Death and Devastation in Gaza

Defining the cruel reality and the tasks before us

By Ralph Schoenman

What we are witnessing today in Gaza is not a war. The people of Gaza do not have an army. They have no air force. They have no anti-aircraft capacity. They have no means whatsoever of defense against air attack, missile attack, the systematic use of genocidal weapons such as white phosphorous, depleted uranium, fragmentation bombs, gas and chemical warfare, biological warfare involving weaponized genomes of deadly biological agents.

What we are witnessing today is the relentless destruction of the civilian population as a strategic objective—the brutal slaughter that inspired Pablo Picasso’s painting “Guernica” during the fascist assault upon the Spanish Revolution in the 1930s. Guernica stood as an emblem of humanity’s response to fascism. So it does today for the agonizing victimization of the people of Gaza.

Hospitals, schools, private homes and entire civilian neighborhoods, shelters, U.N. and internationally run centers for medical treatment of a population subjected to mass murder by design are the signature of this barbarous campaign.

It is analogous to the destruction of the Warsaw Ghetto, and the military and political operation is taken from the playbook from the Nazi “final solution” imposed upon the Jews of Europe, a crime in which the Zionist movement of the day was fully complicit.

The Nazi-like siege of Gaza is by design intended to strangle the inhabitants of Gaza. It cuts off food and medicine. It destroys sewage facilities and contaminates potable water. It severs access to vital construction materials with which to repair destroyed homes, sustain power, electricity and the means of survival.

The Israelis have calculated a calorie count that is barely above mere sustenance and insufficient to ward off systemic and epidemic disease.

Within the West Bank, the water supply has been seized by the Zionist State and the relentless settlements are aimed at reducing the Palestinians, in the words of former Israeli Chief of Staff Raphael Eitan, speaking in the Israeli Knesset, to “drugged cockroaches in a bottle.”

Netanyahu has now declared formally that all the territory west of the Jordan River must be a security area of the Israeli State and under permanent Israeli control.

What is the intent of such policies? The removal of the means of survival for the Palestinian population and the transfer en masse to other countries of the surviving besieged Palestinian people, a crime of the near future intended to unfold under the cover of sustained military attack.

There can be no doubt whatsoever that the current Israeli onslaught on the people of Gaza is not about Hamas per se. On the contrary, Hamas had accepted the hegemony of the Palestinian Authority and had even embraced the PA’s acquiescence in a “Palestinian entity” that legitimizes the Israeli State—a capitulation that sanctions the ethnic cleansing and dispossession of the Palestinian people from 80 percent of historic Palestine.

The Palestinian inhabitants of the village of Huj were subject to slaughter and expulsion to Gaza by the Zionist Negev Brigade’s 7th battalion on May 31, 1948. The area, now inhabited by Israelis, is called “Sderot.” In The Hidden History of Zionism1, under the heading “Murder in Gaza” [pages 37-38], the continuous Israeli assault on Gaza is set forth:

“The program of massacre did not end with the formation of the State. Meir Har Tzion’s diary describes Israeli commando squad massacres in the refugee camps and villages of Gaza during the early 1950s . . . Machine guns rattle, their noise mixed with a terrible howling. We reach the main thoroughfare of the camp. The mob of fleeing Arabs grows larger. The other group attacks from the opposite direction. The thunder of our hand-grenades echoes in the distance.”

There is no component of the Zionist leadership that has the slightest interest in “peace” with the people of Palestine. Their sustained policy—the raison d’etre of Zionism—is the removal of the Palestinian people from all their land and from history.

A staged event to create conditions for murderous invasion

The abduction and murder of the three settler teenagers was known fully by Israeli military and police authorities immediately. The Israeli government suppressed this truth to create the conditions for a vastly orchestrated and murderous invasion of the West Bank punctuated by the kidnapping, killing and imprisonment of hundreds of Palestinians.

The fact that no Palestinian political group declared responsibility for the kidnapping of these three settler youth was the clearest indication that the event was an Israeli operation. Palestinian political groups who make reprisals against settlers take responsibility for their acts and seek to build resistance based upon them.

The tactic is misguided as a revolutionary means of struggle, but that is a wholly separate issue.

The Israeli regime deployed this event to create the conditions for destroying the recently proclaimed political unity between Hamas and the Palestinian Authority. It did so with calculated intent, precisely to provide the pretext for the current onslaught —a sustained slaughter that is unleashed continuously. This murderous assault is, of course, but the latest in a series of such attacks that have unfolded over less than seven years.

The rulers of the Emirates from Qatar to Abu Dhabi to Dubai, from al Fujairah to Bahrain, consist of oil billionaire sheikdoms—country-selling regimes that enslave migrant workers and deploy their billions of dollars to carry out the dirty work of imperialism throughout the region.

The phrase “the global community” is an oxymoron. This euphemism refers to the major industrial powers that are junior partners of U.S. imperialism, corporate capitalist regimes that are military and political instruments of the subjugation of peoples, usurpation of their resources and partners in the neo-colonial exploitation of the mass of the population of the region.

Hence, their power and politics are deployed to sustain U.S. and Israeli hegemony and, as such, these governments and their representatives are complicit in the events unfolding in Gaza as we speak.

What can be more clear than the fact that the United States today agreed to supply arms and ammunition in huge amounts to amplify Israel’s genocidal onslaught in Gaza?

It has been revealed that the United States maintains an actual arms depot in Israel consisting of over one billion dollars of ammunition, mortar and attack weaponry, and this one billion dollar arsenal of mass murder is maintained precisely to resupply Israel’s obscene military massacre unfolding daily before our eyes in Gaza.

