The Palestinian Struggle Against the Iron Wall

Israeli forces increase security measures at the Gaza border in Sderot, Israel on October 09, 2023 (photo: Mostafa Alkharouf/Anadolu Agency).

Ever since the commencement of what is referred to as the “Israeli war” with Palestinians in Gaza, the Western discourse from the mainstream bourgeois media has not ceased. These outlets have continued examining the ongoing situation with a significant pro-Israel bias, laden with racial implications favoring whiteness and colonial values.

Thus, I highlight two important points lost on the mainstream media outlets in addressing the current situation in Palestine.

First, it is pertinent to point to the concept of resistance. Palestinians are defending themselves against the structural actions of the Israeli government, which includes a fascist position towards the Al-Aqsa Mosque, collective punishment, mistreatment of Palestinian prisoners, land annexation in the West Bank, apartheid, racial policies toward Arabs, settlement expansion, checkpoints, controlling the natural resources, creating social death, de-development, and economic repression.

Second, it is crucial to understand that Israel has been engaging in structural violence, ethnic cleansing, and, most recently, genocide. Israel has propagated settler colonialism and occupation since the Nakba (which translates to catastrophe in Arabic) of 1948. To comprehend the situation entirely, we must consider the broader context (structure) rather than focus on an event that happened six days ago and relies solely on mainstream Western media.

To justify Israeli aggression, many Western media outlets have assumed that the “war” just started because Hamas attacked Israeli settlements and civilians. However, this is a myth and I will discuss it later in this essay. The same media outlets mention that the Palestinians’ struggle is “sheer evil.” Many viewpoints in the Western media assume that Palestinians are violent and radical in an uncivilized way. Edward Said’s response to being asked why he wrote his book “Orientalism,” Said explained that his interest began due to the Arab-Israeli War of 1973, which was preceded by a lot of images and discussions in the media about Arabs being cowardly. After decades, the West continues to have a distorted image of Arabs and Muslims and still adopts the colonial Western discourse that identifies with the oppressor narrative.

To gain insight into the present circumstances in Palestine, one must incorporate the concept of the ‘logic of elimination’ concerning the indigenous population (Palestinians) as a fundamental component of comprehension. This concept, initially articulated by Patrick Wolfe, posits that settler colonialism (specifically, Israel, in this essay) is a structure, not an event. This means that any understanding of Israel should be based on the historical context that commenced in 1948. Additionally, the logic of elimination answers why Israel wants to wipe Gaza out after the Palestinians were called “human animals” by the Israeli Defense Minister. The same logic also explains why my brother was almost killed two days ago when an Israeli soldier opened fire randomly on cars when he was driving back to his village from his workplace in Ramallah, West Bank; in addition to giving the reasons why Israeli settlers killed my friend two days ago during Olive harvest in Nablus, West Bank.

The counter-narrative is that the Western media does not pay attention to 75 years of Zionist settler colonization of Palestinian land and Israeli control over the air, land, water, and all development levers. Thus, the central premise here is that Israelis do not distinguish between Gaza and the West Bank, between civilian (peaceful) and armed (radical) resistances. Israelis argue simply that every single Palestinian is an enemy, and to take their lands, Palestinians should choose between three options: to be killed, to be displaced, or to live under the colonizer who takes the lands away from Palestinians without self-determination and human rights.

A picture taken on February 14, 2018 shows a Palestinian boy running between water puddles and Israel's controversial separation barrier in the occupied West Bank town of Qalqilyah (Photo credit should read JAAFAR ASHTIYEH/AFP via Getty Images).

Since the first Zionist immigration to the Palestinian lands began in 1840, Palestinian human rights were already at stake due to ethnic cleansing as the primary strategy for the Zionist mainstream by wiping out more than 500 Palestinian villages. In this sense, Palestinian human rights violations are rooted in Zionism, summarized in Biblical studies’ famous statement on Palestine: A land without a people, for a people without a land.

Remarkably, Israel was established in 1948 specifically for people of Jewish descent fleeing the Holocaust to be a safe zone for their human rights. However, the armed nation (Israel) became a high-risk place for Jews as they transferred their historical trauma to another people and used harsh violence and forced repression to threaten the human rights of the Palestinian indigenous people, sharing the Palestinians with various tools of violence, most commonly the military machine. This is precisely what the Israeli’s new war cabinet vowed to wipe Hamas off the earth. The cabinet openly called for genocide since Hamas exists in the Gaza Strip, which equals 365 km2 (141 sq mi) and presents among more than 2 million Palestinian people.

