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Thoughts on the Gaza genocide, the worst crime of the 21st century (so far)

Victims of the genocide in Gaza.
Biden's legacy.

My journal helps keep me sane. From January to March I've occasionally jotted down thoughts on the horrors occurring every day in Gaza, though I haven't written any articles. In case anyone shares my feelings of frustration and powerlessness, here are a few of those scattered (and perhaps repetitive) reflections:


January.-- My not having written anything about Israel’s genocide of Palestinians doesn’t mean I haven’t been thinking about it constantly. The videos on Twitter have been almost unbearable to watch. I had no respect for Biden previously, but I didn’t fully understand what a monster he is, a sociopath happy to enable and contribute to a literal genocide. And it’s been striking to see legions of liberals and conservatives reveal themselves as old-fashioned racists happy to countenance genocide. No wonder the Holocaust was able to happen! Once again, the establishment media is happily complicit in the most barbarous crimes imaginable [as it was in Nazi Germany]: the BBC, for example, refused to air South Africa’s devastating case against Israel before the International Court of Justice but aired Israel’s rebuttal. Norman Finkelstein calls Israel the SS: the Satanic State. And Joe Biden is now and forevermore to be known as Genocide Joe.


Reading Rashid Khalidi’s excellent The Hundred Years’ War on Palestine: A History of Settler Colonial Conquest and Resistance, 1917–2017 has given me a deeper historical understanding. Though I already knew the basic history and its very simple moral dimensions. Israel evidently thinks it’s finally on the verge of achieving the long-sought goal of Zionism, to purge all of Palestine of its indigenous inhabitants. Slaughter and expel the Gazans so as to turn that strip of land into a tourist mecca, and continue settling the West Bank and killing its inhabitants until they’re confined entirely to desert wastelands. Because of the unfathomably evil U.S. empire, it might get its wish. But the entire world now loathes it, so the near-achievement of its dreams has come at quite a cost.


One very worrisome wild card is Israel’s possession of nuclear weapons. When a state is run by psychopathic genocidal maniacs who feel like a tiger backed into a corner, and when they have access to “weapons of mass destruction” (unlike Saddam Hussein), the future of the species is at risk.


To be fair, the species probably has no future anyway. And maybe it doesn’t deserve to.


Trump will likely win the 2024 election because people think Biden sucks and he’s too egomaniacal to step aside. And it’s downhill from there. Two generations of abjectly mediocre political leadership have left the U.S. a basketcase of a country at the mercy of jackals and vultures.



February.-- Airman Aaron Bushnell immolating himself outside the Israeli embassy in Washington, D.C., shouting “Free Palestine!” as the flames engulfed him and he collapsed. Pure heroism, breathtaking courage. Choosing to die as a saint, in an act so shocking that even the depraved corporate media is compelled to cover it. CNN, incredibly, actually read the statement he gave before killing himself: “I will no longer be complicit in genocide. I’m about to engage in an extreme act of protest. But compared to what people have been experiencing in Palestine at the hands of their colonizers, it’s not extreme at all. This is what our ruling class has decided will be normal.” Bushnell’s self-immolation provoked CNN to say the g-word, even the c-word (colonizers) and the r-word (ruling class), so he was right: something like his act was necessary in order for a little bit of truth to momentarily break through the deluge of non-stop propaganda.


Bushnell was someone unlike the rest of us: he couldn’t go about his day, day after day, as his government is committing the most transparent genocide in history. He took simple morality so seriously that he decided he couldn’t live in a world as immoral as ours. Unbelievable nobility of soul, this willingness to face up to the reality of what’s happening every day as everyone else goes shopping, goes drinking, goes on dates, and covers their eyes. His act wasn’t “extreme”; it was perfectly appropriate and morally called for, even though the heroism it took was almost beyond what is human.


In an era of ubiquitous moral frivolity, an era of soundbites and social media, a 25-year-old refused to let his humanity die. And so he killed himself.


As he did so, by the way, a police officer pointed a gun at him and ordered him repeatedly to “get on the ground!” (He soon did, as he died.) Even in the presence of such a heroic act, society couldn’t have the good taste to suspend its farcical nature for one second. A fascist functionary had to aim his gun at the flame-engulfed man, adding an element of absurdist comedy to the scene. But it was somehow appropriate, the contrast between Bushnell and the fascist. This fascist mentality, this fascist reality, is exactly what Bushnell was protesting. It surrounds us, it is everywhere. The police officer personified precisely the moral monstrousness—total callousness—Bushnell was denouncing.


I hope his martyrdom catalyzes something.


March.-- The massacre on October 7th was entirely understandable (even if criminal), just as Nat Turner’s massacres were understandable—homicidal fury is what to expect from a bombed and devastated population locked inside the world's largest concentration camp for almost two decades—but it was surely a mistake. It gave Israel the perfect pretext to finish its ongoing genocide of Palestinians. A miserable life in Gaza is hardly a happy fate, but the rampant slaughter of tens of thousands, and death by starvation of more, seems worse. I also find it catastrophic that the indirect consequences of Hamas’s action will probably help give Trump the presidency. But it’s interesting, at least, that the West is finally losing every last shred of legitimacy. The contrast between the attitude of the ruling class and the attitude of most of the population has been remarkable.


This genocide has shattered the myth that political and economic leaders are, basically, decent people caught in a mesh of complex and inhuman institutions. They’re not decent: they’re shocking cowards, personifications of cruelty and power-hunger, cliquey elitists who value their bubble of privilege above all else. To quote Marx, they are exterminators whom “history has already nailed to that eternal pillory from which all the prayers of their priests will not avail to redeem them.”


There is no future for such a civilization as ours.


It’s obvious, but it’s worth noting again: few of history’s many ironies are as pungent as the irony that Zionism is a genocidal project that has turned Jews into Nazis. The Nazis wanted Lebensraum, and Israelis want Lebensraum. The Nazis had a Hunger Plan, and now Israel has a Hunger Plan. Already in the 1940s Zionism was Nazi-esque, given the many massacres of Palestinians that took place—and the whole crusade of driving Palestinians from their homes. But the Nazism has been on proud and celebrated (in Israel) display for the last five months. Israeli tanks are crushing scores of live Palestinians (pictures on social media of bodies squashed like a smashed bag of tomatoes); Israeli soldiers are firing on people trying to get food from aid convoys; pictures are emerging of children and old men starved to death, looking like victims of Auschwitz. Mass graves of Arabs recall the mass graves of Jews. The IDF, “the most moral army in the world,” consists of beasts in human form. How many Klaus Barbies are there in the IDF and Israeli security forces, and how many horrors worthy of Klaus Barbie are happening right now in Israeli prisons?


Zionism is a product of the same kind of culture that birthed Nazism, the imperialistic culture of racial, ethnic, and religious prejudices, of “manifest destiny,” of European colonialism. Today, it is an atavism, an anachronism. It doesn’t, or shouldn’t, really belong to the twenty-first century. It’s the last instance of genocidal settler colonialism—rationalized by the Bible, no less! What could be more anachronistic? But if Zionism ends up precipitating or helping to precipitate a nuclear war that brings an end to civilization, this wouldn’t be without some poetic justice. The last expression of the Western genocidal impulse heralding human speciescide—that would be somehow appropriate.


(In any event, if Zionism doesn’t get the job done, capitalism will. Capitalism is worse than genocidal: it’s speciescidal.)


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