This is one of the deepest darkest days in years in the annals of Israeli-Palestinian relations. An independent Gaza initiative tied to the Nakba commemoration and the 1976 murder of Palestinians known as Land Day, called the Great March of Return, met the stone wall of Israeli resistance. Even before the march began, Israel announced it would use live fire to suppress the unrest. This is something unheard of not just in Israel-Palestine relations, but in the annals of all colonial struggles: the colonizer/oppressor announced in advance t planned to kill protesters in cold blood, while armed with little more than a rock, a tire or a slingshot.
Israel knew it could get away with perpetrating a massacre because the Trump administration Middle East policy has been hijacked by a pro-settler cabal run by Jared Kushner, David Friedman and Jason Greenblatt, all of whom offered generous financial support to settlements before they entered the White House. It’s ironic that they in particular have risen to such positions of influence in the Trump administration due to their sworn, ferocious allegiance to Trumps financial interests before he became president. Trump admires Jews like them because they fulfill all the Jewish stereotypes: they’re tough, they’re mean, they’re protect his money. In any other context, we’d call that anti-Semitism.
But given that Trump seems to hate everyone who isn’t white, his stereotyping of Jews gets lost in the mix.
Hamas is encouraging a hostile march on the Israel-Gaza border. Hamas should focus on desperately needed improvements to the lives of Palestinians in Gaza instead of inciting violence against Israel that only increases hardship & undermines chances for peace.
— Jason D. Greenblatt (@jdgreenblatt45) March 30, 2018
With the U.S., not only not saying a peep about this bloody massacre, but siding with Israel, it’s hard to see what constructive role we could play even in we wanted. In fact, Greenblatt tweeted falsely that the Gaza protest was sponsored by Hamas (it isn’t) and blamed it on the Gaza militant group. We’re on Israel’s side. Even when Israel murders Palestinians in cold blood, we stand with Israel. It’s a shameful abnegation of moral responsibility. And a betrayal of forty years of U.S. policy, which in itself was never terribly critical of Israel. But at least it maintained a semblance of balance.
Today’s protest brought 17 Gazans killed and over 1,400 injured. Over 50,000 demonstrators braved the Israeli mayhem to join in the protest. A remarkable show of unity in an enclave that often seems shorn of hope.
Tonight we eat the bread of affliction with Palestinians
Today is also the first day of Passover. It is the holiday of freedom (at least for Jews). It marks the liberation of the Israelites from slavery at the hands of the Egyptians. The most dramatic part of the Biblical story pictures 600,000 Israelites massed on the shores of the Red Sea with thousands of the Pharaoh’s chariots rapidly closing in. Just at the moment everything seems hopeless, the winds rise to ferocious gales, the seas part and the Israelites walk to freedom.
As the Israelites are crossing, the Egyptian forces charge into the parted waters, which suddenly begin to close upon them. All of Pharaoh’s army is drowned in the raging water while the Israelites escape to safety on the other side.
In Gaza today, Palestinians did what the Israelites did 1,200 years ago. They massed in their thousands at the border separating Gaza and Israel. Their purpose: to reclaim the land stolen from them in the 1948 Nakba. But instead of God opening the border fence and allowing the Palestinians to pour through, He stood by as the latter-day equivalent to Pharoah’s army mowed them down in the thousands. God, it appears, remains on the side of the modern Israelites, even though they have assumed the mantle of the Egyptian oppressors.
Hamas tells the world about a peacful protest, it should be called a violent riot pic.twitter.com/RFjEP1dBnL
— IDF (@IDFSpokesperson) March 30, 2018
The Intercept reports, based on eyewitness accounts, says that Israeli snipers felled protesters far from the fence. In other words, they were not protecting Israel’s border. They were engaging in target practice. Shooting birds in a barrel. The very first Gazan killed yesterday was a farmer working his fields. He was struck by an Israeli tank shell. Imagine that, Israel needs a massive tank shell to take out a single man working his fields. Why not drop one of Israel’s 200 WMD devices on Gaza and be done with it? Pamela Geller and Daniel Pipes have already suggested something similar. So this is nothing shocking or new.
I’ve embedded this feeble IDF propaganda tweet which typically shears all context from the Palestinians protests and their comparison to other peaceful protests elsewhere in the world. When Palestinians protest, they’re not met with the NYPD (which in itself can be pretty brutal) or a London bobbie. In this case, they’re not even met with Israeli police. They’re met with the full force of the army bearing its most advanced weapons. This is not a protest in a western capital. This is a protest in the capital of Israeli Occupation and oppression. So please excuse the fact that Gazans don’t go to their protests bearing gifts for their oppressors and placing daisies in the barrels of their guns.
Note that the peaceful western panel features the Empire State Building and Statue of Liberty in its background. While the Palestinian panel shows violent protesters with a mosque in the background. This little Islamophobic gem implies that it is Islam which stokes the violence of Palestinians. Instead, it is Israel’s brutal Occupation which does so.
Another further irony, there is a third panel missing from this tweet: the one which shows what the IDF brings to its protests. Snipers, drones firing tear gas, tanks, artillery, and sometimes even helicopter gunships.
Today’s tragedy indicates the total breakdown in Israeli tactics. They have no other mode than full-on assault. It also points to the U.S. inability and unwillingness to tamp down Israel’s worst impulses. This is a perfect storm of murder and dysfunction, which can only lead to far darker places. Mark my words.
The world will sit back and do nothing. The United Nations? Impotent. Not to mention that old U.S. Security Council veto. The European Union? Occupied with far weightier problems far closer to home, like Brexit and the Russian spy scandal. The Arab world? The Saudi Crown Prince was in Seattle today, where he created massive traffic jams as his retinue drove through the city. The region’s corporate élite rolled out the red carpet because it knew he had his checkbook open and was ready to buy Boeing planes and meet with Boeing founder, Bill Gates. Not a word about Palestine on the agenda.