While this essay discusses the Palestinian resistance and how the West portrays it, it is essential to note that some readers may dispute using the term \”Indigenous\” to describe Palestinians in some instances. Muslims, Jews, and Christians indeed inhabited these Palestinian lands before and during Ottoman rule. However, due to the “Right of Return,” the vast majority of Jews came during the nationalist, colonialist era of British rule, leading to an influx of Jews worldwide. The influx of Jews contributed to Israel being considered a purely Jewish country seeking to fragment Palestinian society into small, isolated, and oppressed communities, and that was clear in many Zionist literatures.

Ze’ev Jabotinsky, one of the most influential founding Zionists in the history of forming a nation of colonizers in Palestine, believed, categorically, in the hierarchy between the colonizer and the colonized, and said in the article “The Iron Wall” that “The native populations, civilized or uncivilized, have always stubbornly resisted the colonists, irrespective of whether they were civilized or savage.” So, it turns out that Jabotinsky saw that colonizers could only exist by taking the sovereignty of the indigenous people, and this is the counterargument to Frantz Fanon, who says that the colonized can only be liberated by taking the positions of colonialism.

Building upon the above, Zionism looked at displacement from the standpoint of settling the land, expanding, and creating pure Jewish geography, and this is what Jabotinsky emphasized when he said, “There is only one thing the Zionists want, and it is that one thing that the Arabs do not want, for that is the way by which the Jews would gradually become the majority, and then a Jewish Government would follow automatically, and the future of the Arab minority would depend on the goodwill of the Jews; and a minority status is not a good thing, as the Jews themselves are never tired of pointing out.”

The idea of the iron wall that Jabotinsky created in the 1920s does not differ much from what Benjamin Netanyahu, the Israeli Prime Minister, currently does in Gaza. Instead, they are all tools for agreeing to displace the indigenous population and control as much land as possible to ensure the Jewish majority and the Arab minority. Together, Zionist leaders designed a control system for ethnic cleansing in Palestine since 1948, when Hamas did not exist. Thus, the Israeli aggression is not only against Hamas but against everything Palestinian.

Zionist leaders realize that ethnic cleansing needs international legitimacy; therefore, Jabotinsky says that colonialism “can proceed and develop only under the protection of a power independent of the native population – behind an iron wall, which the native population cannot breach.” The independent protection force needs foreign actors, like the present role of the USA, EU, UK, etc, and the iron wall means the security myths. Regarding the iron wall, Jabotinsky does not mean the idea of a physical wall as much as he means the symbolism of the Jewish majority that can be achieved with all available physical and symbolic tools.

In other words, the lack of access by Indigenous people means there is no opportunity for Indigenous people to be a majority again. Over many years, this interpretation gave Israeli leaders the legitimacy to crush and fragment Palestinian society and reduce it to weak population centers without any agreement to decelerate the violence. At the end of his article, Jabotinsky insisted, “There can be no voluntary agreement between ourselves and the Palestine Arabs. Not now, nor in the prospective future.. it is utterly impossible to obtain the voluntary consent of the Palestine Arabs for converting “Palestine” from an Arab country into a country with a Jewish majority.”

The Jewish majority idea is the racial and colonial dimension of what is happening in Gaza now, and it feeds the fascist actions against civilians, women, and kids in Palestinian society. Fanon refers to racial and colonial dimensions in the book “The Wretched of the Earth,” he says that colonialism is based on substitution, definitively replacing one human type with another. Therefore, understanding the opposite of colonialism can only come through understanding the conflict of opposing forces.

In summary, the Palestinians reject the logic of elimination and struggle against oppression, settler colonization, and the most prolonged occupation in modern history. There is a false premise to call them ISIS. Palestinians will keep fighting to achieve their self-determination on their national territory, and no one can give them that right; as Malcolm X said one day: ‘Nobody can give you freedom. Nobody can give you equality or justice or anything. If you’re a man, you take it.’

( Source: Republished under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License from Middle East Monitor ).

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