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The winds of war may have shifted somewhat in the Middle East as Israel and Iran threaten a wider regional war, thereby taking some of the attention away from the unspeakable brutality in Gaza. But JIDE ADENIYI-JONES redirects the focus to certain fundamentals that undergird the nature of human conflicts and the hypocrisy  that is all too evident


In the six months since the Hamas attack in Israel, the first question that is asked in the west, to establish the legitimacy of your views about the ongoing Middle East horror is, do you condemn Hamas? If you do not have a yes or no answer, you are accused of being an enabler of ‘terror’ and are faced with an uphill battle to push against the headwind of talking points that is triggered by any context in your answer. If you choose to engage, you have to try and explain that it is possible to oppose all violence, but also realise that principles of cause and effect mean that certain circumstances will almost inevitably engender a violent response. Next you get bogged down in a pointless argument as to who was the aggressor and who is responding. Pointless I say, because the ‘bedtime stories’ that frame our understanding of historical events are concocted in crucibles of opposing folklore. To many, for who life felt safe and comfortable until a murderous attack in October, it is almost impossible to hear that the murderous conditions that spawned the attack predated October the seventh.


In both public and private discourse, the opening gambit is intended to establish that, “Hamas is a terrorist organisation”. Well, for what it is worth, I do not think that Hamas is a terrorist organisation. I think that Hamas is a political organisation, with a military wing of freedom fighters who, like many before them, have used extremely violent even abhorrent means to prosecute their case. In this instance, it seems that Hamas’ violence on October the seventh was not considered abhorrent enough by the Israeli government, because they instantly embellished the story of the attack with a made up sequence of outlandish lies which they released through official sources. These stories accused Hamas of decapitating babies, systematic rapes and burning of children, in a crude attempt to trigger Israeli sensitivities. Not an unfamiliar script. These stories were soon all discredited by Israel’s own civil authorities.

In their meticulous assessment of the aftermath of the grisly scene, they recorded much criminal bloodletting by Hamas to be sure, but no evidence of the inhuman allegations that were intended to prime the pump of support for what was to follow. And in this they were very successful, the visibly shaken president of the United States claimed to have seen pictures of the fabricated atrocities as he pledged unconditional support for Israel. The New York Times ran a major spread, anchored on fictitious evidence of rape. Even today, after the allegations have fallen apart, the stories are referenced with dogged tenacity by diehard Zionist advocates.


The state of Israel itself was birthed in terrorism. However it prevailed and so the terrorists became founding fathers. In 1946 Irgun, the Israeli terror group operating in Palestine, blew up the King David Hotel in Jerusalem. The aim of the attack was said to be to destroy documents in the hotel which incriminated the Jewish Agency in Palestine in attacks against the British. Today we would be told that the ninety one people, of various nationalities, who were killed in the attack were collateral damage or human shields behind which the damning documents were hiding.


The  African National Congress (ANC) waged a political and armed struggle against the apartheid regime in South Africa. The same custodians of global morality-  the United States, Great Britain etc, who support Israel today- were ardent supporters of the South African apartheid regime. Albie Sachs the Jewish South African jurist explained the dilemma that resulted from hearing reports of atrocities committed by ANC cadres in the dark days of struggle. He said that the ANC leadership agonised over how to deal with this if they ever got into power. Would they only demand justice for their enemies or did crimes committed by the oppressed count too. Their attempt to resolve this dilemma was the philosophical underpinning of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. Is justice supposed to be vengeance or a path to healing?


Today I think that we should all think about an occupied people, what is expected of them? If I understand correctly, in international law, they have a right, even obligation to resist their occupation. To resist certainly but how? The quandary for the freedom fighter is that two wrongs do not make a right, so what do you do when you are faced with generational oppression? What do you do when peaceful protest has been met by gunfire and for years the world looks on and does nothing? What do you do when global resolutions are ignored with impunity, and the veto-wielding nations in the United Nations provide political cover for that impunity? What do you do when an occupying force terrorises your children with murder and arbitrary imprisonment? For non-violence to succeed the violence meted out on the oppressed must provoke the ‘civilised’ world to action. The world must live up to its responsibility to insist that the behaviour of the occupying apartheid oppressor is not acceptable and move to put a stop to it.


