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Alternate Realities and Cycles of Genocide
The western media helps maintain necessary levels of ignorance in the domains they control, while the rest of the world decries another ongoing genocide, brought to us by settler-colonialism & empire.
During the US military's genocidal, mostly aerial slaughter of the people of Vietnam that we call "the Vietnam War," which the Vietnamese call "the American War," as "war heroes" like John McCain were getting shot out of the sky on occasion, interrupting their indiscriminate bombing campaigns, under names like the Phoenix Program, any Vietnamese over the age of ten was considered to be an enemy combatant. And in practice, the definition often included children under ten, and, yes, babies as well. It was an unequivocally genocidal war, with the intended targets being the Vietnamese population.
What both the Vietnamese people and the US military understood was that the US occupation of Vietnam was overwhelmingly unpopular among the occupied population, much the same way occupying armies have been overwhelmingly unpopular in other countries throughout history. This overwhelming unpopularity of the status quo, involving as it did daily indiscriminate, aerial slaughter on a historic scale, meant that waging a war against the enemy -- "the communists" in this case, who were also referred to by occupation authorities as terrorists and more often by racial epithets -- meant waging a war against the general population. When the guerrillas are popular, then they are, to coin a phrase from Mao or Che or someone, fish swimming in a sea made up of the people. So if you want to kill the fish you have to drain the swamp -- that is, kill all the people, too.
The American leaders in Washington, DC would frequently run their mouths about "winning hearts and minds," but they knew the hearts and minds of the Vietnamese people were lost to the logic of imperialism long ago, and the only logic left to them was that of genocide.
It shouldn't surprise anyone that those committing the unspeakable acts of butchering millions of civilians through years of indiscriminate bombing of an entire region consisting of several sovereign nations in southeast Asia would be coming from a country that was itself colonized by Puritans who carried out the 1600's equivalent of this kind of genocidal campaign. Requiring settlers to carry guns, and rewarding them for bringing in scalps of Indians was a significant part of the local economy for many, just as new arrivals from Europe were also pushed by economic forces to always move further and further west. Meanwhile in occupied Palestinian lands, the biggest and least expensive homes for an Israeli Jew to live in are inconveniently located on the most-recently stolen neighborhoods in the West Bank.
Just as with the colonial settlement of North America and the reservation system set up during the ongoing expansion of the United States for centuries after winning nationhood, in Vietnam those who didn't die beneath the napalm rain were told they could move into places known as Strategic Hamlets, which were "safe" villages explicitly under US military control. By no coincidence, the US advisors now actively involved with the whole situation are suggesting to the Israeli carpet-bombers that they set up "safe zones" for Palestinians in Gaza as they continue indiscriminately bombing the rest of the Strip. But even this, along with any suggestion of a ceasefire, or any notion that civilians need to be able to drink, eat, or have any kind of shelter, is being rejected by Netanyahu's government.
Throughout this entire period of the colonization and conquest of more and more of North America and the accompanying myriad wars of aggression, explicitly genocidal military campaigns to kill and starve the indigenous people en masse, and annexation of more and more land, making up what we today call the United States of America, there has been a consistent narrative put forth from the powers-that-be, in so many forms. These include the notion that the land wasn't being used, hardly anyone was living on it, and anyway, it's ours by right of the fact that the only people that really matter are Puritans. (Later the definition of the only people that really matter was expanded somewhat.)
Throughout this period another very important part of the consistent narrative that is always propagated in so many ways is that America is always the victim, and in order to seek justice, it needs to conquer more land or occupy or bomb another country. The war with Japan began with Pearl Harbor, not with the crippling oil blockade the US Navy was imposing on the Japanese Empire at the time the military targets in Hawai'i were attacked. The war with the Vietnamese people began with an attack on the US Navy just off the coast of Vietnam (what was it doing there?), except the attack didn't happen. We had to go overthrow the government of Grenada because American students there were feeling unsafe, except the whole story was fabricated. I could go on for pages and pages with more.
