On Genocide, Zionist Propaganda, and Student Activism

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[Palestine] [National Oppression] [National Liberation]

On Genocide, Zionist Propaganda, and Student Activism

“I held my gun so that the generations after me could hold a sickle…” -Palestinian song, Ahd Allah Ma Nerhal (By God We Won’t Leave)

“… [W]e have hope because we know, now more than ever, that these horrors in the name of upholding a racist settler-colonial occupation are not going to last forever. Anyone who ever thought it would will be astounded in hindsight.” -Rawan Masri, “Operation Al-Aqsa Flood Was An Act of Decolonization”

From the River to the Sea, Palestine Will be Free!

I, like most of Our comrades who contribute to and/or read ULK and organize behind the gulag walls, have been following the ongoing genocide carried out by the Zionist entity upon the people of Palestine with varied mixtures of feelings, with the number one emotion being unadulterated rage alongside an equal amount of awe at the steadfast courage of the Palestinian resistance and their allies throughout the Middle East.

You might think that the rage stems from the atrocious conduct that sadly has been par for the course of the Zionists since at least 1947 in the beginnings of what would become the Nakba carried out by the various Zionist terror organizations such as the Haganah, Irgun and LEHI who most infamously were responsible for the April 9, 1948 Deir Yassin massacre in which 250 defenseless Palestinians were slaughtered, including 100 wimmin and children, and then the village was looted and plundered. While I cannot deny that the daily depredations of the Zionist occupation forces raises my ire profoundly, the rage actually stems more from the stunning ignorance of the so-called “friends and supporters” of I$rael who voice their profoundly inaccurate, and most of the time entirely false statements, “history lessons on the so-called ‘conflict’,” (non)interpretations of the international law, and most importantly their insistence on not calling the Zionist entity’s actions and policies what they’ve been since the start of the ethnic cleansing under Plan Dalet beginning in April 1948: genocidal. Many of these people are probably of the opinion as well that the vast majority of other settler-colonist projects (such as the United $nakes, New Zealand, Australia, Canada, etc.) were also not genocidal from their beginnings, likely using the age old excuses of blaming the so-called “savages” for provoking the “reasonable” and “peace loving” settlers into defending themselves and the land they mistakenly believe they didn’t steal thanks to their belief that God gifted or promised it to them in perpetuity because “he’s God” and “what he says goes.”(1) These “friends and supporters” of I$rael will do absolutely no research into the validity of their statements, instead choosing to equate the Palestinian struggle to liberate all of the historic Palestine and finally be free to return to their lands with a genocidal Arab conspiracy to wipe out the Jews.

So in the interests of correcting the misinformation and lies, and cutting through the Zionist propaganda it stems from and in full solidarity with Our comrades across historic Palestine, in the diaspora, on campuses and in the streets, this article will attempt to deconstruct some of the most common discourse that is parroted in the mainstream media which has fueled this latest round of anti-Arab hysteria and Islamophobia and crucially, the pattern of Amerikan rejectionism to Palestinian Liberation and indifference to the crimes of its client state.

As communists or anarchists (as many of Our comrades who read ULK identify as), it behooves Us to study history, and studying the histories of what has become known as the Palestinian-I$raeli conflict and the principal actors and organizations is not an exception to this rule.

So in that context, I will begin with one of the Zionists’ more devious lies; the so-called I$raeli “purity of arms” and its common usage, that I$rael never targets civilians or civilian infrastructure. Although any cursory observation of I$rael’s conduct from the 1948 Nakba to the present day would prove otherwise, We can look to none other than Zionist hero and first prime minister David Ben-Gurion for the proof. In his Independence War Diary, he set down on paper the military doctrine that would become standard protocol throughout the history of the Zionist project.

