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Biden in the Holy Land: Israel, Palestinians and a Textbook Case of Genocide

Dr Can Erimtan

21st Century Wire

It should go without saying that what has transpired since Oct 7, 2023, have initiated a series events which may irrevocably alter geopolitical fabric of the Middle East, and beyond. Only, it’s not certain if foreign policy braintrust in Washington knows it yet. 

The world was in shock last week as the IDF (Israel Defense Forces) bombed the Gaza Al-Ahi Baptist Hospital. But, the following day, U.S. President Biden arrived in Israel, only to say that the “other team”, in reference to Palestinian militant groups, carried out the devastating strike on Gaza’s Al-Ahli hospital. And as a result, now even the French military intelligence directorate (DRM) declares that “[t]here is nothing that allows us to say that it is an Israeli strike, but the most likely (scenario) is a Palestinian rocket that had a firing incident.”

Biden as Obama’s Successor: The IDF as the Military Expression of Israel

The international Arab news channel Al Jazeera’s Sara Khairat reports from West Jerusalem, saying that the ‘Israeli army released a video saying it showed that the rocket that hit the hospital was not theirs. The video appears to show craters. They claimed that the diameter of these craters is not consistent with their own rockets. The Israeli army said that this was not the case in the hospital attack. There has also been a lot of disinformation on social media following the hospital attack.’ Trying to adopt Obama’s cool, Biden used the term “team,” just like his one- time boss Obama, who had referred to a “JV team” when talking about a terror attack carried out by the Islamic State (then primarily called ISIS or ISIL) back in 2014. Aside from these matter relating to optics, the reality behind the attack on the Al-Ahli hospital seems to have gone missing in the fog of war. But, keeping in mind the language used by Israeli officials talking about Palestinians, it would not appear too far-fetched to point the finger of blame at none other than the IDF.

The IDF or the Israel Defense Forces are renowned around the world as a ruthless and efficient fighting force. As expressed by Professor Edna Lomsky-Feder and Dr Eyal Ben-Ari, the “Israeli military is marked by a particular ideology of social diversity and a conscript system,” and thus really plays an important role in “defining Israeli ‘‘nation-hood’ (the people’s army).” And in due course, the IDF has evolved “into a small, compact force based on full-time professionals (a professional army).” Thus tuning the state of Israel into all but an ever-ready band of soldiers, ready to pounce at any provocation or instigation. As a result, it is easy to see that the Palestinians are fighting the Israelis for sheer survival in order to safeguard their own sense of nationhood and identity or for sheer survival. For all intents and purposes, I hereby propose that the “people’s army” is nothing but an armed version of the ‘nation of Israel,’ established to control and, if need be, suppress and punish the dispossessed Palestinians. For, the “crux of the Palestinian question is: who justly owns the land of Israel or Palestine?” as asked by Dr Stephen P. Halbrook. And in this context, I would like to point to the Palestinian National Covenant (1964/1968). A document which represents the official position of the Palestinian organizations on the Arab-Israel conflict:

The partitioning of Palestine in 1947 and the establishment of Israel are fundamentally null and void, whatever time has elapsed, because they were contrary to the wish of the people of Palestine and its natural right to its homeland, and contradict the principles embodied in the Charter of the United Nations, the first of which is the right of self- determination. (Article 19)

But Biden as well as his predecessor Obama do not agree with these just-quoted words, with the latter saying that “Israel has a right to exist as a homeland for the Jewish people” in 2015 and the former that “Israel has the right to defend itself and its people, full stop” (7 October 2023).

President Biden took the unprecedented step of flying to Israel to see Benjamin Netanyahu, his interlocutor of four decades. But Biden is a “last-minute wartime visit” to perform some “high-stakes diplomacy with Prime Minio impartial broker in this instance, as he has in the past over and again stressed his own credentials as a champion of Israel: “You need not be a Jew to be Zionist” (14 July 2022). And in voicing these statements, the president aligns almost completely with his constituents back home, as voiced by Halbrook, who reasons that “many Americans assume Israel’s existence as a categorical imperative,” for a wide variety of reason, “including ethnic preference, religious prejudice, the Zionist lobby, and the needs of U.S. imperialism.” As a result, the U.S. will always have Israel’s back. And as to be expected, in Israel, Biden said: “Israel, you’re not alone, the US stands with you.” Particularly poignant words, as the international press now reports that ‘[s]ome have compared the Oct. 7 attack on Israel by the Palestinian group Hamas to the US’ 9/11 attack, as both took the countries by surprise and took many casualties.’

