Time to be Counted

The time for solidarity with the beseiged and brutalised inhabitants of Gaza, the wider Palestinian people and their collective human right for an independent state, is now! It is time for the people of the Western world to summon the political will to demand a free Palestine. Che Guevara is credited with the following appeal for a revolutionary moral consciousness that is both personal and universal: “Above all, always be capable of feeling deeply any injustice committed against anyone, anywhere in the world”. And, the Palestinian tragedy is not just another unfairness in an unfair world: it is perhaps the defining injustice of the post-war world order. It is a wound that has festered since the foundation of the state of Israel in 1948.

Many people will tell you that the politics of the current conflict is complex; brows are furrowed, eyes are rolled, sighs are uttered, shoulders are shrugged. I recognise that the history is complex; all world history is nuanced and veined with conflicting interests. However, the morality of the Palestinian cause is crystal clear. The Palestinian people have been denied their human rights – systematically abused and oppressed for over seventy years. Paulo Friere is credited with the following insight: “Washing one’s hands of the conflict between the powerful and the powerless means to side with the powerful, not to be neutral”. The imperative question of where we must stand is not complex at all.

The Hammas killings of Israeli citizens which lit the fuse for the current horror in Gaza is not excusable, but the genesis of it should be plain to anyone with eyes to see. Global geopolitics is also often not as complicated as we are led to believe. As dominant nation-states have always done, the colonial European powers (sometimes in concert but more often in conflict with one-another) imposed their political will across the globe in the nineteenth century.

The liberal democratic states of the twenty-first century are little different in that underneath the diplomatic niceties, geopolitics is a game of power. Human rights and social justice are routinely violated if the freedom under consideration clashes with the the strategic political interests of the powerful. This is why Biden was prepared the give the Netanyu regime the green light to continue the aerial slaughter of Palestinians in Gaza. It is sickening to be so graphically reminded of this chilling political reality.

Israel was established as an independent nation state for the Jewish people. The Jewish diaspora was displaced across the Mediterannean, Europe and further afield over a long period of historical time. The Zionist religious and political movement which demanded ‘a returning’ to a Jewish homeland of biblical narrative coalesed with the horror, revulsion and guilt generated by the Nazi Holocast. Britain was the old colonial authority which administered Palestine up until 1948. Britain endorsed the Zionist homeland vision in 1917 for a variety of strategic political reasons but it was the new dominant world power, the USA, which drove the partition of Palestine.

The logistical problem with the creation of a new state – as with the entire colonial project – is the existence of people who already populate the land in question: the Palestinian people in this case.

Globally coloniality has generated genocidal policies and practices of all shades and the Israel project is no exception. The scale of oppression, discrimination and social suffering visited upon Palestine has been as immense as it is ironic, given that the crime of systematic genocide fueled the moral justification for an Israeli state.

Palestinians refer to the period leading to and immediately following the establishment of Israel as the Nakba (catastrophe). Around 700,000 people were driven from homes, land and livelihoods. Many found shelter in refugee camps, many of which still exist today. Other camps date from the 1967 Six Day war and the subsequent annexation of the Gaza strip. This is the foundational injustice that sits at the root of the Palestinian cause. It is a humanitarian crime that has been echoed and repeated in various ways for the last seven or eight decades and it is an injustice that the Westerm powers, particularly the U.S, seem to have little or no interest in addressing. The world is watching as bombs reign down and Gaza suffers in a rain of fire, blood, rubble and dust.

It is imporant to understand that this conflict is not fundamentally a ‘war’ between opposing powers with differences of religion and political ideology. It is a struggle driven by the resistance of a subjugated people, a struggle against the illegal occupation of Palestinian land. It is militarily one-sided. Mind boggling sums of U.S money have been pumped into the Israeli military over time. The armed wing of Hamas don’t have any planes or tanks. Curently there is war ‘on’ rather than ‘in’ Gaza, although a ground invasion appears imminent. It is an exercise in collective punishment, terror and control. The current right-wing Zionist government has no desire for a sovereign Palestinian nation and the U.S supports Israel unconditionally because of the way that it perceives its own strategic political interests. The Netanyahu government endorses and supports the ongoing forced theft of Palestinian land by Israeli settlers.

Since 1967 the policing of Gaza and the separate Palestinian enclave of the West Bank has grown tighter, more violent and more sophisticated with each new eruption of resistance. Gaza is the most densely populated place on Earth. It has effectively become a huge walled open-air prison and, as I write, the Israel airforce are essentially blowing up human fish in a barrell. It is as unconscionable as it is inhumane but it is happening. We are watching it. If we do nothing we are condoning it. Half of Gaza’s population are children; children who have only known the oppression of occupation.

Military dominance and a securitised hyper-vigilant, hyper-armed Israeli military can’t be a recipe for peace and justice. You can’t kill a nation. To date the response of the West has been worse than pathetic. Palestine must have its nation-hood and the world has to find a way. Solidarity with Palestine is growing amongst people, if not governments, around the world. We do not have to be passive observers. We can all do something and we must. Channel your outrage constructively good people. T’is time to be counted: we need to collectively demand more than a nineteenth century response to the defining injustice of our time. There must be an end to the occupation, but first stop the killing: support the demand for a ceasefire NOW !

