On Sunday May 13th, senior members of the Donald Trump administration gathered in Jerusalem for the opening of the Israeli United States Embassy. Among the U.S. delegates were Trump’s daughter and son-in law as well as senior advisor and Treasury Secretary, Jared Kushner and Steve Mnuchin. In the coming weeks Kushner is scheduled to release the Trump administration’s Middle East peace plan. As Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu declared “you cannot base peace on lies” and that “the truth is that Jerusalem has been the capital of the Jewish people for millennia,” the Israeli military descended on peaceful Palestinian protesters at the Gaza border, killing at least 62 and injuring over 2,700 civilians in one day.
The response was swift from even usually muted countries. Britain and France condemned the level of violence carried out by Israeli forces. The United Nations called for Israel to immediately stop live fire killing. Kuwait requested an emergency meeting of the UN Security Council even though they are not official members. South Africa has recalled ambassador Sisa Ngombane from Palestine until further notice. China has called on the Israeli state to exercise restraint. Venezuela and Bolivia rejected Israeli measures as illegal under international law and restated their support for the “peaceful and just” return of Palestinian people to their occupied land.
It was amongst fellow settler colonial countries that Israel found steadfast friends. Canada, the United States, and Australia have responded in unison by supporting Israeli war crimes. Chrystia Freeland, the current Canadian Minister of Foreign Affairs, tweeted on May 14th that “all parties have a responsibility to ensure civilians are protected.” She intentionally leaves out that not a single Israeli military officer or civilian was harmed and that Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu as well as the White House not only defend but support the Israeli military’s open fire on Palestinian citizens. Freeland’s “all parties” supports a talking point that originated in Israel – that Israel killed civilians because Hamas used civilians as “human shields.”
Netanyahu, the Trump administration, and the Australian government have all blamed Hamas, a Palestinian nationalist party, for provoking and initiating the conflict. Netanyahu and the White House declared that the Israeli military’s open fire on civilians was an act of self-defense against Hamas, even though the leaders of the protest were a democratic council comprised of Hamas, Fatah, Islamic Jihad, and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine as well as non-party women’s committees and Palestinian civilians displaced from their homes and forced into containment on the Gaza Strip – all of whom agreed to nonviolence. Following the lead of Israeli Defence Forces spokespersons, Australian prime minister Malcolm Turnbull stated that Hamas was “pushing people to the border…a circumstance where they will likely be shot at.”
Israel’s excuse for slaughtering civilians hinges on two lies – one, that Hamas was responsible for pulling the triggers on the guns of Israeli soldiers, and two, that Palestinian civilians who marched on Israel’s apartheid border fence are not protagonists of the Palestinian liberation struggle. The truth is that Israel fired thousands of live rounds into crowds of Palestinians regardless of their age or gender because Israel’s true enemy is not Hamas, it is the Palestinian mass movement; there is no distinction between Palestinian fighters and all others – the “civilian” is the “militant.”
The brutality of Israel’s collective punishment has shaken even some traditionally Zionist groups in Canada. Jagmeet Singh and the NDP have distinguished themselves from Justin Trudeau and the Liberal Party on the movement of the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem and on the Monday Gaza massacre. Trudeau says that Canada remains “neutral,” yet, as though to explain that political neutrality is alignment with power, also stated that “using votes in the United Nations to condemn or isolate Israel is not productive for international relations.” Singh, in a departure from historic NDP support for Israel, condemned Israeli belligerence as clear violations of international law and human rights and urged the Canadian federal government to take a public stance condemning the killings. Singh’s critique of Israeli brutality puts him in company with the majority of the world, but so far, has not shifted the NDP’s support for settler colonialism – whether Israeli or Canadian.
The massacre in Gaza on Monday signifies an escalation in the Israeli state tactics of ethnic cleansing against Palestinians and also signifies that the United States, Canada, and Australia are outliers in the international condemnation of Israeli human rights abuses. American, Canadian, and Australian governments support Israeli state terror because it is one and the same as the state terror that gave birth to their imperialist power. Now, more than ever before, Israel, Canada, the U.S, and Australia have cemented themselves as an international settler colonial bloc. While Istanbul activists and revolutionaries screamed in their streets “we will sacrifice our blood and our lives for Palestine!” the United States, Canada, and Australia have announced their support for yet another genocide of Indigenous people.
Yesterday marked the 70 year anniversary of Nakba, which means “catastrophe,” and refers to the beginning of the Israeli occupation of Palestine. Since March 30, 2018, Palestinians have been protesting the forceful removal of Palestinian families from the Gaza Strip that began in 1948, the year the state of Israel was established. Since March 30th, Israeli forces have killed at least 111 Palestinians in the Gaza Strip alone, and wounded at least 12,000 people. The Volcano’s twitter, @volc8o will post updated information as it is received.