Though the U.S. President had also planned to meet a number of Arab leaders and heads of state, the latter refused flatly: “Jordan, Egypt and the Palestinian Authority canceled a planned meeting with Biden less than 24 hours before he was supposed to meet them for a four-way summit in the Jordanian capital, Amman” — Jordan’s Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi telling Al Jazeera that “[t]he summit won’t be able to stop the war, which is what we want.”

Waiting for a Ground Offensive into Gaza: Ethnic Cleansing as a Prelude to Genocide

Following the spectacular Hamas attack on 7 October, everybody expected the state of Israel (aka the IDF) to react with brutal force and in asymmetric fashion, claiming many innocent lives – hapless Palestinian civilians caught in the middle. For now, the IDF is acting with the utmost restraint. And, last Friday (20 Ocotber), “Hamas on Friday freed an American woman and her teenage daughter who had been held hostage in Gaza,” as reported by the AP — roughly 200 people have been abducted by Hamas’ military arm, the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades on that fateful 7 October. The Hebrew-language news website Ynet cited unnamed senior Israeli officials saying that the release of the two hostages by Hamas would not impact the “planned ground operation in Gaza.” Though not yet putting boots on the ground, the IDF has been pounding Gaza with aerial assault: At the moment, at least 4,385 people have been killed in Gaza, including 1,756 children, another 13,561 people wounded since Israel began bombarding Palestinian enclave in response to Hamas’ Blitz attack. While these atrocities are taking place in Gaza, to the north the Lebanese Hezbollah has also started their own assault on the state of Israel with dozens of rockets being fired into Israel on Friday, 20 October 2023. In response, the belligerent Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant visited his troops stationed near the Lebanese border, saying that Hezbollah will pay “a heavy price” for their cross-border attacks on Israel. It stands to reason that any Israeli ground operation would directly lead to an exercise in ethnic cleansing that could very well end in outright genocide. These prospects take place against the backdrop formed by Israel passing a controversial new “nation-state law” in July 2018. This new quasi-constitutional Basic Law makes no bones about the project of Israel and its wider aspirations:

Article 1. ‘The State of Israel’

a) Israel is the historic homeland of the Jewish people in which the State of
Israel was established.
b) The state of Israel is the nation-state of the Jewish people, in which it
fulfills its natural, religious, and historic right to self-determination.
c) The fulfillment of the right of national self-determination in the State of
Israel is unique to the Jewish people.

In the light of this blatant attempt to provide a legal veneer to a blatant land grab executed under the guise of religious nationalism (“the Jewish people”), the position of the local Arab or Muslim population (known as Palestinians) seems doubtful at best and precarious at worst. As a “European . . . political movement and the dominant ideology of modernity,” nationalism invariably leads to the “exaltation of a dominant nation [or religio-ethnic entity] as superior to all others, particularly subaltern groups,” as worded by the political historian Dr Daniele Conversi. He categorically states that “Westernization, modernity, war and genocide” are “strictly related to state formation in an age of militarized nationalism.” It would seem that the state of Israel all but exemplifies Dr Conversi’s proposed definition. And, as if acting without rhyme or reason, Hamas and its Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades decided to provoke this nation of soldiers. And their Blitz attack did not happen overnight, but seems to have been the result of a two-year period of training and preparation, as has been revealed by a CNN investigation – going through “almost two years of training and propaganda
video released by Hamas and its affiliates to reveal the months of preparations that went into the recent attack, finding that militants trained for the onslaught in at least six sites across Gaza.” Following the earlier attack on a hospital, the Israeli authorities have now taken one step further and have now hit a Greek Orthodox church in the Gaza Strip — Church of St Porphyrius. The Orthodox place of worship was sheltering at least 500 Muslims and Christian Gazans when the IDF struck — “Orthodox Patriarchate of Jerusalem said, and Palestinian health officials said16 people were killed.” Alas, the authorities released the following statement: “The IDF can unequivocally state that the Church was not the target of the strike . . . As a result of the IDF strike, a wall of a church in the area was damaged. We are aware of reports on casualties. The incident is under review.”

