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Victim blaming after the Gaza massacre

A Palestinian protester takes cover after Israeli forces attacked protesters during the 70th anniversary of the Nakba, at the Israel-Gaza border on 15 May, 2018 [Ashraf Amra/Apaimages]
A Palestinian protester takes cover after Israeli forces attacked protesters during the 70th anniversary of the Nakba, at the Israel-Gaza border on 15 May, 2018 [Ashraf Amra/Apaimages]

The day after the Gaza massacre committed by the Israeli occupation forces on 14 May was like the day before it. No one cared about it and no one will care. Meanwhile, the victims, who have lost hope of a solution to their diasporic state and misery, continue to be blamed for what happened.

While the world focused on the opening of the new US Embassy in occupied Jerusalem, the Palestinians in the besieged Gaza Strip were trying to send the message that they are people whom Israel and the international community have driven off their land. The Great Return March protests are intended to get the world to see Palestinians as human beings. If the world is ignoring this, how must it feel about recognition of the Palestinians’ legitimate rights, including the right to return? Palestinian refugees remain stuck in limbo and their tragedy has not been resolved by negotiations, armed struggle or even, it seems, peaceful popular action.

The tragedy of the Palestinian people has two aspects: the tragedy experienced by the older generation when the Zionist terror gangs forced them to leave their land, and the tragedy of their children and grandchildren who inherited this dispossession and know that they have a legal right to the land of their parents and grandparents but have no hope of ever returning. Contrary to the confident predictions of the Zionists, the younger generations certainly have not “forgotten”. Indeed, it is collective memory which motivated them to instigate the Great Return March protests to the boundary of their land occupied in 1948. This so enraged the occupying state of Israel that it authorised snipers to fire live ammunition at unarmed civilians. Israel’s brutal response to the protests, though, will not stop the Palestinians of Gaza from gazing at their land from behind the fences and walls erected by the occupation authorities. As long as they are prevented from returning, Palestinians’ blood will continue to boil and continue to be shed.

READ: The ongoing Nakba and its forthcoming defeat

This is the reality, and it’s a dilemma for both the Palestinians and Israelis. The latter because they are living on land stolen from its indigenous people, with the delusion of happiness built upon the wretched condition of the Palestinians who will never forget their rights and the cause of their tragedy; and for the Palestinians because they need to exercise their right to return against all the odds. They have explored every option in this regard, with concession after concession made to their oppressors; they and their supporters don’t know what else they can do to find a solution. The 14 May massacre committed by the Israeli troops, who killed 62 unarmed civilians and wounded more than 2,000 others in a single day, served to deepen this sense of hopelessness which, no doubt, was Israel’s intention.

Indeed, Israel continues to kick against the legitimate right of return in the most brutal way possible, not least because it is a right which worries its politicians and people more than anything else. The cynical narrative which blames the victims for being killed and wounded betrays Israel’s willingness and intent to repeat the massacre again and again to prevent the Palestinians from fulfilling their rights.

US embassy moved to Jerusalem - Cartoon [Chappatte/MiddleEastMonitor]

US embassy moved to Jerusalem – Cartoon [Chappatte/MiddleEastMonitor]

Israeli propaganda thus fills the Western media. This twisted narrative claims that the Palestinians were responsible for the massacre because they came close enough to the border to be in the Israeli soldiers’ line of fire. According to NBC television, Hamas led “a terrorist operation under the guise of a mass demonstration.” Meanwhile, The New York Times wrote that the Palestinians in Gaza are weakening their case when they resort to violence instead of keeping their protests peaceful. The Washington Post also described the victims of Israel’s bullets as “civilians by name”, forgetting rather too conveniently those victims who were women and children; has the editorial team adopted Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman’s view that there are “no innocents” in Gaza?

READ: It took 116 dead Palestinians for Egypt to ease its siege on Gaza for a month 

After 70 years of the ongoing Nakba, the future of the Palestinian cause is still very similar to its past. The solution is out of the hands of the Palestinians, having tried armed and peaceful resistance to the occupation, with no tangible results other than the loss of even more land on a daily basis. It is thus becoming clear that the similarity between the Israeli regime and apartheid South Africa requires the same punitive measures that were applied by the international community to the government in Pretoria to be applied to Israel if it is ever going to comply with UN Resolutions. This is unlikely, though, given America’s unquestioning support for the Israeli occupation, settlements and wars. The US veto in the Security Council will continue to block all attempts to impose sanctions and call Israel and its war criminals to account.

Moreover, with Arab and Muslim governments rushing to normalise relations with the Israeli occupiers, any hope that such action will take place is absurd. How can the Palestinians rely on the international community to do anything when their Arab “brothers” can and will do nothing to their new best friends in Israel? This is the reality that prompted the Palestinian refugees in Gaza to embark on the Great Return Marche protests. Victim blaming will continue, though, and more killing will take place, so the Palestinians should also look at other, more fruitful, ways to seek justice.

This article first appeared in Arabic in Al-Araby Al-Jadeed on 30 May 2018

The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.

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