It’s probably natural that, after the month of genocide we’ve seen carried out by Israel in Gaza, people would want to shift their focus elsewhere. Over and over again, we’ve seen images of Palestinians wandering shell-shocked through the wreckage of Gaza: Palestinians holding their slaughtered infants, Palestinians murdered playing soccer on a beach, Palestinians simply staring blankly at their viciously, needlessly destroyed homes.
It’s important to note, right now, that there are no comparable images of murdered Israeli children circulating on social media, in the press, or anywhere else in the universe. That’s because those images don’t exist. Those images don’t exist because what’s happened in Gaza over the last month isn’t war between Israel & Hamas. It’s a genocide being executed out by Israel against the Palestinian people.
The Palestinian death toll in Gaza stands at more than 1,800, with nearly 10,000 wounded, Gaza’s Health Ministry said Sunday. More than 300 children have died, the ministry has reported, as the United Nations repeatedly raises concerns about the high number of deaths in Gaza.
On the Israeli side, 64 Israeli soldiers and three civilians have died since fighting began more than three weeks ago.
Again, this is not a war; it’s a slaughter. It’s brutal and disturbing and I can understand why people might want to think about other things.
Jewish Americans (like myself) might be particularly desperate to find other things to talk about. Growing up Jewish in the U.S. meant, for me and for many of us, aggressive indoctrination into militaristic, xenophobic Zionism. No matter how many soccer-playing kids the Jewish state’s military murders, a part of me still wants to think they’re the good guys.
But the reality is, there are no photos of dead Israeli children on the beach. There are no Israeli universities bombed into oblivion. No schools sheltering Israeli civilians have been obliterated by Hamas’s rockets.
And while I find anti-semitism frightening and abhorrent, I’m confused about the recent spate of cautionary articles about prejudice against Jews in the U.S. media at a time when the Jewish state is carrying out genocide against the Palestinians with direct, aggressive U.S. support– and when the Anti-Defamation League reports that U.S. anti-semitism is at a low point. Fantastic hypotheticals wherein Palestinian forces have the resources to dominate the Israeli military don’t seem particularly helpful at the moment. Make-believe violence isn’t my primary concern at the moment; there’s more than enough actual violence to deal with.
Right now, it seems like we might want to follow the lead of the Jewish survivors of the Nazi genocide (and their descendants) who have stated, unequivocally, that during this slaughter, their concern is for those who are actually victims, rather than those who might be:
As Jewish survivors and descendents of survivors of the Nazi genocide we unequivocally condemn the massacre of Palestinians in Gaza and the ongoing occupation and colonization of historic Palestine. We further condemn the United States for providing Israel with the funding to carry out the attack, and Western states more generally for using their diplomatic muscle to protect Israel from condemnation. Genocide begins with the silence of the world. We are alarmed by the extreme, racist dehumanization of Palestinians in Israeli society, which has reached a fever-pitch. In Israel, politicians and pundits in The Times of Israel and The Jerusalem Post have called openly for genocide of Palestinians and right-wing Israelis are adopting Neo-Nazi insignia…
We call for an immediate end to the siege against and blockade of Gaza. We call for the full economic, cultural and academic boycott of Israel. “Never again” must mean NEVER AGAIN FOR ANYONE!
This is all we need to talk about: end the genocide and end the occupation. As these Holocaust survivors say, “never again” means “never again for anyone.”