Una delle più grandi perversioni morali del nostro tempo – di Adam Schatz

lunedì, 8 Luglio, 2024

Questo articolo, pubblicato con il titolo Israel’s Descent – La caduta di Israele – sulla London Review of Books (Vol. 46 No. 12 · 20 June 2024), è molto lungo (anche per l’impressionante numero di libri recentissimi su cui si basa) ma estremamente informativo, e lo riprendiamo qui in un momento in cui, distratti dalle elezioni europee, abbiamo perso di vista il genocidio in atto a Gaza, che sta toccando culmini di orrore indicibile. Vale la pena di leggerlo anzi di studiarlo: perché la colla della malafede è l’ignoranza, la quale, temiamo, ha grande parte nella tendenza, già percepibile questa sera dopo la vittoria del Nuovo Fronte Popolare in Francia, ad escludere Mélenchon dal governo che sarà formato, perché in odore di “antisemitismo”. Così come, inconcepibilmente, sulla base della stessa accusa Jeremy Corbyn, che le elezioni in Gran Bretagna hanno riportato in auge, era stato espulso dal Labour Party. Chi sono, in effetti, questi “antisemiti”? Sono fra i pochissimi leader europei che non ci stanno: a credere che “ il modo migliore di onorare la memoria di quelli che morirono ad Auschwitz sia condonare lo sterminio in massa dei palestinesi, perché gli ebrei israeliani possano sentirsi nuovamente sicuri”. Ma è proprio questa, argomenta Schatz, una delle più grandi perversioni morali del nostro tempo.  

When Ariel Sharon​ withdrew more than eight thousand Jewish settlers from the Gaza Strip in 2005, his principal aim was to consolidate Israel’s colonisation of the West Bank, where the settler population immediately began to increase. But ‘disengagement’ had another purpose: to enable Israel’s air force to bomb Gaza at will, something they could not do when Israeli settlers lived there. The Palestinians of the West Bank have been, it seems, gruesomely lucky. They are encircled by settlers determined to steal their lands – and not at all hesitant about inflicting violence in the process – but the Jewish presence in their territory has spared them the mass bombardment and devastation to which Israel subjects the people of Gaza every few years.

The Israeli government refers to these episodes of collective punishment as ‘mowing the lawn’. In the last fifteen years, it has launched five offensives in the Strip. The first four were brutal and cruel, as colonial counterinsurgencies invariably are, killing thousands of civilians in retribution for Hamas rocket fire and hostage-taking. But the latest, Operation Iron Swords, launched on 7 October in response to Hamas’s murderous raid in southern Israel, is different in kind, not merely in degree. Over the last eight months, Israel has killed more than 36,000 Palestinians. An untold number remain under the debris and still more will die of hunger and disease. Eighty thousand Palestinians have been injured, many of them permanently maimed. Children whose parents – whose entire families – have been killed constitute a new population sub-group. Israel has destroyed Gaza’s housing infrastructure, its hospitals and all its universities. Most of Gaza’s 2.3 million residents have been displaced, some of them repeatedly; many have fled to ‘safe’ areas only to be bombed there. No one has been spared: aid workers, journalists and medics have been killed in record numbers. And as levels of starvation have risen, Israel has created one obstacle after another to the provision of food, all while insisting that its army is the ‘most moral’ in the world. The images from Gaza – widely available on TikTok, which Israel’s supporters in the US have tried to ban, and on Al Jazeera, whose Jerusalem office was shut down by the Israeli government – tell a different story, one of famished Palestinians killed outside aid trucks on Al-Rashid Street in February; of tent-dwellers in Rafah burned alive in Israeli air strikes; of women and children subsisting on 245 calories a day. This is what Benjamin Netanyahu describes as ‘the victory of Judaeo-Christian civilisation against barbarism’.

