PI Briefing | No. 5 | Saying the quiet part out

Israel plans ethnic cleansing and the US collectively punishes Palestinians.
In the Progressive International's 5th Briefing of 2024, we bring news of Israel and its US American and British backers’ response to the historic genocide plausibility ruling at the International Criminal Court. If you would like to receive our Briefing in your inbox, you can sign up using the form at the bottom of this page.
In the Progressive International's 5th Briefing of 2024, we bring news of Israel and its US American and British backers’ response to the historic genocide plausibility ruling at the International Criminal Court. If you would like to receive our Briefing in your inbox, you can sign up using the form at the bottom of this page.

Palestinians have known for nearly a century what the Israeli state wants to do with them: deny them their rights, expel them from their land and treat them as a security concern, not a people. The Israeli state has enjoyed the full backing of Western elites, who helped construct two myths: that Palestinian resistance is “terrorism”, and that Israeli occupation is “democracy”.

Israel’s leaders helped their Western backers by shrouding their crimes in a formal language that avoided saying the quiet part out loud. If you looked at what Israel was doing, you could see that annexation was the goal and apartheid and ethnic cleansing the method. But the rhetorical denials prevailed. Israel insisted that it was not doing what it was plainly doing. And in the West, the whispers of the coloniser ring louder than the anguished cries of the colonised.

The current genocidal campaign against Palestinians in Gaza has stripped Western elites of the excuse that Israel does not say the quiet part out loud. Israel’s highest officials — the President, Prime Minister, Defence Minister, Finance Minister, National Security Minister, etc. — have been speaking with clear, open, unashamed genocidal intent. The colonizer’s whispers have become screams.

Last Friday, Judge Joan Donoghue, reading the International Court of Justice’s interim ruling in her capacity as Court President, quoted some of these genocidal words. Surely her voice, coming from the mouth of a former US State Department official, would be heard by both the handful of Western states backing Israel and by Israel itself? Surely they would alter their actions to mask their guilt and complicity?

But no. Rather, the opposite.

On Sunday, just two days after the ICJ’s ruling, 12 Israeli government ministers participated in a conference for the settlement of Gaza. Or, in other words, a conference explicitly aimed at the ethnic cleansing of Palestinians from Gaza. Delegates discussed forcing Palestinians to permanently leave the strip and replace them with Israeli settlers. Government ministers gave speeches and danced with their fellow fascist attendees. They are saying the quiet part out loud.

The day before, just one day after the ICJ’s ruling, in which the world heard of the dire humanitarian disaster in Gaza, with practically all of the population displaced and reliant on aid to avoid starvation and death, the US, Germany and the UK pulled funding from UNRWA, the UN agency that provides that aid to the Palestinians.

Israel and the US engaged in a classic — and effective — communications strategy of changing the subject when the current news is bad for you. The world’s highest court asserting Palestinian peoplehood and the plausibility of Israel committing genocide against it was not the news cycle the US and Israel wanted to be stuck in.

And so, the US endorsed Israel’s longstanding canard against UNWRA, expressed by its ambassador to the UN during this conflict, that the UN agency is effectively a Hamas front. This preposterous position is Israel’s longstanding line: everything it doesn’t like and everything it bombs is “Khamas”.

But the US, the UK, Germany and other countries that have participated in the strategy of attacking UNRWA to “move the story along” are not just carrying water for Israel. They are actively participating in the collective punishment of the people of Gaza. The US and the UK have moved from complicity with Israel’s genocidal campaign to outright guilt.

The ICJ may have spoken for the world when it asserted the plausibility of Israel’s genocide against the Palestinians. But speaking truth to power alone cannot dismantle the Israeli war machine and US imperial policy in West Asia. There are no shortcuts to decolonisation.

Indeed, that the ICJ hearing even took place is evidence that the material balance of forces is shifting. New pathways are emerging for the oppressed to take on their oppressors and invert the narratives of “terrorism” and “democracy”: In seeking to assert their substantive equality against those who seek to erase them, the resistance pursues a distinctly democratic ideal against the unrelenting terror of the coloniser.

That’s why millions of people around the world are working in active solidarity with the Palestinian people: to meet power with power. Together, we are throwing sand in the wheels of Israel’s genocidal war machine, blockading banks that fund genocide, organising against tech companies that facilitate genocide, interrupting trade routes that fuel genocide, marching in our millions against genocide and uniting the vast majority of nations on earth to assert their opposition to genocide and imperialism.

Onwards, onwards until victory.

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Art: The Camp Number 1, by Alaa Albaba, whose work focuses on the daily life in Palestinian refugee camps. He draws attention to the contradictions between the fixed nature of the refugee camps‘ structure, with their modern ever-changing urban surroundings. Albaba explores different sociopolitical issues focusing on his relationship with the refugee camp and how it managed to preserve its political identity and form throughout the years.

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