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  Opinion   Columnists  03 Feb 2024  Farrukh Dhondy | How talk about Gaza ‘genocide’ by Bibi’s Israel roils UK politics

Farrukh Dhondy | How talk about Gaza ‘genocide’ by Bibi’s Israel roils UK politics

In his words: "I am just a professional writer, which means I don't do blogs and try and get money for whatever I write."
Published : Feb 3, 2024, 12:57 am IST
Updated : Feb 3, 2024, 12:57 am IST

The withholding of food, water, medical supplies, fuel and electricity to the population of Gaza is motivated by three historical divides.

A picture taken from Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip shows smoke rising over buildings in Khan Yunis during Israeli bombardment on February 2, 2024, as fighting continues between Israel and the Palestinian Hamas group. (Photo by Said KHATIB / AFP)
 A picture taken from Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip shows smoke rising over buildings in Khan Yunis during Israeli bombardment on February 2, 2024, as fighting continues between Israel and the Palestinian Hamas group. (Photo by Said KHATIB / AFP)

“O Bachchoo, the world struggles

With wrong and right

Through all human life

From days of learning

Yearning

Discerning

Till your hair turns seagull white…”

From The Proverbs of Baalan Singh, by Bachchoo

Kate Osamor, a Labour MP representing the North London constituency of Edmonton, has been suspended from the party “pending an investigation”. Her crime? She posted a social media message to her party members on Holocaust Day contending that the action against the residents of the Gaza Strip by the Benjamin Netanyahu government amounted to “genocide”.

Ms Osamor, a shadow cabinet secretary for international development under the previous Labour Party leader, Jeremy Corbyn, listed several other examples of “genocide”, including that in Darfur in north Sudan, where an estimated 200,000 members of the Zaghawa and Masalit tribes were slaughtered by the Sudan government and its militia. She reminded the world of this genocide perpetrated by the “Janjaweed” (devil on horseback) militia which began in 2003.

The US secretary of state in 2004, Colin Powell, had labelled their action “genocide”. He wasn’t expelled from the US government. Colin Powell is of Afro-American descent. He was characterising black people as the perpetrators of the genocide against other black people. There was no racial dimension to this slaughter -- only tribal differences going back in history.

Hitler’s Holocaust was based on his contention that he and his fellow Germans belonged to the “pure race” of Aryans and that the Jews were Semites whom he would urge his race to decimate and make extinct.

In the case of the murder by bombs and bullets of 30,000 Gazan non-Hamas civilians, of all ages and genders, the demolition of half of the buildings in Gaza’s crowded cities, the withholding of food, water, medical supplies, fuel and electricity to the population of Gaza, though it follows the attack on Israel by Hamas, is motivated by three historical divides.

The first is undoubtedly the religious belief that God gave the land that Israel today occupies by force through some Old Testament prophecy. That biblically gave the Jewish people, persecuted and displaced in Europe, the right to reclaim this God-given land from the “Filastin” -- (read biblical Philistines or today’s universal term “Palestinians”).

The Philistines of the Bible were Semitic people, but at the time of their battles with the Israelites they were not Muslims. That came after the sixth century AD. But they were the same occupants of the Middle Eastern land between Jordan and the Mediterranean Sea.

The second dividing factor is territorial hunger. The entire recent history of that region is one of the enforced ethnic cleansing of the Palestinians by European Jewish settlers.

The decisive third factor is the support that the West gives to even the most undemocratic and corrupt Israeli regimes out of guilt for their past historical persecution of Jews and out of wanting Jewish votes which they think -- mistakenly in many cases -- are all pro-Israeli policies, even those of a fascist like “Bibi” Netanyahu. And then there are the arms and technological sales -- Israel is a vibrant market, not least for Hedgie Sunak’s father-in-law’s international enterprise Infosys.

So why has Ms Osamor, of Nigerian origin, been suspended from the Labour Party for her simple statement that this present Israeli government is, through the deployment of its conscripted Israeli Defence Force, committing genocide? It’s nothing to do, gentle reader, with the application of the meaning of the word (to which I shall come later). It’s to do with the change in leadership of the Labour Party from Jeremy Corbyn to Sir Keir Starmer.

This latter knight-of-the-realm came into the leadership of the party after a disastrous, even historically unprecedented, defeat for Labour led by Jeremy Corbyn. Mr Corbyn was pilloried for being seen (as well as recorded) on platforms with militant leaders of the anti-Israeli cause and was therefore considered as someone who supported the annihilation of the state of Israel. I am certain that Jeremy’s presence on those platforms was not a cry for “from Jordan to the sea” and the annihilation of the Israeli State but rather support for an end to the atrocities and land grabs perpetrated against the Palestinians of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.

Sir Keth Starmer has adopted, as one of his central distinctions from the politics of his predecessor Jeremy Corbyn, an “anti-anti-Semitism” stand and proceeded to expel those who oppose the Israeli IDF’s war in Gaza. I’ll bet my bottom rupee on the fact that every member of the Labour Party -- OK, except Sir Keith’s strategists (and perhaps even they?) -- would in their hearts want the IDF to desist from its genocide of the innocents. But Sir Keith doesn’t want to rock the boat and has not called for Israel to stop now! He is smart and can certainly see the distinction between anti-Semitism and disagreeing with Mr Netanyahu’s genocide. But “politics” governs his stance. Sad and even, possibly, electively negative.

And so, to the definition of “genocide”, which every dictionary tells you is the assault on a race. Colin Powell even extended it to tribes of the same race. In her social media contentions about Gaza, Kate Osamor is closer to the pedantic definition than Colin Powell.

And, gentle reader, another word begs definition: “Defence”. Hedgie Sunak, the United States, the apologists of Mr Netanyahu and Sir Keir Starmer talk about Israel “defending itself”. By the genocide of thousands of innocent people who have lived their lives under its oppression? Shouldn’t “de” of defend be “of” x 30,000?

Tags: gaza airstrikes, israel palestine conflict, farrukh dhondy column