A joint Israeli-US genocide in Palestine

rally detroit

First published at Against The Current.

The United States’ December 8 veto of the UN Security Council emergency ceasefire resolution makes it all but official that the catastrophe engulfing Gaza and all of Palestine is a joint Israel-U.S. war of genocide. Compounding the monstrosity, the Biden administration immediately shipped hundreds of millions of dollars in new ammunition to Israel, not bothering with the formality of Congressional approval.

Further, Biden himself states that Israel is carrying out “indiscriminate bombing” — and calls for $14 billion in a new subsidy for its Gaza massacre.

Why say genocide? It’s not only that the announced death toll in Gaza, more than 18,000 as of December with close to 50,000 injuries, will be vastly exceeded by the time this issue of Against the Current reaches our readers. It’s also increasingly evident that the Israeli government’s strategic objectives include making Gaza uninhabitable for its population, and attempting to permanently drive many of them out.

This includes deliberate targeting of leading intellectual and cultural institutions and figures, as well as journalists. U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s feeble bleats that Israel should “do more to avoid civilian casualties” may mark a new low in Washington’s disgraceful complicity.

Elsewhere in this issue, in Purnima Bose’s report we cover the harassment of liberal professors by“ pro-Israel” political hacks and lobbyists for not demonstrating sufficient Zionist loyalties. Alan Wald’s extensive review essay “The West Bank Inferno” concludes by discussing  principles that might form the basis of a hopeful democratic and decent Palestinian-Israeli future.

The hideous contradiction, however, is that while the atrocities of October 7 and the subsequent genocidal massacre have “put Palestine back on the agenda” to quote a popular phrase, they have also set back any hope of peaceful reconciliation for many years, if not a generation.

The 1200 deaths suffered by Israel on October 7 almost equal, or slightly exceed, the total of Israeli civilians killed in suicide bombings and other attacks in the years of the Second Intifada (2000-2005). The Palestinian deaths in Gaza alone now exceed the estimated 15,000 killed in the Nakba (according to palestineremembered.com), and the displaced since October 7 are more than double the number driven out of Palestine in the 1947-49 war.

Dynamics of disaster

To confront the almost incomprehensible scope of the disaster, along with the no longer hypothetical specter of a semi-fascist dictatorship arising in Israel, it’s necessary to grasp two basic dynamics.

First is the asymmetric but symbiotic barbarisms of the Israeli state and the Hamas nemesis that it did a great deal to empower, outlined in my previous article (“Catastrophe in Palestine and Israel: Apartheid on the Road to Genocide,” Against the Current 227).

The fantasy that Hamas leaders were entertaining when they launched the October 7 raid is captured in a recent post by Middle East expert Gilbert Achcar, worth citing at some length:

After this enormous catastrophe that is on its way to completing the 1948 Nakba with a Nakba in Gaza that is still more severe and ferocious than all that preceded it, while Zionist killing and persecution are escalating in the West Bank, it is necessary to examine what calculation might have gone through the minds of those who devised Operation Al-Aqsa Flood, leading them to launch it even though it was possible to predict what would happen as a result.

There are two polar hypotheses in this regard: either those who planned the operation were aware that it would result in a catastrophe, like what happened so far and is still ongoing, and they did not care about the matter; or they miscalculated. The second hypothesis is the closest to reality, and this in two main respects. The first is that the planners of Operation Al-Aqsa Flood did not take the full measure of the Israeli society’s complete shift to the far right, embodied in a government that includes the entire spectrum of the fascist Zionist right, from the Likud Party to the National-Religious Party and Jewish Power.

The interaction between this political reality and the gravity of the 7 October operation, which surpassed all military operations previously carried out by the Palestinian resistance against the occupation, made inevitable that the Israeli reaction would exceed, in turn, everything the Zionist army had ever done before, and that the Zionist far right would seize the opportunity of this trauma to begin implementing its plan to achieve ‘Greater Israel’ by erasing what remains of Palestine and annihilating its people through extermination and displacement, starting with the Gaza Strip.

The second miscalculation consisted in the exercise of wishful thinking and the expectation of divine miracles, along the religious logic that characterizes the Islamic Resistance Movement (Hamas) and the political current to which it belongs. This translated in the belief that Operation Al-Aqsa Flood would unleash a general war on the State of Israel in which all Palestinians wherever they are, as well as all Arabs and Muslims would take part.

Achcar goes on to quote the October 7 proclamation by Muhammad al-Deif, the commander-in-chief of the armed wing of Hamas, notable for its delusional, messianic and frankly sadistic character.

