It’s puerile to support a people’s freedom and condemn their freedom fighters. And it’s colonizing to say the religion of a region should have nothing to do with its governance …
In western societies, pro-Israel sentiment is baked in, articulated constantly by politicians and media. Anyone who condemns Hamas has no control whatsoever over the ends to which their condemnation will be put … condemnation of the kind demanded of everyone about Oct 7 has been weaponised to drive out context, to erase Palestinian suffering and Israeli oppression, and to simplify and distort history.
… for a sociopath the logical solution to the Palestinian ‘problem’ is simple. Get rid of the Palestinians. This is actual Israeli strategy, which much of its leadership and public openly state. Genocide has a simple logic but, in addition to being evil, is wildly impractical.
I came on the piece below while browsing a different aspect of the genocide; namely, whether procedural flaws in South Africa’s filing of its indictment will allow a sufficiency of ICC judges to heave a sigh of relief and do a Pontius Pilate at The Hague.
Not sure how much I share the perspective of Canadian-Sri Lankan author, Indrajit Samarajiva (short bio here). Most starkly problematic for me is that both tone and content are music to the ears of an Israeli lobby eager for confirmation of its insistence that Palestinians’ end goal is the elimination of any Jewish presence in the region, whether or not it accepted a Palestinian one on equal terms, and whether Arab and Jew shared one state or lived as next door neighbours.
(For this reason I thought long and hard before hosting the piece. My decision to do so is based on a calculation, for better or worse, that a voice at times needlessly inflammatory is more than offset by its getting far more right than wrong, and whose very stridency has merit if it awakens us to the perilous pass to which the West’s rulers have dragged us through their non stop flow of blank cheques to the apartheid, terrorist state.)
And while I’m with this Sinhala Buddhist as far as refusing to condemn Hamas, he goes further than I do, showering praise on its foot-soldiers and leaders. I’m no theologian but had thought the Sinhala Buddhism of southern Asia – from Sri Lanka eastwards to Thailand, Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam – more devotionally theistic than the northern Theravada strand from which Zen evolved. My impression was of Theraveda as the tougher-minded of the two but if this fellow is anything to go on, Sinhala can leave the Abrahamic faiths in the dust when it comes to the truly bloodcurdling!
(Then again, anyone may call themselves anything they please. Saying so don’t make it so. Bear in mind that this self proclaimed Sinhala Buddhist is (a) a man of colour brung up in the West, with all that imples; and (b) a young man, with all that implies.)
Which brings me to another potential parting of the ways. I’m not sure either how far I go along with his characterising of Gaza’s resistance as a “holy war”. Especially when he quotes with such reverence the eschatological – and patriarchal with it! – declamations of Hamas and Hezbollah leaders. Be that as it may, that is not a characterisation to be lightly dismissed – least of all by Westerners steeped in five centuries of colonial arrogance, including two of “Enlightenment” assumptions of cultural superiority.
In any case, stripped of its more purple rhetoric, what we have here is a logically solid and well constructed case. (Even if some of its factual claims are just that; claims unverifiable in the fog of war.) That logic is all the more powerful for the fact that we are witnessing in Gaza a replay, in the age of electronic media, of the murderous subjugation of Africa and Asia, Americas and Antipodes; a subjugation otherwise comfortably consigned to the past. 1
We’re better than that now, right?
Finally, this piece comes with such an abundance of the glitteringly quotable as to shield its grammatical lapses from nit-picking pedantry. So take it away, Indrajit. You have the floor …
First a shattered ‘Israeli’ battalion retreated from Gaza, then multiple brigades fled. Now a whole division has turned tail and run. What else do you call this? A retreat by any other name still spells defeat. A full 25% of ‘Israel’s’ Army has retreated now. They’re turtling.
‘Israel’ calls this retreat a ‘phase change.’ Unless you’ve set your phasers to dumb, this just means failure. ‘Israel’s’ military objectives were to:
- kill as many Palestinians as possible (future Hamas)
- kill Hamas (present Hamas)
- stop the rockets (past Hamas).
