(Moved to

Complicity in slaughter. Gaza

by Rahnuma Ahmed

I feel like I’m witnessing the systematic destruction of a people’s ability to survive. It’s horrifying.

— Rachel Corrie (1979-2003), a 23 year old American member of the International Solidarity Movement, killed by an Israeli Defence Forces (IDF) bulldozer during a protest against the destruction of Palestinian homes in the Gaza strip.

The Americans, wrote Sir John Troutbeck, head of the British Middle East office in Cairo, to Ernest Bevin, the Foreign Secretary, were responsible for the creation of a gangster state headed by “an utterly unscrupulous set of leaders” (2 June 1948). America’s role in the establishment of the state of Israel in May 1948, one that involved “a monumental injustice” to the Palestinians, writes Avi Shlaim, an Iraqi-born British historian of Jewish descent, was partisanal. This was bitterly resented by British officials. This, writes Shlaim, is the historical context, and it is essential that we remember this when we try to make sense of the senseless carnage in Gaza.

It is a slaughter that is relentless. A savage barbarity, utterly modern. Just like the Nazi holocaust.

Bomb attacks on civilian targets, including homes, schools, mosques, universities. Torn limbs. Sniper fire. Bullet holes in little breasts. Severed heads. I remember seeing a little girl on al-Jazeera. Curly locks framing her face. That was all, just a small head. There are other images, of scattered limbs, of buildings destroyed, of parents wailing. No place to go. No place to hide. Ambulances are fired upon. US-supplied F-16 fighter and attack jets rain down Operation Cast Lead bombs on unarmed civilians. There are indications, say defence analysts, that white phosphorus is being used. I watch an Israeli government spokesman reply on al-Jazeera, We do not use anything not used by the US government, or NATO. Brazenness. Complicity. Silence. People pouring out in the streets worldwide, `We are all Palestinians.’ Burning the Israeli flag, the Star of David. Roles reversed. Who is David, who is Goliath in this war of unequals, of primitive rockets against Israeli military strength annually resourced by $2 million, by the US, for the last 23 years. Upped, during the Bush administration to $21 billion in US security assistance, including $19 billion in direct military aid under the Pentagon’s Foreign Military Financing (FMF) programme. As Frida Berrigan notes, Israel remains the single largest recipient of US military aid each year. Holocaust in Gaza? US media screams of anti-Semitism.

Discourses of denial are accompanied by rhetorics of reverse discrimination and reverse racism, writes Mark Lawrence McPhail, in a study on racism. Subtle forms of individual and institutional contempt for the rights of the oppressed are ever-present.

Israel has the right to defend itself and its population from years of rocket attacks by Hamas. Hamas smuggles weapons into Gaza from Egypt. Israel has the right to bomb these tunnels, to secure its national interest. Israel withdrew from Gaza. It ended its occupation. It gave up its settlements and its military bases in Gaza. Hamas has used the Israeli disengagement from Gaza to launch attacks at Israel without any provocation whatsoever. Hamas, and not Israel, broke the June 2008 ceasefire. Hamas is a terrorist organisation. Israel does not kill Palestinian civilians intentionally. Hamas, and not Israel, is responsible for the deaths of Palestinians because it uses them as human shields. Denials pour out endlessly.

As the Australian Green Left’s website points out, try as you may, the statements of Israeli and US politicians do not match the pictures of devastation in Gaza. There can be only one explanation. They must be suffering from one of those conditions, a “Visual-Carnage-Responsibility-Back-To-Front-Upside-Down-Massacre-Disorder”.

But those who can call a slaughter what it is — a slaughter — keep pointing out repeatedly, Gaza is, in reality, the world’s largest open-air prison. Four decades of Israeli control has done “incalculable damage” to the economy of the Gaza strip. Most of its 1.5 million population are 1948 refugees, looking out on to land that was earlier, rightfully theirs. Gaza, as Shlaim notes, is not simply a case of economic under-development, “but a uniquely cruel case of de-development.” Israel has turned Gaza’s people into a source of cheap labour, and a captive market for Israeli goods. Israel withdrew all 8,000 settlers from Gaza in August 2005, destroyed their houses and farms, a withdrawal that was presented by Ariel Sharon as a contribution to peace based on a two-state solution. But this withdrawal was not a “prelude to a peace deal” with the Palestinian Authority, but a prelude to further Zionist expansion on the West Bank, as evidenced by the next year’s settlement of 12,000 Israelis on the West Bank. As for Gaza, even though Israeli settlers were withdrawn, Israeli soldiers continued to control all access to Gaza. Palestinians had no control over moving in and out of Gaza. No control over either land, sea or air borders. No open access to services needed, no viable economic opportunities. Poverty rate in Gaza had reached 80%. Gaza’s people lived constantly under the threat of Israeli military incursions, shelling, targetted assassinations (remember Sheikh Ahmed Yassin, near-blind paraplegic, confined to a wheelchair, assassinated by an Israeli helicopter gunship in 2004, along with two bodyguards, and nine bystanders).

