The Revolution May Not Be Televised — But What Happens When The Genocide Is Livestreamed?
Israel has slaughtered over 30,000 Palestinians in a matter of three months — and all of us, across the world, have a direct daily feed of their horrific barbarism. Those who continue to choose to ignore it and support Israel’s genocide have chosen to cast aside their humanity.
South Africa made history last week by presenting evidence of Israel’s ongoing genocide and war crimes at the International Court of Justice at the Hague. Over the span of a few hours, its legal team summarised the main points of its 84-page-long initial submission, clearly pointing to both the genocidal language utilised by the entirety of Israel’s political and military leadership but also the deleterious actions the Israeli Occupational Forces have taken over 3 months.
The bombing of hospitals. The murder of over 100 journalists, and scores more of their families. The slaughter of more civilians than any other conflict of the 21st Century. The levelling of city blocks. Of schools. Of universities. Of archives. Of aquifers; the denial of water, food, and medical treatment. The cutting off of power, plunging already overworked and under-supplied hospitals into an even deeper crisis as they tend to the many maimed and mutilated victims of the Israeli death machine.
Any one of these would constitute a war-crime. Taken in their entirety, they evince something more horrendous; the unprecedented, earth-shattering (quite literally, when one takes into account the massive environmental toll of Israel’s rampage) violence of Israeli settler colonialism.
You might have missed that on the news, however. In yet another demonstration of how feeble their much-vaunted journalistic “values” are, many Western media outlets chose not to cover South Africa’s testimony. These included such luminaries as CNN, the BBC, Sky News, and MSNBC.
That these news organisations suddenly discovered the meaning of “breaking news” last Friday, and sprang to attention to cover Israel’s breathtakingly arrogant, patronising, and illogical arguments as if they were sacred proclamations, is irrelevant to the wider public.
The continued mass demonstrations on behalf of Palestine evince a truth the West’s institutions, and the wretched leaders who support them, refuse to entertain; the people of the world know what is right and what is wrong.
For three months, courtesy of social media, we’ve had videos and images of Palestinians desperately broadcasting their own brutal elimination in a bid to force a ceasefire. We have seen Palestinians holding their dead children in press conferences as proof of Israel’s vile actions. We have seen children picking up mutilated limbs. We have seen Gaza levelled by the jeering and rabid thugs of the Israeli Occupational Forces, so assured of facing no repercussions for genocide that they film themselves committing atrocities and upload them on social media.
I have witnessed things that I will never forget for the rest of my life. I have seen a father, his mind utterly broken, carrying the severed limbs of his children in plastic shopping bags, wailing that he cannot figure out which limb belonged to which child. I have seen doctors give press conferences in the courtyards of besieged hospitals, surrounded by the dead they could not treat.
I have seen the corpses of premature infants, left to rot to death because Israeli troops attacked and drove off the doctors caring for them and abandoned them to a grotesque death.
That Israel is barbaric and savage should come as no surprise to those even familiar with what colonialism is. It is a mentality that depends upon, and is sustained by, a collective capacity for inhumanity. The coloniser forfeits his humanity the instance he subscribes to the idea that there are “lesser” people than him, people whose rights are negotiable, and whose land, resources, and homes are up for the taking.
Colonialism makes barbarians out of those who purport to be civilised, as Aime Cesaire taught us so many years ago. The myth of Israel is a myth underpinned by this most egregious form of violence.
This history is present in the ongoing Hague trial, and in which countries support South Africa and which support Israel. A formerly apartheid state, whose own violently racist regime was supported and armed by Israel, the United States, and the United Kingdom, has taken a settler colonial state to court for genocide and crimes against humanity. This is history in the making.
It is no surprising that all of the countries supporting South Africa come from the so-called “Global South” — a collective term I have always despised, as it elides over what (or, more importantly, who) is responsible for the severe socio-economic depredations common within them.
But the echoes of history oft reverberate for ill. The supporters of Israel evince that; Germany, responsible for two genocides in the 21st Century, chose to support Israel’s right to slaughter Palestinians. That the German state’s support was announced on the anniversary of the Herero and Namaqua genocide, the first atrocity committed by Germany in the 20th Century, is such an example.
White guilt (like pretty much everything else White) results in immense bloodshed. That the descendants of those responsible for the Holocaust think supporting Israel will somehow wash the stains away reveals a core tenet of the modern West; the willingness to decry and regret specific events whilst cheering on the bellicose racist ideology that perpetuated them in the first place.
Canada, founded in the blood and stolen land and children of the First Nations, also supports Israel. The United Kingdom, a country whose wretched empire devastated most of the world, also has sided with Israel. As the famous revolutionary inversion of British imperialism’s favourite slogan reminds us, no wonder the sun never set upon the Empire; for even God couldn’t trust the English in the dark.
The United States, whose origins are stained in the blood of one race and forever sullied by the bondage of another, has also followed suit. Gross hypocrisy is to be expected from a country whose Constitution that proclaims all men are equal was penned by slave-owners. We can still be disgusted by their actions in literally giving Israel bombs to kill Palestinians.
Let me be clear. We do not need western institutions to proclaim what is and isn’t a genocide. The fact they have centuries of experience at committing atrocities does not constitute some sort of legal expertise; one does not turn to criminals for moral guidance, particular when it is so clear that Black and Brown lives mean nothing to them.
What is needed is an immediate ceasefire. What is needed is the sovereignty for Palestine. What is needed is repercussions for Israel.
This history, no matter how loudly Israel bleats, did not begin on October 7th. As South Africa stated in its deposition, this began with the Nakba, whose egregious violence has been perpetuated through the subsequent decades by Israel.
There are the glimmers of a dream of a better world in the midst of the horror. Palestine has always been the litmus test for whether one actually believes in universal human rights and dignity. But Palestine, and Palestinians, also remind us of what courage, fortitude, and resilience in the face of the egregious slaughter of generations looks like.
The dream of a world that led not by colonisers and empires, but by decency and humanity is an important one to cultivate in this cruel and cynical age we find ourselves in.
The old world is dead; but the new one has yet to be born. We must heed the words of those who fought against colonialism to chart a better future. We must turn away from the quintessential hallmark of Western statecraft, which talks incessantly about humanity as it slaughters with impunity, pontificates about dignity as it grossly violates it, and vacillates between pretending international law binds all equally and acting as if they have the right to destroy the world.
For how can we begin to build a better future if we restrict ourselves from even dreaming about what it might look like in the first place?