Like the Ghosts of Christmas, however, these three problems are still haunting they ass. For one, Israel still has 98% more Palestinians to kill, for two, Hamas is even stronger as a military now, and — for thirds —even more missiles are coming in, from all over. Militarily ‘Israel’ has made all their problems worse, and so failed at all their political objectives. Their (corresponding) political objectives were:
- Break the Palestinian will
- Get some trophy kills
- Deter anyone from fucking with ‘Israel’ ever again
I won’t even mention the hostages because ‘Israel’ has killed more hostages than it saved (zero). On all three political objective, ‘Israel’ has lost. The Palestinians are still stubbornly existing and fighting, ‘Israel’ has killed zero top leaders in Gaza, and — far from being deterred — the entire region has joined in.
(Perhaps he doesn’t want to dilute his different point but Indrajit misses a trick here. Israeli jails are packed with thousands of hostages in the form – as even the BBC acknowledges, and as wittily skewered by this Palestinian comedian – of adults and children held without trial.)
In all cases, ‘Israel’ is in a worse situation than October 6th. Thousands of their soldiers are dead or disabled, the rest are obviously incompetent, they are fighting on at least six fronts, and everybody in the world hates them. As Prussian military theorist Carl von Clausewitz would say, they’re completely fucked. Let’s go through how’ve they’ve lost, one by one.
(Some might say a claim of “thousands” of IDF dead or disabled calls for at least a modicum of evidence but, having made the point, I’ll go easy on it from here on in.)
1. Palestinians still here
If you’re a sociopath, the logical solution to the Palestinian ‘problem’ is simple. Get rid of the Palestinians. Problem solved. This is that actual Israeli strategy, which much of their leadership and public openly states. It’s understandable, in a way. Israel is founded on taking Palestinian land, so taking all the land is the logical conclusion. They feel like they cannot live with these people (in equality), so these people must die or leave. That’s why they openly say they’re doing a Nakba again (the original catastrophe of Israel’s founding). Genocide has a simple if sociopathic logic. In addition to being evil, however, genocide is also wildly impractical.
It simply takes a lot of time and resources to genocide millions of people. At the current rate of killing 30,000 people every 100 days, it would take 20 years to kill everyone in Gaza. And then they still have the West Bank, which is even bigger. Israel simply ‘can’t kill ’em all’, though that doesn’t stop them from trying.
The other option is ethnic cleansing, literally sending people into the Sinai Desert. But all the exits are sealed, either by Egypt or ‘Israel’. Palestinians can’t leave if they want to, and they don’t want to. This ethnic gambit will just not wash out. The only option left, if you’re an asshole, is breaking everyone’s will, but how’s that working out? Palestinian people are still resisting by existing, and their fighters are still fighting. These people won’t be killed, they won’t be cleansed, and they won’t be cowed.
The Palestinian spirit is unbroken. Their bodies are broken and amputated and infected but their spirits are unbroken. Their sacrifice has been an example to the world, the passion of the Palestinians. Through social media, billions of people feel like they know Palestinians, some very personally, and we have seen people we know, like Refaat Al-Areer, die in front of us. An isolated problem for the Israelis has become global. The entire global spirit (at least in the global majority) has awoken. Israeli has made over 30,000 martyrs, most of them women and children, and those people go on fighting forever. Most Resistance brigades are named after martyrs. ‘Israel’ is fighting the literal spirits of Izz ad-Din al-Qassam, Abu Ali Mustafa, etc, and those spirits are unbroken.
When it comes to fighting spirit, Resistance fighters are more motivated than ever. For one thing, Israel is killing their families, which gives them even more reason to fight harder. Israel is also losing street battles, which only emboldens them. They’re blowing up tanks and skipping away. And people all across the region are watching this on Telegram and satellite TV. Morale is unbroken and motivation has never been higher.
