Israel's Narrative Of Perpetual Victimhood On Gaza Must End

The story of Israel surrounded by hostile Arabs does not fit today - the rich Saudis, Emiratis, and Bahrainis have been more than eager to normalise ties with Israel

Israel's Narrative Of Perpetual Victimhood On Gaza Must End

Star Wars fans would be familiar with the classic battle where Grand Master Yoda duels the Emperor in the Senate. The Emperor wreaks carnage as he hurls one Senate pod after another at the diminutive Jedi master. However, Yoda arrests one flying pod and precisely aims it back at the Emperor, making sure to minimise wasteful destruction. That is the difference by way of analogy between the stringent rules of jihad and those who engage in terrorism, genocide, or ethnic cleansing.

Palestinians - Caught Between Corruption and Extremism

Unlike those who view Hamas as engaging in some kind of heroic resistance, Pakistani Islamic scholar Javed Ahmad Ghamidi is clear that some who are projected as heroes are responsible for the downfall of their nations. They killed Israeli civilians and abducted non-combatant women and elders flouting the stringent rules of jihad. Such terrorist operations result when rage is not tempered by a united governing body. After all, the Palestinians are caught between a corrupt, co-opted Palestinian Authority under an aging Mahmoud Abbas and an Islamist extremist group.

Omar Mukhtar, the septuagenarian Libyan hero, was depicted as showing restraint in the movie Lion of the Desert, out of concern that women and children would be caught in the crossfire between the resistance fighters and the occupying Italian soldiers. This is quite the opposite of the Hamas leaders that remain in the safety of Qatar, leaving Palestinian women and children to pay the ultimate price.

Shifting from Symptom to System

On the other hand, Bassam Youssef opines on the symptom of Hamas, saying that “you bombed them to the Middle Ages, then Middle Age brutality is what you are going to get, you treated them like savages, they will attack you like savages”.

There are viewpoints that the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank that gave up armed resistance and followed the “peace process” only received more illegal Jewish settlements and settler violence in return. Israelis already claim the whole land as Judea and Samaria.

Still others push back that Hamas is a product of a besieged enclave, as many of its fighters were Palestinian children and youth that lived through structural violence for their entire lives. In other words, Hamas are not ISIS or al-Qaeda that seek some global Islamist order. There are also reports here, here, and here that the hostages have been treated well.

None of this condones what Hamas has done. But it does indicate that the structural issue is not Hamas that was abetted by the Israeli regime to split the Palestinian leadership, but rather the systemic occupation and apartheid created by the Israeli regime and defended on the pain of “anti-Semitism” charges against critics.

The Callous Ratio of Israelis and Hindutvists

A democratic Israel that supposedly represents the will of the Israeli people has shown no restraint either. For about 1,200 Israeli lives more than 30,000 Palestinian lives have been exacted, a ratio that continues to grow under the aegis of US leadership that many in the Global South deem to be complicit in the plight of the Palestinian people.

Like hardcore Hindutvist Indians, they have dehumanised Palestinian lives. One prominent Indian in the media offered a 1:1000 ratio so that a thousand Palestinian children must die for every Israeli child. Similarly, many American Hindus have been vocally backing Israel irrespective of the death toll of the Palestinians. For such people, Muslims are nothing more than a dehumanised caricature of a “jihadi”. This is based on a simplistic modern narrative created as reactionary politics against long dead Muslim Empires.

“River to the Sea” Double Standards

Unlike Zionists like Rabbi Arik Ascherman who call out settler violence at great risk to their own body, many pro-Israelis have been callously supporting the horrifying destruction inflicted by their government as it has flattened Northern Gaza and rendered it uninhabitable for the Palestinians.

This includes US Congressmen who condemn the “river to the sea” chant as anti-Semitic but condone the same in the Likud Charter. The inconsistency of their positions is lost on them. But then US Congressmen that have rationalised immoral wars and the use of deadly weapons in places like Iraq are not exactly paragons of virtue. What is clear are their double standards on “human rights” that are reserved for some but not others. This much has been made clear to wide swathes of humanity in the global South.

