London, (Palestine Telegraph) – In January 1943 Jewish men and women of the Warsaw Ghetto mounted one of the most heroic and courageous acts of resistance history has seen, when in the face of overwhelming odds against one of the most advanced and brutal military powers the world had ever known they rose up with nothing more than small arms and an unquenchable human spirit burning in their hearts, choosing to die on their feet rather go quietly to their doom.
They perished and thereby wrote a chapter in human history that has ensured they will forever remain immortal, rightly revered as an example of that which is most noble and good about the human condition.
Conversely, those responsible for levelling the ghetto via aerial bombardment, tanks, and fire wrote their own chapter – that of a brutal oppressor driven by racism and inhumanity to slaughter men, women, and children in the name of a poisonous ideology which justifies cruelty in service to a distorted worldview of racial purity and supremacy as the cornerstone of human progress.
The parallels with today could not be clearer.
Those heroic men and women of the Warsaw Ghetto share a bond with the besieged and oppressed people of Gaza than they do or ever could with those who have spent the past two weeks slaughtering them in their name. It is a bond of humanity that transcends religion, ethnicity, or creed. It is a bond forged in a shared oppression at the hands of those who claim the right to kill and oppress in the name of civilization.
There are times when words fail to do justice to human suffering and barbarity. This past week has been one of those times, when the world has stood by and watched a military superpower shelling, bombing, and attacking a relatively defenceless and captive population of 1.8 million people in the Gaza Strip, a piece of land which qualifies as the world largest open prison – a ghetto by any other name.
Objectivity in matters of an oppressed people being slaughtered by their oppressor is in itself a crime. Hence we can state without fear or favour that the IDF and IAF – Israel’s army and airforce – have been engaged in war crimes against civilians in Gaza. Let us be even more frank: a special place in hell is reserved for soldiers and airmen who incinerate civilians and justify it by claiming the status of victim. The narrative we have heard from Israeli spokespeople that no country would accept missiles being fired on it by ‘terrorists’ is an inversion of the truth. On the contrary, no people would accept being forced to exist under the conditions the Palestinians of Gaza have since 2006, when as punishment for daring to elect a government of which Israel disapproves, they have been besieged on a scale that qualifies as biblical both in duration and brutality.
And yet to judge by the coverage of this ongoing massacre by Western media organizations, you would think that this conflict is taking place in a vacuum. Almost without fail they have sought to completely decontextualize the conflict of its root cause – namely Israel’s decades long military occupation, settlements expansion, land theft, apartheid and ethnic cleansing of the Palestinian people. Worst in this regard has been the BBC, which has been the subject of large protests up and down the UK over their skewed coverage of Israel’s military operation, codenamed Operation Protective Edge. An organization which during the Second World War provided solace to people living under the iron heel of military occupation is now providing solace to the occupier.
But regardless of the role of Western leaders and their willing accomplices in the media in giving succour to Israel’s crimes, people have not been silent. All over the world there have been massive demonstrations in solidarity with the Palestinians of Gaza, and with every man, woman, and child slaughtered or maimed more and more are raising their voices calling for a boycott of Israel, just as they did against apartheid in South Africa. In this regard, Nelson Mandela’s words in support of the Palestinian struggle have proved prophetic: “We know too well our freedom is incomplete without the freedom of the Palestinians.”
No other state in the world currently boasts of its democratic institutions while holding millions of people under military occupation and siege, denying them their basic human rights, as the state of Israel does. It is an ongoing crime that reveals the profound hypocrisy which sits at the heart of the West’s arrogance in claiming the moral high ground when it comes to its cultural and moral values. Israel exists in violation of international law, and has done every day of its occupation since 1967. The spread and expansion of its illegal settlements on Palestinian land merely adds grist to the mill of the need to impose meaningful sanctions on what by any objective measure is a rogue stage. But those sanctions will never be imposed because of the exceptionalism enjoyed by Israel for historical and geopolitical reasons.
Israel is a state and a society in crisis. It cannot sustain on a foundation of oppression and apartheid. History leaves no doubt of this.
The cause of the Palestinian people is the cause of humanity in our time.
by John Wight, a journalist and writer