This is an edited and updated extract of what I wrote in 2012
It usually starts with a stabbing in Tel Aviv or Jerusalem. It could also be a cross-border skirmish, an indiscriminate murder or a targeted assassination. Other times it’s more specific, like objections to the blockade of Gaza or a false imprisonment. Whoevers starts it, the underlying context is this: Palestine lives under an occupation, and is slowly but surely being wiped from the map. Whoever starts the tit-for-tats, you can be sure that Israel will always finish it with ruthless efficiency. And in the spirit of Orwell, they do so under the pretence of defence.
After a war of words it isn’t long before the rockets start to fly in. Oh look, here they come. The IDF smirk as 99.9% of the rockets are calmly batted away, ‘Nice try guys. Sigh. Guess we better defend ourselves’. Cue 75,000 soldiers who just happen to be around the corner. Warships, drones, tanks, helicopters. ‘Yes! We get to defend ourselves!!’.
And then it’s game on. The Israelis defend themselves. There goes a mosque. And another. There goes a hospital, a school, a UN shelter and even an entire neighbourhood. There’s 4 kids on a beach: splat! 20. 40. 80. 160. 320. It’s hard to keep count, but the number of kids killed in the last massacre was over 550 (in 6 weeks). Oh well. As Gaza burns, Israel continues to lament the Palestinians daring to resist, daring to talk back. How dare they?!
Eventually the military might of Israel begins to take its toll. There’s only so much shouting you can do before you realise you actually don’t have a voice. Or an army. Or any means by which to defend yourself. The Palestinians eventually learn their place. They lie down on the ground, roll onto their stomachs, lift their arses up and take 6 inches of the Zionist dream. They don’t dare complain anymore. They’ve learnt their lesson. They’re heads are pulled up, so they can watch their country burn, while another 2 inches of the Zionist dream digs deeper. Watch the fourth biggest military in the world occupy your country. Watch an 8-year embargo cripple your economy. Watch 1000s of political prisoners rot in Israeli jails, without trial. Watch settlements continue being built in the West Bank, slowly but surely dividing businesses, neighbourhoods and families. Don’t dare complain though. Never wander too far from your cage. Drink the contaminated water and know your place. Watch the Israeli military grow bigger and more extreme each year. Watch the billions of dollars pour in from the US. Watch Egypt honour the ‘peace’ agreement. Watch the world sit back and do nothing. Don’t dare fight back. Don’t dare resist. Just take it like the rat you are.
When the rape is finally over, the rat is thrown back into his sewer and told to never defy the master again. Cue the world’s media. But they’re not capturing the Palestinian rat, just yet. First the real story: the distressed Israeli, as he laments his need to defend himself. As he rehearses his carefully scripted PR statement, a Palestinian rat shouts abuse from his cage. The Israeli sighs, apologises and says, ‘One minute please, this wont take long’. He pulls out an assault rifle and blows the rat’s head off. Someone taps him on the shoulder, ‘Ah, that was a kid’. ‘What else was I to do, I though it was a terrorist’. ‘There, there (consoling pat on the back), poor Israeli, we understand. Your hands are tied. It’s an impossible situation for you. Go on, keep occupying. Keep humiliating. Keep killing. They’re Palestinians. We get it’.
When they’ve made their point, when they’ve finished punishing Gaza for existing, they’ll accept a ceasefire. The hawks in the right-wing Likud party will be re-elected. The country will drift ever further to the right. The American taxpayer will dump another eye watering bag of cash on their laps. Another chunk of the West Bank will be wiped from the map. The oppressor will play victim and the dance will continue.
Fast-forward two years. The blood has dried and the rubble swept into a corner. The outrage on social media has moved on to the next transient tragedy of the day. Gaza simmers in poverty, degradation and shit. No one gets in. No one gets out. Out of sight, out of mind. This is when picking is ripe. This is when the liberal moderates at the Guardian, Observer and the Times begin their ‘criticism of Israel is just cover for anti Semitism’ argument. This is when they attempt to reshape the contours of the argument back in their favour. Y’see, according to these guys, I’m a racist. When I went to Palestine, the oppression I saw, it wasn’t real. What I saw was shaped by my hatred of Jews. Y’see, I’m an anti-Semite. So when I criticise the killing of 550 kids in 6 weeks (Operation Protective Edge, 2014), I’m blinded by my hatred of Jews. When I see my country of birth, and my country of residence, idly stand by and support massacres, I’m supposed to stay silent. Because I’m an anti-Semite. But I’m never accused of being an Islamophobe for questioning our alliance with Saudi Arabia. When I wrote a letter to The Australian newspaper about the editors’ shameless support for a state that practices an extreme version of Islam, no-one called me an Islamophobe. When I wrote to the Age newspaper about their American bias, no-one accused me of being anti American. Because I’m not anti-American. I’m not an Islamophobe. And I’m certainly not an anti-Semite.
But this is irrelevant to the likes of Freedland, Oliver Kamm and John McTernan, because in their balanced and liberal eyes, you simply cannot criticise the state of Israel. It is beyond reproach. There’s too much at stake. It can kill and occupy with impunity. And that’s quite an achievement.There’s nothing you can do stop what’s happening, so just close your eyes and forget about it. Because in the true spirit of Orwell, ignorance is bliss.