These maps combined show the areas hardest hit by Israel in Gaza (left) and Gaza’s refugee camps (right, in red). There is a clear overlap. Refugees, a class of persons normally in need of the most protection, and in fact afforded special coverage under international law, are suffering the most in Israel’s bombardment of Gaza. This is one enormous reason for the invalidity of any argument which assumes symmetry between Gaza (or Hamas) and Israel.
The simple fact that one side includes the displaced, and the other side the displacers, makes equal treatment of their actions impossible. This is not to say that victims have the right to kill. The rockets that hit young Israelis are equally murderous. It is to say that any analysis that treats all of this in some sort of vacuum or limited chain events in which the rockets play a key role is doomed to fail. Being a refugee is not the same as being a descendant of a settler in a conquering country — those who founded Israel on the land of the Palestinians. The risk is that failing to account for this fundamental dynamic will only perpetuate the moral incongruities driving this cycle of violence, to use the trite phrase.
Even if the primitive rockets came close to matching the ferocity of Israel’s modern military, there would be an enormous moral gap in the historical places of the two sides. Taking Israel’s claims for granted at best means it is circling the wagon as the ethnically cleansed natives attack. A settler-colonial state is never acting in self-defense: its basic posture is one of imposition on another people. That is why absent Israel’s Gaza attacks, and Gaza’s rockets firings, the basic state of things is not peace: but an essential state of displacement created and maintained by either direct violence or the imminent threat of it.
That American media and much of the public has absolutely no understanding of this history and its crucial impact on the contemporary world is what makes the mind-numbing discourse in this nation so infuriating. One cannot understand the world if one’s memory of other places can only reach back a week. How can I argue with someone who has no comprehension of what it means to be a refugee?
This best explains why Palestinians who argue from a place of lived reality want to pull their hair out with some suburban American fluent only in CNNese or policy-wonkisms that have no connection to the worlds they can only depict through their lens of Americacenterisms. This leads to fun arguments, I have to confess. One American supporter of Israel told me to read history books before I talk. I asked him to name one on Israel or Palestine. He couldn’t. Then I listed five supporting my arguments and told him several supporting his viewpoint and their fatal flaws. Such is the problem when one relies only on talking point memos and repeating what he or she hears on TV.Filed Under Free Gaza, Gaza, israel, media, palestine, television, Will, zionism, zionuts