US outgoing president George W Bush kisses Israeli foreign minister Livni as Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and looks on. Tel Aviv's Ben Gurion International Airport 09 January 2008.  MARCO LONGARI/AFP/Getty Images)

US outgoing president George W Bush kisses Israeli foreign minister Tzipi Livni as Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert looks on. Tel Aviv's Ben Gurion International Airport 09 January 2008. © MARCO LONGARI/AFP/Getty Images)

Those who can call a slaughter what it is — a slaughter — have also pointed out that Israel’s rocket crisis is “fabricated”. Jim Holstun and Joanna Tinker, in an Electronic Intifada article (6 January 2009) reveal that an Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs document, The Hamas Terror War against Israel shows striking evidence of Hamas’s good faith during the lull in hostilities. Two graphs, drawn up by the Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center at the Israel Intelligence Heritage & Commemoration Center, show that the total number of rocket and mortar attacks went down from 245 in June to a total of 26 for July through October. A reduction of 97%. But this was not sufficient. Israel violated the truce, it imposed on Gaza a terror-famine. Hamas still did not respond by launching rockets, not until Israel cancelled the truce on the night of 4-5 November by “sending an Israeli commando squad into Gaza, killing 6 Hamas members. Hamas responded by firing 30 rockets. Since the charts help to expose the `Hamas fires rockets’ for what it is, an outright lie, the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs removed these from its website on the eve of the Israeli occupation forces ground assault on Gaza, on 4 January 2008. These have been substituted by a near-illegible graph in which the “labels obscure the data,” and the caption hides the de facto end of rocket and mortar fire during the calm until 4 November.

Other Western governments are also complicit in the slaughter. As Jim Miles points out, the Canadian government’s position is no different to the US position: Israel is the victim of Hamas terrorist aggression. Peter Kent, Minister of State for Foreign Affairs said in early January 2009, Hamas rocketing was responsible for the initial development of the crisis. And then he went on to mouth words, regurgitated endlessly by the west’s leaders, `the deepening humanitarian tragedy’, `Canada is concerned about the loss of civilian life…’ The European Union president, the Czech republic, said on 3 January 2009, the Israeli ground offensive in Gaza was “defensive”, not “offensive” action. A coalition of Lebanese and Palestinian NGOs, on January 8, accused the European Union of being party to crimes against humanity by supporting Israel’s military offensive in the Gaza strip. They delivered a letter to EU’s offices in Beirut, addressed to EU’s Ambassador to Lebanon Patrick Laurent. It termed the 27-member bloc’s response to the “crimes” in Gaza, as being not only justificatory, but also, of becoming a “party to them, by providing them legitimacy.” EU officials dismissed the accusations as being based on “misinformation.”

And Ban Ki-Moon, the secretary-general of the United Nations, deliberately avoided issuing a condemnation of the Israeli army bombing of an UNRWA school in Gaza, one in which Palestinian civilians had fled to seek shelter. Fifty Palestinian citizens were killed, ten others wounded. It was “unacceptable,” he said. It should “not be repeated,” he said. No words of condemnation either, for the killing of three UN workers, gunned down by IOF bullets. No wonder that Osman Barghouti, Palestinian human rights activist and commentator writes, Ban Ki-moon will surely go down in history as “the most subservient and morally unqualified Secretary-General to ever lead the international organization.”

And compliant Middle-Eastern governments, precious American allies, like Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, and the others? An online al-Jazeera poll shows, 94% of respondents think that some Arab governments were complicit in Israel’s attack on Gaza.


A Bangladeshi child holds a candle lin front of the central Shahid Minar to protest the killings in Gaza. The protest was called by Sommilito Sangskritik Jot a Bangladeshi cultural organisation. Dhaka, Bangladesh. January 18 2009. © Monirul Alam/

The list of political and military leaders — Israeli, American, European, and also Arab — to be tried for war crimes, is a long one. People, the world over, are compiling it.


