Slander and Threats Won’t Stop the Protests Against Israel’s War on Gaza

As the Israeli military uses ever more violence against Gaza’s civilian population, there have been massive demonstrations calling for a cease-fire. The protesters are taking a stand for basic human solidarity against the moral bankruptcy of Western leaders.

On the last day of October, Israel bombed the densely populated Jabalia refugee camp north of Gaza City, demolishing several apartment blocks and leaving behind huge craters amidst the rubble. Medical personnel at Gaza’s Indonesian Hospital said that the bombing killed at least fifty people — a death toll that is certain to rise as more bodies are recovered — and wounded hundreds more.

Britain’s Channel 4 News broadcast the horrifying scenes inside the hospital as doctors struggled to cope with the carnage. One eyewitness described the aftermath of the bombing to CNN:

Children were carrying other injured children and running, with grey dust filling the air. Bodies were hanging on the rubble, many of them unrecognized. Some were bleeding and others were burnt.

Jabalia, which covers an area of 1.4 square kilometers, is the biggest refugee camp in the Gaza Strip. According to the UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), more than 116,000 people are officially registered as living there.

In contrast with the bombing of Al-Ahli Hospital two weeks ago, there was no attempt by the Israeli military to deny responsibility for the attack. Richard Hecht, a spokesman for the Israel Defense Forces (IDF), claimed that the bombs that devastated Jabalia had also killed a Hamas military commander. He did not offer any proof to back up this claim, which Hamas quickly denied.

Hecht told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer that Jabalia was a legitimate target because the Palestinian civilians living there should have moved to southern Gaza, where Israel has also been dropping bombs. UNRWA has repeatedly stated that there are no safe areas in the Gaza Strip where people can go.

The IDF spokesman made no attempt to argue that the horrifying bloodshed at Jabalia was the result of an unfortunate error on the part of the Israeli military. It was clear from what Hecht said that Israel anticipated a large number of civilian casualties when it launched the attack on Jabalia and went ahead with it anyway.

The Israeli government now evidently considers the whole of northern Gaza to be a free-fire zone, regardless of what that means for the safety of Palestinian civilians. To drive the point home, its forces bombed Jabalia again the following day. Anyone who still insists that the IDF is not waging war on the people of Gaza is willfully blind to the facts.

One World, One Struggle

Atrocities like this — and the certainty of many more if Israel’s war continues — have prompted huge numbers of people to take to the streets across Europe and North America to demand an immediate cease-fire, in tandem with the mobilizations for Palestine throughout the Middle East. The biggest demonstrations so far have been in London, with marches on three successive Saturdays that grew bigger every time. Last Saturday’s protest attracted several hundred thousand people — perhaps as many as half a million.

The British home secretary Suella Braverman has responded to the protests with mounting fury, branding them as “hate marches” that pose a threat to Britain’s Jewish community and threatening a legal clampdown (without being able to say what laws the protesters might have broken). The only reason to dwell upon Braverman’s bigoted ravings is to place them in the context of a noxious political agenda that she wants to promote.

Braverman has an ugly track record of propagating far-right, antisemitic conspiracy theories about “cultural Marxism” and the Great Replacement. She is angling to become the next Conservative leader after Rishi Sunak guides her party to its anticipated defeat in next year’s general election. Braverman’s strategy for achieving this goal is to outbid her rivals in xenophobic demagoguery directed against immigrants and refugees.

For Braverman and those who think like her, the term “antisemitism” has nothing to do with bigotry against Jews. When she accuses someone of antisemitism, she simply means that they do not give unconditional support to Israel. If the person in question happens to be Jewish, that makes no difference to her outlook. On the other hand, if somebody does give unconditional support to Israel, she believes that nobody can ever accuse them of hostility to Jews, however much time they spend promoting conspiracist farragoes that are inextricably linked to antisemitic prejudice — a convenient state of affairs for Braverman herself, needless to say.

Braverman and her allies in the media, such as Viktor Orbán’s British outrider Douglas Murray, think of the confrontation between Israel and the Palestinians as a proxy war. For them, Israel represents the front line of Western civilization while the Palestinians represent the postcolonial South — in particular its Arab and Muslim component — that must be kept down and out. They see the protesters expressing solidarity with the people of Gaza as a treacherous fifth column undermining the West from within, even — or especially — if they come from a white, Christian background. There are clear echoes here of the way defenders of apartheid in South Africa perceived white supporters of the African National Congress.

Read more at The Guardian