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A tribute to Palestinian resistance

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

Published time: August 13, 2014 13:52
A girl sits on the ruins of her family's home that witnesses say was destroyed by Israeli airstrikes in the Beit Hanoun neighbourhood of Gaza City, August 12, 2014 (Reuters / Siegfried Modola)

Was there any equivalence between the Apache arrow and the Springfield rifle of the US Cavalry, the former exemplifying heroic if futile resistance to the latter?

Was there any equivalence between the aborigine and African spears and the guns of the white settlers and slavers who wrought their destruction and enslavement?

The answer is unequivocally no.

How, then, could there ever be a moral equivalence between the rockets and tunnels of an oppressed people in Gaza today, in 2014, and the F16 fighter jets, Apache helicopters, tanks, and navy battleships of their oppressor?

Prisoner of Love is the title of a memoir by the celebrated French novelist and playwright, Jean Genet, the enfant terrible of French literature and literary society from the postwar period through to the 1960s.

The book is a memoir of the time Genet spent with Palestinian refugees and resistance fighters in Jordan in 1970 and later in Lebanon. Indeed, it was upon witnessing the carnage wrought by Israel-backed Phalangists in Shatila refugee camp in 1982 that Genet was inspired to write the book, which was published in 1986. For those who haven’t had the pleasure of reading it, Prisoner of Love offers a wonderfully poetic tribute to the oppressed and marginalized people whose resistance to their oppression is used to justify that oppression.

In this Genet, who in the book combines his experience of living among the Palestinian resistance with the time he spent with the Black Panthers in the United States, could also be speaking for the Native Americans, the Australian aborigines, the Algerians – in other words, every people throughout history whose resistance against colonialism, apartheid, and ethnic cleansing stands as a testament to the power of the human spirit and a rejection of the received truths of those who assert the right to oppress and murder in the name of civilization and democracy. Humanizing those whose dehumanization is the sine qua non of their extinction is the very meaning of solidarity, a refutation of the notion that resistance is the cause rather than the symptom of oppression.

Palestinian resistance in Gaza to Israel’s decades-long program of ethnic cleansing, siege, apartheid, occupation, and land theft has proved that the very worst of humanity, embodied in the cowardly and murderous violence visited on women and children by the laughably named Israel Defense Forces, has sat in contrast to the very best of it with the heroism and courage of this Palestinian resistance. Drawing on an arsenal mostly comprising homemade rockets and small arms, they have resisted an onslaught by a military superpower in a struggle to retain the one thing which lies between a bruised and battered people and their final destruction – human dignity.

The constant refrain that Palestinian resistance equates to terrorism continues the ignoble tradition of liberal apologia for the murder of children. In the midst of Israel’s barbarous assault, involving schools, hospitals, and entire residential areas targeted in a war against morality and decency itself, the attempt to minimize the slaughter by equating the violence of this murderous state with the desperate resistance of a people all but condemned to subjugation and degradation, can only be the product of depravity.

Solidarity with those suffering the depredations of a brutal apartheid, settler colonial state such as the State of Israel requires the rejection of the narrative employed to accord said state the legitimacy employed to carry out war crimes and crimes against humanity. The moral high ground from which Western governments and their apologists lecture the world on democracy and human rights is in truth a stinking, smoldering dung heap of hypocrisy and double standards. This has never been more apparent than when it comes to the ability of Israel to continue to repeatedly flout and defy international law.

Hamas’ refusal to acknowledge the right of a state to exist which has slaughtered, subjugated, and condemned its people to immiseration over decades does not describe their evil, it reflects their intelligence. Only the most grotesque and twisted logic could attempt to assert otherwise. In the last analysis, as Malcolm X reminds us, truth is on the side of the oppressed. This is why when the history of these past few weeks is written in years to come, the heroism of those who refused to remain on their knees against the crushing power of a state committed to their destruction will rightly be acknowledged.

In the meantime, and without equivocation, those of us who refuse to confound solidarity with paternalism acknowledge it now.

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

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