors and births; and who are stripped of their dignity by being forced to give birth in front of a hostile audience of gawking, lewd, racist soldiers that harass them in their most vulnerable state — peering between their legs while pointing a loaded gun at them — do not forget.
Parents who carry their child’s broken body to a bombed out hospital do not forget.
These crimes against humanity are engraved forever upon their memory. They sear the psyche and become like a virus in those who survive. Is it any wonder that 71% of Palestinian children interviewed in Gaza recently said that they wanted to be a suicide bomber?
The collective refusal of our government, our media, and our scholars to speak out in defense of the rule of law and fundamental human rights exposes our shambolic espousal of “freedom” and “democracy.”
The blind acceptance of Israel’s pogroms against Palestinians cloaked under the pretense of Israel’s “right to exist” contradicts reason as the images of the victims of Israeli policy seep out from behind the sealed ghetto of Gaza before the world’s eyes. It is a betrayal of the memory of all those killed in other genocides in other times and in other lands.
The lesson of the Holocaust was not that Jews are eternal victims. The lesson of the Holocaust is that when you have the capacity to stop genocide and fail to do so — regardless of who carries it out and who is targeted — you are culpable. And certain US government leaders, lawmakers, and multinational corporations are very culpable. The F-16 fighter jets, the Apache helicopters, and the 250 lb smart GPU-39 bombs are all part of the multi-billion dollar annual military aid package that the US gives Israel.
Dispossessed and disenfranchised children trapped win the world’s largest open-air gulag are being killed right now with US-made weapons. The American public’s indifference to this suffering and injustice should come as no surprise as capitalism’s architecture of aggression led us to go along with the program of killing even more women and children on a grander scale in Iraq and Afghanistan — so much so that Afghan women and girls who were atrociously oppressed under the Taliban are now fleeing in terror of their “liberators” — into the arms of Taliban mujahedeen.
From December 27, 2008 to January 18, 2009, Israel launched a brutal attack on 1.5 million Palestinians in Gaza. On March 9, 2010, a group gathered near the Waldorf Astoria hotel in New York and began reading from the Goldstone report; the UN fact-finding mission on the Gaza conflict. Afterwards, hundreds of human rights activists and concerned citizens formed a single file procession to carry the evidence revealed in the report to the Waldorf Astoria where a gala was organized by the Friends of the IDF to honor Lt. Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi, the Israeli commander-in-chief of the military forces during Operation Cast Lead — the Israeli massacre of Palestinians in Gaza. Over 1,400 Palestinians were killed by Operation Cast Lead alone.
This operation entailed the IDF’s use of depleted uranium weapons against the civilian population of Gaza, resulting in loss of sight and limb amputations. Cluster bombs and depleted uranium usage is prohibited under the Geneva Convention and international law. Yet, the very ones responsible for these crimes against humanity were honored at a $1000/plate dinner at the Waldorf Astoria — raising $20 million for the IDF through a US tax-exempt organization, “Friends of the IDF.” We are judged by the company we keep. We should beware of what sort of “friends” we choose.
One of the authors of the Goldstone report, Colonel Desmond Travers, was interviewed by Rory McCarthy of the UK Guardian. Travers said that the IDF attacks were “intentional and precise and carried out for the purpose of denying sustenance to the civilian population. Gaza is the only gulag in the Western hemisphere; maintained by democracies, closed off from food, water, and air.”
Although both sides of the conflict are culpable, the degree of Israel’s culpability was far greater because of the extreme power differential. Travers said IDF tactics included “hostage-taking, felling of homes, destruction of the judicial police infrastructure, destruction of hospitals and medical infrastructure, destruction of the agricultural, water, and sewage infrastructure.”
Israel claimed this massacre was an “error.” The orchestrated mechanized maiming and killing of civilians; the deliberate targeting of schools, hospitals, homes, and mosques is not something that happens by accident.
Israel claimed that mosques and schools were frequently used to store caches of weapons. But the UN mission found no such evidence of that. Travers says those claims are part and parcel of a negative propaganda campaign that stereotypes Palestinians (and Arabs in general) and such prejudicial unfounded claims would never withstand criticism by the world community if leveled against any other group.
“During the height of the troubles in Northern Ireland, if a British public figure or military official had said, ‘Catholic churches were warehouses for Semtex’ there would have been an international outcry, especially in the Catholic world over such a slur.” ~ Colonel Desmond Travers
But the Catholic world enjoys something that Palestinians do not: enormous wealth and centuries of unearned privilege. The Vatican is the world’s oldest imperialist multinational corporation. Privilege insulates its beneficiaries from the consequences it poses to others. Privilege is the central ingredient in imbalanced and unequal relationships. Capitalism and all of its varying forms — imperialism, fascism, feudalism, and colonialism — require imbalanced and unequal relationships in order to thrive.
Capitalism is an architecture of aggression built upon the exploitation, disenfranchisement, coercion, intimidation, and dehumanization of others.
When you can see that a group is female, disabled, old, or a different race, that makes it easier to target and oppress them. Thus, capitalism’s “winners” get what they’ve got unfairly and protect their gains by breaking the backs of their victims — namely, those who dare to defy capitalism’s injustices of discrimination and the social damage inflicted by expropriation and the crushing of capitalism’s victims on a playing field that is anything but level.
If capitalism’s “losers” get restive, they are swiftly reminded of “their place.” They’re harshly pressed back in line and their backs crushed — their hopes, dreams, and aspirations for a chance in life bulldozed and run over — like 23 year old Rachel Corrie, the unarmed peace activist deliberately hewn down by an IDF-driven Caterpillar D9 armored bulldozer on March 16, 2003 in Gaza. The cold-blooded murder of a 23 year old American college student was no more of an accident than colonialism — or any other form of capitalism — is. To believe otherwise is to believe there is capitalism without capitalists, imperialism without imperialists, fascism without fascists, and colonialism without colonists.
You don’t have colonialism without colonists, capitalism without capitalists, or imperialism without imperialists.
These things don’t just happen in a vacuum. Left to their own devices, they devour themselves after consuming their hosts. Only the rule of law and a strong enough collective backbone of can prevent the social destruction and collateral damage left in capitalism’s wake. And international justice needs a spine of our collective human solidarity that is too strong to be crushed by tyranny, bribery, divisiveness and intimidation and to oppose death squads, slave labor, torture, artificially created poverty by capitalist disinvestment, armored bulldozers and all of the ideologies that promote discrimination and the dehumanization of others.