History is full of lessons and one of them is that nation states can make grave errors, especially when led by ideologically driven leaders who lack morality, integrity and foresight.
Of course, Nazi Germany is the modern benchmark for this. Yes, Germany would have come to dominate Europe economically, but where exactly did the Holocaust spring from? Hitler and the Nazis did terrible and unnecessary things to the Jews, Gypsies and Russian prisoners of war. Shockingly, they were elected democratically and supported by the bulk of the German people.
How the wheel of history turns and surprises us. Now in Israel we have a Jewish state that has been brutally suppressing an ethnic group, the Palestinians, for many decades. The Israelis have been operating an Apartheid system to keep down the Palestinian population that it feels will demographically overwhelm it. It is reminiscent of South Africa’s Apartheid system but is arguably even more brutal. For, as Ronnie Kasrils pointed out, the Israeli states colonial settlers aim to remove the indigenous Palestinians and turn the country into a purely Jewish (racial) state.
If Israel has a leader with the vision of FW de Klerk it might still change course by voluntarily dismantling its Apartheid system. It could then work with the Palestinians (including Hamas) to help build a democratic one-state solution, as proposed by the late Edward Said. If the Afrikaners of South Africa could do it, why not the Israelis?
Yet events have taken a far darker turn with the Israelis going down the path of genocide against the Palestinians. Indeed, renowned Jewish scholars of the Holocaust have even highlighted the fact that Israel’s actions constitute genocide. And yet the US funds and arms its ally, in part down to the power of the pro-Israel lobby in the US. That isn’t some racist conspiracy theory, as Professor John Mearsheimer has previously explained in his book, The Israel Lobby and US Foreign Policy. I’d urge you to watch his videos.
The bulk of the mainstream media has swallowed the Israeli government’s lies about the events of October 7th and its causes, much as it did about the Ukraine war, in order to manipulate public opinion in support of Israel. Israel has also proven itself to be an effective propagandist, hiding the fact that it killed some of its own people in it is disproportionate response to the Hamas attack that day.
In addition, there were no Israeli babies baked in ovens by Hamas, 40 Israeli babies did not have their heads chopped off, yet the media in Britain and elsewhere covered these stories as if they were true. Sadly, these lies were used to fuel the genocidal hatred of the Israelis (and their supporters worldwide) towards the Palestinians. Liberation has outlined some of this in an excellent article.
Ironically, they provided justification for countless war crimes by the Israeli military against the Palestinians. The so-called ‘Israel has the right to defend itself’ response much beloved by the British Prime Minister and his erstwhile ally Sir Keir Starmer to normalise state terrorism against a largely defenceless population.
The approach of the media was in stark contrast to the way the Ukraine war was treated. RT still isn’t allowed to be broadcast in the UK but Israeli propaganda is given free reign even while the IDF continues to torture hundreds of thousands of children, having murdered approximately 10,000. God only knows how these children have been damaged by the events of the past few months.
Despite the best efforts of the mainstream media, ranging from The Guardian to the BBC the truth is now, slowly coming out. However, even on the BBC today (December 14th, 2023) a reputable BBC journalist, Jeremy Bowen, repeated Israeli assertions that the Israeli civilians who died on October 7th were all killed by Hamas. In reality, it appears many were killed by the IDFs indiscriminate attacks against the houses in which they and the Hamas fighters were in.
The false narrative about the causes and the events of October 7th has been used to manipulate public opinion both inside and outside Israel. The aim appears to be to justify ethnic cleansing and the removal of the Palestinians from Israel.
Hamas is cited as the enemy but the comments of the many in the Israeli government as well as Israelis make it clear that in reality no distinction is made between Hamas and Palestinian civilians.
The fact that Israel itself helped create Hamas to weaken the PLO is conveniently ignored. As is the fact that Hamas won elections back in 2006 and is essentially no more a terrorist organisation than was Nelson Mandela’s ANC fighting South African Apartheid.
The Zionist aim of a ‘Greater Israel’ that requires the removal of all indigenous Palestinians is immoral. Similarly, is it fair that in Israel an American Jewish settler has more rights than a native Palestinian?
The brutality used to enforce this genocidal project does in some respects have echoes of Nazi Germany. ‘Ein Volk’ (One people – the Jews) need more ‘Lebensraum’ (room to live) and a ‘Final Solution’ must be deployed to deal with the indigenous Palestinian population who are ‘Untermensch’, racially inferior. If it wasn’t for social media and 24/7 reporting of these Gaza genocide who knows how far Netanayahu might go? One of his fascist ministers even suggested nuking Gaza! (He wasn’t sacked).
The crazy thing is you’d assume a people who were on the receiving end of The Holocaust would be sensitive about inflicting genocide on another people. Sadly, that isn’t how humans appear to operate. And history, lest we forget, is created by the victors.
Even a cursory knowledge of history (which doubtless I’ll be accused of possessing) appears to show that genocide has happened time and time again. If the people were wiped out successfully the victors were able to bury those skeletons in the cupboard of history. Ethnic Russians wiped out native peoples in their expansion east. The US pretty much did the same to the Native Americans, the Spanish to the indigenous Indians in the Americas , the British to the Australian Aborigines, the Belgians to the Congolese…well, you get the idea. Had the Germans won WW2, I doubt you’d even know about the Holocaust.
Given the bloodthirsty intransigence of the current regime in Israel, only the US has the ability to prevent a much wider war in the Middle East, by making Israel stop the genocide in Gaza and its ethnic cleansing. It must then facilitate a genuinely even-handed political settlement between the Palestinians and Israelis while there is still time. Eventually, Israel won’t be in any position to choose how to proceed as the hatred its actions have created will eventually lead to the destruction of its Apartheid state. Better to grasp the nettle and make peace, while the US is still backing it.
I’m personally of the opinion that a single democratic state is the best solution for all concerned. Yes, it sounds idealistic but in Ireland and South Africa things changed for the better despite much hatred and bloodshed over centuries. If the British could make peace with the Irish and South Africa could end Apartheid, nothing is impossible with bravery and goodwill. I believe both Israelis and Palestinians possess those qualities – even if their leaders have yet to measure up to Nelson Mandela and FW de Klerk.
In the last resort, Israel can’t stand against the world without US backing, and that backing won’t last forever. Nor can US promises necessarily be relied upon. Just ask Zelensky, who stupidly bet all his chips on the US. US attention will eventually turn to China as it attempts to maintain the mantle of global hegemon. Where will that leave Israel in the future if it doesn’t make a comprehensive peace settlement soon?
The lesson of history is that an effective resistance will eventually defeat colonialism.
 Ilan Pappe‘ (ed.), Israel and South Africa: The Many Faces of Apartheid