All settler colonial regimes have a built in propensity to massive violence against the natives being dispossessed, whether in North America, Australia, Rhodesia or Israel/Palestine. One key aspect of the Zionist colonising project in Palestine from 1918 till the present day, one not unique to Zionism, is that the subjection of the native people to a draconian apartheid system across the whole of Israel Palestine is only a warehousing operation for unwanted people until they can be removed permanently.
Many decent people enraged by Israeli barbarity towards the Palestinian people, especially those who know the history of serial Zionist and then Israeli massacres that have punctuated Palestinian history, compare Israeli atrocities to those of the Nazis, the latter being the seen, rightly, as the epitome, of savagery. In expressing rage at mass murder, people reach into the reserves of knowledge they have and deploy it.
The main problem with the ‘Israelis equals Nazis’ comparison is that it ignores the genocidal sweep of European history since 1492 with its mass exterminations by Belgian, Spanish, German, French, Portuguese and British Empire builders and sustainers. The million dead from the Irish famine, or the much larger numbers who perished in the famines in British-controlled Bengal, including the many millions there in 1943, are but a couple of examples. The true comparison is between the violent, genocidal colonial settler state of Israel and its many colonial parallels.
Noam Chomsky, for example, meticulously researches the history of violent Israeli ethnic cleansing punctuated by intense violence against those who resist. Ilan Pappe does the same in his work, in The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine and other works. Benny Morris also lays bare the history of Israeli ethnic cleansing as a competent professional historian, he but concludes as a good Zionist that it was most regrettable that it didn’t go all the way, remove every single Palestinian and replace them all with Jews.
Unless it is seen in the framework of a long term programme of ethnic cleansing being carried out by a colonial settler state, the situation in Gaza, the West Bank, and also within 1948-67 Israel makes no sense, for the same programme of dispossession that drove most of the population of Gaza from their homes in present-day Israel and into Gaza, is ongoing in every area of Israel Palestine, not sparing Palestinian citizens of Israel or the residents of the West Bank.
The deputy Speaker of the Israeli Knesset last week called for Gaza to be smashed, occupied and populated with Jews. Socialists need to come off the fence and abandon the search for so-called balance. We need to be unconditionally on the side of the Palestinians struggling for their freedom and opposed to the settler colonial state of Israel.
States come and go; its people that count and a state based on ethnic supremacy, that was born a settler-democracy after the vast bulk of the native people were driven out with great massacres does not deserve any support from those committed to political democracy, never mind socialists who aim to go further and build a society based on economic equality as well.
There is a long history of British support for anti-colonial struggles, from Kenya to India and around the world where the sun never set on the British Empire and the blood never dried on the ‘butcher’s apron’ that the Union Jack represented for millions of colonial people denied elementary political democracy.
Al Shifa Hospital in Gaza is awash with blood as I write; the shelling of Palestinian hospitals is a long tradition of the Israel Army. The violation and dispossession of the Palestinian people and their denial of democratic rights was a joint British-Zionist project from its inception and Britain still supplies key parts for the drones that have been overflying Gaza daily for years, the drones that identify, select and kill Palestinians, both resistance fighters, political figures and anyone in the vicinity. The UK also sells parts for Israeli F-16s and other weapons systems used to smash Palestinian resistance and any semblance of a normal life.
If what has happened to Palestinians had happened to Scots, many would have resisted and it would have been pathological not to resist. Those fighters in Gaza stand in the tradition of all colonial fighters against the invaders’ plans for their disappearance and dispossession.
There may be time for reconciliation between Hebrew- and Arabic-speakers in the future. It is to be hoped, but while the massacres and ethnic cleansing continue, let us not talk of peace and reconciliation but commit to support the struggle of the Palestinian people for their freedom through solidarity of every kind and, above all, by answering the call from people under the shells and bombs for a comprehensive campaign of BDS (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions) against the state of Israel until it concedes Palestinian human and national rights.
• Read the Scottish Socialist Party’s statement on Gaza here.
• SSP public meeting on Gaza Thursday 7 August, 7.30pm, The Piper Bar, George Square. Speakers: Hasan Nowarah, a Palestinian who has organised aid flotillas to Gaza, being beaten up by Israeli state forces whilst doing so, and now has suffered the murder of family members and friends last week; Jim Bollan, Scottish Socialist Party councillor, who successfully moved the case for a boycott of Israel by West Dunbartonshire council a few years ago, incurring the wrath of Zionists – and has now got the council to fly the Palestinian flag this week; Bill Bonnar is the SSP international spokesperson and regular contributor to the Voice on these issues.