Now this is not the end.
It is not even the beginning of the end.
But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning.
–Winston Churchill, November 1942
Say what you want of the old imperious warhorse Winston Churchill, he sure could coin a phrase. The above-cited quote is one worth keeping in your back pocket, particularly when it comes to describing earth-shattering events. And the world we know is being thoroughly shaken right now.
Witness the Al-Aqsa Flood, the breaching of an iron-clad fortified perimeter by Palestinian militants, the immediate attacks on Israeli military personnel and citizens, and the subsequent Israeli Defense Force (IDF) response which is now well beyond the reach of harrowing proportions. An equal tit for tat does not appear to be in the IDF how-to manual. The Israeli reciprocation is to take out and/or kill as many Palestinians as possible in the Gaza ghetto, which is itself an Israeli creation. They also seem determined to carve up the remainder of the West Bank into more settler colonies by destabilizing the Palestinian communities. Those international pundits who cling on to their two-state theory as a viable solution are going to find out that there will not be enough Palestinian territory left standing to constitute land for the formation of an independent state next to Israel, even including the Bantustans. If Israel gets its way, it will own everything. Permanent occupation will become unnecessary because there will be nothing and nobody left to occupy.
This is a short article. Anything longer would have to include an analysis of the condition of the overall Palestinian resistance movement. I’m not doing that here. Nor am I going to get into any of the questionable details that surround the events of October 7th, other than to say that the verdict is still out on who did what. I do believe that there is already enough doubt to seriously challenge the adopted official mainstream version. One only has to raise the possibility of damage and death by “friendly fire” to see that this, in all likelihood, is a distinct probability.
Another important point is that Israel claims difficulty in distinguishing Hamas military personnel from regular Palestinian citizens. What is good for the goose is good for the gander here. Because all Israeli citizens are subject to military service in the IDF, Hamas states that all are military targets. Those Israelis exempt from military duties are extreme orthodox or religious fundamentalist people. They are rewarded with a “get out of jail free” card, since it is armed militias from these communities that are constantly making life miserable for Palestinian neighbors.
In June of 1942 when a handful of Czech commandos in Prague, assisted by British Intelligence agents, assassinated Reinhard Heydrich, the Third Reich’s top cop and the official Protector of Bohemia and Moravia as well as being an architect of the final solution, the Nazi response was to wipe out and raze to the ground the entire Czech village of Lidice and go on a killing spree. The final estimated price that the Czech population paid for this act was over 5,000 victims, either murdered in reprisals or in concentration camps. The British believed that such brutality was to be expected, and that this terror would increase recruitment into the Czech resistance which they thought needed beefing up. In this instance, one man’s life was worth thousands of others. The Nazi High Command tossed around the terrorism label loosely. There are familiar lessons here, ones that are worth remembering rather than forgetting.
The entire landscape of the Middle East is going through a radical transformation. Grief and misery have taken center stage. The proponents of a Greater Israel view this as a forward advance on ethnic cleansing and territorial conquest, a golden opportunity and one in sync with their master plan. Any well-heeled society that trains its entire population to wage war is not doing so for self-defense or self-preservation reasons only. Offense is a major part of their strategy and the Israelis have hardly disguised their intentions to rid their world of Palestinians.
I grew up in white South Africa in the 60s and 70s. Military service was compulsory for all white males. I was drafted into the South African army in 1976. That was just after South Africa had invaded Angola, a country far from South Africa’s borders. The mindset of the white South African regime was offense is the best defense. The majority of the white population lived in fear with fully loaded guns under their pillows, and a well-equipped army, air force and navy to boot. Their greatest dread was the “swart gevaar” (Afrikaans for the “black threat”). I have no doubt that Israelis have become the white South Africans of the world.
Unless I am really misreading things, it appears that the anti-Zionist forces globally are not stepping down. Hundreds of thousands, perhaps millions, are giving voice in opposition to Israel’s master design and for some form of Palestinian liberation. Marches, demonstrations and direct actions are commonplace. Wishy-washy governments that usually beg to be part of the grand alliance are refusing to go along for the ride (see Indonesia). The neighboring Arab fiefdoms and kingdoms, no friends of freedom struggles, are bucking their allies, worried about their own internal boiling pots. Western capital cities are being rocked by protests. The cozy set-up that the poohbahs seem so content in maintaining appears to be vulnerable. Young people, and especially young Arab immigrants, are at the forefront of many of these street actions. This is real and it deserves more than just an acknowledgement.
Progressive Jewish communities are upset and vocal too. Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP) is different than its predecessors (the 1980s version was Jews for Justice, an organization that was hamstrung by its reticence or downright inability to challenge the racism of Zionism). JVP relies on direct action, and seems more than willing to counter the usual sorry argument that any and all criticism of Israel is antisemitic. They bring their people out and they take risks. Even the families of the Jewish hostages taken on October 7th say something different like “free all of the Palestinian prisoners, just reunite us with our loved ones.” It’s not the same old lingo or sentiment that we are used to hearing. Incidentally, since the hostage/prisoner swap, Israeli security forces have arrested far more Palestinians in the West Bank and East Jerusalem than they have released. Being freed under these conditions is no guarantee against being re-arrested.
Meanwhile the Bidens, Sunaks and Macrons of this world stick to their tired bullshit about unqualified support for the Israeli side of this war. In San Francisco recently, when Biden was meeting with his Chinese doppelganger Xi Jinping. he was followed around by large groups of protestors who referred to him loudly as none other than “Genocide Joe.” To imagine that this is not of concern to these leaders is wrong. They are caught up in a developing crisis that they cannot seem to back out of. The longer the war continues, the tighter their corner becomes.
Amidst the sorrow and the pity, the rivers of blood, the broken bones and lives, the dispossessed souls, even the rubble of destroyed buildings and homes, there is a possible hope. This crazy arrangement that willingly arms and funds Israel to the proposed tune of $14 billion dollars (in the last month alone) while possibly granting a mere $100 million worth of lifesaving supplies to the residents of the Gaza could well be in jeopardy. Either the Israelis won’t stop the bombardment, or a combination of Palestinian refusal to surrender, internal Israeli schisms, world opinion and outside pressure, along with superpower changes of plans could well force some kind of disengagement. Sorrowfully, many people will die, there will be much suffering, but it is extremely possible that things will no longer be the same. Israel might lose its anointed pet spoiled child status and be further exposed for what it is…a bellicose racist, settler state. We are no strangers to such entities. Jeez, we live in one.
I know I am leaving out lots of factors in this equation, but I am not wearing the rose-colored glasses here. Significant change in the Middle East will happen as a result of this war. Of that, we should be confident. It could be for the worse, it might be for the better. The tried and tested carrot and stick techniques will be dangled anew. Embarrassing tentacles will be lopped off (Netanyahu). New puppets will be created. Revolutionaries with a vision will be marginalized, silenced or disappear. Pete Townshend of The Who was right, “Meet the new boss, same as the old boss.” That will be the bosses’ plan but it might not work, despite their need and efforts to compromise, co-opt, cede ground, and flat-out lie. But above all, it might be due to growing resistance that they might not be quite able to control. This is why vigilance is crucial for our side. It’s also why we cannot give up.