A conflict presupposes that both sides have paths towards beneficial outcomes, but what we are witnessing is the ultra-imbalanced power relations associated with conquest.
Once again, the imprisoned, besieged population of Gaza find themselves gripped by terror and death at the hands of Israel’s machines of war. The fact that what began as protests against the ethnic cleansing of the Sheikh Jarrah neighbourhood of illegally occupied East Jerusalem has ended up with the murder of, as it stands now, over 200 innocent Palestinians, including at least 52 children, in Gaza is unsurprising.
To use the phrase coined by Efraim Inbar and Eitan Shamir, Israel seems to be ‘mowing the grass’. Periodically, when the natives get restless under the pressures of brutal occupation and decide to fight back as Hamas often does, Israel will terrorise Gaza. It did the same in 2008-2009’s ‘Operation Iron Ore’ and in 2014’s ‘Operation Protective Edge’.
The military logic behind Israel’s state terror against Gaza is to temporarily punish not simply Hamas, as most of the media would have you believe, but the civilian population of the tiny strip.
According to the ‘mowing the grass’ doctrine, the attacks achieve a period of ‘quiet’ for Israel, putting the Palestinians in their place and ensuring that Israel’s continued occupation, unprecedented annexation and hastening ethnic cleansing of Palestinian territories can continue in peace.
This is what ‘peace’ now means within the dynamic of Palestine and Israel – peace is for the Palestinians to accept the eradication of the merest hint of justice, namely a meaningful, contiguous state of their own, as laid out in law by UN Resolution 242.
‘Peace’ is for Palestinians to expect to be cleansed from places like Sheikh Jarrah without any resistance. The consequence of resistance to occupation is the mass slaughter and destruction that we are now seeing visited upon Gaza.
Though much of the media, commentators and politicians continue to present what’s happening in Palestine and Israel as a ‘conflict’, this language must change. It no longer reflects the reality of what is happening there.
A conflict presupposes that both sides have paths towards beneficial outcomes, but the reality, and it has been so for perhaps even decades going back to the trap set for the Palestinians in Oslo, is that what we are witnessing is the ultra-imbalanced power relations associated with conquest.
Though this should not be taken as a sleight against the brave Palestinians who resist or simply survive through Israeli domination, the reality is that Israel won whatever ‘conflict’ once existed.
The armies of states many times larger than Israel like Egypt failed to make a dent in the self-described Jewish State, while there have been so many failed peace summits, ones that were so biased in favour of Israel that they almost seemed set up to achieve anything but peace. The always narrow path to justice for the Palestinians now no longer exists.
Israel is a technologically advanced, economically rich, US-supported, nuclear-armed regional superpower. Though most Western media outlets start the clock when Hamas’ crude rockets thud into the Negev or Judaean desert, or are intercepted by the ‘Iron dome’ missile defence system, Hamas’ rockets pose no genuine ‘security threat’ to Israel.
If chaos was truly the motive of any Palestinian faction, they could do a lot worse than barrages of poorly made rockets. During the Second Intifada, a number of Palestinian factions, mainly Hamas, the Palestinian Islamic Jihad and the far-left Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine waged a brutal campaign of suicide bombings against Israel.
But the reality is that Hamas’ rockets were fired as a desperate act of defiance against Israel’s triumphant conquest of Palestine. Contrary again to the propaganda lines lazily trotted out by Western media outlets about how Hamas doesn’t recognise Israel’s ‘right to exist’, the group has endorsed the legal two-state solution on numerous occasions.
Israel's accuses its enemies of not recognising its 'right to exist'. But that propaganda hides the fact that it is Israel that doesn’t recognise the right of Palestinians to exist.
In fact, Israel works every day, by maintaining its illegal permanent occupation and siege, and by illegally annexing Palestinian land and illegally cleansing Palestinian families from illegally occupied East Jerusalem, to ensure that Palestinians have no right to exist.
The entire basis of Israel’s daily practice is illegal, yet it’s Hamas and any Palestinian who offers resistance that are deemed to be the rogues and ‘rejectionists’.
Though I could never condone any attacks against civilians, one could say that Hamas and Palestinians in general, over the past decade or so as Israel’s conquest has become more apparent, have shown admirable restraint against such a brutal and hopeless existential threat.
For decades, the entire focus has been on the often-misleading dichotomy of a one-state and a two-state solution, but it’s better to look at the situation through what I call the ‘no-state’ solution, in the sense that Israel opposes the creation of any meaningful Palestinian state.
For that is what is Israel is enacting as I write this – and it’s not something new. The logic of it was expressed with brutal honesty by then Israeli defence minister Moshe Dayan in 1970, when he said regarding the problem of the Palestinians that now lived under Israeli occupation, "we must tell the Palestinians, that we have no solution, you shall continue to live like dogs, and whoever wishes, may leave."
Even according to the official US-arbitrated ‘peace process’, there has never been the option of a viable Palestinian state on offer. This is true of everything from Oslo and Camp David to Jared Kushner’s illiterate, absurd and racist ‘Deal of the Century’ on behalf of the Trump administration.
In every instance, the ‘peace’ on offer was an entirely subverted one, one that would have seen Palestinians give up their legal rights to a contiguous state and the right of return – it would be what Dayan called ‘Arab bantustans’ and not any kind of meaningful state.
When Israel decides that Gaza has had enough, and stops dropping bombs, the media will call this ‘peace’. The clock will stop again. If those of us who believe in Palestinian self-determination and justice have any positive role to play at all, it is to continue to remind the world that there is no ‘peace’ or cessation of ‘conflict’ at all for Palestinians, but rather only the daily realities of Israeli conquest.
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