The tragic war in Gaza is momentarily halted for a truce, as the colonial power and colonial subjects seek to negotiate a more lasting end to hostilities. We should all hope that, for the sake of geopolitical “stability”, the negotiating parties arrive at some settlement that is just and lasting, however unlikely that might seem.
|Credit: Ayuntamiento de Los Angeles|
More importantly, we should hope for such a peace for the sake of the Palestinians whose homes and neighbourhoods have been razed as their neighbours themselves have been killed in their thousands. And for Israelis who live in fear of Hamas’ rockets so long as their government persists in its morally and legally indefensible colonial policy, deliberately antagonistic and offensive.
If the ceasefire fails to hold, and if Israeli bombs continue to pulverize Gaza’s byways, the Israeli regime knows that they launch their deadly weapons of mass destruction with the support of a great many politicians in the United States, amongst them Los Angeles Mayor, Eric Garcetti.
Last week, at a solidarity rally for Israel, Garcetti called on Angelenos to “speak out against the terror that the Hamas regime has unleashed”.
Perhaps Garcetti needs a lesson in basic history and logic. Because to rally to the side of a colonial regime in the twenty-first century in a city in a country which gained its independence in an anti-colonial war smacks of absurdity.
Yes, Hamas has provided the spark for many of the conflicts which have erupted over the course of the long, smouldering war that has dogged Israel’s colonial occupation on its borders. But it is a symptom of the basic injustice, violence, and illegality of the Israeli colonial occupation—not a cause of violence in itself. Rather, the injustice, physical and structural violence, and illegality are what cause violence—indeed, they probably make it inevitable until the colonial regime withdraws.
I wonder what advice Garcetti would give to Israel’s colonial subjects. Would he tell them to “suck it up” and accept being ruled by an outside power against their will, denied self-determination, subject to blockade and bombing?
In defending Israel against criticism, and in promulgating the view that Gazans are responsible for the colonial violence perpetrated against them, Mayor Garcetti is defending mass murder and allowing a murderous, fanatical regime to act with impunity. Because make no mistake…when Israel has the moral and material backing of the United States, it is willing to act with incredible violence in the knowledge that it will face no consequences…except from its colonized subjects.
This is a feature of colonial rule. Bombing Gaza serves no real strategic purpose other than to instill terror. It is a performance of power and violence, and its indiscriminate nature is calculated. The violence perpetrated there is akin to other infamous moments of colonial violence: the Sharpeville massacre by the South African apartheid government; the Amritsar massacre committed by the British in India, even as they professed to bring civilization and good governance; the massacre by the British at Hola Camp in Kenya, perpetrated in the concentration camp they created there; and the destruction of the Summer Palace in China by invading European armies during the Second Opium War as they sought to force the sale of a debilitating and addictive drug on an unwilling Chinese government. Some might even add the massacre in Boston, even though it was on a much smaller scale than the mass killings in Gaza.
Mayor Garcetti is not alone in defending the pathological violence of the colonial regime. But it is particularly sad that such a defense comes from the spokesperson of a magnificent if troubled city that stands for something so very different from the logic of the Israeli regime.
Los Angeles is a famously diverse city; its character more defined by its residents’ capacity to endure epic traffic jams than by any citizen-subject distinction. The city has had its share of troubles and violence over the years, and faces de facto economic segregation which cuts across racial, linguistic, and religious lines. But it has continued to insist that people can overcome their differences and live alongside each other. There has been no effort to separate people on the basis of their religion, their political views, or their different classes of citizenship.
The Israeli regime, on the other hand, not only refuses to entertain the idea of Palestinians and Israelis living side-by-side—because such an idea would require the relinquishing of ill-gotten land, as well as of the ideological framework which convinces the colonial power of its superiority. It goes a step further and forces its subjects to live in a colonial ghetto, living in deplorable conditions and subject to intolerable infringements on their civil and human rights. What Israel has created in Gaza is the antithesis of the pluralism that Garcetti’s city, Los Angeles, embodies.
Instead of buckling before the powerful Israeli lobby, Garcetti and Angelenos should stand up for he alternative to colonial violence that their city represents. Los Angeles is not always the best advertisement for civic harmony. But its capacity to absorb people from around the world, and allow itself to be changed in the process, rather than attempting to subjugate newcomers to its will, is a strength from which the Israeli regime could learn as it comes to term—as it must—with the untenability of it unjust rule.