Almost 10 years ago, in 2014, the state of Israel subjected the Palestinian people, and in particular those in Gaza, to what we felt was nothing short of inhuman; now again, history has repeated itself in ways that are not unprecedented but certainly unparalleled. Back then, the Israeli Ambassador to the United States, speaking at the Christians United for Israel Conference referred to those of us who criticized the actions as “moral idiots,” to which I wrote the following:
“It is unconscionable for any nation-state, and in particular a state that represents a nation of people who have historically suffered captivity, expulsions and genocide, to now be the architects and engineers of a massacre of others equal in historical proportion to the Nazi extermination of six million Jews. Israel’s indiscriminate bombardment of Palestinian homes in the Gaza Strip is nothing short of a massacre of innocents.
Without regard to cause stated or cause presumed, the undeniable consequences of Israel’s unrelenting, night and day shelling of neighborhoods in Gaza, including places of worship, hospitals, schools and dwelling areas, have been, and remain death and untold suffering by ordinary Palestinian civilians including women, children and infants. This must stop.
The total disproportionality of human grief imposed upon the Gaza Strip cannot be justified by any imaginable argument including the right of self-protection when an “iron dome” of protection has yielded a near-perfect defense. The employment of overwhelming force in the suppression of Palestinian civilians is reminiscent of tactics used to repress African Americans in the Civil Rights era of the United States and Africans in Apartheid South Africa.
There is nothing “Christian” about subjecting innocents to destruction and those who speak in opposition are not “moral idiots” as you referred to them on July 21 at the Christians United for Israel Conference. Stop the massacre now.”
The concerns we raised then are being repeated on an exponential scale and now is the time for people of conscience to raise their voices. To those who argue that it’s not our business, I remind you that Martin Luther King, Jr., in his letter from the Birmingham Jail wrote that “injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”
Today, what we are witnessing in Gaza is nothing short of Crimes against Humanity as defined in international law. One does not have to be a scholar of international law to recognize the greatest unfolding of man’s inhumanity to man in the last three-quarter century. What we have witnessed to date in this onslaught have been acts of forced relocation, mass deportation, ethnic cleansing and de facto genocide.
Even in the Dominican Republic where the state has engaged in the ethnic cleansing and disenfranchisement of its Black population, even where the inequalities and injustices are many and perpetual, have we not seen what we are witnessing now in Gaza?
Israel’s siege on Gaza – which has to date left more than 9,000 innocents dead (a number that’s sure to rise), a majority of whom are women and children including the pregnant, the infant, the sick and the handicapped – is not the collateral damage of waging war, it is action foreseeable and preventable and as such must be seen as deliberate.
A siege that denies innocent civilians food, water, electricity, fuel and medical supplies is a siege designed to decimate. A bombardment of innocents that captures in its conflagration the skilled and unskilled including the backbone of society such as medical personnel, teachers, aid workers, engineers, and clergy is a siege designed to irrevocably destroy. A just international community cannot and should not stay silent in its wake as the lives and livelihoods of 2 million people are being slaughtered and erased.
The international community has, as it often does through the organ of the United Nations, spoken against this new low in human engagement. But the United Nations as a body is unequipped to address this matter equitably; resolutions in the General Assembly are of no consequence when a single member of the Security Council can render it null and void.
The disproportionality of power in the United Nations is equaled only by the disproportionality of Israel’s actions in Gaza. And this imbalance in power and response is clear; the State of Israel is very good at what it’s doing, the problem is that what it’s doing is not very good. It’s time to stop the massacre of innocents in Gaza.
Professor Ba-Nikongo teaches Racism, Law & Injustice in the Department of Afro-American Studies in the College of Arts & Sciences at Howard University.