Commentary. Viewed from the sky, the victims of the bread line massacre look like ants. Hungry people gunned down. Europe is unwilling to call this what it is.

Colonial Europe sees only black dots

Seen from above, they look like little ants. Dots moving back and forth, some faster, some slower. Indistinguishable bodies cluster together into black spots. They resemble ant hills, or flocks of birds. Seen from the distant perspective of an Israeli army drone, the crowd of hungry people at the al-Nabulsi traffic circle doesn’t look like people.

The same distance defines our collective anesthesia. If you go down to ground level, the individual faces can be seen. In the videos, the faces are white with death and flour, rows of corpses on donkey-drawn carts and in the back of vans.

Now these are doing the job of ambulances, or hearses. Some of those inside have blood clotted around their temples. Seen up close, they are people. Listening to them up close, their testimonies question what is left of our ability to name things: “I didn’t want to bring my son Mahmoud, but we had nothing to eat. I said, ‘Let’s go, get a sack of flour and eat to relieve our hunger.’ My beloved son died hungry.”

They say the luckiest are those who died on the first day of the war: they did not have to witness the barbarism that came later. 30,000 killed means one Gazawi in 75. With 10,000 missing and 70,000 wounded, that means one in 20 Palestinians in Gaza is dead, wounded or missing. Then there are the living, subjected to weaponized hunger that leaves no escape for the human spirit. How will a population that has been humiliated, dehumanized and terrorized for five months raise itself up again?

Gaza is a grave. Not just for people, but for the inability to name things. Certain words trigger fear across Europe, which doesn’t dare ponder their meaning and purpose. Racism, colonialism, supremacism: they are all there in Gaza. Genocide, too.

It has been debated for weeks, among jurists, historians and journalists, whether it should be called genocide, whether what is taking place falls under Article 2 of the 1948 Convention, “the intent to destroy in whole or in part a national, ethnic, racial or religious group” through killing, serious bodily and mental harm, “conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part,” or “imposing measures intended to prevent births.”

The International Court of Justice called it “plausible” that what is happening is genocide, and gave Israel a month to stop it, whatever “it” is. That month has passed, and it has been one of the worst yet. Hunger envelops Gaza like a funeral shroud. One has to choose between starvation or the desperate attempt to get food. By what name are we willing to call this?

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