For the past 10 weeks I’ve been working on a psychiatry ward and I’ve learned that the unfathomable statistics actually do hold true: if you were a victim of sexual abuse by a family member as a child, you are more likely to perpetrate the same abuse on your children. If your father was a violent alcoholic, you are four times more likely to become an alcoholic yourself. What a disturbing yet fascinating manifestation of human psychology — the truly remarkable way in which victims of a type of crime end up being perpetrators of it despite all logic. And as we’ve seen for the past several weeks, apparently if your ancestors survive a brutal Holocaust that shattered your people, you’ll likely become perpetrators of genocide on a nation you’ve been oppressing for decades.
Within four weeks since the beginning of the Israeli Defense Force’s Operation Protective Edge, more than 1,800 Palestinians have been killed with more than 80 per cent of them being civilians. To compare, note that Israel has suffered 67 casualties. If these numbers seem a little too disproportionate for you to view this as a typical, fairly fought war, consider that Israel’s airstrikes involve dropping internationally banned weapons on hospitals, shelters, and civilian homes from directly overhead, whereas most Palestinian rockets fired from miles away are generally capable of only charring a sidewalk black.
If you’re still on the fence, reflect on the fact that a member of the Israeli parliament recently published a letter to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu calling for the “concentration” and “extermination” of Gazan civilians. As adopted by the UN General Assembly, genocide is defined by acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group by killing or causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group — is there really any question of whether this fits the bill?
Consider, also, that the latest escalation in this war comes after decades of illegal occupation of Palestinian territory, which encompasses blockade of food and aid, water restrictions, untreated sewage and massive overpopulation. Contrary to what the mainstream media report, the crisis in Gaza didn’t begin on July 8; as the Jewish people know firsthand, it takes years to create the climate necessary to impose a genocide right under the world’s nose. It took us years to recognize the Rwandan genocide, and decades to realize South African Apartheid. Checkpoints, arrest without charges, deportation, demolition of homes, refugee camps — do these things sound familiar? Slowly and systematically, Israel has become an apartheid state by increasing the amount of Palestinian territory under occupation. We may not be at the point of gas chambers and concentration camps yet, but given the rate of civilian casualties and the intention with which they have been conducted, one may wonder if we are on that path.
One of the most significant differences between Hitler’s regime and the Zionist Israeli occupation, however, is that Hitler didn’t have the support of the Allies. Today, Netanyahu has carte blanche support of Stephen Harper, Barack Obama and most leaders of democratic countries to do whatever it takes in the name of “self-defence.” By touting its status as the only democracy in the Middle East, skillfully becoming a PR genius and building one of the most fortified militaries in the world (including nuclear weapons), Israel appears to have won over the indiscriminate support of the West.
Of course, given the way social media has changed the nature of war, with instant tweets, pictures, and posts, Israel won’t get away with the extremes of Nazi brutality in this day and age. But it’s terrifying to acknowledge that the world has seemingly given the Zionist government the power to do so, if it so desired — by not getting involved, by forgetting about the occupation when it’s not making headlines, by overlooking its international war crimes, and by voting in leaders who give their blank-cheque support to an occupying nation.
I have been extremely grateful for the Jewish social justice warriors using their voice for peace amid cries of hypocrisy from their own people. I am relieved to see the slow trickling of comments acknowledging apartheid making their way into my newsfeed. And I am even thankful for the Zionists who have at least condemned the abhorrent civilian casualty rate in Gaza. Regardless of which side of the “conflict” you stand on, for goodness sake, call it like it is: genocide.
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