The Harvard-Harris poll finds that just over half of 18-24 year olds in the United States think that the long-term solution to the Israel-Palestine dispute is for “Israel to be ended and given to the Palestinians and Hamas.” The corresponding share across age groups was 19% according to the representative survey of over 2,200 adults conducted in December.

This latest evidence of growing support for Palestine amongst young Americans coexists with recent emanations, from the US and Europe, that seek to pin the blame on Netanyahu, or Likud, for the Israeli genocide of Palestinians, by implication exonerating Labour or Netanyahu’s predecessors.

Yet none of the crimes documented or ignored by these attempts were perpetrated by Netanyahu or Likud alone. This phase of genocide may have scaled the brutality and violence to historic proportions, but neither the expansion of colonial settlements, the torture of young Palestinians, the targeting of civilians by arrest without charges, neighbourhood by neighbourhood, household by household, the mass murders and expulsion of Palestinians from their homes, the police and military violence at checkpoints and prisons that spare no one, the burning and destruction of farmland and water sources, with Israeli settlers burning alive Palestinian families, even infants, with state support, not the wars or the siege of Gaza that is now escalated to mass starvation – nor the bombs – are possible to be ascribed to Netanyahu or the extremists or a party alone.

The history of decolonisation compels the recognition that it’s Palestine not Gaza. It’s Israel, not Netanyahu, Likud, or “the extremists,” always on the fringe. Palestinians themselves who have witnessed their own genocide name “the occupation” or “the Israelis” as its perpetrators, the aggressors, not this or that party or leader of the occupying power. Israel, nuclear-armed colony of the White powers in Asia, is losing the support of young Americans, and whether it changes US policy, the occupiers’ hand was forced on October 7.

In April 1956, months before the Israeli invasion of the Sinai and Gaza, the IDF’s chief of staff Moshe Dayan delivered a eulogy for Roi Rutenberg, a security officer at the Kibbutz Nahal Oz, which was established on stolen Palestinian land after their violent expulsion in 1951, and was also attacked on October 7. The eulogy was recalled by Lebanese writer Elias Khoury in a talk delivered in Beirut in May 2021.

Khoury recalled:

“In 1951, the kibbutz of Nahal Oz was founded on the ruins of the village of Khirbet al-Wahidi, one of forty-five localities razed to the ground in the Gaza district whose Palestinian inhabitants fled or were expelled. Anyone who wants more information on these events, which took place after the 1948 war and before the signing of the 1949 armistice agreements, can look up Khirbet Khizeh, a largely autobiographical Israeli novella set in a fictional village of the Gaza district.

“Nahal Oz was a military settlement founded by the Nahal units of the Israeli army to harass Palestinian farmers who had been driven out of their villages and had become refugees in Gaza. In March 1956, Roi Rutenberg, a young officer in charge of security at the kibbutz, was killed by Palestinian fedayeen who had snuck in from Gaza.”

“This is undoubtedly a personal tragedy, but how are we to understand it? Should we consider the farmers of Khirbet al-Wahidi who were driven out of their village terrorists and saboteurs, per Israel’s discourse, or is there another way of viewing the question? Dayan’s eloquent eulogy, which he delivered at Roi’s funeral, provides one answer”.

Dayan: “Early yesterday morning Roi was murdered. The quiet of the spring morning dazzled him and he did not see those waiting in ambush for him, at the edge of the furrow.

“Let us not cast the blame on the murderers today. Why should we declare their burning hatred for us? For eight years they have been sitting in the refugee camps in Gaza, and before their eyes we have been transforming the lands and the villages, where they and their fathers dwelt, into our estate.

“It is not among the Arabs in Gaza, but in our own midst that we must seek Roi’s blood. How did we shut our eyes and refuse to look squarely at our fate, and see, in all its brutality, the destiny of our generation? Have we forgotten that this group of young people dwelling at Nahal Oz is bearing the heavy gates of Gaza on its shoulders?

“Beyond the furrow of the border, a sea of hatred and desire for revenge is swelling, awaiting the day when serenity will dull our path, for the day when we will heed the ambassadors of malevolent hypocrisy who call upon us to lay down our arms.

“Roi's blood is crying out to us and only to us from his torn body. Although we have sworn a thousandfold that our blood shall not flow in vain, yesterday again we were tempted, we listened, we believed.

“We will make our reckoning with ourselves today; we are a generation that settles the land and without the steel helmet and the cannon’s maw, we will not be able to plant a tree and build a home.

“Let us not be deterred from seeing the loathing that is inflaming and filling the lives of the hundreds of thousands of Arabs who live around us. Let us not avert our eyes lest our arms weaken.

“This is the fate of our generation. This is our life's choice - to be prepared and armed, strong and determined, lest the sword be stricken from our fist and our lives cut down.

“The young Roi who left Tel Aviv to build his home at the gates of Gaza to be a wall for us was blinded by the light in his heart and he did not see the flash of the sword. The yearning for peace deafened his ears and he did not hear the voice of murder waiting in ambush. The gates of Gaza weighed too heavily on his shoulders and overcame him.”

Elias Khoury concluded:

“The issue is not whether or not we forget. The ability to forget enables us to withstand life’s tragedies and walk in their shadows. Like all human beings, we too want to forget.

“A person can forget the past, but try as she might, she cannot forget the present. At the hands of the Israelis, our past has become an ever-living present that does not pass, so how are we to forget? And for that matter, how are we to remember?”

Cover drawing Malik Sajad, Kashmir