Jan 1, 2024

Unmitigated Horror: Guernica, the Warsaw Ghetto, and Now Gaza

Photograph Source: Tasnim News Agency – CC BY-SA 4.0

Hamas must be destroyed, Gaza must be demilitarized, and Palestinian society must be deradicalized.”

– Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, The Wall Street Journal, December 26, 2023.

“The painful commonality between the tragedies of Gaza and the Warsaw Ghetto is the utter disregard for human lives in a war setting by the citizens of even the most enlightened countries.  Such disregard is so much more painful when it is committed by ‘our own people,’ whether it be American soldiers in Vietnam and Iraq or the Israeli soldiers in Gaza.

– Alex Hershaft, A Survivor of the Warsaw Ghetto, The Washington Post, December 22, 2023

“Yes, how many deaths will it take ’til he knows that too many people have died?”

– Bob Dylan, “Blowing in the Wind,” 1962

The Nazi bombing of Guernica, a Basque town in northern Spain, took place in 1937 during the Spanish civil war.  The Germans were testing their new air force, and their bombs killed or wounded one-third of Guernica’s five thousand residents. Guernica’s agony was captured in a painting by Spanish artist Pablo Picasso; it is considered the most moving and powerful anti-war painting in history.  The painting shows the suffering caused by modern war and brought the atrocities of the Spanish civil war to an international audience.

For Gaza, a Picasso would presumably use Israel’s destruction of Gaza’s hospitals to depict the terror and horror of Israel’s use of heavy ordnance.  Just as the Nazi bombing of Guernica had a casual aspect, Israel’s use of its air force is casual in its destruction of Gaza’s infrastructure, indeed Gaza itself.  The use of U.S.-supplied one thousand and two thousand pound bombs puts the lie to Israel’s claim that the primary objective of the war is to destroy Hamas. The primary objective of Israel’s war is to destroy Gaza itself; it is the latest step in Israeli efforts over 75 years to displace Palestinian populations from the river to the sea.  Israel’s right-wing war cabinet and Israeli Defense Forces are not taking aim at the West Bank, where the death count is climbing.

The Warsaw Ghetto housed 350,000 Jews who—like Gazans—were surviving hunger and disease, when the Nazi’s began their campaign of liquidation.  In the wake of the roundup of Jews, the Nazis deployed tanks and heavy artillery to destroy the remaining 50,000 survivors and level every building, until the Warsaw Ghetto was no more.  The Israeli destruction of Gaza is designed to ensure that Palestinians will have no place to live.

The New York Times and the Washington Post have put the lie to Israel’s claim that Gaza’s al-Shifa hospital was directly involved in Hamas activities and that the buildings of the al-Shifa complex sat atop underground tunnels that were used to direct rocket attacks and command fighters.  The Post analysis demonstrated that “the rooms connected to the tunnel network…showed no immediate evidence of military use by Hamas;” “none of the five hospital

buildings…appeared to be connected to the tunnel network;” and that there was “no evidence that the tunnels could be accessed from inside hospital wards.”  The Israels lied, and the Central Intelligence Agency corroborated the lies.

Overall, the mainstream media continues to assist Israeli propagandists in making their case to an international audience.  U.S. media consistently refer to last month’s killing of three Israeli hostages by Israeli defense forces as “accidental.”  There was nothing “accidental” about the killing; it was intentional with the hostages being shirtless, carrying a white flag of surrender, raising their hands, speaking Hebrew, and posting SOS notices as well as scrawling “Help! 3 hostages” in Hebrew on nearby walls.  The shooting may have been “mistaken,” but it was not “accidental.”  The Israeli soldiers intended to kill the three men; they just didn’t know they were Israelis. The father of one of the victims poignantly asked why the IDF didn’t just shoot his son in the leg.

The killing points to an ethical failure in the IDF, according to Ron Ben-Yishal, senior national security columnist for the Yediot Ahronot newspaper, who has reported on all of Israel’s wars since the Six-Day War in 1967.  These failures are predictable in view of Israeli racism toward Palestinans.  Former Prime Minister Golda Meir’s dismissed Palestinians as “roaches” prior to the October 1973 war.  Defense Minister Yoav Gallant has described Palestinians as “human animals,” and “we are acting accordingly.”  In this way, Gallant justifies the Israeli war crime of cutting off food and water to the residents of Gaza.

U.S. media have supported Israel’s line that the shooting of the hostages was due to the “fear and confusion” caused by Hamas’s “war of traps and trickery,” which meant that Israeli “troops were spooked and too fast to fire.” (The Washington Post, December 24, 2023, p. 1)  At least, the Israelis are investigating the killing, and will have the assistance of an IDF combat dog with a GoPro camera that recorded the voices of the three victims.  Of course, if the victims had been Palestinian, there would have been no publicity, let alone an investigation.  We will never know how many innocent Palestinian men have been murdered in similar fashion.

The United States itself provides support for Israel by vetoing or abstaining from every UN Security Council resolution that is critical of Israel.  Since the October War of 1973, the United States has vetoed more than 50 measures.  When the Obama administration abstained from a 2017 resolution that declared Israeli settlements on the West Bank illegal, there was considerable congressional criticism.  The United States last month even abstained from a UN resolution that merely supported additional humanitarian aid for Gaza.

Meanwhile, the United States has offered no criticism of Israel’s killing of more than 70 journalists and media workers, mostly Palestinian, marking the deadliest conflict for journalists ever recorded by the Committee to Protect Journalists.  The Israelis have also killed more than a dozen Palestinian writers and poets.  More than a hundred international aid workers have also been killed—some of the along side their extended families.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken, one of Israel’s leading apologists, has merely stated that “we want to make sure that that’s investigated, and that we understand what’s happened and there’s accountability.”  The killing of journalists is an Israeli attempt to ensure that the rough draft of Israel’s war is not recorded accurately.  Even the Post referred to Blinken’s remarks as a “nothing burger of a response.”

Netanyahu’s legacy is secure.  When Guernica, the Warsaw Ghetto, and Gaza are discussed and analyzed in the future, the Nazis and Benjamin Netanyahu will be similarly condemned.

Meanwhile, there is much for all Americans to learn.  President Biden should think about Vice President Hubert Humphrey’s loss to Richard Nixon in the 1968 presidential election because of his belated opposition to the Vietnam War.  And for a better understanding of Israeli apartheid and the miserable life of Palestinians on the West Bank, read Nathan Thrall’s “A Day in the Life of Abed Salama: Autonomy of a Jerusalem Tragedy.”

Recent News and Latest Book

The Trump Supreme Court’s War on the Environment

Last year, the court struck down a proposed EPA rule that was designed to protect millions of acres of wetlands from pollution even before the regulation had been made final.  Similarly, the court limited EPA’s ability to regulate greenhouse gas emissions form power plants even before the ruling had taken effect.  Typically, the Supreme Court is the last venue to hear a case, after opinions have been made by lower courts, but this is not so in Roberts’ aggressive court.

Trump’s Debate: a Victory for Pathological Liars Everywhere

Jeb Bush had it right eight years ago, when he said that “Donald Trump is a chaos candidate, and he would be a chaos president.”  Trump’s first and second day as president were dispositive.  On the first day, there was an unusual acceptance speech that talked about “American Carnage.”  That turned out to be a prediction of the next four years, culminating in an attack on the Capitol in an effort to overturn a free and fair election.

Containing the National Security State

Containing the National Security State