There is no question as to whether a reaction is necessary or not. The question is only time and place. Blowing up a house is not enough. What is necessary is cruel strong reactions. We need precision in time place and causalities. If we know the family – [we must] strike mercilessly, women and children included. Otherwise the reaction is inefficient. At the place of action there is no need to distinguish between guilty and innocent.(2)

This specific entry was written on January 1, 1948, one day after the Haganah occupied the Palestinian village of Balad al-Shaykh, the burial place of Shaykh Izz ad-Din al-Qassam (one of Palestine’s most revered resistance leaders of the 1920’s and 30’s), massacring over 60 Palestinian civilians, men, wimmin, and children, most while they were asleep in their homes. This massacring of civilians in their sleep over 75 years ago lines up exactly with the countless stories told by survivors of today’s indiscriminate bombings to the doctors that have been working nonstop within the largely destroyed remains of Gaza’s hospitals.(3)

Let us also remember that when Ben-Gurion wrote those words, the Zionist leadership at the time was working on “Plan Dalet”, finalized on March 10, 1948, which was the military blueprint for the ethnic cleansing of historic Palestine.(4)

To illustrate before moving on to the next topic, lets look back at two of the lesser known massacres during the initial Nakba; “Lydda and Ramla” and “Safsah.”

On a blistering hot Ramadan day in July 1948, a Haganah general named Yitzhak Rabin (who would later become ambassador to Washington D.C., then I$raeli Prime Minister, then sign the Oslo accords on the White House lawn, then be assassinated for it by I$raeli reactionaries) descended upon the Palestinian towns of Lydda and Ramla with his unit and violently expelled approximately 50,000 men, wimmin and children.

In Lydda, dozens of Palestinians were gathered and detained in the Dahmash mosque and church premises, all unarmed, and were subsequently gunned down. Afterwards the Zionists gathered an additional 20 to 50 Palestinians to clean up the mosque and bury all of the bodies. After they had placed the bodies in their graves, they themselves were slot into the open graves and left there to bleed out and die. In total between 250 to 400 Palestinians were massacred in Lydda. An additional 350 more died after being expected and forced to march to the frontlines of the Arab armies in what would become known as the Lydda Death March.(5)

As a sidenote, the events that occurred at Lydda and the subsequent death march after, were a formative event in the life of a young George Habash, who was from Lydda, and in 1948 at age 19 left the American University in Beirut, Lebanon where he was a medical student and returned to Lydda during the war to help his family. The Haganah attacked the town soon after, and in the subsequent death march, without water or food, during Ramadan no less, his sister died before they reached the Arab army’s frontlines. This could possibly be one of the reasons which fed his uncompromising leadership and opposition to the Zionist regime as a pivotal leader of first the Harakat al-Qawmiyyin al-Arab (Arab Nationalist Movement) and then of the Popular Front for Liberation of Palestine (PFLP).

Lastly, we come to the massacre at Safsaf during the initial Nakba. Though this is one of the lesser known atrocities of the Nakba, it is vital to the overall understanding, as a quarter of the 12 well documented instances of rape by the Zionists were recorded here (though many more may have occurred, lost to history but not to the long memory of the people and the land of Palestine).

The Zionists started by cleansing the town by using their “patented” strategy of surrounding the town on 3 sides, firing into the air and into the sides of buildings in the hopes of driving the population out of the fourth, open side of the town. Then they entered the town, gathering up all of those who still remained in their homes, initially shooting and killing 12 young men. The remaining 52 men were caught, then tied together and thrown into a pit the Zionists dug, then subsequently shot and killed. Seeing this, the remaining wimmin of the town came and asked the Zionists for mercy. The Zionists, not being satisfied with the massacre they had just committed, told several of the wimmin to go and fetch water to the town. Once they moved away from the others, they were followed by the militiamen and raped, two of the wimmin being killed in the process. The womyn who survived was a child of fourteen years old.(6) These are just a few of the massacres of civilians by the Zionists during the initial Nakba. If we line them up alongside others, for instance, the October 1953 massacre in the West Bank village of Qibya by Ariel Sharon’s (another past war criminal made prime minister) infamous unit 101 of the I$raeli Defense Forces (IDF) special forces, the October 1956 Kafr Qasim massacre, the full IDF support given during the 1982 Lebanon war to their proxies, the Christian Phalangist and Maronite militias, to massacre 2,000 civilians in the Palestinian refugee camps Sabra and Shatila (which in hindsight was probably the last time there was mass protests within I$rael by Jews over their regime’s crimes against Palestinians), to the more recent wars, like today’s war, but also ones such as during “Operations Cast Lead” in 2008-09 which the UN’s fact finding report (Goldstone report) called a “deliberately disproportionate attack designed to punish, humiliate, and terrorize a civilian population”, a certain pattern starts to emerge; one of the ethnic cleansing and genocide, funded and with political cover by Amerika.