First published in New Age on Monday 19th January 2009

Today in Gaza

I hear the screams

January 18, 2009

Israeli FM confronted at National Press Club

Journalists’ microphones turned off when Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni challenged in Washington

Israel, Palestine and the Hypocrisies of Power – an interview with Noam Chomsky

January 18, 2009 - Posted by | Global Issues, Rahnuma Ahmed | , , , , , ,


  1. Nothing else can be expected from Yanki vultures. Their paid agents in Arabian Peninsula are silent because of their personal interest. And in our country some people crying in the name of Islam blaiming Israel, not against America or their master in the Middle East. No body realises that weapon is not friend to any one rather one of the serious enemies. Weapon has got only one language “killing”, may be it’s own carrier.

    Comment by Mosharraf Hossain | January 19, 2009 | Reply

  2. To the public in the U.S.A.

    When black and white are so reversed, you have a negative./
    So take each statement that comes out, from western powers, and/
    Reverse it in your head, so you can see the positive,/
    And only then will you begin to truly understand./

    But see, how Arabs serve the West, and care not for their own./
    From Cairo, Riyadh and Amman, and even Ramallah,/
    The rich, corrupt, feign sympathy, for those to lions thrown,/
    While blocking action and all hope. Observe them, oh Allah!

    Comment by Arjun Janah | January 19, 2009 | Reply

  3. Holocaust is being repeated in Gaza on the Palestinians by the Zionist,who aught to know better. The powerful Arab states have sold them selves to the West. USA the biggest terrorist organisation in the world talks about peace and establishment of democracy fogetting that Hamas was democratically elected.There is no justice in the world, we are all guilty of watching unarmed innocent civilians die. Where is our concience?

    Comment by Quazi Najma Karim | January 19, 2009 | Reply

  4. Wtih all due respect for the views of those who are writing here, I have to say that the solidarity with all those innocent civilians that were killed, the worst way to respect their demise, is to put blame in the wrong hands. Stop this mindless one sided game of throwing stones and then hiding the hand that did it. It is HAMAS, that has in their bylawys the destruction of Israel. That approach is a non starter in negotiating with anyone on this planet, unless what you want is to immolate yourself. And if that is what they are seeking, why complain if they get a suitable response?

    I am afraid that much of the data that Rahnuma contributed is in fact not factually correct, I am sad to say. Much as I respect her and I am sure she has nothing but the best intentions in mind, sometimes even good people are known to have made mistakes. Errors of interpretation, are surely no ones monopoly.

    If we go past the blames, and come up with suggestions, we might even find a common ground to work from. I am sure that Gaza needs solutions more than a list of blames which NEVER really help in any sort of conflict, be that a personal one, a tribal one, or what ever scale you want to deal with here.

    If the notion of co existence is to be pushed forward, then threatening with anhilation of the others might not be how to get there. Educatiing children to be children might be a lot more productive than training them to become bomb throwers or suicide bombers. Let’s get real here. These are facts Rahnuma.

    Violence by Hamas has only brought death and destruction to Gaza. The violence has not only been directed towards Israel, I should have you know, but towards many other Palestininans as well. The first victims of Hamas, are the Palestinians themselves.

    And as to the statement that Hamas was elected democratically, let me remind the readers of this blog, that Hitler was also elected democratically. DId that turn Fascism into a worth while cause? or was it the prelude for something that no Jew will ever allow to have history repeat itself.

    No organization on earth that has among it’s bylaws the destruction of someone else as a solution to anything, will ever get other than what they sow. MAYBE THAT is what should be addressed here.

    Comment by pedro meyer | January 21, 2009 | Reply

  5. Pedro, with repect, I don’t see Rahnuma’s article as actually supporting HAMAS as such, yet according to my research it is absolutely true about the initial escalation of these events were indeed from Israel. We must indeed get the facts right, and I suggest you read Understanding the Gaza Catastrophe, by Richard Falk – he is an incredibly knowledgeable professor (or similar)who has studied this area carefully, I think you will find some further answers there.

    HAMAS may well have problems as I too believe they do, and of course many elected governments do (!), but that is not the issue here.

