The massacre of Palestinians is part of an ancient imperial privilege. To kill and oppress with impunity.

by Patrice de Bergeracpas
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Paul Edwards

Russia's U.N. Ambassador Vasily Nebenzya.

Russia's U.N. Ambassador Vasily Nebenzya. (TASS)

Israel has no right to self-defense against Hamas militants in Gaza as an occupying power in Palestine, Russia’s ambassador to the United Nations said Wednesday.

On October 7th, Israel suffered a violent attack by the military arm of Hamas, the governing body of the Palestinians of Gaza.  Israel responded with as devastating a bit of Shock and Awe—a flip American neologism—as the world has seen since the pulverizing of Baghdad.  A shaken Netanyahu justified this blitz on the basis of Israel’s right to defend itself.  in so doing, he invoked a principle that, while not legally included in the code of war, has nonetheless a long and exercised history. 

Wars come in many varieties, at times between unequal forces, resulting in conquest of the weaker party and an end of fighting.  Usually… but not necessarily.  It is sometimes the case that, in spite of total victory and occupation of the vanquished, a serious level of organized resistance continues.  Depending on its threat to the victor, it may just be policed and suppressed, or it may require more drastic measures, and even the renewal of war.

Empires which, by definition, live and grow by conquest, may confront this sort of challenge.  Rome often had the disagreeable experience, having conquered a state, of suffering depredations of rebellious elements.  There are many examples, but Carthage will serve.  Having twice defeated her, Rome was annoyed to find that rebel units refused to behave as conquered, and persisted in resistance, so that it became necessary to re-capture the city, kill most of its people, sell off the rest, and raze it and burn it to the ground, asserting a conqueror’s right of self defense. 

Centuries later, groups of Europeans invaded and colonized what they termed newly discovered America.  These colonists did not officially represent a nation, nor was there one comprehensive war.  Groups simply appropriated an area, declared it their property, and defended it as such.  The fact that the land was occupied by indigenous people was deemed irrelevant.  When native people reacted by attacking the colonists, they argued the right to self-defense, using all violent means to retain possession, and destroyed the former residents piecemeal.

Hernando de Soto committing atrocities against Native people in Florida, engraving by Theodor de Bry in Brevis narratio eorum quae in Floridae Americae provincia Gallis acciderunt, 1591. Beginning with Spain, explorers, fortune-seekers, settler-colonists and government officials arrived in the new world in successive waves from all major European nations. Their treatment of indigenous people—often outright terrorism—was almost uniformly execrable, varying only in degree and method according to cultural backgrounds, circumstances, and central government supervision.

This pattern was followed in the taking and occupation of all the aboriginal homelands across the continent.  When the people of the many tribes that had lived for centuries on land that became the United States fought expropriation, they were systematically obliterated until only scattered remnants survived.  The term “Terrorists” had not come into use yet, and Indians who fought expulsion, starvation, and extermination were called bloodthirsty savages.  This particular colonial process, which had no formal name and was only much later designated genocide—the violent annihilation of a people—was legendarily portrayed as valiant and justifiable by the right of the conqueror to self defense.

In the era of the great, international wars, appalled by redundant mechanical butchery, men presumed to make laws to govern war, though war is, by definition, abandonment of law.  In the 20th century, as millions were killed in mad orgies of bloodletting, the Masters of War began to make a distinction between soldiers and others, and issue directives against wanton murder of civilians.  Their intent was good.  These political naifs had raw consciences and noble motivation in laying down their laws and establishing permissible boundaries to military murder.  That it never worked should have been forseeable for there was no mechanism of enforcement.  Butchery of civilians increased, gross and extreme, and always in self defense.

There were many examples of it in World War II.  A couple that were notable were the Rape of Nanjing by the Japanese and the Lidice Massacre by the Nazis.  In Nanjing, the jury is hung as to its cause, whether it was a case of Japanese troops having been provoked by civilian disrespect or simple race hatred that did it, but these victors massacred about a quarter million Chinese civilians in their self defense.  In the Lidice incident, the Nazis had proof, they said, that a village man assassinated the Reichsfuhrer, and so acted well within the proper bounds of self defense in slaughtering its entire manhood and sending its women and children to Chelmno concentration camp to be gassed to death.

Americans have cherished the fantasy that they were incapable of such atrocities, but that is precisely what it is: a fantasy.  To take one incident of many, in Vietnam two Infantry companies raped and murdered five hundred unarmed civilians before they felt sufficiently self defended.  Only one hillbilly officer took the rap for it, presumably, pour encourager les autres.

By the time of the American Empire’s Afghanistan and Iraq obscenities the self-defense con for inflicting mass murder on civilians had been seriously vitiated.  Fallujah made it a sick joke.  Paradoxically, though it was exposed as a punctured cliche for giving patchy cover to military murder, it continues to be used by stupid high brass and fogged heads of state content to be known universally as psychopathic liars and criminally insane.

So when, after “the old surprise visit” to Nazi Israel that bloody dawn, Netanyahu mounted his genocide on Gaza and explained it to a stunned world as self-defense, his hustle didn’t capture opinion as he had hoped.  For the observing nations, recognition of genocide is like recognition of pornography: they know it when they see it.  And they are seeing it, daily, raw, unfiltered, even with the frantic efforts of the Israeli regime, our government, and our debauched, whoring press, to deny and conceal it.  

Zionist Israel has shown the world its criminal heart, and it can no longer hide behind the discredited bleating of the anti-Semitism trope.  Zionism is not Judaism.  Zionist Israel is the betrayer of ethical Judaism, and its heretical enemy.  Conscientious Jews are denouncing Israel and divorcing themselves from its inhumanity.  The arc of the universe, as MLK said, is long, but it bends toward justice.  In the attempt to destroy Palestinians, Israel has blindly triggered the Samson Option, and it will inevitably destroy itself.

Associate Editor Paul Edwards is a genuine Renaissance man, gifted with many talents and participant in many events and struggles of our tormented times. Our colleague Jeff Brown, who did a fine interview with him, sums it up thusly: “Paul’s life story is worthy of a biography: a rebel youth growing up, traveling and working around the world and then a long career as a Hollywood writer. Through it all, he has never lost his lifelong wrath against US imperialism and global capitalism, while seeking social and economic justice for humanity’s 99%…” .

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