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‘Turning Gaza into ashes': Israel propaganda vs the world

October 31, 2023 at 8:38 am

A view of destroyed buildings and roads after Israeli airstrikes in Al-Zahra region as Israeli airstrikes continue on the fourteenth day of clashes in Gaza City, Gaza on October 20, 2023 [Mustafa Hassona/Anadolu Agency]

Gaza has changed the political equation in Palestine. Moreover, the repercussions of the ongoing devastating war are likely to alter the political equation in the entire Middle East and to re-centre Palestine as the world’s most urgent political crisis for years to come.

Since the establishment of Israel in 1948, facilitated by Britain and protected by the United States and other Western countries, the priorities have been entirely Israeli. “Israel’s security”; Israel’s “military edge”; “Israel’s right to defend itself”, and much more, are the mantras that have defined the West’s political discourse on the Israeli occupation and apartheid in Palestine.

This bizarre US-Western understanding of the so-called conflict, that an oppressor has “rights” over the oppressed; the occupier has “rights” over the occupied, has enabled Israel to maintain a military occupation over Palestinian territories that has lasted for over 56 years. Indeed, many would argue that it is for more than 75 years.

It has also empowered Israel to neglect the roots of this “conflict”, namely the ethnic cleansing of Palestine in 1948, and the long-denied, and very legitimate, Right of Return for Palestinian refugees.

Hundreds killed in Israeli attack on Al-Ahli Baptist Hospital in Gaza - Cartoon [Sabaaneh/Middle East Monitor]

Hundreds killed in Israeli attack on Al-Ahli Baptist Hospital in Gaza – Cartoon [Sabaaneh/Middle East Monitor]

Within this context, every Palestinian-Arab overture for peace was rejected. Even the supposed “peace process”, namely the Oslo Accords, turned into an opportunity for Tel Aviv to entrench its military occupation, expand its illegal settlements and corral Palestinians in Bantustan-like spaces, humiliated and racially segregated.

Some Palestinians, whether enticed by American handouts or shattered by a lingering sense of defeat, lined up to receive the US-Israeli peace dividends: pitiful crumbs of false prestige, empty titles and limited power, granted and denied by Israel itself.

However, the Israeli war against the Palestinians in Gaza is already changing much of this painful status quo. The occupation state’s constant insistence that its deadly war is against Hamas, against “terror”, against Islamic fundamentalism, and all the rest, may have convinced those who are ready to accept the Israeli version of events at face value. However, as the bodies of thousands of Palestinian civilians, including thousands of children, began piling up at Gaza’s hospital morgues and, tragically, in the streets, the narrative began changing.

The pulverised bodies of Palestinian children, of whole families who perished together, stand witness to the brutality of Israel; to the immoral support of its allies; and to the inhumanity of an international order that rewards the murderer and reprimands the victim.

Of all the biased statements made by US President Joe Biden, the one where he suggested that Palestinians are lying about the body count of their own dead was perhaps the most inhumane. Washington may not realise this yet, but the repercussions of its unconditional support for Israel will prove to be disastrous in the future, especially in a region that is fed up with war, hegemony, double standards, sectarian divisions and endless conflict.

READ: US will not deploy troops to Israel for Gaza offensive, VP Harris says

The greatest impact, though, will be felt in Israel itself. When Palestinian Ambassador to the UN Riyad Mansour gave a powerful, emotional speech on 26 October, he could not hold back his tears. International delegations at the UN General Assembly clapped non-stop, reflecting the growing support for Palestine, not only at the UN, but also in hundreds of towns and cities, and on countless street corners around the world.

When the Israeli Ambassador to the UN, Gilad Erdan, who had promoted many of the lies communicated by Tel Aviv, especially in the early days of the war, finished his speech, not a single person clapped. The contempt was palpable.

The Israeli narrative had clearly crumbled into a thousand pieces. Israel has never been so isolated. This is definitely not the “New Middle East” that Netanyahu had prophesised in his UN General Assembly speech on 22 September.

Unable to fathom how the initial sympathy with Israel turned so quickly into outright disdain, the settler-colonial state resorted to old tactics. On 25 October, Erdan demanded that UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres should resign for being “unfit to lead the UN”. The UN chief’s supposedly unforgivable crime was to suggest that “the attacks by Hamas did not happen in a vacuum”. Which, of course, they didn’t.

As far as Israel and its American benefactors are concerned, however, no context is allowed to taint the perfect image that the Israelis have created for its genocide in Gaza. In this perfect Israeli world, no one is allowed to speak of military occupation; of siege; of the lack of political prospects; of displacement; of the absence of a just peace for Palestinians.

Even though Amnesty International has said that both sides have committed “serious violations of international humanitarian law, including war crimes”, Israel still attacked it, accusing the organisation of being “anti-Semitic”. In Israel’s thinking, even the world’s leading international human rights group is not permitted to contextualise the atrocities in Gaza or dare suggest that one of the “root causes” of the conflict is “Israel’s system of apartheid imposed on all Palestinians”.

Israel is no longer all-powerful, as it wants us to believe. Recent events have proven that its “invincible army” — a branding that allowed Israel to become, as of 2022, the world’s tenth-largest international military exporter — turned out to be a paper tiger.

This is what is infuriating Israel the most. “Muslims are not afraid of us anymore,” former Knesset member Moshe Feiglin told Arutz Sheva-Israel National News. To restore this fear, the extremist politician called for burning “Gaza to ashes immediately.”

But nothing will turn Gaza into ashes. Not even the more than 12,000 tons of high explosives dropped on the Strip in the first two weeks of war which have already incinerated at least 45 per cent of its housing units, according to the UN’s humanitarian office.

READ: Israeli missile strikes Gaza UNRWA school

Gaza will not die because it is a powerful idea that is deeply entrenched within the hearts and minds of every Arab, of every Muslim and of millions of people around the world. This new idea is challenging the long-held belief that the world needs to cater to Israel’s priorities, security, selfish definitions of peace and all of the other illusions.

The focus should now be on where it should have always been: the priorities of the oppressed, not the oppressor. It is time to speak about Palestinian rights, Palestinian security and the Palestinian people’s right — in fact, obligation — to defend themselves.

It is time for us to speak about justice — real justice — the outcome of which is non-negotiable: equality, full political rights, freedom and the right of return.

Gaza is telling the world all of this, and much more. And now it is time for us to listen.

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