(Here Indrajit gets carried away by his own rhetoric. The resistance may indeed be blowing up tanks and skipping away. Scott Ritter thinks so, and this is his field. So do Electronic Intifada, but there’s too much smoke and above all mirrors for such calls to be made with confidence. I touched on this in my post, Hamas and the fog of war.)
As Al Qassam spokesman Abu Obeida said:
O our great, patient, and steadfast people, 100 days, and the resolve of the fighters did not falter, nor did they relent, nor did they weaken or submit to what befell them in the path of Allah.
For 100 days, our great, legendary people stand tall on their land despite the pain and wounds, writing the most wonderful epic of steadfastness, defiance, and pride, stationed on the shores of Sham [Levant], entrenched at the border of Asqalan, inspired by the prophecy of our Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, sheltered under the wings of the angels of the Most Merciful.
So blessed are you, O people of Gaza, and blessed are you, O land of Gaza, the best of Allah’s lands, to which He has sent the best of His servants.
Await Allah’s imminent victory and His promise of the great conquest and certain entry into the blessed Al-Aqsa Mosque, with certainty in Allah and trust in Him. The dawn of freedom for all our people is approaching by Allah’s command. Allah will not let the effort, blood, and pain of our families and our people go in vain, for “Allah is victorious over His command, but most people do not know.”
Indeed, it is a jihad of victory or martyrdom.
Peace and Allah’s mercy and blessings be upon you.
These are religious people, in the land of their religion, and Allah is with them. I truly believe this. I’m a Sinhala Buddhist, but I definitely fear God, and I think I will be judged. I certainly would not wear shoes in the third-holiest site of Islam, and abuse worshipers. I’m a god-fearing person and that’s just asking for trouble. I also don’t think Allah would see what’s going on and not be on the side of liberation. They may move at the speed of another lifeform, but They’re always on time. This is expressly a holy war across the Resistance — for their holy places — and that’s the sort of motivation that does not weaken. Even after generations. Palestinian morale is unbroken, and their fighting spirit is breaking ‘Israel’.
2. Hamas still here
It is puerile to support a people’s freedom and condemn their freedom fighters. It’s colonizing to say that the religion of a region should have nothing to do with its governance. Of course I support Hamas. I’ve read and written extensively about this, and I think they’re a perfectly reasonable and incredibly brave organization. The Palestinians, of all people, need an army, and Hamas built one. They have inflicted strategic defeat on not just Israel but America and the White Empire at large. More power to them.
And Hamas has only gotten more powerful. They are more popular both regionally and internationally, have seen no decline in fighting capacity (you can watch videos yourself, every day), and have lost only one top leader, Sheikh Saleh Al-Arouri. And this is what he had to say about his own death:
Our heroic martyrs, when they are from the leadership and from the first ranks, they awaken all the ranks of our people to be part of the Resistance. This is the indication of sincerity: when the leaders and first ranks come forward to martyrdom. We affirm in a categorical and definitive way that our blood and souls are not greater nor dearer than that of any martyr. We are equal. The martyr that preceded us by one day is better than us. Better than us.
Al-Arouri was assassinated in Lebanon. None of the top leadership in Gaza have been hit. After 100 days of killing, they don’t have a single trophy scalp to show their bloodthirsty people, or to break their enemy’s morale. Meanwhile, the Resistance has knocked out Israeli brigade commander after brigade commander. They decapitated the vaunted Golani Battalion twice, and made them retreat in dishonor. Now entire brigades and divisions have retreated also. Israel has enough conscripts to commit enough war crimes, but their leadership keeps getting sniped and their morale has broken. Far from destroying or at least intimidating the Resistance, the Resistance is laughing at them. For an occupation army that survives based on intimidation, this is not survivable. As Al-Qassam spokesman Abu Obeida, who’s notably not dead, says:
Our fighters return with shocking testimonies about the weak faith and motivation of the Zionist soldier and the gathered mercenaries. And how they are dragged into battle, and how they cry in fear and alarm, and how they show this in front of our fighters, despite all the weapons, equipment, and huge fire cover they carry. And what the enemy army is showing and what it is announcing of imaginary heroism of his soldiers is the subject of mockery to the youngest Palestinian child.