The military operation in Gaza has altered the shape, perhaps even the meaning, of the struggle over Palestine – it seems misleading, and even offensive, to refer to a ‘conflict’ between two peoples after one of them has slaughtered the other in such staggering numbers. The scale of the destruction is reflected in the terminology: ‘domicide’ for the destruction of housing stock; ‘scholasticide’ for the destruction of the education system, including its teachers (95 university professors have been killed); ‘ecocide’ for the ruination of Gaza’s agriculture and natural landscape. Sara Roy, a leading expert on Gaza who is herself the daughter of Holocaust survivors, describes this as a process of ‘econocide’, ‘the wholesale destruction of an economy and its constituent parts’ – the ‘logical extension’, she writes, of Israel’s deliberate ‘de-development’ of Gaza’s economy since 1967.

But, to borrow the language of a 1948 UN convention, there is an older term for ‘acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group’. That term is genocide, and among international jurists and human rights experts there is a growing consensus that Israel has committed genocide – or at least acts of genocide – in Gaza. This is the opinion not only of international bodies, but also of experts who have a record of circumspection – indeed, of extreme caution – where Israel is involved, notably Aryeh Neier, a founder of Human Rights Watch.

The charge of genocide isn’t new among Palestinians. I remember hearing it when I was in Beirut in 2002, during Israel’s assault on the Jenin refugee camp, and thinking, no, it’s a ruthless, pitiless siege. The use of the word ‘genocide’ struck me then as typical of the rhetorical inflation of Middle East political debate, and as a symptom of the bitter, ugly competition over victimhood in Israel-Palestine. The game had been rigged against Palestinians because of their oppressors’ history: the destruction of European Jewry conferred moral capital on the young Jewish state in the eyes of the Western powers. The Palestinian claim of genocide seemed like a bid to even the score, something that words such as ‘occupation’ and even ‘apartheid’ could never do.

This time it’s different, however, not only because of the wanton killing of thousands of women and children, but because the sheer scale of the devastation has rendered life itself all but impossible for those who have survived Israel’s bombardment. The war was provoked by Hamas’s unprecedented attack, but the desire to inflict suffering on Gaza, not just on Hamas, didn’t arise on 7 October. Here is Ariel Sharon’s son Gilad in 2012: ‘We need to flatten entire neighbourhoods in Gaza. Flatten all of Gaza. The Americans didn’t stop with Hiroshima – the Japanese weren’t surrendering fast enough, so they hit Nagasaki, too. There should be no electricity in Gaza, no gasoline or moving vehicles, nothing.’ Today this reads like a prophecy.

Exterminationist violence is almost always preceded by other forms of persecution, which aim to render the victims as miserable as possible, including plunder, denial of the franchise, ghettoisation, ethnic cleansing and racist dehumanisation. All of these have been features of Israel’s relationship to the Palestinian people since its founding. What causes persecution to slide into mass killing is usually war, in particular a war defined as an existential battle for survival – as we have seen in the war on Gaza. The statements of Israel’s leaders (the defence minister, Yoav Gallant: ‘We are fighting human animals, and we will act accordingly’; President Isaac Herzog: ‘It is an entire nation out there that is responsible’) have not disguised their intentions but provided a precise guide. So have the gleeful selfies taken by Israeli soldiers amid the ruins of Gaza: for some, at least, its destruction has been a source of pleasure.

Israel’s methods may bear a closer resemblance to those of the French in Algeria, or the Assad regime in Syria, than to those of the Nazis in Treblinka or the Hutu génocidaires in Rwanda, but this doesn’t mean they do not constitute genocide. Nor does the fact that Israel has killed ‘only’ a portion of Gaza’s population. What, after all, is left for those who survive? Bare life, as Giorgio Agamben calls it: an existence menaced by hunger, destitution and the ever present threat of the next airstrike (or ‘tragic accident’, as Netanyahu described the incineration of 45 civilians in Rafah). Israel’s supporters might argue that this is not the Shoah, but the belief that the best way of honouring the memory of those who died in Auschwitz is to condone the mass killing of Palestinians so that Israeli Jews can feel safe again is one of the great moral perversions of our time.

Scarica qui il pdf per continuare a leggere l’articolo e vedere gli autori di riferimento.


Tags: , , , ,

Lascia un commento

Il tuo indirizzo email non sarà pubblicato. I campi obbligatori sono contrassegnati *