Gaza and Eurovision 2019
Artwashing an incremental genocide
GAZA: How many deja vus can one have in a very short period of time?! 2006, 2009, 2012, 2014, 2018, and now apartheid Israel has decided to repeat its genocidal attacks against the most densely populated area on earth.
Again, the targets are children and women. 14-month-old Palestinian toddler Seba Abu Arrar was killed along with her pregnant aunt, Falastine, who succumbed to her critical wounds shortly after American-made, Israeli warplanes targeted their home in the Zeitoun neighborhood of the Gaza concentration camp.
The following day, four-month-old Maria Al-Ghazali and her parents were also targeted in their flat in northern Gaza.
On Friday, like all the previous 56 Fridays, I joined thousands of peaceful protestors at the eastern fence of the Gaza concentration camp. On that day alone, Israeli snipers and well-equipped soldiers shot and killed four Palestinians and injured 116, including 39 children and 4 women, according to the Palestinian Ministry of Health.
The following two days, the number of those killed by the Israeli occupation forces rose to 27, including 2 toddlers, 2 pregnant women, and 156 people were wounded.
According to the Palestinian Ministry of Public Works, in the Israeli airstrikes 130 residential units were completely destroyed, and 700 others partially damaged, resulting in the displacement of hundreds of Palestinian families.
One sad incident was the complete destruction of the al Hourani Cultural Centre, reduced to rubble.
It is noted in this context that the ceasefire initiatives that have been proposed – even though the violence is essentially a brutal assault by a racist oppressor against an oppressed party that has decided to resist – do not take into account the two stated Israeli objectives behind the attack on the Palestinians: Eliminating the largest possible number of Palestinians by targeting homes, and killing women and children. An incremental genocide. Second, targeting their cultural identity in order to be able to deny their existence altogether.
All ceasefire initiatives and so called “calm periods” mediated by the Egyptian authorities and the pro-Israel, UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, Nikolay Mladenov, aim to maintain “stability” in this open-air concentration camp, for as long as possible, by eliminating any possibility of resistance or source of inconvenience to the Israeli occupation.
Instead, the initiatives that have been implemented, and respected only by the Palestinians, equate the legitimate resistance against the illegal occupation to a regime of systematic oppression, apartheid and settler colonialism.
In fact, what has become required of the Palestinians is to conduct themselves as “house Palestinians,” and be grateful to their white Ashkenazi masters and be grateful for the leftovers from their tables.
What has been required of the Palestinians of Gaza is to accept their slow death, die like cockroaches and show no form of rebellion, and to accept that if they die, then it is of their own fault.
But we are fed up!
Any agreement that does not lead to the immediate lifting of the blockade and the reopening of the Rafah crossing 24x7, and all the other crossings in a manner that allows the introduction of fuel, medicine, and all other needs, in conjunction with a ceasefire without any delays – to end what is in reality occupation and apartheid – will not be acceptable.
Indeed, the conflict cannot be seen in isolation from the root cause of what is happening in Gaza: the multifaceted settler-colonial enterprise, occupation, apartheid, and ethnic cleansing.
The biggest source of concern for the Israeli war criminals and their US allies would be for us to raise the ceiling of our demands by calling for an end to the blockade and the contexts that led to it; that is, without separating the conflict from our demand for the right of return, since two-thirds of the people of Gaza are refugees who have this right under international law.
Hence the Great March of Return.
Any talk about improving the conditions of oppression (and even this is seen as too much for us) in light of the great sacrifices made by our people, is a betrayal of Palestinian victims. It’s high time that we start discussing strategies, in light of the so-called “Deal of the Century” between Israel and the US, away from the racist two-state solution, and adopt a clear slogan: End the Occupation, End the Apartheid, and End Settler Colonialism.
The Palestinians of Gaza do know that they are alone, beleaguered, under siege, and are undesirable. The barbaric massacres committed by apartheid Israel since 2008 have claimed the lives of more than 5,000 Palestinians – more than 90 percent of whom are civilians, including children, and dozens are women and senior citizens.
Entire families have been wiped out, like what happened on Saturday and Friday to the Al-Madhouns and Ghazalis, in broad daylight in conjunction with the systematic destruction of hundreds of Palestinian homes.
And to add insult to injury, Western countries led by the extremist, right-wing government of the US, blame the Palestinians for the situation they are now in, instead of demanding that Israel halt its unjust aggression, while reactionary Arab regimes do nothing more than issue timid statements, denouncing and condemning.
And as if celebrating the deaths of hundreds of innocent Palestinians, the Eurovision Song Contest will soon take place in Tel Aviv, Israel’s Sun City, notwithstanding the fact that toddlers, pregnant women, medics, journalists, and musicians are being targeted, and cultural centres destroyed.
What are the contestants going to be singing for?
What words of condolence do they have for Seba Arrar's father, whose family was killed in flagrant violation of international law by the same pilots they themselves are going to be entertaining?
Or Ghazali’s family whose four-month-old toddler Maria, was shredded into pieces?!
Haven't they heard of the “Brand Israel” strategy, which tries to show Israel’s “prettier face” to whitewash the war crimes it is committing against our people?!
Would they have held the contest in apartheid South Africa, say, after the Sharpeville Massacre?
Noticeably, apartheid Israel seems to be deliberately targeting centres of culture and music: the Palestine National Library, the Azhar Library and the National Cultural Center.
With the ongoing war crimes being committed by apartheid Israel against the civilian population of the Gaza Strip, only an hour’s drive from Tel Aviv, all Eurovision contestants should reconsider!
We, Palestinian Civil Society, have argued that we have only one tenable option. This option does not wait for the so-called “International Community” to act. The option is popular power, the only force capable of tackling the huge asymmetry of power in the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.
Hence our call for BDS (Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions) and our weekly marches at Gaza’s eastern fence erected by our oppressors. Exactly what the victims of Auschwitz used to do.
The choice for the Palestinians of Gaza is therefore: dying dishonourably while thanking their killers, if not asking them to tighten the blockade, a slow death rather than a quick death; or fighting for their dignity, for themselves and for their children.
It is clear that the option they have chosen is to fight for dignity, in a departure from years of self-deception that portrayed slavery to the occupier as a fait accompli.
Like black South Africans in the heyday of the inhumane racist system of white supremacy, conscientious, dignified artists refrained from performing at Sun City and becoming complicit in art washing.
We likewise expect Eurovision contestants to follow suit and respect our call. How many Sebas and Marias have to die in order to convince them to do so, we wonder!