Yanis Varoufakis speaks during a campaign rally.

Former Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis, leader of the DiEM and MeRA25 parties, speaks to supporters at a June 19, 2023 campaign rally in Athens.

(Photo: Nicolas Koutsokostas/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

Varoufakis Says Only Ending Europe's Support for Israeli Apartheid Will Stop Bloodshed

The leftist former Greek finance minister urged Europeans to "wake up and redeem ourselves" by working for the "destruction of the state of apartheid" against Palestinians.

Former Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis—who heads the leftist Democracy in Europe Movement 2025—on Tuesday blamed Europe for complicity in Israel's "crimes against humanity" in Palestine, while asserting that the only way to achieve peace is by ending Israeli apartheid against Palestinians.

"Those who try very hard to extract from people like me... a condemnation of the attack by the Hamas guerrillas will never get it," Varoufakis toldred in an interview explaining why he refuses to denounce the surprise weekend infiltration attack by Gaza-based militants that killed at least 900 Israelis.

Varoufakis continued:

And they will never get it for a very simple reason. Those who care about humans without any discrimination; those who care equally about a Jew and an Arab, must ask themselves a very simple question: What exactly is their idea of a cessation of hostilities? That the Palestinians are going to lay down their arms and go back into the largest open-air prison in the world, where they are constantly suffocated by the apartheid state?

"Any human being living under apartheid at some point will either die a terrible silent death or rebel and take some innocent people with them," Varoufakis said.

Addressing European complicity in Israeli apartheid, Varoufakis asserted that "the criminals here are not Hamas. Not even the Israeli settlers who are killing Palestinians. The criminals are Europeans. Us."

"We have participated in this crime against humanity over the decades by keeping our mouths shut," he added. "As long as people are dying outside the reach of cameras, as long as it's Palestinians who die and not the occupiers."

Varoufakis urged Europe to "wake up and redeem ourselves" by working for the "destruction of the state of apartheid."

While Palestinians and international figures including former U.S. President Jimmy Carter, United Nations officials, and South African anti-apartheid activists have for decades called Israel's policies and practices in Palestine apartheid, major Western human rights organizations—including Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and the Israeli groups Yesh Din and B'Tselem—have only recently begun to do so, as have a growing number of U.S. congressional Democrats.

So have prominent Israelis including former Attorney General Michael Ben-Yair, former Deputy Attorney General Yehudit Karp, and former ambassadors to South Africa Alon Liel and Ilan Baruch, as well as journalists, artists, veterans, and others.

Underscoring Varoufakis' remarks, Democracy in Europe Movement 2025 (DiEM25) posted on social media that "only one thing can put a stop to the tragic cycle of violence suffered by innocent Palestians and Israelis: the end of the Europe-supported Israeli apartheid."

Varoufakis' commentary came as Israeli forces continued a massive retaliatory assault on Gaza by air, land, and sea, killing at least 830 Palestinians, including at least 140 children, while wounding more than 4,000 others. Israeli air and artillery strikes have hit civilian targets including apartment buildings, medical facilities and workers, schools, mosques, and the Jabalia refugee camp, Gaza's largest.

As was the case in previous Israeli attacks on Gaza, entire families have been killed. Speaking Tuesday, Israel Defense Forces (IDF) spokesperson Daniel Hagari declared that "the emphasis is on damage and not on accuracy."

Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant on Monday announced a "complete siege" of Gaza, saying Israel would block food and fuel from entering the territory of 2.3 million people—half of them children—and cut off its water and electricity, actions experts say likely amount to war crimes.

Given the hundreds of Israelis killed, the high death tolls in previous IDF assaults on Gaza, and Israel's unofficial "hundred eyes for an eye" policy, many observers fear thousands of Palestinians could be killed in the coming days and weeks.

Far-right Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has vowed that Israel will exact a "mighty vengeance" for the weekend attacks, while Israeli Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich declared that it is "time to be cruel" and parliamentarian Ariel Kallner has called for a "Nakba that will overshadow the Nakba of '48," a reference to the ethnic cleansing of over 750,000 Arabs from Palestine during the founding of the modern state of Israel in 1947-48.

"I witnessed the wars of 2008, 2014, and 2021, but this is something unique in terms of the intensity... entire families have been killed," Nidal Hamdouna, a humanitarian worker with Norwegian-Danish group Church Aid, toldThe Guardian on Tuesday. "The concern is to what extent civilians are protected, but also how to find a safe place, even though there is no safe place to go to."

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