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Israel is attempting genocide and the U.S. is complicit

The Gaza Strip is a 141-square-mile slice of land on the coastal plains of the southeastern Mediterranean. Its coastline is controlled by Israeli warships, and Israeli drones patrol its airspace. The borders of the strip are lined with barbed wire and guarded by the Israeli Defense Force (IDF). The 2.3 million Palestinians who call the Gaza Strip home cannot leave. It has been this way for 16 years. Sixteen years of electricity and water being cut off, 16 years of Palestinians dying while waiting for medical care outside of Gaza, and 16 years of innocent civilians murdered by the Israeli government.

The fundamental power imbalance between Israel and the Palestinians cannot be overemphasized. Israel can cut off power, internet, and water in Gaza on a whim. Palestinians in Gaza–81.5% of whom live below the poverty line —have no standing army, no navy, and no airforce. Israel, which already has the world’s second-highest rate of military funding per capita, has received $3.8 Billion in military aid from the U.S. in 2023 alone. In the past four years, 75% of the money Israel has spent importing weapons has gone to the U.S. military-industrial complex. Joe Biden is expected to request nearly $10 billion in military aid for Israel in the coming days. In a country that claims to be unable to house the homeless, feed the hungry, and put kids in debt for being unable to afford school lunches, you can still rely on the cornerstone of American bipartisanship: both parties voting to spend billions to bomb the Middle East.

Israel, in violation of international law, gave a 24-hour notice to the 1.3 million Palestinians who live in North Gaza to evacuate or face continued bombing, then proceeded to bomb a caravan of civilians attempting to flee, killing 70 people. White phosphorus, a banned weapon that burns at 1500 degrees Fahrenheit, was dropped by the IDF into dense civilian neighborhoods. Israel also faces serious allegations of having bombed the Al-Ahli hospital and killing hundreds of civilians, especially after independent investigators have found numerous inconsistencies in the Israeli side of the story. As it stands at the writing of this letter, over 12,000 Palestinians have been injured and nearly 5,000 killed by Israel.

It hasn’t even been a decade since Israel last did this. In 2014, Israel killed over 1,600 Palestinians, 550 of whom were children. Israel lost six civilians in total. Four years later, Israel brutally cracked down on what were largely peaceful protests by Palestinians. Of the 489 Palestinian deaths or injuries investigated by the UN Human Rights Council, only 2 (or 0.41%) were possibly justified. The independent commission concluded  there are “reasonable grounds to believe that Israeli snipers shot at journalists, health workers, children and persons with disabilities, knowing they were clearly recognizable as such.” Israel, which refused to participate in the inquiry and does not recognize the International Criminal Court, faced no repercussions for these alleged war crimes.

The United States’ tacit approval of this war is not limited to purely military supplies. The U.S. State Department sent out a memo urging diplomats not to use the phrases “de-escalation/ceasefire,” “end to violence/bloodshed” and “restoring calm.” even as the Palestinian body count has continued to rise. On Wednesday, the U.S. was the sole nation to vote against a UN Security Council resolution that would have created a “humanitarian pause” to allow desperately needed supplies to reach the besieged Gaza Strip.

It is not as though Israel has been clandestine in their motives. Regarding Gaza, the Israeli Defense Minister stated, “There will be no electricity, no food, no fuel, everything is closed. We are fighting human animals, and we are acting accordingly.” In a now-deleted tweet, the Israeli Prime Minister wrote, “This is the struggle between the children of light and the children of darkness, between humanity and the law of the jungle.” This is blatantly genocidal language from the highest-ranking members of the Israeli government, despite the condemnations of violence by Jews worldwide. Over 100 Israelis have already been arrested for posting pro-Palestinian sentiments, and the head of the Israeli police recently threatened to send dissenters to Gaza.

Our generation is not old enough to remember the xenophobic hysteria that followed 9/11, but we are witnessing something similar now. Islamophobia and jingoism are already reaching dangerous levels across the world. Germany has banned pro-Palestinian protests. In France, where protests in solidarity with Palestine were also banned, a woman was arrested just for speaking Arabic. A billboard truck drove around the campus of Harvard, doxxing students who signed a statement condemning Israel. Republicans have already submitted legislation to ban Palestinian refugees from the U.S. and deport foreigners deemed to support Hamas.

Outrageous and unfounded stories of Hamas beheading 40 babies were shared by major Western news agencies and even the President himself, stoking the fires of hate. By the time retractions were published, the intended effect, increased hysteria towards Palestinians, had been accomplished. Because of the rhetoric surrounding Palestine, a six-year-old was stabbed to death in Chicago by a landlord for being Muslim. His mother, stabbed over a dozen times, is in critical condition.

Unfortunately, the worst is likely yet to come. The IDF is massing hundreds of thousands of troops on the border with Gaza, preparing for a ground assault the likes of which we have not seen before. If Israel follows through on this plan, thousands upon thousands of Palestinians will be killed in cold blood with guns and missiles your representatives voted to spend your taxpayer money on.

The American people have a duty to do whatever they can to prevent that from happening. Call your representatives, donate to humanitarian organizations, critically engage with the news, and point out misinformation where you see it. Fight for an end to this bloodshed, but know that any calls for peace that do not include a call to the end of the Israeli occupation are empty and ignorant of the broader colonial context of the situation. There will be no true peace until Palestine is free. Solidarity with Palestine always.

Essay by Nicholas Tiner. Tiner is a Master’s student at UMaine and a former contributor for The Maine Campus. 

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