Friends, What A Glorious Day: Dancing On the Bodies of the Dead


The opening of the new U.S. embassy by what The New York Daily News called "Daddy's Little Ghoul." Artwork from Twitter

What to say to the abomination that was Monday's blood-soaked, champagne-swilling opening ceremony for the U.S. embassy in Jerusalem? So much obscene dissonance, so little mercy in the grim spectacle of Palestinians "stomped on with pomp and circumstance." Here was the "messianic axis" of a brutal, triumphant Netanyahu, in collusion with a heedless Trump, proclaiming it “a great day for Israel, a great day for America (and) a great day for peace” in the midst of horrifying violence against unarmed civilians - including an 8-month-old baby who died inhaling tear gas - that resulted in the deadliest day in Gaza since 2014, and the spectacle of dozens of peaceful Palestinian protesters outside the embassy being beaten and arrested by Israeli security while their supporters chanted, “Burn Them, Shoot Them, Kill Them.” In a mind-and-reality-bending speech, Bibi happily applauded Trump for making "history," thanked “our brave soldiers...protecting the borders of Israel as we speak," and intoned, "You can only build peace on truth."

Equally hallucinatory was blank-faced "peace broker" Jared Kushner, who declared Jerusalem "the eternal heart of the Jewish people” and argued that Israel and America "stand together because we both believe in human rights, and know it is the right thing to do" - this, about a reckless move steeped in ignorance that has been denounced by the United Nations, the international community and much of the American public. Of the atrocities at the Gazan border a mere 75 kilometers away, he said, "Those provoking the violence are part of the problem, not part of the solution.” "The jolly throng in the courtyard kept on clapping," noted one critic, who compared the scene to an infamous stampede in 19th-century Czarist Russia that represented their long tradition of "dancing on the bodies of the dead." Of Jared and Ivanka, he said, "The outside world... with its its flowing blood, shattered limbs and destroyed lives, had been surgically removed from their consciences."

In one day in that outside world, in fact, Israeli soldiers killed at least 60 people at the Gazan border, including six children, one infant and one paramedic, and injured at least 2,770 people, including 225 children and 11 journalists, according to the Gaza Ministry of Health. All of the victims were unarmed, or armed with only rocks, slingshots, tennis racquets and their own obdurate grief. Many were killed by Israeli snipers who, since protests began in late March, have been acting on the stated belief of rabid Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman that "there are no innocent people in the Gaza Strip." On Monday, reported Hind Khoudary from Gaza: "All I saw in the past hour is blood, with people's heads, necks and chests injured. The Israelis have been shooting randomly at protesters the minute they tried to break the fence. Some bodies are still trapped there too, and ambulances can't reach them." In response to the juxtaposition of this reality and the Embassy partying, former Israeli army spokesman Peter Lerner complained on social media that Gazans were "trying to ruin" their celebration.

For many others, the scene - a bloody culmination of a six-week “Great March of Return” that has already killed over 100 unarmed protesters even as human rights groups urged Israel's High Court to declare such killings illegal - presented "a vision of brutal domination over a benighted people" in which "Israel’s army evinced no shame in committing what looks like a war crime." For Palestinians who have long vowed to practise only non-violent protest, the killings sparked deep anger and sorrow - see #PalestineBleeds - as well as defiance that "we won’t give up on the blood they shed." In interviews, many Gazans swing between hope and despair. "One day we will be celebrating in Jerusalem, we will pray there, no one will ban us,” says one. Others argue their only options are to die or live with respect: "We’re dying slowly in Gaza anyway. It is better to die on the fence in an attempt to be free." Above all, on a grievous day just before demonstrations to mark the 70th anniversary of the Nakba, they insist that "change must come." For starters, let us say what we can. The dead have names: Here are 43 of them, ages 14 to 34. And, despite media references to them "dying" in "clashes" - presumably of tennis racquets versus perhaps the world's most lethal, sophisticated and heavily-armed-thanks-to-$3 billion-from-us military force - they were, in fact, massacred.


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Gazan protester "armed" with a racquet. Photo by Gazan freelance photographer Asser Fathi, who was shot in the stomach soon after while wearing a PRESS vest.


 Burying eight-month-old Laila. No words. Reuters photo


Palestinian Fadi Abu Saleh, whose legs were amputated after the 2014 Israeli assault on Gaza, protesting last week. On Monday, he was shot dead. Photo reportedly by Shehab Agency .

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