Israel’s conscript army is a bunch of literal baristas and account managers sent on a Birthright: Genocide tour with a few months training. They’re not doing well and they’re not enjoying it. Meanwhile the Palestinian Resistance army is a bunch of orphans that have been living in tunnels, thinking about nothing else for years. It’s like Batman meets the Teenage Mutant Turtles vs some influencer war criminals. The soft conscripts are getting fucked up royally, and can only trash homes and lash out at civilians. The IOF bomb hospitals from the air, but they’re getting beaten by Hamas on the ground, and it’s being filmed. They’re neither killing nor breaking the enemy combatants’ morale which is the actual Clausewitzian point of war. As Carl said, “War is thus an act of force to compel our enemy to do our will.” And Israel can’t compel Hamas to do shit.
(Clausewitz is always quotable but heed too the counsel of Michael Corleone in Godfather III. Don’t hate your enemies. It clouds your judgment. )
Israel can’t make them die, can’t make them leave, and they can’t force them to release hostages. During the brief ceasefire, Hamas dictated terms, and then they popped up in areas that IOF said they ‘cleared’. The IOF brags about occupying land, but what’s the point if the militants are underground? They’re just bragging about being encircled in three dimensions. The Palestinian fighters just pop up at will and snipe these noobs. It’s actually embarrassing.
That’s why Israel is retreating. Not cause they won anything. Cause they failed at every strategic objective. The official story is that they’re withdrawing a full division (six brigades) to rest and redeploy them on the northern front, but that’s another joke. Hezbollah is laughing even harder! As their leader Sayyed Narsullah said:
Who are they threatening us with? With tired, terrified, and psychologically shocked brigades? Brigades that lost a large number of their soldiers and officers killed in Gaza? Those that were defeated in northern Gaza? They are threatening us with this?
An army can survive getting killed, getting captured, but once they start laughing at you, you’re in trouble. The greatest value of an army is deterrence, scaring enemies so you don’t have to fight at all. But ‘Israel’ has been revealed as ‘weak as a spider’s web’ and more rather than less people are attacking them now. They’ve shown weakness to the entire region. Israel took a blow on October 7th, and then 100 self-inflicted blows every day since. Now they, and not Hamas, are retreating. Hamas are still here, and they’re leaving.
3. The opposite of deterred
Hamas is just one military ‘Israel’ is fighting. Off the top of my head I can name 7 militaries in the Axis of Resistance — Iran, Yemen, the Popular Mobilization Forces of Iraq, Hezbollah, Hamas, Palestinian Islamic Jihad, and the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigade — and they’re all fighting.
(Here I emphatically part company with Indrajit. To assert with such jubilance that Iran is actively in the fight speaks to a mind which, for all its grasp of realpolitik – and for all its owner’s claims of being Buddhist – has a puerile, end-times triumphalism steeped in gung-ho disregard for the potential of Iranian involvement, real or perceived, to trigger WW3 when the only party to want this in the here and now is Netanyahu’s demented cabinet. Even Washington’s crazies divide over whether now is the time to strike “the head of the snake”. Bolton and Nuland have yet to see a war they didn’t like, but Blinken and Sullivan remain party men, gloomily cognisant of disastrous ratings in an election year. To this we can add that, left with nothing to lose, Iran is a formidable force capable of destroying Israel: a fact revealing all we need to know about Bibi’s contempt for those he nominally represents.)
Not only has Israel failed to destroy Hamas, they’ve created dozens of new enemies (state and non-state), all working together. These enemies comprise hundreds of largely independent groups and are impossible to knock out with one, two, or even a thousand assassinations. Israel has gone from fighting Hamas to fighting hundreds of Hamas’s. HAMAS is literally just an acronym for Islamic Resistance Movement, and that movement has only multiplied.
