Naomi Klein’s article “Why are some of the left celebrating the killings of Israeli Jews?” is a ragbag of liberal rhetoric. Some unspecified leftists are criticized for celebrating the anti-Jew violence of Operation Al-Aqsa Flood. By minimizing the massacre of Israeli civilians, these leftists are said to be fueling the sense of insecurity among Jews that drives Zionist settler-colonialism. Klein desires for “[a]n international left rooted in values that side with the child over the gun every single time, no matter whose gun and no matter whose child.” She calls this position “moral consistency,” in contrast to “moral equivalency”. While the latter erases the difference between the occupier and the occupied, the former preserves such a material distinction even as it holds onto universal moral standards.
The reporter responsible for popularizing the news that Hamas has beheaded 40 children has herself revealed its baselessness. In fact, various field commanders have insisted on not killing the elderly and children. Apart from Klein’s willingness to believe in atrocity propaganda, what stands out is her lip-service to condemning the occupation. Once you have acknowledged the existence of settler-colonialism, you can’t go on talking about abstractions called “child” and “gun”. In Israel’s genocidal war on the besieged Gaza strip, violence needs to be examined as a product of historical circumstances, not as violations of a pre-existing moral standard.
Klein says that “we all have to figure out how to make it [Israeli war crimes] stop.” Palestinians and their supporters did try to figure it out. They started the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign, which was criminalized by the US and its European partners as “anti-Semitic”. Thus, it failed to have any sizeable impact upon government and corporate policies. Nonviolent demonstrations and gatherings at the Israeli separation barrier, which were organized by young protesters in the beginning of 2023 and were previously referred to as the “Great March of Return” in 2018-19, have been brutally suppressed by Israeli forces.
The strategy of peacefully appealing to the Jewish support base of Zionism has failed. Hebh Jamal writes: “There has not been success in changing the perception of the Israeli public – to actually see us as humans and to accept we will not live in a cage. Whenever Israelis have an election, we brace ourselves because we know the only way you get polling numbers is by bombing, raiding, or arresting us senseless. Usually, when they bang the war drums, public support comes running. I am unsure how the colonized mind will decolonize itself to give us our freedom. It has not happened, and I don’t think it ever will.”
By panicking over the violence of the Palestinian Resistance, Klein is asking Palestinians to keep trying to persuade a ruthless colonial master. For Israel, Palestinians are not a subject to be rationally argued with but a dehumanized object to be dominated. Operation Al-Aqsa flood reversed this structural hierarchy as Palestinians took the first step in dismantling colonialism. In the words of Haider Eid: “Instead of waiting for Israel’s “generosity” when it decides, through mediators, to open one of the seven gates of the largest open-air prisons on earth, the inmates – having learned from the Warsaw Uprising of 1944 – decided to bring it down themselves.”
Does the above mean that no moral standards apply in the war of national liberation? Quite the opposite. For Palestine, violence is a strict historical necessity imposed upon them by the extreme circumstances of Zionist settler-colonialism. For Israel, violence is an innate structuring principle necessary for oiling the mechanisms of apartheid. This is the moral standard that is present before our eyes. Klein is trying to peddle liberal sensibilities in a situation that demands the moral exactitude of unconditional decolonization.
Yanis Iqbal is an independent researcher and freelance writer based in Aligarh, India and can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org. His articles have been published in the USA, UK, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, India and several countries of Latin America.