October 7 and Israel’s policy of periodically “Mowing the Lawn”

07 Dec 2023 01:58pm
A Palestinian protester lifts the national flag as she takes part in a demonstration by the border fence with Israel, east of Gaza City, denouncing the Israeli siege of the Palestinian strip, on August 21, 2021. (Photo by SAID KHATIB / AFP)
A Palestinian protester lifts the national flag as she takes part in a demonstration by the border fence with Israel, east of Gaza City, denouncing the Israeli siege of the Palestinian strip, on August 21, 2021. (Photo by SAID KHATIB / AFP)

Every one of us here remembers how we have felt when another kid had snatched our toy and wouldn’t want to give it back. As very little ones, we didn’t know or understand why we would get really upset and cry... instinctively we knew that something was wrong, and that what belonged to us was taken away; it had been usurped “Someone took something that belongs to me.”

And the other kid was unjust and was not supposed to do that to me.

To protest and to get our toy back, we did all we could expressing it in anger; cried very loud; kicked and did not accept any other toy for replacement. When we were forced to accept and given a replacement, we were never satisfied and kept our eyes fixed on what was taken away from us, and went after it when the first chance presented itself.

Perhaps this was our first experience of injustice and resistance. Now as an adult, I know that if another person came and by force kicked me out of my house and claimed it his, took my trees, my garden, my farm, my land, and took my whole country and claimed it as his, then he denies my identity and does not want me to even exist.

When I react to all of these injustices, he classifies me according to his political agenda and gains. Using his own constructed world institutions, he tries to crush me by all possible means.

(Ghada M. Ramahi in Who Gives the Right to Resist?)

Gazacide! Israel is wiping the population of the besieged Gaza Strip off the map, and in front of every one’s eyes. It’s decimating about 2.5 million human beings taken hostages for the past 16 years in the tiny besieged enclave on the Mediterranean — the largest and only extermination camp extant in the world today — where they have been systematically subjected to genocide, impoverishment, necropolitics and various forms of ethnic cleansing, what Israel calls policy of “mowing the lawn.”

The current onslaught of the mass genocide of Gaza is appalling. The enormity of ethnic cleansing and the magnitude of destruction are unimaginable. Now they are massacring the Palestinians in the south, after having ordered the population north of Wadi Gaza to evacuate and flee to the south.

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They have ordered the displaced and the ones in the south to evacuate and flee further to Rafah near the Egyptian border, which is closed; thus forcing/pushing more than two million people (“human animals on two paws”) in a few kilometers — an incubator for disease and epidemic and so a graveyard — a holocaust.

Where can unarmed civilians run away from this hell, targeting them from air, sea and artillery units on land?

Gazacide or the ethnic cleansing of Gaza is part of an ongoing institutionalized and systematic process of racial extermination — a process that started 75 years ago, and lead to both the uprootedness of the Palestinian people and the transformation of Mandate Palestine into present-day country of immigrants — Israel. It is part of an ongoing series of crimes of ethnic cleansing this Western colonialist apartheid regime has been committing since its de facto creation on the rubble of Palestinian villages in 1948 to drive out the native population of Palestine from their homeland.

This is absolutely horrific. But what is more horrifying is the world's connivance and complicity with the perpetrator of this bloodbath and ongoing ethnic cleansing of Palestine even after 75 years from the first genocide.

If one is not clear about the Nakba/ethnic cleansing of 78 per cent of historic Palestine that took place 75 years ago, then now they know what it is/what it was. They’re carrying on the same programme of ethnic cleansing they started in 1948, but with one difference now — that they are not doing it alone but with the complicity of the entire world and in front of everyone in the 21st century.

The ethnic cleansing of Gaza is not the result of October 7. It is rooted in the premeditated programme of ethnic cleansing initiated in 1948. October 7 is the result of an old-new premeditated programme of ethnic cleansing — a grand Zionist scheme which was hatched more than a hundred years ago to “transfer” the Palestinian people to create a national homeland for the Zionist Jews in Palestine.

The Palestine question is a century-long colonial struggle born out of Anglo-Zionist interests (a Western colonialist project) in the heart of the Middle East. It is the question of a people whom immigrant Zionists have uprooted from their homeland and made to languish in diaspora; the question of a people whom Zionists have expelled by force of arms and then denied return; the question of a people that existed in Palestine from time immemorial before they have been — through British and Zionist/Israeli domination — subjected to ongoing extermination.

The 1948 Zionist slaughterhouse operations against the human geography and demography of Palestine, resulting in the ethnic cleansing of 78 per cent of historic Palestine, and exacerbated by the 1967 occupation of the rest 22 per cent of Palestine constitute the genesis, crux and impetus of the Palestine question, and consequently much of the turbulence engulfing the Middle East and the world at large.