What has this “global community” done in response to this revelation that the United States is the source of arms and money for every murderous act of the Israeli State? The silence is so loud it drowns out the agonizing cries of the children and families of the dying people of Gaza.

As to the Emirates and their designs on Hamas, the corrupt rulers of these sheikdoms are complicit against Hamas even when they give token funds to Hamas since their entire function is that of adjuncts of U.S. and Israeli hegemony.

With respect to a “Two-State” solution, this is nothing more than a political game played by imperialism to provide ideological cover for its predations. It is not “peace” that is the objective here but pacification. “Two States” entail accepting a Bantustan in which the Palestinian population is used as cheap labor under the military and economic control of the Israeli State. It is no more than a deceitful pursuit that will never be implemented but serves to paralyze and disarm politically the Palestinian people.

The Palestine Authority is financed by Israel. It is a key component of Israeli “security enforcement” of which it is a shameful component.

Hamas actually agreed to support this process in the recent rapprochement with the Palestine Authority.

As we see repeatedly, the Zionist leaders of the Israeli State, all of them, have not the slightest intention of allowing any form of Palestinian “statehood”—even that Bantustan to which the decomposed Palestinian mis-leadership has lent itself, only to be humiliated and degraded on a perpetual basis by a contemptuous Israeli political class.

As to the words of Barack Obama, John Kerry, Hillary Clinton, Joseph Biden or any of the political satraps of corporate capitalism in the United States, these sanctimonious proclamations are uniformly duplicitous. They are aimed at providing political cover for the crimes of U.S. imperialism and its total collusion with its creation and instrument, the Israeli State and a permanent Zionist propaganda machine.

No, there will never be a concord for “Two States.” Such an agreement, of course, even if it should momentarily ensue, would do no more than assign to Palestinian servants of Israel and the U.S. the tasks of the most brutal repression of the Palestinian people. The prisons would be funded by Israel and the U.S. The torturers would be Israeli trained, and the purchased face of repression would be that of Palestinian collaborators.

Israel is a colonial-settler State. It must be removed by popular struggle. The struggle for self-determination in South Africa, Southern Rhodesia, Northern Rhodesia, Malawi, Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Ghana—the Algerian Revolution and formal independence in Morocco and Tunisia—were all components of the anti-colonial struggle for self-determination and sovereign independence.

No supporter of the rights of the colonized demanded that in order to enjoy the forms of self-determination they must first accept and guarantee the security of an exclusive settler State in all the major cities and economic centers of the nation concerned. No one demanded that the people of South Africa accept an exclusive Apartheid regime in Johannesburg, Cape Town and Durban—and this after some 500 years of colonial conquest! Why this indecent exceptionalism when it comes to the people of Palestine?

It is a measure of the political decomposition of our era that the basic predicates of the anti-colonial revolution, elementary 18th century democratic rights—have been abandoned with respect to Palestine.

Increasing numbers of Israelis, Palestinians, aspire to a single Palestinian nation in which all its inhabitants have the rights of citizenship based neither on ethnicity nor religious affiliation. The Palestinian people will join with increasing numbers of the settler population itself who are sick of being deployed as cannon fodder and pitted against the basic rights and survival of the Palestinian people and the peoples of the region. Together the people of Palestine and the growing tens-of-thousands of settlers who aspire to a nation in which the mass of the working population has hegemony and in which the productive forces of the nation are run by the vast majority—the working class at the point of production, will prepare the way forward.

Democratic Rights for the people of Palestine require nothing less than a State in which this vast working majority has hegemony over the economic and political life of the nation. On this basis alone can democratic rights be secured, a contagious prospect that will unfold through organized popular struggle and in which a Constituent Assembly will assure the rights of all and the restoration to the dispossessed Palestinian people of their homes, their lost property and their livelihoods. So indeed the rights of all will be secured.

As in Palestine so in the region and the world at large. The rights of the mass of the working population to run society is the basis for the realization of the democratic rights of all peoples.

As to the role of the United Nations, as long as its component States are controlled by the corporate capitalist oligarchy of the nation concerned, it can play no positive role.

The people of the world—all with eyes to see—are witness to the war crimes, the genocidal slaughter unleashed by Israel in Gaza. In every country, people must mobilize and demand that their leaders sever relations with the Israeli State and cease all economic and military support for it. The movement to Boycott and Divest that has grown internationally must be vastly expanded. Every Israeli ship and airplane should be greeted by a refusal to allow it to dock or to land.

Trade unions in every country should be enlisted in the struggle to support the besieged people of Gaza and of Palestine, the world’s soldiers for justice.

The lies perpetuated by the corporate media in every country must be challenged, and the deceptive deployment of intelligence operatives as “journalists” that take place in every capitalist State must be challenged and exposed. Hired hands of the CIA are not journalists. They are instruments of deception and a component not only of lying propaganda concerning the war on Gaza but facilitators of State propaganda designed to exploit and oppress the peoples of each country concerned.

The truth will set us free, and we must be diligent in proclaiming it.

Ralph Schoenman is the author of The Hidden History of Zionism, co-author of Prisoners of Israel and Homage to Palestine, as well as the author of numerous articles and radio programs on Palestine. During the 1982-83 Israeli invasion of Lebanon, Schoenman was co-coordinator of the Committee in Defense of the Palestinian and Lebanese Peoples. In 1988, at the time of the first Intifada, he was co-coordinator of the Palestine Campaign which initiated the slogan: End All Aid to Apartheid Israel: for a Democratic and Secular Palestine. For more information, go to

—July 31, 21014

1 The Hidden History of Zionism