For so many of the American people -- those being far from the many American war zones, far from the Indian reservations, and not in prison, for example -- it's possible to maintain all kinds of delusions about the realities of US domestic and foreign policies, and the supposed history of American victimhood, even while reality continues to unfold with what might seem like such obvious, even genocidal, violence both perpetrated and sponsored by our own government, such as with my examples of Vietnam and Gaza.
The sort of logic dictated when you're running an authority that is deeply unpopular, that is responsible for occupying someone else's country, says if you can't win popularity, you must win fear and obedience. And if you can't win fear and obedience by imposing the harshest of punishments, torture, arbitrary assassinations, arrest and indefinite detention on no charges, poisoning the water (sorry, all you historians of medieval antisemitism in Europe, but yes, exactly that, in the case of Gaza), then you must commit genocide.
It's definitely no mistake that Israeli policies towards Palestinians, particularly in Gaza today, bear so much resemblance to the US military's campaign in Vietnam. There is the fact that no small number of those Israelis in positions of power are Americans, grew up in the US, and have an American worldview. And probably more importantly, there's the billions in military aid flowing in every year, which naturally tend towards encouraging military solutions to problems, even when there are none, short of genocide, which comes with all kinds of unforeseeable possible negative consequences for the perpetrators in this particular case, it would seem.
But perhaps most importantly of all is the basic logic of running a deeply unpopular occupation on someone else's land: ultimately the only "solution" you're eventually going to arrive at, other than completely reversing course, is the one the Nazis called the "final solution."
As is hopefully made obvious by the comparison I'm making with examples like US westward expansion and the US occupation of Vietnam, there is absolutely nothing inherent in Jewishness, Jewish history, or Judaism when it comes to running a sadistic occupation regime or engaging in genocidal bombing campaigns or trying to kill millions of people by preventing them from having access to water, which is what is going on right now today as I write. There are particularities about the Zionist project in Palestine/Israel, tenets of the Jewish religion's attachment to the notion of returning to Israel, as well as massive consequences resulting from the Nazi Holocaust and US immigration policies that are all very relevant in understanding the form of settler-colonialism that took root in that part of the world (and I've written about all that recently if you want to read more on that theme). But the most fundamental factor at work here is the basic logic of genocide.
As this real-life horror show unfolds before us, I only know about the details because I regularly pay attention to non-western press. When it comes to things like Israeli wars of conquest, in the west we're living in a big mind control experiment ruled by censorship, whether overt censorship, self-censorship, or by employing pre-brainwashed young reporters fresh from the suburbs who don't need to be told who are the good guys and the bad guys, they already know (hint: it's the Muslims, they're all terrorists who want to steal our freedom). The rest of the world, on the other hand, is more likely to be getting news from more honest sources.
One indication of this contrast between the west and the rest when it comes to the news is on the US, British, German, and French networks, life in the world continues more or less as normal. Both the Hamas attacks in southern Israel and the Israeli bombing of Gaza are given daily attention, and both are headline news, even, but only amid other headlines related to the US House of Representatives' inability to appoint a speaker, the latest iPhone model, and what's new in fast fashion. And any reportage of the situation unfolding now always makes sure to put it in the context of when the imperialists always start any narrative -- with the attack of the rebels. Why are there rebels in the first place? What are they rebelling against? Do they have any clean water to drink, or ability to leave their walled ghetto? These are not central themes to western news coverage this week, or ever.
Meanwhile on Al-Jazeera, they interrupt their coverage of the genocide only to mention the thousands killed in the earthquakes in Afghanistan, and to carry the latest press conference held by the US president, the US secretary of state, or the head of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, who are having daily press conferences, as they very actively try to either foment or prevent World War 3, depending on how you look at it.
One might think that the fact that the secretary of state and the president are spending so much of their time in the Middle East -- along with about one-fifth of the US Navy, by my estimation, with more carrier groups said to be on their way -- might be enough to cause western news outlets to alter their format and treat this genocidal bombing campaign like the exceptionally murderous case of collective punishment that it is. But regardless of how full of blatant violations of so many norms and UN charters that it is, despite the fact that they would be rushing to cover all of it in great detail if these horrific acts had been committed by Russia in Ukraine, we only hear tidbits about Israel's right to self-defense and lots of ridiculous explanations about how they didn't actually just bomb the hospital and kill 500 people. We are treated consistently to reportage that omits mention of the other hospitals, schools, apartment blocks and ambulances that were definitely bombed by the Israelis, in favor of giving the analysts from Mossad the benefit of the doubt in this particularly egregious case.
