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Change the paradigm - Israel is not a victim

John Wight is a writer and commentator specializing in geopolitics, UK domestic politics, culture and sport.

Published time: July 14, 2014 14:13
 Smoke billows from a building hit by an Israeli air strike in the town of Rafah, in the southern Gaza Strip.(AFP Photo / Said Khatib)

As ever, the dominant narrative being presented to us on the current conflict in Gaza is that Israel is defending itself and its civilians against unprovoked aggression by Palestinian terrorists.

And as expected, it is the same narrative being pushed in Washington and London, like a well-rehearsed play the actors involved perform their respective roles with the same old aplomb.

It is the same narrative we have been subjected to over countless years, one intended to paint Israel, that democratic outpost of Western civilization surrounded by barbarian hordes intent on its destruction, as perennial victim.

But as in the past, so as now, it is a lie.

The truth is the current conflict has little if anything to do with Hamas or its rockets. It does however have everything to do with the state of Israel’s decades-long policy of occupation, embargo, siege, collective punishment, expropriation, ethnic cleansing and apartheid. Israel’s war is not with Hamas but with the Palestinian people in their entirety, both the 1.5 million in Gaza and the 3 million in the West Bank. It is a war waged every hour of every day there is occupation, checkpoints, and settlements. It is a war waged every hour of every day there is an economic embargo, siege, and collective punishment. It is a war being waged every second of the indignity and humiliation suffered by its victims.

Yet despite the irrefutable facts of Israel’s barbaric treatment of a people criminalized for daring to exist, we are treated to a constant inversion of the truth, which holds that the many and multiple depredations being suffered by the Palestinians do not amount to one of the most sustained and grievous crimes against humanity in history, but are the result of their intransigence and violence. This is the song of colonialism. The victims always bring it on themselves. If only they would learn to bear their chains in silence. As Golda Meir said, “We cannot forgive them for forcing us to kill their children.”
And they are killing them, right now, while the world looks on – again.

A Palestinian boy walks amongst the rubble of a house which police said was destroyed in an Israeli air strike in Deir El-Balah in the central Gaza Strip July 14, 2014.(Reuters / Ibraheem Abu Mustafa )

Worse, when we consider that Israel’s treatment of the Palestinian people constitutes a clear and inarguable breach of international law, and has done for decades, the Western media’s continuing policy of ascribing a moral equivalence between Israel, an oppressive settler colonial state, and the Palestinians, an oppressed colonized and besieged people, monumental insult is added to monstrous injury. There is no moral equivalence. Nor could there ever be one.

A concerted attempt is underway to break any attempt at unity between Fatah and Hamas, after the Netanyahu government incited and whipped up hatred against the Palestinians over the recent abduction and killing of three Israeli teenagers after they left an illegal settlement near Hebron to hitchhike back to Israel proper. Their deaths have been exploited to prosecute an agenda of keeping the Palestinians divided. It won’t work. Oppression does not divide it unites its victims, and Israel deludes itself if it believes it can break a people whose will to resist has proved unbreakable time and again. That said, resistance is not a game nor is it romantic or glorious. The trauma being suffered by children, old people, and everyone forced to live under the shells and missiles being rained down on them will be unimaginable. The fear as the tanks gather at Gaza’s border and the troops prepare to invade will be immeasurable.

There is no point in deluding ourselves that anything approaching a resolution is anywhere in sight, not with a supine administration in Washington which, if it so desired, could end this barbarity with one phone call. All we can say with certainty at this moment is that incinerating Palestinian children in the name of civilization and democracy renders both meaningless.

The bombing of Guernica in 1937 during the Spanish Civil War by Nazi bombers on behalf of General Franco's fascist forces has endured as a symbol of barbarism, when innocent civilians for the first time in Europe were attacked by the military might of an advanced industrialised nation. A reproduction of Picasso's famous painting of this war crime hangs pride of place within UN headquarters in New York to this day.

How ironic then that the same UN demonstrates nothing but impotence in the face of Israel's bombing of Gaza, which at time of writing has killed 170 people and injured hundreds more, the vast majority civilians and 40 of those killed children.

The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.