These people are the opposite of deterred. This is what Brigadier General Abdul Salam Jahaf of Yemen said, after America hit Yemen with $500 million worth of missiles. He’s talking about defeating not just Israel but America, they’re emboldened to fight the whole White Empire. He said:
We swear, even if we turned into atoms scattered in the air, we will not leave Gaza. We will continue to target Zionist ships and those going to the Zionist entity. We will confront America, make it kneel, burn its warships, all its bases, and anyone who cooperates with it.
No matter what it costs us, we will not leave Gaza. Let the great war ignite, for we are its people and its men.
To our people, our brothers, our sons, and our fathers in Gaza, we are with you. You are not alone. Our blood for you is cheap, and we are with you until our last breath.
God refuses for us to be submissive and humiliated while your blood is spilled. What will God say to us when we meet Him? You have let down Gaza. No, by God, we will not let her down, no matter what it costs us.
The world must prepare to hear of America’s defeat. I say this with all pride, we will trample America under our feet. The battlefield will teach those who do not know us about our might and severity.
America has been unloading on Yemen for nearly ten years now, and they have only gotten stronger and more defiant. Now Yemen has blocked the Red Sea to ‘Israel’, as is their right under maritime law, and as a decent country should be doing under the Genocide Convention.
America has tried to ‘deter’ Yemen by arms-length bombing, lost at least two soldiers themselves, and Yemen still rules the waves. The might of the whole White Empire has been defied, and continues to be defied. They cannot make Yemen do their will, they cannot make Iran do their will, they cannot make Iraq do their will, they cannot make Syria do their will, they cannot make Hezbollah do their will, and they definitely cannot make Palestine do their will. On every front, in every direction, they are failing. Flailing out, they can kill millions, but they cannot accomplish any strategic objectives. Genocide is not a strategy. You have to defeat and deter your enemies, and on counts one, two, and three, Israel is just failing.
1, 2, 3
Israel had three broad strategic objectives to ‘get back to normal’. Kill, terrorize, and intimidate enough natives to ‘be at peace’. But after 100 days of killing, terrorizing, and intimidating people, they’re in a much worse position! And they’ve dragged the whole White Empire down with them. All of their military power and media propaganda is discredited.
(Indrajit overstates the case here, but is not substantively wrong. As I wrote on December 31, 2023 will be remembered as the year Russia shone a terawatt beam on the limits to US and Nato power … the year Israel and its Western supporters lost all moral legitimacy in the eyes of the world … the year BRICS – and dollar decline – reached, if not tipping point, certainly the point of no return.)
Israel may have killed over 1% of Palestinians in Gaza, but that means 99% more to kill! They may have traumatized an entire generation, but that just means more motivated fighters forever. Finally while they may have deterred hospitals from existing, Hamas is more emboldened than ever. In fact, every other native in the region is fighting back, and this ain’t the 1800s. These natives have RPGs, and hypersonic missiles. Palestinians may be dying, but Israel is dead. Dead on the ground against Palestinians, dead in the water against Yemen, even dead in the air if they fuck with Iran.
It’s taking the signal a while to reach the brain, but Israel is dead, and America along with it. Israel has accomplished nothing strategic for 100 days, and America doesn’t have a strategic brain cell left, just bombs firing randomly from a senile President and War Minister in a hospital bed. America is a visibly dying Empire and ‘Israel’ is its graveyard. Israel has lost every ground war since 2002 and the Battle of Al Aqsa Flood is no exception. These fuckers are losing and they deserve to lose. Allahu Akbar. God is great. Israel is losing. That’s why they’re retreating.
Let’s hope so. Two of the players in this drama are nuclear powers.
* * *
- I’m aware of course that many wars on the global south, beginning with Vietnam, were conducted in the age of television. But these were wars of modern imperialism whereas Israel, besides being an agent of imperialism, has strikingly colonialist features. (For the distinction I’m making, see footnote 3 of the previous post.)