If it is ultimately up to individuals to form their own opinions about Israel and if it’s all a matter of interpretation and debate, there are now millions of individuals who have already formed their own opinions and have no doubt that Israel is a rogue state. Millions refuse to condemn Hamas and equate its armed resistance with Israel’s 75-year history of violence, terror and dispossession against Palestinian civilians.
The term “rogue state” is a political term used to describe states that engage in aggressive and illegal behavior. You wouldn’t know this fact about Israel by listening to bellicose Western news sources and Western governments led by the US claiming that Israel has a “right to defend itself.”
Israel’s actions towards the Palestinians before Oct 7 included its illegal occupation of Palestinian territory, an occupation that has prevented the realization of the right to self-determination of the Palestinian people. Israel’s occupation is illegal and indistinguishable from a “settler-colonial” situation. It is “intentionally acquisitive, segregationist and repressive settler-colonial occupation,” and must end as a pre-condition for Palestinians to exercise their right to self-determination.
Because the United Nations Independent International Commission of Inquiry on the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, considers Israel to be an occupying power in the Palestinian territories, Israel has no right to self-defense.
What’s more, the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) has explicitly affirmed the right of Palestinians to resist Israel’s military occupation, including through armed struggle. This right was affirmed in the context of the right to self-determination of all peoples under foreign and colonial rule. UNGA Resolution 3314 (1974) affirmed the right of self-determination, freedom, and independence for all “peoples under colonial and racist regimes or other forms of alien domination,” and affirmed the “right of these peoples to struggle to that end and to seek and receive support.” Although UNGA resolutions are not legally binding, they “accurately reflect the customary international legal opinion among the majority of the world’s sovereign states.”
Israel, therefore, cannot simultaneously occupy Palestinian land and attack it as a “foreign” threat, or treat those resisting as enemy combatants.
In the aftermath of Oct 7, UN experts are saying that Israel has committed grave violations against Palestinians, particularly in Gaza, and that these “point to a genocide in the making.”
South Africa has referred Israel to the International Criminal Court (ICC) for war crimes investigation in Gaza as have three Palestinian rights groups, which filed a lawsuit with the ICC, urging the body to investigate Israel for “apartheid” as well as “genocide” and issue arrest warrants for Israeli leaders.
But again, we are being led to believe that it’s all a matter of interpretation and debate. The issue is a “fraught and hotly debated question among observers to the conflict,” we are told.
Nevertheless, millions of individuals around the world know that genocide in Gaza has already been made. Writing in World Socialist Website, Barry Grey says,
The “Final Solution” to the Palestinian question being implemented by the fascistic regime of Benjamin Netanyahu is transparently aimed at “ethnically cleansing” Gaza, killing as many of its inhabitants as possible and driving the rest into Egypt’s Sinai Desert, so that the land can be populated by Israelis in pursuit of a “Greater Israel.”
Contrary to the claims by Washington and Tel Aviv that the current war on Gaza is a defensive response to Hamas’ October 7 raid directed against the group’s leaders and infrastructure and not ordinary Gazans, it is well known that plans for ethnic cleansing and displacement of the population were drawn up by Israeli officials many years ago.
These millions of individuals understand, as Nicholas Kristof put it, they will be judged in years to come by how they responded to genocide on their watch. They understand this stark fact better than Joe Biden, Rishi Sunak, Olaf Scholz, Emmanuel Macron, and Justin Trudeau do.
Now that an exchange of prisoners’ deal between Hamas and Israel is looming, it boggles the mind that the US and all its allies, including the UN and some Arab states, are bizarrely discussing the imposition of a political order led by the pathetic Abbas over the West Bank and the Gaza Strip and assuming that Hamas’ “embers” can and will be extinguished. Fat Chance!
A more likely scenario that no one is discussing is the one published by Al Ghad (a Jordanian Arabic newspaper) in both Hebrew and Arabic. The op-ed piece posits the question, “What after ‘Israel?’” The subtitle says, “The occupation faces an economic impasse, a military failure, an internal crisis and international criticism.”
“What after ‘Israel?’” is certainly a more conceivable proposition to discuss than “What after Hamas.” But the issue here is not “conceivability” or fairness or facts; rather it is ramming a US vision of its influence, its “interests” in the region down our throats and censoring opposition to that vision. Facebook has canceled Al Ghad’s Page, because the article in Hebrew was able to reach Israelis, most of whom appear to have little idea of what’s happening to them.
Rima Najjar is a Palestinian whose father’s side of the family comes from the forcibly depopulated village of Lifta on the western outskirts of Jerusalem and whose mother’s side of the family is from Ijzim, south of Haifa. She is an activist, researcher and retired professor of English literature, Al-Quds University, occupied West Bank.
First published on Medium