Charles Davis writes: “It’s heartbreaking to see,” said US President Barack Obama of the death and destruction his government has helped the state of Israel deliver to the people of Gaza. It’s “really heartbreaking,” said US Secretary of State John Kerry of the nearly 2,000 innocent people killed by the Israeli military with weapons provided by the US government. “The loss of children has been particularly heartbreaking,” said Susan Rice, US Ambassador to the United Nations, of dead little boys and girls — more than 400 of them — being stacked on top of one another in a freezer meant for ice cream because Gaza’s morgues are overflowing with corpses.
There are a lot of words that one could use to describe the collective punishment of a stateless people living in what a top United Nations official describes as an “open-air prison,” but “heartbreaking” is perhaps the most inadequate, suggesting that there’s a certain tragic inevitability to Israel’s bombardments of Gaza, to which the only proper response is a shrug and a shake of the head. It’s acceptable to lament Israel’s killing of innocents, but the repeated bombing of UN schools packed with thousands of frightened civilians is, according to the harshest respectable critics, a strategic error — a case of “good intentions” paving the way to hell on Earth for Palestinians — not a reason to withdraw support for the settler-colonial project in Palestine or to “delegitimize” the idea of a state explicitly founded on ethnic supremacy.
Israel’s brutality is, of course, tragic, and the killing of babies is never a good look, but it’s more than just heartbreaking folly. “It is a moral outrage and a criminal act,” according to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. Widely viewed as an ally of the US and Israel, Ban nonetheless has labeled Israel’s deliberate targeting of UN schools in Gaza a “gross violation of international humanitarian law.”
Amnesty International has likewise accused Israel of committing “crimes against humanity” over its targeting of hospitals, ambulances, and first-responders, saying the state should be referred to the International Criminal Court for prosecution. And Human Rights Watch has accused Israel of “blatantly violating the laws of war,” with the group documenting numerous instances in which Israeli soldiers went out of their way to shoot fleeing civilians. But no Western official has called the terrorizing of 1.8 million people living in Gaza an “act of terrorism,” though it is openly intended to bring about political change and punish the people of Palestine for electing the wrong leaders. And while you’ll hear the word at protests, the leading human rights organizations have refrained from calling it “genocide.” [Continue reading…]