Genocide & Denial

Genocide, the word as well as the action hangs heavy over Amerika and I$rael, so much so that it has stopped many from speaking out and acknowledging the Zionist regime’s actions against Palestine as genocidal.

A comrade over at Slingshot Collective in Berkeley, CA wrote an article for their latest newspaper issue, trying to elaborate on the reasons behind the silence during an active genocide, and though I agree with many of their conclusions (not wanting to sound “anti-Semitic”, general Amerikan apathy and indifference to the suffering of others and not wanting to split the Democratic Party base leading to a Trump victory this election year), I think there are other, deeper explanations for this, as well as outright genocide denial.(7)

When most Amerikans and I$raelis think about the word genocide, it is inevitable that they will first think of the Holocaust. The mass shootings carried out by the Einstatzgruppen and the gassing and immolation of millions of Ashkenazi Jews are rightfully called genocide; and yet many of these same Amerikans and I$raelis forget the genocide of approximately half of the 2 million Sinti and Romani peoples (Gypsies) of German occupied Europe known as the Porrajmos in the Romani language, nor do they seem to remember the systematic massacres of Slavic, gay, and disabled peoples along with many political dissidents during the same time period by Nazi Germany.(8) And so, the benchmark for both countries for some act to count as genocide is something which looks like the Holocaust; a massive extermination of people in a relatively short amount of time.

And yet, the Nazi genocide and Zionist genocide do not resemble each other structurally or in any other meaningful way.

Like the settler colonial regimes of the United $nakes, Canada, New Zealand and Australia among others, the genocides that took place upon the indigenous First Nations have taken place over many decades, a small act here, a large act there, and this is what the genocide of the Palestinian Arab people by the Zionist regime has looked like and continues to look like to this day.(9)

As this practice of genocide continues against the people of Palestine, so too does Amerika continue this practice upon the internal semi-colonies of New Afrikans, Chican@s, and the First Nations here on occupied Turtle Island. Amerika also has a very interesting, as well as appalling, history relating to the UN Convention of the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide that bears mentioning.

After its founding convention in San Francisco in 1945, the United Nations set about sponsoring the creation of an international legal instrument for the prevention and punishment of genocide. The job for drafting this document was handed down to the Economic and Social Council of the UN General Assembly (GA) which retained several international legal consultants foremost among them Dr. Raphael Lemkin; an exiled Polish-Jewish jurist who had in 1944 coined the term ‘genocide’ in his work “Axis Rule in Occupied Europe.” Lemkin, who authored most of the draft, submitted it in June 1947, and a month later it was rejected by several member states of the General Assembly, foremost among them the United $nakes, because of “important philosophical disagreements.” It was edited and then finally adopted by the GA on December 9, 1948. By 1951 enough countries had ratified it to afford it the status of binding international law; except for a partial ratification (with conditions and edits) in 1988 by the Reagan Administration, the U.$. has still not ratified the convention in its entirety.(10)

First off, lets look at what the parts of Lemkin’s draft were so “philosophically disagreeable” to the United $tates. Lemkin was extremely thorough in the draft document, where he included linguistic and political groups under currently protected groups of racial, national, and religious groups. Also importantly, he included to the list of punishable acts (enumerated in Article 3 of the current convention) engaging in a number of “preparatory” acts such as developing techniques of genocide and setting up installations for the purpose of committing genocide.

Already we can see that if the above made it into final draft, both Amerika and I$rael would have been in the ‘hot seat’, so to speak.

Lemkin also included preventing the “preservation or development” of the above groups as a punishable act as well as policies that would bring about the disintegration of the political, social, or economic structure of a group or nation (author’s note: Settlers & Neocolonialists Beware!).

Lastly and most crucially, Lemkin detailed 3 distinct and specific forms of genocide: physical, biological, and cultural. For physical genocide he included “slow death” measures such as the “subjection to conditions of life which, owing to lack of proper housing, clothing, food, hygiene and medical care… are likely to result in debilitation or death of individuals”, as well as “deprivation of all means of livelihood by confiscation of property, looting, curtailment of work, and denial of housing and supplies otherwise available to the other inhabitants of the territory concerned.” Biological genocide, apart from compulsory abortion and sterilization, included segregation of the sexes and obstacles to marriage. Cultural genocide included forced and systematic exile of individuals representing the culture of a group, as well as the destruction of a groups historical or religious monuments and the destruction of a group’s historical, artistic, and religious documents or objects.(11)

If one looks to the UN Genocide Convention today, it would be entirely accurate to say it no longer resembles in any meaningful way the original intentions of the author(s).