It is therefore not surprising that they would clamp down on Palestinian protests, as people who are witnessing the murder of their families in Gaza come out on the streets, but slide by pro-Israeli groups that openly dehumanise Palestinians and call for their erasure.

Lies that Instigate Oppression

After all, such American leaders find black protests and critical race theory problematic but refuse to address the systemic issues of deeply entrenched racism that perpetuates unabated since the age of colonialism and the subsequent massacre of black communities and lynching, sometimes initiated on the basis of false allegations by white women.

Modern warfare itself is a product of deceit and lies. The immoral Iraq war and the absence of weapons of mass destruction is a prime example. Under exaggerated trumped-up allegations, countries seek to fulfill their ulterior objectives, be it expansion of land, access to resources, boosting war industry profits, or other political objectives.

A Far-Right Israeli Leadership

The words of pro-Israeli people follow what Israeli leadership has sown in the last couple of decades as Israeli society shifted further to the far right after the assassination of Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin by an extremist Zionist. This is much like the assassination of Gandhi by a rabid Hindutvist and the shifting of India further to the right.

It is therefore not surprising that prominent Professor Jeffrey Sachs has referred to Israel as having the most “extremist, religious, nationalist government in its history.”

The dehumanisation of Palestinians through religious imagery of the Amalek by Prime Minister Netanyahu, the calling of Palestinian children as “little snakes” by former high profile leaders like Ayelet Shaked, and other such tropes contribute to the context where Palestinian women face rape and sexual abuse, Palestinian boys are assaulted, where they witness executions at the al-Shifa hospital, where unarmed men are executed, and starvation is used as a weapon of war.

Hamas is a terrorist group. But is the Israeli regime any better? If anything, callous conduct is associated with terrorist groups with perceived grievances and humiliation but not democratic nations that enjoy a high standard of living.

Weaponised Victimhood

Yet, if people disturbed by what they recognise as a slow genocide express their reservations, they are shut down with all sorts of smearing labels. Pro-Israeli media personalities like Ben Shapiro and others who call out for free speech are the first to shut down legitimate criticism of Israel as “anti-Semitism”. This is weaponised victimhood that did not spare even Archbishop Desmond Tutu.

More recently, Bassam Youssef has said that if directors like Jonathan Glazer who made a movie on the Holocaust can be called anti-Semites for rejecting oppression by the Israeli state, or if Stephane Hessel who was a concentration camp survivor can be accused of anti-Semitism for rejecting Israeli treatment of the Palestinians, then anti-Semitism has become a “comical accusation” and it does not matter anymore.

The script needs to be re-written. People cannot claim perpetual victimhood. The oppressed can become the oppressor given time and context. Where Asian Americans faced racism through the pandemic, the Chinese turned a blind eye to the systemic oppression of the Uyghurs. Where Pakistani Hindus face persecution at the hands of Muslims in power, Hindutvists in India lynch, maim, and oppress vulnerable Muslim communities in India.

Similarly, Muslim communities face incessant Islamophobia but turn around to wreak rampant homophobia. The same holds for Israelis, who face anti-Semitism by white supremacists but who rationalise their oppression through perpetual victimhood.

The Narrative of Perpetual Victimhood Must End

There is no doubt that anti-Semitism exists in North America, Europe, and amongst Islamists. It is an ancient hatred that will remain just as Islamophobia, racism, and homophobia. The darkness cannot be eliminated but only kept at bay.

But the narrative of perpetual victimhood must end. The story of Israel surrounded by hostile Arabs does not fit today. The rich Saudis, Emiratis, and Bahrainis have been more than eager to normalise ties with Israel. Like the Americans, they are deemed complicit in the plight of the Palestinians. Egypt on its part kept its border sealed and remained unmoved even on compassionate grounds.

To recapitulate, weaponised victimhood should not be allowed to rationalise wanton destruction. Otherwise, all talk of human rights rings hollow, and we become a self-obsessed cult that is consumed by eternal victimhood.