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'Israel Resembles a Failed State'

Ali Abunimah

 by Al-Jazeera English

One year has passed since the savage Israeli attack on the Gaza Strip,
but for the people there time might as well have stood still.

Since Palestinians in Gaza buried their loved ones -- more than
1,400 people, almost 400 of them children -- there has been little
healing and virtually no reconstruction.

According to international aid agencies, only 41 trucks of building supplies have been allowed into Gaza during the year.

Promises
of billions made at a donors' conference in Egypt last March attended
by luminaries of the so-called "international community" and the Middle
East peace process industry are unfulfilled, and the Israeli siege,
supported by the US, the European Union, Arab states, and tacitly by
the Palestinian Authority (PA) in Ramallah, continues.

Policy of destruction

Amid the endless, horrifying statistics a few stand out: Of Gaza's
640 schools, 18 were completely destroyed and 280 damaged in Israeli
attacks. Two-hundred-and-fifty students and 15 teachers were killed.

Of 122 health facilities assessed by the World Health Organization, 48 per cent were damaged or destroyed.

Ninety per cent of households in Gaza still experience power
cuts for 4 to 8 hours per day due to Israeli attacks on the power grid
and degradation caused by the blockade.

Forty-six per cent of
Gaza's once productive agricultural land is out of use due to Israeli
damage to farms and Israeli-declared free fire zones. Gaza's exports of
more than 130,000 tonnes per year of tomatoes, flowers, strawberries
and other fruit have fallen to zero.

That "much of Gaza still
lies in ruins," a coalition of international aid agencies stated
recently, "is not an accident; it is a matter of policy".

This policy has been clear all along and it has nothing to do with Israeli "security".

Destroying resistance

From
June 19, 2008, to November 4, 2008, calm prevailed between Israel and
Gaza, as Hamas adhered strictly -- as even Israel has acknowledged -- to
a negotiated ceasefire.

That ceasefire collapsed when Israel
launched a surprise attack on Gaza killing six people, after which
Hamas and other resistance factions retaliated.

Even so,
Palestinian factions were still willing to renew the ceasefire, but it
was Israel that refused, choosing instead to launch a premeditated,
systematic attack on the foundations of civilised life in the Gaza
Strip.

Operation Cast Lead, as Israel dubbed it, was an attempt to destroy
once and for all Palestinian resistance in general, and Hamas in
particular, which had won the 2006 election and survived the blockade
and numerous US-sponsored attempts to undermine and overthrow it in
cooperation with US-backed Palestinian militias.

Like the
murderous sanctions on Iraq throughout the 1990s, the blockade of Gaza
was calculated to deprive civilians of basic necessities, rights and
dignity in the hope that their suffering might force their leadership
to surrender or collapse.

In many respects things may seem more dire than a year ago.

Barack
Obama, the US president, whom many hoped would change the vicious
anti-Palestinian policies of his predecessor, George Bush, has instead
entrenched them as even the pretense of a serious peace effort has
vanished.

According to media reports, the US Army Corps of
Engineers is assisting Egypt in building an underground wall on its
border with Gaza to block the tunnels which act as a lifeline for the
besieged territory [resources and efforts that ought to go into
rebuilding still hurricane-devastated New Orleans], and American
weapons continue to flow to West Bank militias engaged in a US- and
Israeli-sponsored civil war against Hamas and anyone else who might
resist Israeli occupation and colonisation.

Shifting public opinion

These facts are inescapable and bleak.

However,
to focus on them alone would be to miss a much more dynamic situation
that suggests Israel's power and impunity are not as invulnerable as
they appear from this snapshot.

A year after Israel's attack and
after more than two-and-a-half years of blockade, the Palestinian
people in Gaza have not surrendered. Instead they have offered the
world lessons in steadfastness and dignity, even at an appalling,
unimaginable cost.

It is true that the European Union leaders who came to occupied
Jerusalem last January to publicly embrace Ehud Olmert, the then
Israeli prime minister -- while white phosphorus seared the flesh of
Gazan children and bodies lay under the rubble -- still cower before
their respective Israel lobbies, as do American and Canadian
politicians. But the shift in public opinion is palpable as
Israel's own actions transform it into a pariah whose driving forces
are not the liberal democratic values with which it claims to identify,
but ultra-nationalism, racism, religious fanaticism,
settler-colonialism and a Jewish supremacist order maintained by
frequent massacres.

The universalist cause of justice and liberation for Palestinians is gaining adherents and momentum especially among the young.

I
witnessed it, for example, among Malaysian students I met at a
Palestine solidarity conference held by the Union of NGOs of The
Islamic World in Istanbul last May.

And again in November, as hundreds of student organisers from across
the US and Canada converged to plan their participation in the global
Palestinian-led campaign of boycott, divestment and sanctions modeled
on the successful struggle against South African apartheid in the 1980s.

'Bankrupt' state

This week, thousands of people from dozens of countries are
attempting to reach Gaza to break the siege and march alongside
Palestinians who have been organising inside the territory.

Each
of the individuals traveling with the Gaza Freedom March, Viva
Palestina, or other delegations represents perhaps hundreds of others
who could not make the journey in person, and who are marking the event
with demonstrations and commemorations, visits to their elected
officials, and media campaigns.

Against this flowering of activism, Zionism is struggling to rejuvenate its dwindling base of support.

Multi-million
dollar programmes aimed at recruiting and Zionising young American Jews
are struggling to compete against organisations like the International
Jewish Anti-Zionist Network, which run not on money but principled
commitment to human equality.

Increasingly, we see that Israel's
hasbara [propaganda] efforts have no positive message, offer no
plausible case for maintaining a status quo of unspeakable repression
and violence, and rely instead on racist demonisation and
dehumanisation of Arabs and Muslims to justify Israel's actions and
even its very existence.

Faced with growing global recognition and support for the courageous
non-violent struggle against continued land theft in the West Bank,
Israel is escalating its violence and kidnapping of leaders of the
movement in Bil'in and other villages [Muhammad Othman, Jamal Juma and
Abdallah Abu Rahmeh are among the leaders of this movement recently
arrested].

Travel fears

In acting this way, Israel
increasingly resembles a bankrupt failed state, not a regime confident
about its legitimacy and longevity.

And despite the failed peace process industry's efforts to ridicule,
suppress and marginalise it, there is a growing debate among
Palestinians and even among Israelis about a shared future in
Palestine/Israel based on equality and decolonisation, rather than
ethno-national segregation and forced repartition.

Last, but certainly not least, in the shadow of the Goldstone
report, Israeli leaders travel around the world fearing arrest for
their crimes.

For now, they can rely on the impunity that
high-level international complicity and their inertial power and
influence still afford them.

But the question for the real
international community -- made up of people and movements -- is whether
we want to continue to see the still very incomplete system of
international law and justice painstakingly built since the horrors of
the Second World War and the Nazi holocaust dismantled and corrupted
all for the sake of one rogue state.

What we have done in solidarity with the Palestinian people in Gaza
and the rest of Palestine is not yet enough. But our movement is
growing, it cannot be stopped, and we will reach our destination.


© 2021 Al-Jazeera English

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