Slow turn of the tide

Published October 23, 2023
The writer is a journalist
The writer is a journalist

WE can see genocide unfold on our phones; scenes of horror dominate our social media feeds as we see images of murdered children and entire families wiped out as Israel converts the concentration camp that was Gaza into an extermination camp.

In this decades-old murderous project, Israel has the support of the entire Western establishment. America not only dispatched a carrier force to protect its ally, but is also leveraging all diplomatic support it can muster and financing Israel’s murderous campaign, while being unable to pay for healthcare for its own citizens. The UK, obediently in tow, is doing the same albeit on a smaller scale, while France, that bastion of liberty, banned pro-Palestinian protests along with Germany which has once again decided to dump the burden of its historical guilt over the Holocaust onto Palestinian shoulders. The very existence of Palestine is criminalised in that bastion of freedom and liberty, and the police have been seen beating peace activists regardless of their colour or creed. The irony is lost on these governments, who otherwise spare no effort when lecturing the rest of this benighted globe.

In doing so, they are provided cover fire by Western media, which goes out of its way to conflate all Palestinians with Hamas and not just swallows Israel’s lies but also repeats them ad nauseam until — they fervently hope — the lie becomes truth.

Except no one is buying it this time. The Arab world has not seen this kind of outpouring since the Arab Spring, a tide of people calling out not only Israel but also (if carefully) the impotence of their own governments.

The change isn’t limited to the streets and social media.

Across the Western world tens of thousands of unapologetic, outspoken protesters are showing the world that while their states may stand with Israel, vast numbers of people stand with Palestine.

One reason for this is how badly Western narratives and Western media stand exposed; multibillion-dollar media giants are dragged across the coals and fact-checked by ordinary people armed only with keyboards and a conscience, and star anchors — so convinced of their powers to convince — splutter and rage as their one-sided narrative is picked apart. Despite the attempts by social media companies to censor, throttle and shadowban, the volume and scale of pro-Palestinian and anti-genocide content is too much to curtail.

Even in the US, that one inviolable bastion of Israel, the tide is slowly turning. Over the last week Jewish-American activists have led pro-peace protests that have surrounded the White House and the residence of Vice President Kamala Harris demanding an immediate ceasefire. Marching into the Capitol, young activists and wizened rabbis — many of whom had lost loved ones at the hands of the Nazis —were arrested in their hundreds, but not before delivering a powerful message that they would not allow the state of Israel, abetted by their own country, to weaponise the Holocaust and carry out genocide in the name of the Jewish people.

That should send a collective shiver down the spines of traditional Jewish-American organisations like the Anti-Defamation League and AIPAC, who can surely see these challenges to their self-proclaimed right to speak for all of American Jewry and are aghast that their propaganda is no longer working.

This is a sea change as far as America is concerned, and is only one of many examples of people who had hitherto stayed quiet now speaking out in a clear and united voice; similar sentiments echoed when comedian Dave Chapel echoed cries of ‘Free Palestine’ at his sold-out show in Boston. The shift is generational and racial; an NPR poll conducted last week shows that while the majority (65 per cent) of Americans — Republicans and Democrats — want the US to publicly support Israel, that percentage drops to 48pc when it comes to Generation Z, and 51pc when it comes to non-whites.

The change isn’t limited to the streets and social media; a day after the Capitol protests and arrests, Muslim and Jewish Congressional staffers wrote an open letter to their Congressmen and women bosses calling for an immediate ceasefire, although the pervasiveness of fear of retaliation is so great that the signees had to remain anonymous. It’s not just the staffers; thus far at least 16 Congress members have called for a ceasefire and perhaps they will add Congressman Justin Amash, who says several of his relatives murdered in Israel’s bombing of the Saint Porphyrius Church in Gaza, to their number.

The list goes on, and a day will come when the tide will turn completely despite the pervasive power of Israel and its allies. But that day is not today, when Israeli warplanes massacre children to the applause of Western capitals. The time of justice will come, but not now; now is the time of monsters.

The writer is a journalist.
X (formerly Twitter): @zarrarkhuhro

Published in Dawn, October 23th, 2023

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