#Sign the petition demanding action from the New Zealand government in support of an immediate ceasefire and pass this on to your networks.

Image credit : Steve Rhodes

7 replies on “Time to be Counted”

Good post. Systematic atrocity is a tactic of the worst kinds of warfare – and you are absolutely correct – to remain silent is to support the oppressors. For the world to be silent makes the world complicit in atrocity. Pleasing super-powers like the States is sensible geo-politically but silence in the face of this sort of state-funded horror diminishes us and reveals some very ugly truths about global power, its tactics and our support of it.
Horribly, the following is from an American Holocaust museum:

Crimes Against Humanity

Crimes against humanity are defined as “any of the following acts when committed as part of a widespread or systematic attack directed against any civilian population.” The acts include murder, extermination, enslavement, deportation, imprisonment, torture, rape (and other gender-based or sex crimes), group-based persecution, enforced disappearance, apartheid, and “other inhumane acts of a similar character intentionally causing great suffering or serious injury to body or to mental or physical health.”

Source: 1998 Article 7, Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court

Yes gut-wrenching David. The whole brutal Gaza tragedy exposes the raw self interest of the US and Western European power block – preparedness to abuse power and ignore international law and human rights when it is seen as strategically necessary. This is what the Palestinian reality has always symbolised – the hypocrisy thinly concealed behind the liberal Western facade. The mask has dropped and we see the ugly reality. That is why we have to say ‘no’ this time.

Tēnei te mihi ki a koe Ian.
I think we need a bigger collective social work stance of solidarity on this hara.
Appreciate this article so much.

Tēnā koe Kendra – I agree – The bombardment of Gaza – 5, 000 dead and the numbers rising every hour is an act of evil born of anger, insecurity, fear, vengeful and twisted righteousness – rabidly articulated and orchestrated by Netanyhu and endorsed by the U.S and Western European powers.

Bloody horrific. If social workers, or any other group who understand the context, can’t see that action in support of a just resolution for the Palestinian people is critical, then I despair and am beyond words e hoa. And, of course, our despair is not useful, but whatever action we can muster is – and dissent is always stronger when it is collective …


I am truly shocked and saddened by this article. Like all of you, I chose this profession to improve the lives of all people and deplore the killing of Israeli and Palestinian civilians. The attempt to downplay and rationalize a sadistic terrorist organization with no desire ever for peace and whose charter calls for the expulsion of the entire Jewish community, while blatantly ignoring a full historical factual frame of reference and simplifying this issue is appalling and irresponsible. The decolonization narrative is dangerous and does not accurately describe either the foundation of Israel or the historic tragedy of the Palestinians. In 1993 the suicide bombings of Israeli citizens by Hamas were designed to destroy the two-state Oslo Accords. This recent slaughter in part was to undermine a peace with Saudi Arabia that would have improved Palestinian politics and standards of life. The issue is truly complicated, unlike the author would like you to believe. The author states, “The armed wing of Hamas don’t have any planes or tanks.” Hamas is a diabolical killing sect that violently seized control of the Gaza strip in 2007 and has subjugated the citizens of Gaza and hides among them while receiving billions of dollars from foreign nations. It crushes Palestinian opposition, bans same-sex relationships, represses women, and openly espouses killing of all Jews. Social workers must not ever turn an eye to any civilians, babies to the elderly, tortured, raped and defiled. Social workers cannot justify or excuse these horrors as they appropriately criticize and protest government actions, as they should and is the right of all citizens. We must continue to educate ourselves and speak out in the strongest possible terms against Islamophobia and Antisemitism.

Robin – I do not agree with your position but we have approved your comment here because we believe you have a right to express your view. Israel is very much a settler colonial state. The creation of the state of Israel involved the appropriation of land and expulsion of the Palestinian people. The violent theft of Palestinian land by Settlers on the West Bank continues apace under the far-right Netanyahu regime. Gaza has been occupied by the Israeli state since 1967 and its people have been systematically policed, controlled, abused and violently repressed. This blog post does not condone the bloody killings by Hamas that sparked the current torment of Gaza – but it is important to understand that, as the UN Security General has pointed out, this event did not happen in a vacuum. Since that attack over 8,000 people have died in the indiscriminate carpet bombing of Gaza – children, women, men, the young and the old. Parents are writing names on the limbs of their children so their bodies can be identified in the rubble. All this in the name of Israeli security / It’s right to defend itself?? – Give me strength!
This has always been an asynchronous conflict – a struggle for liberation by a subjugated people against a colonial war-machine.
We are unlikely to agree on this topic Robin and I am not going to engage in extended debate with you here. As you will know, many Jewish individuals and groups do not support the Zionist agenda, do not support the Netanyahu regime and understand that this horror show will not be resolved until Palestine is free. Criticism of the Israeli state is not the same thing as antisemitism. Many Jewish people are as appalled as I am as the death count mounts hourly and the world watches. Ian

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