When is genocide ever balanced?Nov 20, 2023
‘Balance’ between supporters of Israel and of the Palestinians is what most police and State governments in Australia say they seek. So does the ABC. But what’s happening in Gaza isn’t balanced: it is asymmetric warfare.
Genocide is never balanced. Reporting on Gaza isn’t balanced either. Israel’s disinformation industry went quickly into overdrive after 7 October, reporting to credulous Western media that Hamas had beheaded 40 babies. This claim was later withdrawn by the Israeli government, but the damage was done and the lie went on circulating.
Chris Hedges, based on his years of experience as an American reporting from Israel, says the government and military are practiced liars. He explicitly calls what they are doing ‘genocide’.
Last week, Ofir Gendelman, a spokesperson for Prime Minister Netanyahu, claimed that Palestinians in Gaza were ‘faking injuries’. The footage he used as evidence was from a short film recently shot in Lebanon.
At last, journalists on the ground have confirmed for the New York Times that the Al-Shifa hospital was bombed from the air by Israeli shells, and not attacked by ‘misfired’ Hamas missiles as the Israel Defence Force (IDF) had alleged.
Israeli ministers and military have long practiced propaganda on the world and on their own people. Israel’s military assaults on Gaza are always backed by the accusation that Hamas uses Palestinians as human shields in hospitals and schools, where their ‘terrorist’ headquarters are concealed underground. Such medical staff as remain deny it, but they and their patients get bombed anyway.
To further justify the slaughter, Hamas are alleged to be Nazis. Headlines in the Australian media repeatedly call them ‘terrorists’, and John Spooner’s atrocious carton (Australian, 16 November) suggests Nazis as well. It shows an undamaged Al-Shifa hospital on top of a swastika-shaped arms storage tunnel.
A reputable Israeli journalist, Gideon Levy, says the view of the Palestinians as sub-human is widespread. Several Israeli leaders have said so in recent days. Most believe that ‘we are the “chosen people” and can do whatever we like to whoever we like’. (Levy quoted by Jafar Ramini, 14 November 2023).
Doing that particularly means taking over Palestinians’ houses and land for Israeli settlements. Daniella Weiss, in a recent New Yorker interview, explicitly supported apartheid, dismissed human rights and sovereignty for Palestinians, and said Israelis should displace the whole population of Gaza, whatever others think. She explained: ‘We want to close the option for a Palestinian state, and the world wants to leave the option open. It’s a very simple thing to understand’.
What Israelis have had inculcated in them is that Hamas, and perhaps all Palestinians, are terrorists. But Prime Minister Menachem Begin was a former anti-British terrorist, and hence honoured as a patriot. What has been inflicted by Israelis on Palestinians and by Hamas on Israel ever since 2006 is indeed terrorism (violence for political or religious purposes). But State terror is done with powerful weapons and military forces, against poorly armed opponents who resort to guerilla tactics, at great human cost, to advance their aims.
A thousand Palestinians were released in exchange for one Israeli soldier in 2006. That’s asymmetry for you. In the breakout from Gaza, Hamas killed 1200 Israeli military and civilians. Since then, between 11500 and 12000 Palestinians have died in Gaza, and many more bodies have not been recovered.
Now, Israel justifies its indiscriminate attacks on Gaza by demanding return of the 230 hostages, military and civilian, captured by Hamas on 7 October (the 50th anniversary of Yom Kippur war). But between 6000 and 7000 (Scott Ritter says 10000) Palestinians are in jail in Israel, and Hamas won’t give the hostages up without their release. Political and military leaders in Israel have repeatedly stated their intention to rid Gaza of all 2.23 million Palestinians, either by forced emigration to Sinai, or by death.
While a shocked world looks on and does nothing, the usual accusations of anti-Semitism are aimed at anyone who accuses Israel of permitting a new Nakba. The UN Secretary-General and the Pope call for an immediate cease-fire and hostile Israeli invective follows. Talk about ‘balance’ is an indulgence. In only one respect is the fight equal: neither side will give up.