The word retaliation needs to be broken open to see what’s hidden inside

Apr 22, 2024
Israel flag is reflected in broken mirror

Some time back I watched SBS’ ‘The Australian Wars’. It was, to many, a completely different viewpoint of settler colonialism, the impact of invasion, and the very legitimate defence of land by Australia’s indigenous native population.

It is often not highlighted that resistance to invasion and settler-colonialism is a fair and justified fight for indigenous rights and land. We usually get the victor’s perspective, not the indigenous population who have been invaded who are far too often disdainfully referred to as savages. So when I read and see the Palestinian resistance to their own settler-colonial Occupation, I make the correlation between Australia’s colonial history and that of Gaza 2024 – as tenuous as it may first appear.

The massacres, imprisonment and horrors which Israel has inflicted upon Palestinians since 1948 (and prior injustices dealt out by the British and also Jewish immigrants) are invariably described as retaliation with valiant descriptions from Israel’s side. They are worded thus; ‘retribution’ for Palestinian aggression towards Israel, ‘reprisals’ for Palestinians having the audacity to resist the oppression heaped upon them. Or the old cliché, ‘we have a right to defend ourselves’ – an obfuscating claim. Governments have scant justification to defend themselves against those they’ve illegally and immorally imprisoned and stolen their land.

The word retaliation is a piñata that needs to be broken open to see what’s hidden inside. One may ask, who is retaliating against whom and why? Why is Palestinian resistance to Occupation not referred to as retaliation, yet Israel’s massacres of Palestinians over the past seventy years have been described as such. Successive Israeli governments have been drinking the Kool-Aid if they think the dictionary definition of retaliation means: ‘take peoples land, occupy them for seven decades then finally kill them all off and pass it off as self-defence’. How can the word retaliation be ascribed to Israeli actions when they have massacred the indigenous people, displaced them and stolen their land in the first place? They’ve got it backward.

When it is Palestinians resisting their brutal settler-colonial Occupation the language of monsters in our midst emerges: ‘barbaric onslaught into Israel, savages who don’t understand democracy, ruthless killers and terrorists, crazed Arabs and human animals.’

The fact that there is an Occupation of the Palestinian people seventy years in the making with resultant misery and hardship with global destabilisation, is a true stain on our collective humanity in this supposedly enlightened and evolved 21st century. Why the Occupation has been allowed to continue is a question for world leaders who have had (and still have) the capacity and power to end it. If the Palestinians had Occupied Jews and mistreated them for the last seventy years, we would have been equally horrified at such injustice and it may well have ended decades ago. So why are the Palestinians not worthy to be saved from such injustice?

The October 7 attack by Hamas was retaliation (albeit brutal) for the ongoing Occupation of the Palestinian people. The world now realises this, but at the time Israel felt the added need of feeding lies to the media of mass rape, torching of Israelis by Hamas and beheading babies. None of which hold evidence and have since been debunked. It was the Israeli propaganda machine working overdrive in an attempt to convince the world that their opportune intention to wipe Palestinians off the map and make Gaza the new Riviera of Israel was justified. Now it seems the world cannot stomach the blatant and hollow lies coming out of Israel or the U.S.

How can you possibly defend your countries actions when you are killing over 33,000 innocent civilians? With lies, that’s how.

Mainstream media surreptitiously (or blatantly) posits that Israel equals civilised, Palestine equals uncivilised. How dare they turn the tables. And how dare Israel try to bamboozle the world that they are legitimately smashing Gaza to pieces. We are not fools, nor is there much trust in mainstream media who are too often operating at the behest of their respective governments.

We must not get used to the horror in Gaza. We should not get to the point of sitting around dinner tables and hearing someone say “Oh that? Is that still going on?”, as they tuck into their dessert. It happened to Ukraine two years on, “Oh, are they still fighting?” Instead, we should hear sentences such as, “When is the United States going to do the right thing and stop funding such horror in our world?” Israel can operate their cruel onslaught of the Gazan eradication because America funds it. If the U.S. truly wanted to stop the carnage, they could do it with one phone call, “Bibi, mate…you’re done. No more billions, bombs or bullshit from us. You’re steering the entire world into a very precarious situation.”

One may justifiably wonder what it will take for the United States to stop sending bombs and aid on the same day. Read that last sentence again. What will it take for the U.S. to realise what the rest of the world is getting to grips with; this horror is not good for our world. It’s not good for Israel or America and it certainly isn’t good for the Palestinians as they beg and beg for this catastrophe to stop.

The Israeli onslaught into Gaza is racist, religious and geopolitical, all of which becomes a convulsion of human suffering which seeps much further than the porous borders of Israel. It doesn’t need to be this way.

The Gaza strip is referred to as such because it is such a small strip of land. Gazans aren’t asking for the size of Texas – just a small sliver of land to live in peace with no barbed wire, surveillance cameras, restrictions of movement and prison conditions. But no, Israel wants it all – just not with pesky Palestinians ruining their days. I fear that unless the world pressures the U.S., we are going to see a fait accompli and that is Gaza flattened, empty and a for sale sign on it. Israeli “retaliation” on the Palestinians complete.

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