Slaughter, not war

Jul 10, 2024
Silence is Complicity Graffiti on the concrete wall built by Israel

My copy of Iris Chang’s THE RAPE OF NANKING is missing its collection of historical photographs. Having seen them once, I could not bear to see them again, nor risk my teenage son coming across them, so I ripped them from the book.

Now, every day on social media that is not controlled by the mainstream media, I see similar photos of abuse in Gaza proudly posted by perpetrators. They are impossible to not see but Australian political leaders and media are wilfully blind.

The photos are testament that perhaps, more so than the rape of Nanking, this is slaughter, not war.

This is no battle against a well-armed adversary. Hamas – Palestine – have no air force. There is no standing army, equipped with heavy armour, artillery, and supplied constantly with advanced weapons of war by third parties. There is no armed population where, unlike Israel, every citizen is militarised and trained.

Mass starvation, the Al Shifa hospital massacre and the botched Nuseirat raid that resulted in 276 civilian deaths, are waypoints of depravity.

This is primarily a delivery of overwhelming force against an unresisting civilian population and that makes it a slaughter – not a battle and not a war. Israeli political and military announcements are littered with the language of civilian annihilation. It is similar to the language of the Wannsee conference with its adoption of the final solution. Israeli Minister of Defence, Yoav Gallant is a ‘worthy’ successor to SS General Heydrich, including his failure to prevent Kristallnacht-style attacks on UN aid convoys by Israeli civilians.

The secretive Dahiya policy goes hand in hand with the Hannibal Directive. They are the twin horsemen of the Gaza apocalypse. The Dahiya doctrine calls for the destruction of civilian infrastructure in order to pressure hostile regimes. It is designed to punish, humiliate and terrorise a civilian population, even though this is absolutely prohibited under international humanitarian law.

The Hannibal Directive authorises killing people to prevent them from being taken hostage.

These are the foundations of slaughter, not war.

Why does this difference matter? It matters because the West, and its supporters, including Australia, proudly claim to be more moral than their adversaries. Despite the flood of repulsive selfies by Israeli troops, Netanyahu and Gallant persist with the myth that the IDF is ‘the most moral army in the world.”

Gaza is a defining moment, not because the Israeli state is at risk, but because the Western edifice of liberalism and the concept of just wars is shown as a sham. The West has surrendered its moral authority and legitimacy.

It’s nothing new to the lived experience of the Global South, the victims of colonisation and exploitation, but Gaza has so fully exposed the sham that it yields fertile ground for the religious and political alternatives that the West paints as its adversaries.

Safe in Australia from these attacks, but still terrifying, is the way Jewish interests have been able to define this as a war, and not a slaughter. They have successfully persuaded the media to treat as antisemitic all those who oppose it or speak out against this endless and relentless offensive against the civilian population in Gaza.

Even more terrifying is the recognition that the narrative has been defined from the very beginning by Israel and its Jewish diaspora. This is nowhere more clear than in the United States, but the power of this group has been unabated in Australia.

Even to frame this recognition is uncomfortable with its echoes of the genuine antisemitism of the Nazis, and more broadly, of pre-war Europe. It’s a discomfort unabashedly promoted by supporters of Israel. (Even in this analysis it is a struggle to frame the discussion of Israeli foreign influence on Australia policy in a way that is free from the charge of antisemitism.)

Often the opponents of these massacres masquerading as legitimate military actions have been painted as supporters of the pro-Palestinian movement. It’s a useful distraction from the issues of war crimes highlighted by the United Nations, including the use of deliberate mass starvation.

Israel is nothing less than a rogue state, and a barbaric one at that. It poses a greater clear and present danger to the international rules based order than the threat posed by North Korea. Israel’s immorality has dragged down the West, undermining the legitimacy of Western solutions and more broadly, the legitimacy of Government as those in power fail to condemn the slaughter of innocents.

At the height of the Vietnam moratoriums, former Deputy Prime Minister, Jim Cairns, published a book, SILENCE KILLS. The statement is as true today as it was then and the silence of our Governments makes us complicit in this mediaeval barbarity.

Despite the slings and arrows of supposed antisemitism, there is a moral imperative to speak out against the massacre of more than 38,000 innocent civilians in this disproportionate Israeli response.

We cannot just scroll past the pages of photos in this expanding book of horrors.

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