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Palestinian cries of anguish are followed by deafening silence from the West

October 24, 2023 at 1:02 pm

Relatives of Palestinians, stuck under the debris of a destroyed building of Abu Hasanain family, mourn as they conduct a search and rescue operation for after the Israeli airstrike has been going on for 18th days in Deir Al-Balah, Gaza on October 24, 2023 [Ashraf Amra/Anadolu Agency]

The roar of the bombs dropped by the fourth most powerful army in the world is deafening as they hurtle from the sky towards the overcrowded civilian areas of the Gaza Strip in occupied Palestine. The roar about “human animals” directed by senior politicians in the Tel Aviv government at Palestinians cannot fail to be heard above the cries of the injured and dying in Gaza’s hospitals.

The roar for peace from outraged citizens shouting “from the river to the sea” has filled the streets of the Middle East, Pakistan, India and Malaysia across to the Far East, North and South America, the Caribbean and Europe. Pro-Palestinian crowds marched in their millions shouting for peace around towns, cities, villages and refugee camps.

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Cries of “anti-Semitism” have, predictably, also followed, which is sad, because people are pretending not to know what “from the river to the sea” actually means; what are the crowds, and the Palestinians, calling for, ask journalists. I’ll tell you. It’s simple: Freedom for Palestinians who live between the River Jordan and the Mediterranean Sea. Freedom to live; freedom to move without hindrance; freedom to work likewise; and freedom to elect a government to decide who shall govern them, and how. What’s wrong with that? Why shouldn’t Palestinians live freely and without a brutal occupation army crushing their dreams and aspirations?

US, UK, France, Germany: all complicit in the war crimes committed by Israel - Cartoon [Sabaaneh/Middle East Monitor] 

US, UK, France, Germany: all complicit in the war crimes committed by Israel – Cartoon [Sabaaneh/Middle East Monitor]

The hypocritical silence of world leaders has been deafening over the past two weeks or so. Their weasel words about “Israel’s right to self-defence within international law” exposed just how out of step the so-called international community is with the rest of the planet. Reading between the lines, it is clear that Israel was always going to be allowed to act with impunity, within international law or not. And re-armed when it ran out of bombs to kill Palestinians. Without limit.

The compliant Western media, blinded by the fog of war — or just plain prejudiced — reverted to type with euphemisms about Palestinians dying, while Israelis are “killed”. Words matter; we are all going to die, but thankfully not all of us will be killed. Unless you are a Palestinian, for it is they who are being killed in great numbers, blown up, crushed under their homes destroyed by Israeli bombs, picked off by snipers, and burnt to a cinder by flame-throwers.

READ: 23 journalists killed in Gaza conflict: Press freedom group

The “conflict” only started on 7 October, according to the pro-Israel narrative. The same out-of-touch politicians and media obsess about Hamas killing Israelis but ignore 75 years of Israeli occupation, ethnic cleansing, land theft and house demolitions. The Hamas “genocidal, homophobic, misogynistic, terror organisation” — as one Conservative MP wrote to a constituent — is holding “hundreds” of Israelis hostage (220, apparently). But there’s silence about the thousands of Palestinian political prisoners held by Israel, many of them with neither charge nor trial, including 170 children. Media reports provide little context, such as the four major military offensives launched by Israel against the Palestinians in Gaza in 2008/9, 2012, 2014 and 2021. What happened on 7 October was not the beginning of something, it was a continuation.

There’s more silence about Israel’s ability to cut off water, electricity and medicine for 2.3 million people, half of whom are extremely traumatised children. Killing children is a crime everywhere in the world, but not in Palestine; and not when Israel is killing them in “self-defence”. As my MEMO colleague Ibrahim wrote last week, Israeli military analyst Zeev Schiff said, “The Israeli Army has always struck civilian populations, purposely and consciously… [the army] has never distinguished civilian [from military] targets.” Prof. Ilan Pappe pointed out that, “Inflicting pain on civilians is another long-standing doctrine of state terror, in fact its guiding principal.” Not allowing aid to reach the Palestinian population in Gaza is part of Israeli state terror; it’s criminal and cruel, but our politicians are silent.

This is not a controversial interpretation of international law, which is very clear on such matters

Slaughtering entire families while they sleep is criminal; the more or less forced displacement of one million people is criminal. This is not a controversial interpretation of international law, which is very clear on such matters, and yet there are those who will call me a terror apologist for saying so. Why? Like the Palestinians, I want peace for everyone; can anyone tell me what is wrong with that?

READ: German-Jewish intellectuals slam ban on pro-Palestine demonstrations

I don’t want any more bombs to be dropped on Gaza. I want the slaughter of innocents to stop. Please don’t kill any more babies. Is it so wrong to say that?

At the time of writing, Israel has killed more than five thousand Palestinians, 60 per cent of them women and children. In another mass burial over the weekend, some mothers who held on to their children until the last were buried, unidentified, bodies fused together by the explosives that killed them. Horrific? You bet it is.

More than one million civilians are on the move with nowhere to run and nowhere to hide. Fifty per cent of the housing units in Gaza have been destroyed. Self-defence for Israel? Who are you kidding?

And still very few politicians are speaking out, because they are afraid of the pro-Israel lobbies at work in Washington, London, Paris, Brussels and Berlin that bully, pummel and finance their parties.

They don’t want their political careers destroyed like the courageous former Conservative Party co-chair Baroness Sayeeda Warsi. She was the most powerful female Muslim politician in Europe, until she spoke up for the Palestinians in Gaza during Israel’s 2014 military offensive. Consigned to the political boondocks, she’s reinvented herself as an influential media figure who refuses to be cowed by the bullies who sought to have her expelled from Prime Minister David Cameron’s Cabinet.

Will the same fate befall Labour’s Apsana Begum, I wonder? Another outspoken Muslim politician with backbone, she was the target of a vicious witch hunt last year, and I fear that her party, led by Sir Keir Starmer, will punish her for daring to criticise Israel at one of the many rallies for Palestine in recent days.

“Not in our name,” she cried to a roar of approval from the admiring crowds who packed the streets of London. Let’s hope she does not become collateral damage.

The same can be said about Tory MP Crispin Blunt who was calling for a “ceasefire” nearly a week ago while the Israelis were baying for revenge, with streets flowing with Palestinian blood and actions which were tantamount to war crimes.

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And the sound of the watching world leaders, a gaggle of the most morally corrupt and politically bankrupt individuals I have ever seen in public life, was a deafening silence, punctuated only by cries of support for the apartheid, occupation state. Shame on them all. “Never again” was supposed to mean just that; but here we go again on the genocide express, and the West is in the driving seat.

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