After Gaza, Israel will be a genocidal pariah state

Chris Hedges is an American essayist we’ve been following and esteeming for years. His essay The empire of illusion. The death of culture and the triumph of spectacle (Lux, 2012) took aim at the intellectual and cultural rout his country is experiencing. Here, he tackles the thorny issue of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in his usual style, blending radical criticism with optimistic overtones. It’s on this last point that we may not follow him all the way…

If nothing seriously happens on the international stage, Israel could well appear triumphant at the end of its genocidal campaign in Gaza and the West Bank. Backed by the United States, he has all the military means at his disposal to achieve his insane goal. Its murderous outbursts and genocidal violence will have completed the ethnic cleansing of the Palestinians. His dream of creating an exclusively Jewish state — in which all Palestinians still alive would be deprived of their fundamental rights — could then become a reality. Israel will congratulate itself on its bloody victory. It will celebrate its war criminals. Its genocide will be erased from the collective memory and thrown into the immense hole of Israel’s historical amnesia. And those in Israel who wish to denounce these abominations will be silenced and persecuted.

However, it seems to me that once such a situation has arisen, once Israel has succeeded in decimating Gaza — we’re talking several months of war — the country will probably have signed its own death sentence. Why? Because its image of morality, its supposed respect for the rule of law and democracy, its mythical story of the courage of the Israeli army and the miraculous birth of the Jewish nation will be reduced to ashes. Israel’s social capital will then be exhausted. It will be revealed as an ugly, repressive, hate-filled apartheid regime, alienating younger generations of American Jews. Its protector, the United States, will distance itself from Israel as new generations come to power, just as it is currently distancing itself from Ukraine.

It’s a safe bet that the blood and suffering of the Palestinians — ten times more children have been killed in Gaza than in the two years of war in Ukraine — will pave the way for Israel’s eventual demise. Tens, even hundreds of thousands of ghosts will want their revenge. Israel became the symbol of its victims, just as it was for Turks and Armenians, Germans and Namibians, and later Jews, Serbs and Bosnians. Israel’s cultural, artistic, journalistic and intellectual life will be reduced to nothing.

Israel could therefore become a frozen nation in which the religious fanatics and Jewish extremists who have seized power dominate public discourse. He would then find his allies among other despotic regimes. Israel’s repugnant racial and religious supremacy will be its hallmark, which is why the most retrograde white supremacists in the U.S. and Europe, including philo-Semites such as John Hagee, Paul Gosar and Marjorie Taylor Greene, support Israel with such conviction.

Despotisms can continue to exist long after their expiration date. But Israel’s grave strategic (and criminal) error could well send the country into its terminal phase. You don’t need to be a Bible scholar to know that Israel’s bloodlust is contrary to the fundamental values of Judaism. The cynical instrumentalization of the Holocaust, including making the Palestinians look like Nazis, is of little use when we are engaged in live genocide against 2.3 million people trapped in an open-air prison such as Gaza.

To survive, nations need not only strength, but also mystique. It’s this that gives purpose, dignity and even nobility, encouraging citizens to sacrifice themselves for the nation. Mysticism offers hope for the future. It gives meaning. It is a source of national identity. When mystics implode, when they prove to be lies, an essential foundation of state power collapses.

I once analyzed the death of communist mystics in 1989 during the revolutions in East Germany, Czechoslovakia and Romania. The police and army decided there was nothing left to defend. Israel’s decadence could well engender the same weariness and apathy. The country will not be able to recruit indigenous collaborators, such as Mahmoud Abbas and the Palestinian Authority — hated by most Palestinians — to carry out the colonizers’ orders. Historian Ronald Robinson sees the British Empire’s inability to recruit indigenous allies as the moment when collaboration turned to non-cooperation, which was decisive for the start of decolonization. Once the non-cooperation of native elites turns into active opposition, Robinson explains, the Empire’s « lightning retreat » is assured.

All that’s left for Israel is the escalation of violence to the point of torture, which only accelerates its decline. This large-scale violence works well in the short term, as was the case during the war waged by the French in Algeria, or during the dirty war waged by the Argentine military dictatorship, and also during the British conflict in Northern Ireland. But in the long term, it’s suicidal. « You could say that the battle of Algiers was won thanks to torture, » observed British historian Alistair Horne, « but that the war, the Algerian war, was lost. »

The genocide in Gaza has made Hamas fighters heroes in the Muslim world and in the global South. Sure, Israel could wipe out the Hamas leadership, but the past — and current — assassinations of a host of Palestinian leaders have done little to blunt resistance. The siege of Gaza and the ongoing genocide have produced a new generation of deeply traumatized and enraged young men and women, whose families have been killed and communities destroyed. They are ready to take the place of the martyred leaders. Israel’s tragic strategic error has sent its enemy’s actions into the stratosphere…

But Israel was already at war before October 7. Israelis were demonstrating to prevent Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu from ending the independence of the judiciary. Its religious fanatics, who are currently in power, had the aim of systematically attacking secular Israeli society. Since the attacks, Israel’s unity has been precarious. This is the default unit. It’s sustained by hatred. And even this hatred isn’t enough to stop the demonstrators from denouncing the fact that the government has abandoned the hostages to their fate in Gaza.

