Monday, 3 August 2009

Sheikh Jarrah evictions: complicity and power

Might is right. Or so the Nazi mindset had it.

The thought of cruel, efficient dispatching of subjugated people by their 'master race' came quite naturally to mind yesterday while watching footage of the Hanoun and al-Gwahe families being forcibly evicted from their homes in Sheikh Jarrah.

We witnessed bewildered, tearful youngsters taken from the houses their families have rightfully lived in for half a century. We saw their furniture and belongings follow right behind, stacked uncaringly in vans and driven off. And then we saw the immediate procession of Israeli settlers move into the empty dwellings, taking possession of other people's rooms. Cold, calculated and meticulously executed.

The other thought that came to mind was of 'community'.

Firstly, one can only wonder at the pain the Palestinian community feel in being forced to watch this wicked enforcement. But, of course, the purpose of ethnic cleansing is not only to forcibly remove. It's also to imprint a sense of collective hopelessness, instructing the victim community to accept their own inferiority and inability to resist. However, there's a more disturbing thought in the mind of the oppressor here: denial of the deeper truth that this kind of naked power only intensifies Palestinian resolve.

The community of Israeli citizens saw all this too. None can evade responsibility. For they are part of the oppressor community which chooses to stand silently by while witnessing such inhuman acts. Before, during and after the eviction, the Israeli state expressed its utter contempt for international law and world opinion. As with Nazi removal of the Jews, it's another reminder of just what power is prepared to do in the face of all moral opposition. Which, again, begs the question: where is the wider voice of humane Israelis ready to speak out against its own apartheid state?

And what of the 'international community'? We heard the US and UK governments record their outright condemnation. But what do they intend to do by way of serious diplomatic censure? Their opposition to the eviction operation in Sheikh Jarrah was framed in terms of it 'undermining' any potential 'peace negotiations'. But what useful purpose is served by ticking a corrective finger at Israel over such cruel action while standing back and doing nothing concrete in response?

It's all part of the same token 'warnings' and 'encouragements' on stopping settlement construction as a supposed prelude to peace talks. As Joanna Blythman wrote in yesterday's Sunday Herald - as the families were being evicted:
"Letting this cesspit of legitimate Palestinian grievance ferment further by wringing small concessions out of Israel on settlements is woefully inadequate."
Little or none of this 'international concern' will be of much comfort to the Hanoun and al-Gwahe families right now as they join the recently evicted al-Kurd family on the street.

Our thoughts and collective intentions as an international support community are, as ever, with them.


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