Reflections on the assault on Gaza

Israeli bombing of a civilian building in May 2021. Photo: Wikimedia Commons

More than 248 Palestinians, including 66 children, were killed in Israeli air strikes on the Gaza Strip between May 11 and 21.

What makes me extremely angry about the latest bout of barbarism engaged by Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the Zionist Establishment is the dishonour they bring to the memory of my mother, who survived Nazi concentration camps, and to about 95% of my extended family, who were murdered by the Nazi extermination machine.

My uncle migrated from Poland to Israel in the early 1950s. He strongly advised my parents not to migrate after he became aware of the oppression of the Palestinian people and the ethnic cleansing that had occurred.

The project of Zionism, prior to the Holocaust, was the creation of a fictitious ethno-nationalist state: fictitious because it relied on discredited social-Darwinist pseudo-scientific theory and a desire — what was clearly a European colonial project — to transfer the antisemitic treatment of Jews as the “other” to the Palestinians.

Mutatis mutandis, the Zionist leadership transferred this European racism to the Palestinians.

I recall my first contact with Zionists in Australia. The language they used to talk about Arabs and Palestinians was identical to the language I had heard from the few antisemites I encountered when growing up in post WWII Poland.

I was shocked that they exchanged a Jew for an Arab or Palestinian and the same pseudo-scientific nonsense rose its ugly head.

Today, Zionist psychopathology, as from its very beginning, focuses on the creation of a mythological “pure” ethno-state and, to achieve such an ethno-state, the Zionist Establishment must complete the project of ethnic cleansing. This Establishment fears a multicultural Palestinian-Israeli state.

In psychoanalytical theory, this is known as a “fear of engulfment”; it reflects the fragility of identity.

To protect this fragile identity, the subject quite often puts up aggressive defences. Such a reaction can legitimately be transferred to nationalism and, in this instance, Zionism.

What we are currently witnessing is this barbaric aggression visited upon hapless Palestinians in the largest open air prison in the world.

[John (Janusz) Ebel is the son of Holocaust survivors. He was a draft resister and activist against the Vietnam War. He has been active in struggles against continued First Nations oppression and genocide and is involved in a number of social justice struggles. He has also practised as a radical existentialist psychotherapist.]