Hate is a dangerous political resource. Once they’ve finished with one enemy, those who stir up hatred look for another. The Palestinian « human animals », once eradicated or subdued, will then be replaced by other enemies. The group that has been demonized can never be recovered or regenerated. A politics of hate creates permanent instability, which is exploited by those seeking to destroy civil society.

Israel has already been moving in this direction since October 7, when it enacted a series of discriminatory laws against non-Jews, similar to the racist Nuremberg Laws that disenfranchised Jews in Nazi Germany. The Community Acceptance Law allows Jewish-only settlements to exclude applicants who wish to settle because of a lack of « compatibility with the fundamental principles of the community ».

Many of Israel’s best-educated young people have left the country to settle in countries such as Canada, Australia and the UK, and up to a million have moved to the USA. Even Germany saw an influx of around 20,000 Israelis in the first two decades of this century. Some 470,000 Israelis have left the country since October 7. In Israel, human rights defenders, intellectuals and journalists — Israeli and Palestinian — are treated as traitors in government-orchestrated smear campaigns, placed under state surveillance and subjected to arbitrary arrest. The Israeli education system is a veritable indoctrination machine for the army.

Israeli academic Yeshayahu Leibowitz warned that if Israel did not separate church and state and end its occupation of the Palestinians, it would give rise to a corrupt rabbinate that would turn Judaism into a fascist cult. In such a situation, « Israel would not deserve to exist, and it would be pointless to want to maintain it ».

After two decades of disastrous wars in the Middle East and the assault on Capitol Hill on January 6, the global mystique of the United States is as contaminated as that of its Israeli ally. The Biden administration, in its determination to unconditionally support Israel and satisfy the powerful Israeli lobby, managed to short-circuit the Congressional review process, by appealing to the State Department to approve the transfer to Israel of 14,000 units of tank ammunition. Secretary of State Antony Blinken argued, « There is an emergency situation that requires immediate sale. » At the same time, he cynically urged Israel to cause as few civilian casualties as possible…

Israel has no intention of limiting the number of civilian casualties. They have already killed more than 20,000 Palestinians, i.e. almost 1% of Gaza’s population, equivalent to around 3 million Americans. A further 51,000 people were injured, many of whom will succumb to their injuries. Half of Gaza’s population is starving, according to the United Nations. All Palestinian institutions and services essential to life — hospitals (only 11 of Gaza’s 36 hospitals are still « partially » functioning), water treatment plants, electricity grids, sewage systems, housing, schools, government buildings, cultural centers, telecommunications systems, mosques, churches, UN food distribution points — have been destroyed.

Israel has murdered no fewer than 80 Palestinian journalists and dozens of their family members, and more than 130 UN aid workers and their family members. Civilian victims are at the heart of the problem. This war is not a war against Hamas. It’s a war against the Palestinians. The aim is to kill or expel 2.3 million Palestinians from Gaza.

The murder of three Israeli hostages who had apparently escaped their captors and made their way towards Israeli forces, shirtless, waving a white flag and calling for help in Hebrew, is not only tragic, but gives an insight into Israel’s rules of combat in the Gaza Strip. They involve killing anything that moves… As retired Israeli Major General Giora Eiland, who headed Israel’s National Security Council, wrote in Yedioth Ahronoth:

 » The State of Israel has no choice but to turn Gaza into a place where it will be temporarily or permanently impossible to live. Creating a serious humanitarian crisis in Gaza is the means to an end. Gaza will become a place where no human being can survive.  »

Major General Ghassan Alian declared:  » In Gaza, there will be no electricity or water, only destruction. You wanted hell, you got it « .

The remaining colonial states, including the United States, exterminated almost all indigenous populations through disease and violence. Old World plagues such as smallpox, brought by colonizers to the Americas, killed some 56 million indigenous people in South, Central and North America over a hundred years. By 1600, less than a tenth of the original population remained. Israel cannot kill on this scale, with almost 5.5 million Palestinians living under occupation and a further 9 million in the diaspora.

The Biden presidency, which ironically may have signed its own political death certificate, is linked to the Israeli genocide. It will try to distance itself rhetorically, but at the same time, it will channel the billions of dollars in arms Israel has requested — including $14.3 billion in additional military aid to supplement the $3.8 billion in annual aid — to « finish the job ». It is a full partner in Israel’s genocidal project.

Israel is a pariah state. This was publicly demonstrated on December 12, when 153 member states of the UN General Assembly voted in favor of a ceasefire. Only 10 states — including the United States and Israel — were opposed and 23 abstained. Israel’s scorched-earth campaign in Gaza means that Israel’s current and future leaders will never accept peace. There will be no two-state solution. Apartheid and genocide will be the very definition of Israel. This augurs a long, long conflict, which the Jewish state is unlikely to win in the end.

Text translated and reproduced with the permission of Chris Hedges.

Source: Scheerpost — 12/17/2023

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