July 1 — Early this morning, the Israeli authorities used the death of three Israeli teenagers as the pretext to begin a major assault on Palestinian organizations and civilians in the West Bank and Gaza. Every voice should be raised against this assault.
This is already the largest Israeli military operation against Palestinians in the West Bank since the second Intifada, or uprising, ended in 2005. It is reported that in just one day, Israel has arrested more than 400 Palestinians, raided thousands of homes and shot five people dead. It has brought back the punitive demolition of Palestinian homes, a practice mostly discontinued in 2005.
While the youths’ deaths are still under investigation, Tel Aviv loudly blamed the Palestinian organization Hamas and then bombed Gaza 34 times. Hamas, elected to govern Gaza, denies any responsibility in the deaths. Israel’s last attempt to unseat Hamas, a massive bombing in 2008-09, resulted in the deaths of 1,417 Palestinians and nine Israelis. (Palestinian Centre for Human Rights)
This murderous assault has much in common with Kristallnacht, a Nazi attack on Jewish people 76 years ago.
Kristallnacht, Nov. 9-10, 1938, was massive, coordinated aggression on Jewish people living under the German Reich. The excuse was the assassination of a German ambassador by a Jewish teenager in Poland.
In the two-day rampage, 91 Jews were killed and 30,000 arrested and sent to concentration camps. Jewish homes, hospitals and schools were ransacked, synagogues were burned (95 in Vienna alone) and Jewish businesses destroyed or damaged. It was the beginning of the Holocaust.
What do today’s Israeli government attacks on Palestinians have in common with Kristallnacht?
Both used sensationalized events as pretexts to implement extermination plans already in place. Both used the media to whip up panic to justify their genocidal attacks. Both murderous assaults were against oppressed people and benefited only the ruling classes — German capitalists in 1938, Israeli and U.S. capitalists today.
The U.S. bankrolls and arms Israel to protect Washington’s and Wall Street’s interests in the Middle East. The current assault seeks to destroy the struggle of the Palestinian people to return to their homeland and regain their national rights.
Certainly the deaths of the three Israeli teens are tragic. However, the social and political context must be understood. The three teenagers disappeared on the West Bank on June 12 while hitchhiking home from a religious school in Kfar Etzion, between Bethlehem and Hebron.
Kfar Etzion is one of many illegal settlements populated by right-wing Israelis who serve as the flying wedge for Tel Aviv’s West Bank land confiscation. These settlers are extremely racist and talk about Palestinians in much the way Nazis described Jewish people.
The settlers take over Palestinian resources, harass the population and then claim they are in danger. Next, the Israeli military builds an outpost to protect them. Before you know it, the Palestinians are limited in where they can go, and more and more land is confiscated for an Israeli military zone to protect the settlers.
Often, these settlers are armed by the Israeli state. They are notorious for assaulting Palestinians of all ages: slapping children’s faces in the street and firing on farmers trying to gather their olive harvest in order to render them destitute and force them off their land. Settlers desecrate and set fire to mosques or declare them Jewish religious sites off-limits to Palestinians. For decades, the bodies of West Bank Palestinian youths have been discovered who were believed killed by settlers.
In truth, the “violence problem” on the West Bank comes from the settlers. And settler violence is increasing.
Settler violence more than tripled in the three years up to 2011. (Guardian, March 21, 2012) The U.N. Office for the Coordination of Human Affairs reported that settler attacks had almost quadrupled between 2006 and 2014. Meanwhile, Israel bars Palestinian police from defending their people from settler harassment and violence.
Let’s work together to expose Israeli hypocrisy and build support for the Palestinians’ right to return to their land, be free from attack, and exercise all their national rights.