The Palestine question is thus the question of a people made stateless and denied nationhood by the juggernaut of a settler militia of Zionist immigrants aided by the UK to avail themselves of Palestine’s strategic location as the link between Asia, Africa and Europe, on the one hand, and to keep the Muslim Ummah, following the defeat of the Ottoman Caliphate in 1917, broken and divided.

The Palestinian people are a people who have been subjected to colonization and racial extermination for more than a hundred years now. The Palestine question is a question of the world’s denial for the continued collective Palestinian dispossession. It is this 1948-formed country of immigrants’ ideology and praxis of not only denying the return of (the descendants of) seven million diaspora Palestinian refugees made homeless 75 years ago (i.e. 1948), but also settling hundreds of thousands of immigrant Zionist Jews in the 1967-occupied territories — the 22 per cent of historic Palestine sought since 1993 by the Palestinians for a Palestinian state —, while continuing its daylight ethnic cleansing of the Palestinians in those occupied territories, in an attempt to annex them.

From the Israeli perspective, October 7, which was preceded by four large-scale acts of genocide in the last 16 years, is a continuation of this old-new programme of ethnic cleansing, whether provoked or unprovoked. It is part of its continual policy and practice of “mowing the lawn.” From the Palestinian perspective, however, October 7 was an outcry against years of necropolitics, blockade and economic strangulation.

It was an act of resistance against a brutal military occupation of the West Bank, and a crushing international siege of the Gaza Strip.

It was the explosion of a pressure cooker after years of suffocation in a concentration camp. October 7 draws attention to the Palestinian people who have been ignored by the world for decades to languish under occupation, apartheid and continual genocide. It draws attention to the Palestinians as a people under oppression, military occupation and racial extermination.

The Palestinians, are, therefore, seeking freedom from colonization, seeking independence and self-determination. They are seeking an end to a brutal military occupation and settler colonialism, an end to the elimination of the native, an end to ethnocide, an end to the systematic crimes of genocide — Israel — this colonialist state has been committing against the Palestinian people since its de facto creation on the rubble of the Palestinian villages cleansed in 1948. They are seeking an end to apartheid, an end to the dehumanization and bestialization of the Palestinian people, and the demonization of their resistance and freedom-fighting groups.

In this context, Hamas, a decolonization movement which was created only in 1987, about 40 years after Israel was created, is not the problem. Hamas is the fig leaf the settler colonial state is using, just like using Fatah before, to continue its old-new or ongoing programme of ethnic cleansing which can end only when the Palestinians living in the remaining 22 per cent of historic Palestine are being cleansed — mown in a way or another.

Hamas, just like all other Palestinian national movements and factions, seek an end to occupation, apartheid and strangulation under blockade, necropolitics and genocidal practices. It seeks to bring a smile and hope to about 7 million Palestinians inside historic/colonized Palestine, and 7 million others languishing since 1948 in diaspora in refugee camps outside Palestine.

That is Hamas. It’s unconscionable, therefore to draw symmetry — any symmetry — between the occupier and the occupied/between the juggernaut of the Israeli-Western-American war machine and disinformation machinery on the one hand, and the resistance of a people under military occupation and the terror of a settler colonial nuclear apartheid state that has the strongest military power in the region, on the other hand.

Nonetheless, the world for 75 years so far has been heedless to their suffering under this suffocating settler — the only settler — colonialism extant in the entire world today. Therefore, the Palestine/Israel question is not a ‘conflict’ as is commonly described in media, academia and popular debate, but rather a decolonization struggle; it's a national uphill struggle for freedom and self-determination in the face of settler colonialism. It’s a question of “you cannot live in my world.” It’s a question of “I read in my Bible that your homeland is mine.”

It’s a problem of the historic injustice made by the UK in its unjust Balfour Declaration promising in 1917 Palestine as a national homeland for immigrant Zionist Jews who at the time constituted 4 per cent of the population of Palestine, while treating the 96 per cent of the native Arab population as non-Jewish minorities.

It’s a problem of an occupation/occupier that represents itself as a victim, rather than an occupier, and so has “the right to defend” itself against any attempt of the natives to rise against occupation, apartheid and racial extermination. It’s a problem of Israel being above the law and having a culture of impunity and exceptionality.

It’s a problem of the total disregard of the international community for the continued suffering of the Palestinian people under military occupation and in diaspora in refugee camps for 75 years now.

