Gandhi’s slogan was “Do or Die”, following Byron’s poem about the (pointless) Charge of the Light Brigade during the Crimean War. He emphasized that he would prefer violent resistance to cowardice or surrender. So, the question arises: would Gandhi have supported armed resistance in Palestine?
The focus on Hamas is a product of the rolling amnesia of empire, as if the history of Israeli attacks on Palestinians can be narrowed to the last few decades, then distorted further. Against this tendency, this episode reviews the basic historical and geographic background to this crisis, showing the place of Palestine and the Gaza Strip in the history of imperial expansion, and placing the current horrors in their essential context.
Episode 2 of a mini-series on Israel/Palestine by Dan Freeman-Maloy.
Sometimes the connections are obvious. The American-Israeli Meir Kahane, for example, worked as a white-backlash activist in the United States, targeting Black-led social movements, before moving to Palestine and coaching settlers to kill Palestinians, with what Jewish organizations across the world then denounced as racist hate and violence.
More generally, the Scramble for Africa — that is, the classical period of white colonization of the African continent — was part and parcel of the same imperial expansion that swept across Palestine during World War I. It was then that Britain extended its reach across Palestine and that the road to Israeli statehood was paved. Theme by theme, European settler colonial politics that had been crafted in the Americas and in Africa were applied to Palestine. The association of the Zionist movement with British settler polities (the “Dominions”) was once proud.
The connections are manifold. European colonization in Africa and West Asia (or the Middle East) shared key patterns and was shaped by some of the same personnel, just as national liberation movements in both areas have a rich history of exchanges. In this episode, we focus on some of the shared patterns of deception that empire developed as it told moralizing tales about its righteousness in different parts of the world.
As Malcolm X phrased it: “if you study how they do it here, then you’ll know how they do it over here. It’s the same game going all the time.”
Episode 1 of a new mini-series by Dan Freeman-Maloy.
Since the Israeli elections of March 2021, a political philosophy, Kahanism, that was once banned even by Israeli law is openly proclaimed in the Israeli legislature. To the quieter brutality of Israeli colonial rule have been added firebombing Israeli hate crimes against Palestinians – horribly reminiscent of Ku Klux Klan violence – and the open celebration by emboldened Israeli racists of Palestinian pain and death. A colonialism that was once half-hidden is now there for the world to see. This has been clear since Israel’s 2014 killing of hundreds of Palestinian children under the command of current Israeli defence minister Benny Gantz. It was clear after the vicious celebration by Israel’s extreme right wing of a 2015 firebombing of a Palestinian family. And now the horrors of spring 2021.
This is not Judaism. As Yeshayahu Leibowitz warned, this is something else.
As our governments refuse even to speak out against the killing of Palestinian children by an Israeli government that they arm and support, the Israeli press fills with warnings of fascism and, time and again, references to the Third Reich. The lying hypocrisy that refuses to discuss this truth plainly is an affront to humanity, to Judaism, and to all principles of honesty and conscience.
Haidar Eid of Gaza’s Al-Aqsa University has discussed these horrors as the Sharpeville moment of the Palestine tragedy, referring to a tragic but hinge moment in the struggle against South African Apartheid. Refusing to ignore warnings about Israel’s descent into fascism does not mean accepting any further horrors; it certainly does not mean ignoring the inspirational steadfastness of Palestinians. It means taking an honest look at plain facts, warning signs, and anti-racist principles that deserve more than lip service and post-2020 liberal re-branding.
In this first segment of “Monsters in Our Midst,” we underline the legitimacy of anti-racist references to the struggle against old hatreds in the context of Israel’s descent into fascism.