Israel: A terrorist state

March 10, 2024
Protest for Palestine in Gadigal/Sydney. Photo: Peter Boyle

Thursday February 29: starving Gazans try to obtain flour for their families. From the safety of their tanks, Israeli soldiers fire. One hundred and four people are killed, 750 injured.

Israeli army spokespersons blame the crowd and insist that most fatalities occurred when Gazans were crushed by aid trucks.

The spokespersons are in damage control. Their country’s reputation as a respectful law abiding state must be maintained, even with a pack of lies.

An image of Israel as a respected ally of the United States, the European Union, Australia and other Western states, has been contrived to affect massive military and economic aid.

How could it be otherwise? That’s the only way to think. Western nations’ foreign policy creed says their governments must support Israel.

It is long overdue that the connotation “Israel”, an exceptional, humanitarian nation, be replaced by an image which reflects its racist barbarity, its dismissal of Palestinians’ human rights, let alone its claims to be a worthy member of the United Nations.

The other side of the exceptional Israel narrative includes the stigmatising of the country’s opponents, in particular the depiction of the governing party in Gaza, Hamas, as a terrorist organisation, a description repeated ad nauseam by news readers.

Evidence of Palestinian fatalities, dispossession and destruction shows Israel to be the terrorist state.

Let’s assess definitions and weigh evidence.

The description “terrorist” is used by powerful states, such as the US, to identify enemies and justify brutalities once the “terrorist” label has been attached.

Consistent with dictionary definitions and a US army manual, Noam Chomsky defines terrorism as “the calculated use of violence or threat of violence to attain political, religious or ideological goals carried out through intimidation, coercion or by instilling fear”.

The International Court of Justice interim ruling that Israel cease genocidal acts in Gaza, the killing of 30,000 Palestinian citizens, mostly women and children, and the 100 plus food supply deaths of a few days ago, should have dented Israel’s morally respectful image even among die-hard supporters internationally, nationally and the media.

Yet the Hamas killings of last October 7 have been depicted as the inimitable terrorist act, which justified subsequent carnage — a false and deceitful history so easily forgotten unless challenged by facts inconvenient to the Israel image.

The 1948 murders by Zionist terrorist gangs of 15,000 mostly young Palestinians, the slaughter of more than 100 villagers in Deir Yassin, destruction of more than 500 villages and towns were accompanied by the expulsion of 750,000 people from their homes — the Nakba tragedy.

After 1948, massacres, destruction and dispossession continued.

Fast forward to the 1982 Israeli invasion of Lebanon, newspaper estimates of 17,825 killed, 30,203 injured. The Times of London, Los Angeles Times and Caritas reported that in early July over Beirut, shells were landing at 30 per minute. On July 27, residents experienced 30 straight hours of bombardment, 30%–50% of the wounded died and 400,000 people were made homeless.

The US government’s response in 1982 has been echoed by President Joe Biden this year by refusing to demand a ceasefire in Gaza.

In response to the Israeli devastation in Lebanon, the Ronald Reagan administration continued to support the Begin government’s barbarism.

A brief record of Israeli killings in Gaza between 2008 and 2023, (no reference to the massive destruction of homes, schools, hospitals, agricultural land, water and sewage plants) should question media assumptions that the crux of inhumanities is always carried out by Hamas.

In 2008, Israeli Operation Cast Lead killed 1400 Palestinians including 300 children. In 2014, Operation Protective Edge killed 2251 Palestinians, including 551 children. In 2014, Al Jazeera reported that Israel forces aimed “to devastate Palestine bodies and minds alike”.

Gazans’ 2018 march of return to acknowledge refugees’ right of return to their homeland, led to more than 200 deaths from Israeli sniper fire, with 40,000 injured. The World Health Organisation found that 1200 of the injured required limb reconstruction and long-term rehabilitation.

The taste for killing Palestinians continued.

In May 2021, following Israel’s bombing, 260 people were killed. Following air attacks in August 2022, 30 more Gazans died.

On the West Bank, between October 7, 2023 and February 1, armed police, soldiers and settlers killed 360 Palestinians.

Morality and justice are not determined by body counts, but even a fraction of history shows Israel as a militarised, apartheid state which cultivates violent racism towards another people.

Despite Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s aim to eliminate Hamas, whom he interprets as all the Palestinian people, despite overwhelming evidence of genocide in Gaza, Western nations, either ill informed, ignorant or cowardly, still swallow the image of Israel as a liberal democracy.

The Nakba tragedy of 1948 is only one chapter in the development of a violent settler colonialism, which has produced a terrorist Israeli state.

[Stuart Rees AM is Professor Emeritus at the University of Sydney and a recipient of the Jerusalem (Al Quds) Peace Prize. This article was first published in Pearls and Irritations.]

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