A Textbook Case of Genocide: Action versus Reaction

Biden’s “last-minute wartime visit” to perform some “high-stakes diplomacy” was all but a failure; and, was followed by the UK’s PM Rishi Sunak – a self-confessed devout Hindu. While holding a joint press conference with Bibi, Sunak said all the ‘right’ things: “I am proud to stand here with
you in Israel’s darkest hour. We will stand with you in solidarity. We will stand with you and your people. And we also want you to win.” In turn, the European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen also joined the chorus: “Israel has the right to self-defence, in line with international law. Hamas are terrorists. And the Palestinian people are also suffering from that terror.”

Another interesting voice taking part in the chorus is India’s PM Modi, who took to X-Twitter to tell the world the following: “Deeply shocked by the news of terrorist attacks in Israel. Our thoughts and prayers are with the innocent victims and their families. We stand in solidarity with Israel at this difficult hour.” The Mumbai-based journalist Rana Ayyub offers this simple explanation for this apparent Indo-Israeli rapprochement:

The subtext of the pro-Israel solidarity is the anti-Muslim hate in India. . . .The Palestine conflict is being used to further weaponize the existing prejudice that exists against Muslims in the year leading up to the 2024
general elections . . . When Israel’s defense minister, Yoav Gallant said “We are fighting human animals and we will act accordingly”, it drew loud cheers in a section of Indian social media. There are no nuances, Hamas, for the Indian far right, is not just every Palestinian, but every bloodthirsty, savage Muslim in the world.

In contrast to this diverse assembly of world leaders supporting Israel and IDF aggression, global populations are now coming out in support of the Palestinians. And, even Staff members of EU institutions have written a letter expressing fury over Von der Leyen’s stance on the Israel-Hamas conflict — a letter carrying 842 signatures: “Tens of thousands of pro-Palestinian demonstrators marched Saturday [, 21 October 2023] through a rainy London to demand Israel stop its bombardment of Gaza, and similar calls were heard in cities around the world as the Israel-Hamas war entered its third week . . . [London] Police estimated the crowd that wound its way through the city for three hours at ‘up to 100,000’,” reports AP. Two days later, Israeli warplanes struck targets across Gaza: the “death toll in Gaza rose sharply on Monday [23 October 2023], according to the Hamas-run health ministry, after Israel said it had struck hundreds of targets in the territory in one of the biggest barrages of airstrikes in recent days,” reports the New York Times.

The Israeli historian Dr Raz Segal – renowned for directing the Master of Arts in Holocaust and Genocide Studies program at Stockton University – says simply that “the assault on Gaza can also be understood in other terms: as a textbook case of genocide unfolding in front of our eyes.” The New York Times again:

Israel is widely expected to launch a ground offensive in Gaza following Hamas’ brutal Oct. 7 rampage into southern Israeli communities. Tanks and troops have been massed at the Gaza border, and Israel says it has stepped up airstrikes in order to reduce the risk to troops in the next stages.

In response to the Hamas’ brutal murder of more than 1,400 people in Israel, Bibi has now killed more than 5,000 Palestinians, including some 2,000 minors and around 1,100 women, have been killed, as worded by Ashraf al-Qidra, a spokesman for the Hamas-run Health Ministry. And any minute now, the IDF is expected Gaza in full force, arguably to finish the job and ensure that as many Palestinians as possible are executed – as a measure of revenge, but also as a matter of policy. Are these horrific military actions but examples of a “Jewish” nation state establishing its superiority over “subaltern groups” (Christians and Muslims) by means of military force and destructive violence?!?

21WIRE special contributor Dr. Can Erimtan is an independent historian and geo-political analyst who used to live in Istanbul. At present, he is in self-imposed exile from Turkey. He has a wide interest in the politics, history and culture of the Balkans, the greater Middle East, and the world beyond. He attended the VUB in Brussels and did his graduate work at the universities of Essex and Oxford. In Oxford, Erimtan was a member of Lady Margaret Hall and he obtained his doctorate in Modern History in 2002. His publications include the revisionist monograph “Ottomans Looking West?” as well as numerous scholarly articles. In Istanbul, Erimtan started publishing in the English language Turkish press, culminating in him becoming the Turkey Editor of the İstanbul Gazette. Subsequently, he commenced writing for RT Op-Edge, NEO, and finally, the 21st Century Wire. You can find him on Twitter at @TheErimtanAngle. Read Can’s archive here.

READ MORE PALESTINE NEWS AT: 21st Century Wire Palestine Files


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