Occupation – the unspeakable context

In lieu of a further response to my email (which, going on past experience, is unlikely to arrive swiftly, if at all), some brief thoughts on Martin Horwood’s initial reply, which read:

“I will be meeting with FCO officials and if possible ministers this week in relation to the situation in Gaza.  It is critical that we urge Hamas to cease rocket attacks on Israeli civilians but also that Israel pulls back from escalating the situation in a way that will doubtless cause more civilian casualties amongst the population in Gaza, further inflame opinion in other middle eastern countries and across the world and further damage any prospect of the peace process resuming.  The Fatah administration in the West Bank and moderates within Israeli civil and political society need to be encouraged in their efforts to find diplomatic and political paths out of this tragic situation.”

There are a number of things to note:

1.  This is a press release, not an answer to a constituent’s email.

2.  It is clear from the phraseology that, in Martin’s mind, this “tragic situation” began with rocket attacks from Gaza, which – inevitably – need to “cease” if Israeli “escalation” is to be prevented.  In addition, note the phrase “will doubtless cause more civilian casualties”, which of course assumes Israeli casualties logically preceded Palestinian casualties.  In fact, as a little research makes clear, this chronology is not in accord with the available evidence, which suggests that, as standard,  it was Israel that shattered the truce, not Hamas.

3.  Calls for Fatah to chart a path out of this “tragic situation” demonstrate a shocking naivety regards the political trajectory in Palestine.  Hamas was democratically elected, against a backdrop of Fatah corruption and collaboration with Israel.

4.  This is not a “tragic situation”, devoid of agency and context.  It is an occupier (Israel) smashing the occupied (Gaza), against a backdrop of systematic ethnic cleansing dating back to the 1940s.  An occupying power does not have the “right to defend itself” against those it occupies.  Rather, it has a RESPONSIBILITY to end its occupation, in accord with international legal norms.  This is the seemingly unspeakable context of Israel’s murderous assault on the people of Gaza; context that the mainstream media systematically denies its viewers, preferring in its place a spurious narrative of equivalence, of “tit for tat”, of “intractable conflict”, that of course plays straight into the hands of the occupier.

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