Ms Nurit Peled-Elhanan grew up with all the privileges of Zionist ‘royalty’. The daughter of a general, she was raised on stories of Israeli victimhood, exceptionalism, morality and righteousness. To compound that, she experienced the unbearable pain of terror first hand, when her teenage daughter was murdered in a suicide bombing in Jerusalem carried out by a young Palestinian boy. When asked how she could be such an unequivocal supporter of Palestinian rights after the most basic right, that to life, was snatched away from her own child by a Palestinian, her answer was, “I think that all the children killed in this conflict, are the victims of Israeli occupation. I do feel bitter towards the responsible ones and, I said it right away, the responsible one is the Israeli government. Palestinians are not suiciders by their nature or murderers. I think we are all victims of Israeli occupation, so it depends on where you point your finger. This poor boy who blew himself up, had the decency, I would say that, the decency to kill himself in the process. And I cannot say that about any other soldier or pilot. We are all victims of the occupation, all of us, those kidnapped in Gaza, along with the Palestinians. Without the occupation, this would have never occurred, never. So that’s it.”


According to the standards of the western world, suicide is considered either a cowardly act or as a mental aberration. In much of the Orient however, it is a principled act to redeem honour.  By those standards, half of the current politicians in Washington, London, Abuja, Berlin, Yaounde to name a few, would be honour bound to disembowel themselves as soon as their duplicitous behaviour is exposed in the unarmed struggle over state resources. The phenomenon of the Kamikaze was another form of suicide in armed struggle. In it each Japanese pilot was part of a ‘divine wind’ that blew against their enemy. The pilots, almost all teenage volunteers, flew their explosive-laden aircraft into enemy ships, sacrificing themselves in the quest for a victory that they would never see. Not too different in concept from the Christian gospel, John 15.13 ‘Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.’


Listening to Ms Peled-Elhanan, introduced me to another way of thinking about a suicide attack: decency. In an extreme act of resistance, the fighter offers themself as part of the process, the ultimate example of having ‘skin in the game’.


But how is a young person put in this position in the first place? It has occurred to me that the young fighters who came across the wire from Gaza to Israel, would have been in the same age range as the revellers who they encountered at the open air concert in Israel and captured or killed. If the circumstances of their lives had permitted them to be at a concert that day, is it conceivable that they would have been on a murder and hostage taking raid? How many of them had witnessed the March of Return target practice at that same wire? How many of them had lost relatives to occupation oppression? Each one has a story about the route that led them to decide to kill or be killed on the October raid beyond the perimeter of Gaza.


When all is said and done, the attackers killed innocent people, some of the attackers were themselves killed and some returned with innocent captives in tow, in a macabre performance; in which those killed, the captors and the captives were all victims of an unnecessary and untenable situation that refuses to accord equal rights as human beings who live on the land between the Jordan river and the Mediterranean sea.


Ps. The mandatory line in almost every defence of Israel’s barbaric bombardment of Gaza through the years has been “Israel has the right to defend itself”. Of course every state in the world has the right to defend itself  from foreign agression, that is the purpose of an army. However defenders of the rules- based international order, would do well to look at the rules regarding occupying powers. What are the rules, rights and obligations of the occupiers and the occupied? Without a doubt the attack by Hamas fighters on, and abduction of innocent citizens of various nationalities in Israel was a violation of law and ought to be treated as such. It was certainly not licence to inflict six months of unrestrained bombardment upon an innocent civilian population, claiming it is self-defence.


As I write this, voices from Zionist-enabling capitals around the world are responding to the targeted killing by the Israel Defence Force of seven World Food Kitchen volunteers. The United States government issued a bewilderingly vague statement that Israel has to change its war policy and kill fewer civilians or the US will change its policy of unconditional support for Israel. At least it appears that the killing of a Polish, Australian, Canadian/American and three British citizens along with a Palestinian is finally too much to take. It is not clear what the nations who have now seen too much killing have in mind to do, or what changes from Israel will be satisfactory. I trust that this will become clear in due course. I give thanks for anything that can be done to stop this insane slaughter. However if I am to be brutally honest and put myself into the mind of a young survivor of the last six months in Gaza, it will be a hard sell to convince me that at the commanding heights of the rules- based world order, every life has equal value.

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