The notion that Iran or its regional client regimes in Syria and Lebanon would go to war against Israel ignored the elementary fact that the Iranian rulers are propelled by the same overriding imperative as Israel’s governing coalition: regime self-preservation. Iran essentially has told Hamas that “you didn’t tell us you would do this, so you’re on your own.”

For Iran, the regime’s “support” for Palestine remains verbal. For Netanyahu’s governing Israeli coalition, its preservation means genocidal war without limit or end point. It is possible, even if unlikely, that the scale and duration of the carnage in Gaza might impel Iran’s client Hezbollah militia in Lebanon into a large-scale retaliation, touching off a firestorm of escalation that no state actor intends.

It’s also necessary to confront the revelations of the rapes and sexual torture perpetrated by Hamas among its atrocities of October 7. It might be tempting to attribute these accounts to Israeli state propaganda, which notoriously lies about everything — especially the monstrous claim that it seeks to “minimize” civilian deaths in Gaza, dutifully echoed by the U.S. State Department which knows it’s a giant falsehood.

But following that understandable instinct would be tragic blindness in the present instance. We are dealing here not with Israeli state PR but with survivors’ direct accounts, journalists’ reports, and documentation by organizations in Israel with track records in establishing rape crisis centers and dealing with the high levels of domestic and misogynist violence in that society.

While Israel’s political and military apparatus — of course — will exploit these facts of sexual brutality to the fullest, supporters of Palestinian freedom can under no circumstances ignore them. If nothing else, they should discredit any image of Hamas as a liberatory or progressive organization. More than that, they are consistent with the larger picture of the organization’s methods and ideology, leading Palestine toward a dead end and ever-deepening tragedy.

Delusion all around

The second dynamic, more broadly, is how miscalculations by multiple parties including “great” powers have contributed to a gathering apocalypse. While Hamas’ fatal delusion has dragged Gaza’s people into a suicide mission that they never chose, it’s within a far bigger matrix of miscalculations and fantasies by bigger players.

Ten days before October 7, U.S. strategy was based on the premise that “the Middle East hasn’t been so quiet anytime in the past 20 years.” Israel’s rapidly proceeding “normalization of relations” with Saudi Arabia and repressive oil kingdoms would sideline Palestine into a corner where it could be safely ignored.

Israel’s military and intelligence apparatus complacently ignored their own on-the-ground observers’ warnings of Hamas’ preparation for a serious military operation. Those alarms just didn’t fit the prevailing “conception” that Hamas was tamed and deterred by Israeli power and the needs of governing Gaza.

October 7 shattered that security myth. But one illusion is replaced by a deadlier one, that the present all-out war will not only crush Hamas but somehow rescue the hostages and make Gaza “safe” — depending on which Israeli official or politician or general may be speaking — either for some new, puppet Palestinian rule, or for military incursions at times of Israel’s choosing, or maybe the depopulation and Israeli re-colonization of Gaza. Choose your pipe dream.

As usual, it’s United States’ delusions that are biggest and most dangerous. In the immediate wake of October 7, the Biden administration saw the opportunity for political “victory” by making a full public embrace of Netanyahu while urging behind-the-scenes that Israel hold back from full-scale invasion and genocidal massacre. The response is exactly what we’ve seen: Israel pulverizing Gaza with its full arsenal, including the two- and five-thousand-pound bombs that the United States generously provides.

The prospect of Israeli “victory” has become a global political disaster for the United States. Not only its pretext of caring about Palestine, but also the notion that it can curb the violent excesses of its strategic Israeli partner with a bit of gentle diplomatic pressure, have been exposed.

Only a very explicit, open and almost unprecedented U.S. veto of Israel’s war and ethnic cleansing rampage can stop it now. Presently, this seems hardly likely — especially in the fractured state of U.S. politics, with much of the Democrats’ voter base increasingly angry and alienated from pro-Israel policies while the Republican Party functions as a foaming-at-the-mouth genocidal Amen Corner for Netanyahu.

At the very same time that U.S. policy and the right wing abets Israel’s destruction of Palestine, Ukraine is about to be starved of the weapons it desperately needs to defeat Putin’s annexationist invasion.

Given the rage of the Arab American community and many Democratic voting constituencies over U.S. complicity in the genocide, it is entirely possible that when Netanyahu goes down following this war, he will take Biden with him. In comparison to the unfathomable human toll in Gaza and the gathering settler-military ethnic cleansing in the West Bank, this would hardly be the greatest collateral damage from the post-October 7 holocaust. But its implications for U.S. politics have their own significance.

What’s needed more than ever now is maximum pressure on the complicit war criminals in Washington DC to force a renewed and permanent ceasefire. Ceasefire Now — Stop the Genocide!