We are then treated to so much talk about how those killed in southern Israel make up the biggest mass murder of Jews since the Nazi Holocaust -- the implication being that there is some kind of relationship between the Jewishness of most of the victims and the fact that some of those living within the deeply impoverished confines of Israel's besieged, walled ghetto saw fit to kill and take hostages from the population of those living comparatively luxurious First World lives on the other side of the walled ghetto, in a desperate ploy to free their thousands of child prisoners.
The point of this rhetoric about historic Jewish suffering in this case is to imply once again that there might be some kind of relationship between antisemitism in Europe and the Palestinian victims of the American-sponsored Zionist movement that has been invading and annexing more and more of Palestinian land from 1948 to the present. There is a relationship here, but it's not about any connections between Hamas and the Nazis, but the connection between one genocide being carried out in Europe helping to rationalize some of the survivors of it to carry out another genocide somewhere else.
Of course, being raised and educated and informed our whole lives by the incoherent babbling that passes for the press for so many people in the west, it's absolutely terrifying, but also not surprising, that countries like Israel and the US have so many people within them who believe the kinds of things that we can hear most of the Israeli political leaders today saying, about Palestinians being "human animals who should be treated as such," about how all the Palestinian people are the enemy, about how the only solution is their extermination. This is the kind of thing they're saying, and this is exactly the kind of thing that was said daily about the Vietnamese, and about the Indians -- "the only good Indian is a dead Indian" is an American phrase popular during the "Indian Wars" in the late 19th century.
The way the kinds of repressive policies that inevitably accompany settler-colonialism lead to retribution, struggle (armed and otherwise), and general discontent among the occupied tend, along with the constant efforts to brainwash the population of the colonists and their descendants with the colonist's narrative of reality and history, to continually reproduce the dynamics of conflict, the cycle of violence, a genocidal mentality among the occupiers, and a desperate resistance among the occupied. This pattern can be seen repeated for hundreds of years all over the world.
This is yet another reason why there is nothing ironic about Jewish victims of unspeakable oppression becoming genocidal killers. Regardless of whether surviving genocide makes a population more or less likely to stand up for all the oppressed people of the world after that experience, there is always the logic of genocide doing its work, if you are part of a group that is involved with an ongoing settler-colonial conquest of someone else's land. If they were holding back at all 75 years ago, they're not now. They've now had generations of time to work on further vilifying the Palestinian enemy, helped along by every traumatic experience which generations of conflict have inevitably produced (on all sides). And since 2004, when Israel embarked on a project to surround their many Palestinian ghettos in the West Bank by a huge wall, and at the same time embarked on a project to wall off the entirety of Gaza and besiege it in so many new ways, the likelihood that an Israeli Jew and a Palestinian from the West Bank or Gaza might even have a chance to meet and have a conversation with each other has drastically decreased, making the power of propaganda so much more potent, with fewer and fewer potential interactions between actual human beings that might counter it.
Everything that I'm writing about, incidentally, is understood well by many Israelis -- including by some of the very eloquent relatives of those killed in southern Israel on October 7th. Every day in Jerusalem, anti-Zionist Jews are protesting and even fighting with the police, in opposition to the bombing of Gaza. Protests against the incessant, indiscriminate bombing of hospitals, ambulances, schools, convoys of refugees, bakeries, and apartment blocks and against depriving Palestinians of drinking water, food, medicine, and fuel have been taking place daily throughout the world, including throughout the west, often led by Jews who have not drunk the Zionist kool-aid, of which there are many.
But very unfortunately, we don't run Israel, and we don't run the USA. Settler-colonial regimes bent on conquest and genocide do, and they're making this point for me with every passing minute that the Israeli military keeps up the bombing, while the US, as usual, gives them political cover and sends in more bunker-busting missiles with little American flags on them accompanied by the words, "made in the USA."
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