It’s a problem of the systematic encroachments on and transformations of the physical and “human geography” of Palestine, and the ongoing Israeli disregard for The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948), the Fourth Geneva Convention (1949), and the International Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Racial Discrimination (1965), along with the American and Western support of continued Israeli annexation and genocidal practices in the West Bank and Gaza Strip — the 22 per cent of incontiguous territories of historic Palestine Israel occupied in 1967, which in international law are considered as “occupied Palestinian territories,” but “disputed territories” by Israel, taken as a site for a Palestinian state, but which the international community has for 56 years now failed to force Israel end its occupation of them, despite the UN principle stating “the inadmissibility of the acquisition of territory by war.”

The Palestinian people have for decades sought the enforcement of international law which stated decades ago that Israel must end its military occupation of Palestine (UN Resolution 242) and allow for the return of refugees made homeless for 75 years now (UN Resolution 194), but all without avail. October 7 and the continual genocide of Gaza is the consequence of the international community failure to implement these resolutions, double standards and the treatment of Israel as being above the law.

In this context, one should understand that it is Israel, not the Palestinians — the occupier, not the occupied — who are the obstacle to any peaceful resolution. The Palestinians have compromised the compromise by accepting a Palestinian state within the pre-June 5 lines or the June 4, 1967 borders which in its totality constitutes only 22 per cent of the total area of historic/Mandate Palestine.

Israel, as noted, still considers these occupied territories as “disputed territories,” and is so unwilling to relinquish control of them, in an attempt as it continues to create facts on the ground through settlement expansion in the West Bank and the policy of “mowing the lawn” in the Gaza Strip to annex them as a fait accompli. ‘Israel’s 2000 Camp David ‘peace’ proposals, for example, touted and promoted discursively as “unprecedented,” meant little more than the maintenance of Israeli control of the life and livelihood of the beleaguered Palestinians, and guaranteed security for ‘Israel’ in exchange for a group of disconnected cantons, a group of “disconnected islands in an Israeli-controlled sea,” “a fragmented and emasculated Palestinian state,” surrounded by checkpoints allowing no freedom of movement, “a truncated and divided Palestinian state in the West Bank,” a ‘state’ “separated into enclaves, with Israelis manning checkpoints and barriers at Palestinian enclave boundaries,” a group of enclaves that lack economic viability, territorial or geographical contiguity, territorial integrity and sovereignty and thus viability and independence, but still represented as a ‘state,’ and as “We were generous and they refused,” blaming and victimising the victim further, discursively.

Ironically, all this happens at a time when the whole world is drawling about “the sanctity of human life,” “human rights,” “animal rights” and ‘gay rights’ and ‘gay liberation’. Nevertheless, it ignores blissfully and insouciantly, the ongoing slaughter, diaspora and sufferings of the Palestinian people. As hard to believe as it is for what ‘Israel’ commits does defy belief or logic.

Still, this is a fragment of the appalling reality of the embattled and beleaguered Palestinian people: whether those rendered homeless 75 years ago and who are still languishing in diaspora under grim conditions, or those — facing with their naked bodies the juggernaut of the Israeli and Western war machine and disinformation machinery — in the remaining 22 per cent territories of Palestine occupied since 1967, or those forming part of its citizenry since its formation in 1948 on 78 per cent of the territory of historic Palestine.

October 7 or the ethnic cleansing of Gaza and the continued question of Palestine — a decolonization struggle of over a hundred years exposes the US and Europe’s culture of supremacy. The genocide in Gaza supported by the US and the West has exposed beyond any doubt that this supremacy is still in effect until today — despite their hypocrisy of human rights and discourse on the elimination of all forms of racial discrimination.

The ethnic cleansing of Gaza and the West Bank is not only a reminder but also an actual continuation of the West’s supremacist ideology of “survival of the fittest,” which sees imperialism as serving civilization by clearing the inferior races off the earth — Asians, Africans, and Latin Americans; by clearing the natives of America; by eliminating the natives of Australia; by ethnically cleansing the Palestinian people, etc.

In his famed work, Social Statics, Herbert Spencer who coined the term “survival of the fittest” stated that the “forces which are working out the great scheme of perfect happiness, taking no account of incidental suffering, exterminate such sections of mankind as stand in their way... Be he human or be he brute — the hindrance must be got rid of.”

When will all this end? When are we going to recognize that our ancestor is one? That we all descend from Adam, regardless of colour, ethnicity or geography? When will the international community work together to bring an end to this last case of settler colonialism existing in the world today? When will the Palestinian people — those “reluctant warriors,” “victims of discursive injustice,” of Zionism and racism, “veterans of creative suffering,” those defenceless underdogs — be able to join hands with other free citizens of the world and “hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope”?

Born in Gaza, Aladdin Assaiqeli is a Palestinian academic, poet and political activist. His writings are driven by the anguish of colonialism and the role of language in ending such colonialism.

The views expressed in this article are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect those of Sinar Daily.