It is now clear that Israel is engaging in a genocide of the Palestinian people. As reported by Al Jazeera, the Israeli state has “loosened” its military rules of engagement, essentially giving its soldiers the green light to kill anyone they encounter inside the Gaza Strip as part of their ground operations. Israeli politicians and soldiers are talking openly about turning Gaza into dust, eliminating Palestinians, and imagining Israeli settlers living on land that used to be called Gaza. Palestinians are being deliberately deprived of all the basic necessities for life, including food, water, shelter and medical care. Bombs from the air are indiscriminately killing and maiming Palestinians. Palestinians are being encouraged to leave their lands and homes in northern Gaza and head towards the south – Israel clearly wants to colonise northern Gaza and turn it into a security or military zone, permanently expelling the Palestinians who currently live there.
Scholars of genocide have always argued that such mass atrocities are rarely the product of an “evil leader” or “a small extremist political class”. The terrifying reality of genocide is that it happens with mass support, which either comes in the form of active participation (direct and indirect), or complicity through silence.
I am not sure that we have ever seen a case of genocide being supported by this many actors, openly and actively. The majority of institutions in North America, Western Europe and elsewhere are either actively participating in this genocide, or completely silent and are thus complicit.
For genocide to happen, two critical elements are needed: the infrastructural and material capabilities to commit the genocide and the ability to conceal the genocide by calling it something other than what it is. The West is participating in both of these critical elements.
In terms of material capabilities, the United States empire has sent, not one, but two aircraft carriers to the region, and has made it abundantly clear in word and deed that if any state or group attempts to enter the picture and aid Palestinians in their desperate attempt to survive Israel’s genocidal operation, that the US will intervene with its full force. The United Kingdom has also sent naval ships to support this Western imperial threat to the people of the region. The US is sending military equipment and weaponry to Israel, refusing to call for a ceasefire or de-escalation. Corporations and economic institutions are providing financial support to Israel all in the name of supporting Israeli victims, as well as reportedly offering financial incentives to Egypt, attempting to entice it to host the Palestinian refugees who will not be allowed to re-enter the Gaza Strip. Years of US and Western aid and support to Israel have allowed Israel to develop the infrastructural capabilities to carry out a genocide.
In terms of concealment, political, media, social and cultural institutions are fully mobilised in the West to hide and conceal this act of genocide, presenting it as a righteous violence of a victimised Jewish people everywhere in the world. Those expressing support for Palestine in the West are being threatened with job loss (and are actually losing their jobs), possible criminal charges and bans, and other punitive measures and harassment campaigns. The media is continuously and consistently sending the outrageous message that Hamas is the one responsible for the loss of Palestinian civil life in the Gaza Strip, attempting to wash their hands clean of the genocide. The Israeli operation is being framed as a mission to “eliminate Hamas” as opposed to what it really is: a genocide of the Palestinian people and their erasure from the map. The few voices that are questioning these narratives are being marginalised, silenced and de-platformed.
In short, all of the establishment institutions in the West are mobilised, fully and coherently, at this moment in enabling the genocide of Palestinians, all under the guise of protecting “civilisation” from “barbarism”.
As I write this, I am dreading what’s to come. The suffering that Palestinians have endured so far is already unfathomable and very difficult to register in words. And what is coming is going to be even worse.
In moments like this, everything becomes clear. It was clear to many of us for a long time, but now there can be no doubt. The imperial West is still firmly committed to the imperial project it launched against the world late in the 15th century. Yes, it has changed and transformed its methods, tactics, strategies, and its apparatus of power and force. The players have changed, some things became more complex, some things less so. And on and on. All of these academic debates are important, but not right now. What is important right now is to say it clearly and loudly – the imperial West is hell-bent on maintaining its supremacy and will kill indiscriminately in order to achieve the only goal it has ever had, the only value it has ever stood for, power and wealth.
The same imperial project that brutalised millions of Black Africans, committed genocide against millions of Indigenous peoples across the Americas, in Australia, New Zealand and elsewhere, colonised Asia and Africa through unfathomable brutality and force, destroyed countless societies full of complexity and beauty, massacred civilians in its imperial wars in places like Vietnam and Iraq, dropped atomic bombs on Japanese civilians, created a neocolonial economic infrastructure that is continuously robbing the majority of the world’s population blind, and I can go on and on, but this project is ongoing and nowhere at this moment is this more visible than in Palestine.
The world will never forget any of these brutalities and injustices. We will always remember our dead and injured; our suffering will always guide us in our actions and provide the impetus for us to create a better world.
The world is seeing that we do not live in an international system of nation-states, but an imperial world order where the West reigns supreme; it is seeing that white supremacy is not just alive and well, but is an expression of the material conditions of our world; succinctly put, the world is seeing how the Euro-American empire posits itself, forcefully and violently and through all and any means necessary, as lords of the world.
The world should be seeing that the only way to begin a serious movement out of this age of colonial modernity is to oust Western European and North American states, not people but states, from our political and economic lives everywhere around the globe.
People across the world must begin to withdraw their participation from this system that primarily works for Euro-American powers and political and economic elites across the world. Don’t do it just for Palestine, do it for your own sake as well. Do it for your dignity, freedom and humanity.
European and North American people can and should join us in creating this better world. But not unless they actively participate in dismantling the imperial world order that primarily benefits their political and economic elites. You as well, can and should join this brave decolonisation project as equals with the rest of the world, but never again, as lords of it. For you and indeed for Israeli people, joining the decolonisation project is the only way to evade what history teaches as the inevitable fate of all lords, which is their eventual violent replacement with new lords.
The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Al Jazeera’s editorial stance.