    Comment by Lalchand Azad | January 23, 2009 | Reply

  6. […] Complicity in slaughter […]

    Pingback by The Mideast’s One-State Solution « ShahidulNews | January 27, 2009 | Reply

  7. On the 22nd January, 30 people came to a meeting in Bristol (UK) to hold the people of Israel and Palestine in their hearts during this time of terrible conflict. Called by 3 friends (2 Jews and a Quaker), the purpose was to infuse public opinion with compassion. Why? Because we cannot even think of changing minds without first opening hearts. We believe the 9.5 million people living in Israel and Palestine are intelligent and creative enough to find their own way to peace. They deserve our compassion. All of them. Especially leaders like Olmert and Lipni, Haniyeh and Rayan – people who need our support to act with wisdom and humanity. Drawing on our Jewish tradition, we meditated on chesed (loving-kindness), chanted, sang and lit candles in the shape of the Kabbalistic Tree of Life. Drawing on our Quaker tradition, we held a meeting for worship, a gathered silence with ministry by those moved to speak. Then we shared our vision. One after another, we called out what we want to see, speaking as if it already exists, speaking from our hearts. In the words of one participant: “I came home from this event profoundly moved and heartened. I do not believe this is a ‘cop-out’ or in any way evades the history, seriousness and dangers of the Middle East conflict, or the difficulties ahead.  Instead it reminds us that words and argument and ‘being right’ are sometimes of very limited help, but this does not mean there is ‘nothing we can do’.  Other creative, shared, responses are possible.  And beautiful.  And fragile.  And important.” 
    The three friends:
    Lisa Saffron, author of Checkpoint – the novel of hope and inspiration about Israel and Palestine Buy on
    Sheila Yeger, author of Dove – a drama about conflict and hope. Listen free on Listening to the Tune in Dialogue
    Maria Kennedy

    Comment by lisasaffron | January 28, 2009 | Reply

  8. […] Could pictures of Israel’s 22 day carnage in Gaza, which killed more than 1,300 Palestinians, have sown doubts in western minds about the Israeli claim of targeting only Hamas, and not civilians? Could photos of bombed UN buildings, mosques, schools, a university, of hospitals in ruins, ambulances destroyed, of dismembered limbs and destroyed factories have forced BBC’s viewers to question whether both sides are to blame? Could pictures of the apartheid wall, the security zone, the checkpoints controlling entry of food, trade, medicine (for over two years) make suspect the Israeli claim that it had withdrawn from Gaza? Could photos depicting the effects of mysterious armaments that have burned their way down into people’s flesh, eaten their skin and tissue away, have given western viewers pause for thought? Could the little story of Israel acting only in self-defense, begin to unravel? Could pictures of Gaza in ruins have led American viewers to wonder whether there is a bigger story out there, and could it then lead them to ask why their taxes are being spent in footing Israel’s military bill (the fourth largest army in the world), to ask why they should continue to sponsor this parasitical state, even when its own economy is in ruins? […]

    Pingback by `Still pictures are not still…’ Fore-seeing the effect of visual images « ShahidulNews | February 15, 2009 | Reply

  9. This forum is necessary for giving expression to what is happening, and to what is not generally addressed in mainstream media, whether in European, UK, USA or Australian media window into the public mind. For so long manipulated by financial interests controlled by a very few.
    I do not condone violence or destruction of any kind – what ever the political or religious hue. But I feel I understand the Palestinian frustrations – a serious mal-judgement which brought Israel into being at great cost to the Palestinians. Great sympathy might have gone out to a country artificially brought about because of the facsist xenophobia. But Israel has become equally facsist – under a Star of David – no need for a swastika! Let us not forget that they sustained Sth African apartheid via USA support diverted to the Sth Africans. So let us not look for political virgins! And now with Gaza let there be no illusion – they are out to obliterate a people – genocide.
    On the other hand, the Islamic powers could have done more iver the years. Bin Laden, if so full of filthy lucre, could have diverted it into health, clinics for women, education – especially of girls (after all, Gandhi said that if you educate a woman, you educate a whole family)and not on mindless terrorist activities, which only highlighted the lumpen nature of the Taliban. As far from the spirit of Islam as the moon is from the earth. The Saudis, Egyptians, Pakistanis have watched from the sidelines like salivating vultures awaiting a banquet of cadavers. Shameful!

    My heart goes out to Gaza – to the women, the old, the children – to the pain in their hearts, to their hopes forestalled, and to their pawned future

    Comment by saci, budapest | February 18, 2009 | Reply

  10. sad.

    Comment by arif | February 24, 2009 | Reply

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