“The Hamas massacres on October 7 are not the cause but the pretext to bring the expansion of the Zionist state into a new, higher phase,” write Ludo De Witte, Johan Depoortere, Ludo De Brabandere and Lode Vanoost. “If Hamas commits crimes, it is a reflection of Israel’s crimes.”
The war between Israel and Hamas has been blamed on Hamas in numerous comments in the press and on social media. The mass murder of innocent civilians has opened Pandora’s box. No nation, it is argued, can tolerate the existence of a murderous group like Hamas on its soil. It seems a logical position… for those who only woke up from a long coma on October 7, the day of the Hamas outbreak, and stopped thinking the day after.
After all, it is very naive to believe that the ethnic cleansing that Israel is currently carrying out is solely a consequence of the murder of Israeli civilians by Hamas militants. This ethnic cleansing has been going on for many decades, long before Hamas was founded, according to a Zionist plan that Golda Meir once succinctly summarized as claiming “a country without a people for a people without a country.”
The Hamas massacres on October 7 are not the cause but the pretext to take the expansion of the Zionist state into a new, higher phase. Settlers and soldiers are also gradually carrying out ethnic cleansing in the West Bank, and it is not Hamas that is in charge there, but an Israeli puppet (President Mahmoud Abbas of the Palestinian government).
It is all too easy to demonize Hamas as a group of “subhumans” or “barbarians.” An inhuman is “someone who is unworthy of the name human,” Van Dale teaches us. Hamas is not the cause but the consequence of these ethnic cleansings. Hamas and Israel are Siamese twins, because they feed and live off each other. The violence of Hamas is, to use a formulation by Frantz Fanon, the violence of the colonizer turned against the occupier itself.
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If the Palestinian resistance commits inhumane acts, this is generated by Israel’s policy, which denies the Palestinians in the open-air Gaza prison, as is the case in a ‘normal’ prison, democratic self-organization and resistance. Have we forgotten that Hamas won the 2006 elections, but Israel and the group around Abbas rejected the results? Have we forgotten that Hamas has offered Israel a long-term truce (a “hudna”) several times, most recently in 2018, but Tel Aviv responded with even more Palestinian hostages (in the media these are “prisoners”) and more more expulsions of Palestinians from the West Bank? Have we forgotten that top Israeli politicians, including Netanyahu, repeatedly state that there should never be a Palestinian state, despite a number of UN resolutions?
Israel’s state terror aimed at destroying Palestinian society in Gaza is not a consequence of the horror of October 7. Tel Aviv is not up to par in this regard. In July 2006, war broke out between Israel and Hezbollah after the Lebanese resistance killed eight Israeli soldiers and kidnapped two. Then Tel Aviv intended exactly the same thing it does today: a continuous campaign of carpet bombing and mass murder that would turn Beirut into a wasteland. A truce was only reached after 34 days, thanks to fierce resistance from Hezbollah and international outrage over the civilian casualties caused by the Israeli bombings. State terror is an essential part of the Zionist regime’s modus operandi.
One can use a universal ethical standard to judge the warring parties. Civilian murder is indeed a war crime, which allows one to condemn both Hamas and Tel Aviv in one move. Both ‘guilty’, read: here we do not take sides and turn our backs on what is going on. However, a materialist analysis teaches us that major social phenomena, such as anti-colonial resistance, rarely proceed on the basis of major international law principles. An impoverished, oppressed people, whose resistance fighters are hunted down and killed, rises up with whatever human material is available. Once again, Fanon tells us: the violence of Hamas is the violence of the colonizer turned against him. The violence of Hamas and other resistance groups has, to a certain extent, characteristics of that colonial violence: cruel, murderous, merciless, without any respect for human rights.
‘To a certain extent’, because there is a rationale in Hamas’s actions. Killing soldiers and armed “security personnel” of the occupying forces is completely legal under international law. Every year we commemorate and honor the armed resistance against German soldiers and collaborationist militias during the Second World War. Taking civilians hostage is not that. But the outrage about this contrasts with the silence about Tel Aviv’s decades-old practice of holding thousands of Palestinian citizens – including children – hostage, i.e. locking them up without any form of trial, as a warning and means of putting pressure on their families and neighborhoods . The purpose of these hostage takings, as Hamas also announced at the start of the operation, is to force a prisoner exchange with Tel Aviv. The killing of civilians, including children, is of course reprehensible, but again, where is the outrage about the many more numerous victims of the Israeli occupation violence? If Hamas commits crimes, it is a reflection of Israel’s crimes.
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Meanwhile, a new Nakba is unfolding before our eyes; a new catastrophe that pushes the Palestinian people even further away from their own state or from equality within a Jewish-Palestinian unitary state. Three scenarios are put forward in the Israeli press. One and two are the expulsion of the Gazans to Sinai in Egypt or the Negev in Israel. Number three is to expel the Gazans in the north of Gaza to the south, after which the north is completely bombed away, and then to expel the Gazans back to the north. In all three cases, Tel Aviv wants to confine Gazans to desert reserves dotted with tent camps, which should make any form of Palestinian coexistence impossible.
The Zionist regime dreams of making the Palestinians suffer the same fate as what happened to the indigenous peoples in the US or the Aboriginals in Australia. In the face of this development, which unfolds every day on our TV screens and social media platforms, no one-sided moralism is required (as an excuse for passivity), but solidarity with the resistance. Colonial wars are cruel, nasty and ruthless, with countless innocent victims on both sides. The history of anti-colonial resistance in recent centuries teaches us this, and it is not up to well-fed white intellectuals to dictate from behind the safety of their computer screens how that struggle should be waged.
We would like to recall what Nelson Mandela replied to the leaders of the Apartheid regime when they demanded to “stop violence”: “I replied that the state was responsible for the violence and that it is always the oppressor and not the oppressed who determines the forms of struggle. When the oppressor uses violence, the oppressed has no choice but to respond with violence. In our case, that was just a form of legal self-defense.”
Our government also does not excel in a critical attitude towards this structural violence by Israel. The EU and the US should make much more effort so that Israel and the Palestinians can live side by side, or ideally with each other, peacefully, not just with words, but with actions.
Ludo De Brabander is spokesperson for Vrede vzw and author of, among others, ‘War without borders’
Johan Depoortere is a former VRT journalist
Ludo De Witte is the author of, among others, ‘The murder of Lumumba’ and ‘Who is afraid of Muslims’
Lode Vanoost is editor of DeWereldMorgen