Demonstrators mowed down
But if you protest too much you will be condemned as anti-Semitic, warns Tony Greenstein
March 30 was Day of the Land in Palestine and in the build-up thousands of people had been demonstrating near Gaza’s border fence with Israel. They were demanding the right to return to the land of their parents or grandparents, who were driven out by Zionists in the 1948-49 naqba.
But, on March 27, 16 people were murdered and over 750 injured by the Israel Defence Forces in a wanton massacre of unarmed protestors. This is what Labour’s false anti-Semitism campaign is really all about - defending Israel’s right to mow down Palestinians who demand justice. Israeli troops first used tear gas and rubber bullets before opening fire with live ammunition, even though it appears none of the demonstrators were carrying firearms. Since then at least one of the injured has died and the death toll could well rise higher.
Gaza has been under siege by Israel for more than a decade and it is becoming unliveable. Ninety percent of water is undrinkable, the devastation of Operation Protective Edge in the summer of 2014 has still not been repaired and electricity is available for no more than two-three hours per day. It is a siege by air, land and sea, yet Israel claims it is not an occupying power!
The Israeli state has what it calls an “existentialist” fear of the Palestinians crossing the fence that surrounds Gaza in order to enter Israel. To understand this, just look at the naqba itself. A Jewish state could only come into existence if the majority of its Arab inhabitants were expelled - over three quarters of a million of them were ethnically cleansed in this way.
Israel was and is based on the ‘principle’ of ethnicity - just like Nazi Germany and the fascist states of Europe in the 1930s. In Germany it was the Aryan race who were recognised as the only ones with the right to citizenship, while in Hungary the same applied to the Magyar. Similarly in Israel it is only Jewish ethnicity that guarantees citizenship and residence - Palestinians are outside the Jewish Volk and have no such rights. Some 85%-90% of Palestinians were expelled from Palestine/Israel in the naqba - even Zionist historians like Benny Morris accept this.1 The remainder are today regarded as little more than tolerated guests.
So on March 27, when up to 30,000 Palestinians gathered near the border, they were termed “infiltrators”, whose attempt to return, however tokenistic, could not be tolerated. That is why the IDF attacked them with lethal force. Nothing is more calculated to arouse Zionist anger than the idea of a return of the refugees and so around 100 IDF “snipers” were engaged to open fire on anyone who approached the fence.
But this is hardly an isolated incident in Israel’s history. Thousands are estimated to have been murdered in the 1950s, as they tried to return to the lands from where they had been expelled. And those who had remained inside Israel’s borders were often classified in Orwellian terms as “present absentees”. Even if they had gone to the next village for protection they were deemed to have left their lands, which were then confiscated under the Absentee Property Law of 1950.2
Following the latest massacre, Israeli prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu praised the army, saying his troops had behaved entirely correctly in “guarding the country’s borders”, so that Israeli citizens could celebrate the Passover holiday “peacefully”. He brushed aside the need even for an inquiry. In response, Eric Goldstein, the deputy Middle East director at Human Rights Watch, said: “Praising the army’s handling of the March 30 events and saying there shall be no inquiry into how Israeli soldiers gunned down 17 protestors across a fence says much about how cheaply Israeli authorities view the lives of Palestinians in Gaza.”
For his part, the newly elected president of the Muslim Association of Britain, Anas Altikriti, stated in an open letter:
No Israeli - soldier or civilian - was ever under threat, let alone harmed. Yet, as all the live TV coverage, pictures and clips clearly demonstrate, the Israeli forces and its snipers saw fit to take pot shots into the civilian crowd who were marching peacefully.
But such condemnation did not deter Israel’s fascistic minister of defence, Avigdor Lieberman, who blithely remarked that the IDF had “operated extremely well”. Lieberman, who in the past has confessed to the desire to drown thousands of Palestinian prisoners in the Dead Sea,3 stated:
We have set clear rules of the game and we do not intend to change them. Anyone who approaches the fence endangers his life, and I would recommend that Gaza residents put their efforts not into protesting against Israel, but into regime change within the strip.
The world will no doubt ritually condemn this massacre and then move on. In the meantime, campaigns like the smearing of opponents of Israel as ‘anti-Semitic’ will no doubt continue. As for the Zionists themselves, they are attempting to justify the massacre. For example, the Board of Deputies of British Jews - which has been frothing at the mouth over fake ‘anti-Semitism’ and denouncing what it calls “conspiracy theories” about the Israeli embassy controlling its output - engaged in a few conspiracy theories of its own. It tweeted:
Hamas once again using its civilians - inc children - as pawns. We call for calm & a return to negotiating table resulting in a secure, Jewish & democratic Israel alongside a viable & vibrant Palestinian state.4
According to these racists, thousands of Palestinians were protesting not because they want to end the siege of Gaza, the theft of their land and Israel’s starvation tactics, but because they were put up to it by those wicked people in Hamas. Hamas seemingly has mystical powers of coercion, driving people to risk their lives by approaching the border. What else could Israeli troops do but mow them down?
Of course, these lies lack all credibility and simply betray the racist mentality of those that Jeremy Corbyn has shamefully decided to appease. Palestinians are not clever enough to know they are being manipulated by their leaders - unlike the murderers in uniform that Israel employs. This is the typical response of the colonialists and their apologists.
The rest of the Board of Deputies’ tweet is equally hypocritical. It talks about negotiating for a “viable and vibrant Palestinian state”, when the BoD knows very well that not one member of Israel’s cabinet supports a Palestinian state of any description. Neither does the Israeli Labor Party. The wonder is that Jeremy Corbyn plays along with this fiction, forgetting everything he ever did in 30-plus years of work in the Palestine solidarity movement. The Labour leader’s appeasement of these racists is utterly shameful.
1. See http://larryjhs.fastmail.fm.user.fm/The%20Birth%20of%20the%20Palestinian%20Refugee%20Problem%20Revisited.pdf.