We are on the brink of an abyss. The scenes from the darkest side of humanity, with lynchings on both sides and attacks on synagogues and mosques, must be condemned and stopped.
Most importantly, this hatred between peoples does not serve the infinitely weaker part in the conflict, the Palestinian one, as the disproportionate victim count shows. This hatred, repugnant to us, probably involves some responsibility from the three monotheistic religions that have some share of the blame for the Middle East conflict.
What is needed now is a real democratic mobilization, aware of the disastrous perspective of another war in the Middle East and in the already-deadly Mediterranean, because the crisis of Jerusalem is at the heart of the international crisis. Instead, what a sad impression we get from the presence of Letta together with Salvini at the Portico d’Ottavia rally in support of the Jewish community, all united to sweep under the rug the responsibilities of Israel and the denied rights of the Palestinians, together with the Italian extreme right wing, an ally of Orbán and Netanyahu. Perhaps the new secretary of the PD might add to the internal consultation that he started in his party a question on what the base thinks of the Israeli-Palestinian crisis, if he’s not too embarrassed by what the outcome might be.
At the same time, a real international diplomatic initiative would be needed to stop the crisis that has reached the brink of the abyss. Unfortunately, looking at what is happening and at the vetoes in the UN Security Council, neither such a mobilization nor such an initiative are there to be found. As demonstrated during these hours by the role taken up by Biden.
“Israel has the right to defend itself, but be careful with the lives of civilians, calm down”—this is, in short, the message coming from the statements of the White House and of Biden himself, who, “concerned,” sent in an undersecretary expert in the Middle East on Wednesday—too late, since Tel Aviv is already preparing the ground assault—while he also made a phone call to Mahmoud Abbas asking him to “stop the firing of rockets from Gaza.”
Such ignorance and arrogance are astounding. How can Biden find himself so unprepared, as if he knows nothing about this, when during the election campaign and then in his first 100 days in power he supported Trump’s explosive decision to move the US embassy to Jerusalem. Thus, like Trump, he also considers the city as the de facto exclusive capital of the state of Israel—in violation of international law, which says that it is a city shared by two peoples, including the Palestinians, and three religions—which, with its nationality laws, has defined itself as Jewish, as a state for Jews alone.
It was this thoughtless decision that rewarded the Israeli military occupation of the Palestinian Territories, and which fueled the marches of the Israeli extreme right-wing parafascist group Levaha, to the cry of “death to the Arabs,” in the days leading up to the uprising on the Esplanade, which laid the ground for the “march of the flags” as a celebration of the regained capital, and which is now bursting open like a pus-filled boil throughout the mixed cities of Israel.
Once again, it is this decision that institutionally legitimizes the expulsions of Palestinians from their homes in East Jerusalem neighborhoods in order to give them to Jewish settlers. The name for this is ethnic cleansing.
And what is there to be surprised about if the expulsion that was the final straw was carried out in the most symbolic place, where the Israeli military opened fire as though at the shooting range, in the middle of Ramadan. In the occupied West Bank, hundreds of settlements of fundamentalist settlers have expelled so many Palestinians from their lands that the territorial continuity no longer exists for a Palestinian state—not to mention the Wall, the violent uprooting of crops, the demolition of houses, the checkpoints that split lives apart, the daily repression with killings that don’t make headlines in the Western media, the thousands of arbitrary detentions.
It is an apartheid regime. Perhaps Biden could read Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid, written by his predecessor Jimmy Carter about the plight of the Palestinians, if he doesn’t want to listen to Human Right Watch, Amnesty International and UN rapporteurs like Richard Falk who are saying that the government of Israel must be prosecuted for this regime imposed on the Palestinian population. “Israel has the right to defend itself”—but how many times in the last three years has the Israeli Air Force hit “military” targets and struck civilians with impunity in Syria, where the war on ISIS is not yet over, and how many times has it attacked civilian and institutional targets in Iran while waging a “covert war”? “Careful about civilian casualties”—but in the two or three months before the Esplanade uprising, how many Palestinian young men and fathers have been killed if they made the slightest wrong move at a military checkpoint?
Let’s say it in no uncertain terms: if Biden stands by Trump’s decision, at least he should realize that it is an explosive one, and be less surprised at the events.
Because if “Israel has the right to defend itself,” who will defend the Palestinians who are under military occupation? It’s no longer the leaders of the Arab countries that the Palestinians no longer trust, and who are on a collision course with their own people first of all, not just with those who live under occupation in the West Bank. Yet, partly as a result of this crisis—and certainly not because of the hard-fought process to reactivate the Iranian civilian nuclear deal—the Abrahamic Accord sought by Trump, which aimed to wipe out the Palestinians, is faltering.
It’s not the European Union doing it, nor the European Parliament, always ready to pontificate on human rights in support of the convenient side. None of them is doing it.
Those who are defending the Palestinians are Hamas, with military actions that are counterproductive, to say the least. We don’t like them—we don’t like their religious fundamentalism, or their relations with Turkey and Qatar who are oppressing other peoples. But they’re doing it, and in the eyes of the Palestinians, it counts for something.
If it’s true that Biden phoned Mahmoud Abbas and told him to “stop the launching of rockets from Gaza,” that’s nothing short of mind-boggling. Abbas certainly does not have that power. Hamas grew from the defeat of the PNA and of the lay Al Fatah, after the false promises of the West and the denial of the 1993 Oslo Accords, immediately called into question in 1995 with the assassination of Prime Minister Rabin, who had signed them together with Arafat and Clinton, by a Jewish fundamentalist. In 2006, Hamas won the elections in all of Palestine, not only in Gaza, and probably would have won them again this month if the elections had gone ahead. But now, instead of a Palestinian state, we have shreds of land occupied by new settlements that have immediately become Israeli military outposts, a process pushed forward at every turn by every Israeli government, with Netanyahu the undisputed leader at the forefront. And the state of Israel is stronger than ever.
The secular Palestinian world is in decline, and if the disappearance of the left in Italy is a serious problem, in Israel and Palestine it is a tragedy. It is this disaster and failure that is fueling the prominence of Hamas. And then, let’s face the facts: it’s not by chance that the young Palestinians belonging to the post-Oslo generation are out in the streets. But now, journalism is mostly silent. It has been smothered to death by its own silence.
Subscribe To Our Newsletter
Your weekly briefing of progressive news.