One might ask what the consequences of this are, and though there are many, I’ll only go into one.

Consequently, it has continued to further obfuscate what constitutes genocide, further allowing imperialist and reactionary regimes to continue policies of genocidal oppression, domestically as well as in the Global South. Yet as a direct result of this in the case of I$rael, many countries in the Global South have had enough of the genocidal Zionist regime. Most importantly South Africa (where the Zionists supported the apartheid regime before its collapse) charged the Zionist entity with genocide at the ICC in the Hague. Many Central and South American countries, like Chile and Honduras, who both had to deal with genocidal reactionary regimes propped up by the support of both Amerika and I$rael, have both said enough is enough, and recalled their ambassadors to I$rael over the Amerikan funded genocide.(12) And also extremely important, and as a great way to segue into my last topic of this article, it has set off an explosion of support for Palestine from within the belly of the imperialist beast, in the U.$. but also all across Europe; vital to this effort has been Our comrades on college campuses across Turtle Island.

Student Activism and U.$. Attempts to “Silence the Intifada”

When the first encampments and building occupations were setup, from Columbia University to campuses across Turtle Island all the way to UC Berkeley, though I wasn’t surprised, (and forgive me for my emotional subjectiveness) tears of joy and pride sprang to my eyes as I watched the moving images on CNN move across the screen. Not since the Vietnam War and organizations like Student for a Democratic Society (SDS) have we seen the anti-war movement, nor the BDS movement since South African apartheid, consolidate into such a huge outpouring of love, rage, and solidarity on college campuses.

I was sadly also not surprised when the Pro-Zionist reactionaries sent the pigs in to silence the movement, nor have I been surprised at the Zionist propaganda campaign attempting to label the entire Palestinian solidarity movement “anti-Semitic” and “violent”, even going so far (a la Stop Cop City activists) as calling all protesting for Palestine “terrorists” and “supporters of terrorists”. Here in the Bay Area, there have been lies spread saying that the BDS strategy is no longer viable or legally possible for UC Board of Regents to boycott/divest from the Zionist entity, which has been uncovered as a lie to get Our comrades at Berkeley to abandon their camp and goals. Whether divestment is possible, we can look to the success of the BDS movement in 1986 at Berkeley to finally pressure the UC to divest $3.1 billion from companies doing business with apartheid South Africa.(13) Aside from this it’s also been insane to watch the bipartisan effort, from genocide Joe to the outer reaches of the far right, to attempt to get the masses concerned with some of the alleged rhetoric of individuals on campus and the violence (which from numerous sources have been proven to be incited by Zionist counter-demonstrators and the pigs) at the encampments, to try to get everyone to somehow forget his “ironclad” support of I$raeli genocide. Sadly for Genocide Joe and his Pro-Zionist rabble in Congress, students on campuses across Turtle Island have dug in and refused the false images the imperialists and their media have tried to paint of them, and have let the imperialists know 3 things: We are NOT going anywhere, We will NOT be silenced, and PALESTINE WILL BE FREE!

As the college term wraps up for the summer and many in the Palestine Solidarity Movement, on and off campus, set their sights this summer on an explosive confrontation at the Democratic National Convention alongside many other avenues for protest and action, I’d like to give one bit of advice if any students or other outside comrades may be reading: I think aside from the also important avenues of protest and actions here in the belly of the imperialist beast, it would be extremely beneficial to send as many comrades (students or otherwise) to the West Bank this summer, to live and learn among the Palestinian people themselves. Mao himself called attention numerous times to the importance of this, as did Huey P. Newton which led him to visit revolutionary China. SDS and what would become the Weather Underground Organization (WU) also saw the importance of this in the 60’s and early 70’s meeting with revolutionaries from Cuba, Vietnam, and other countries to learn about them, their life and their struggle from their own points of view and in their own voices.

As the Zionists have only continued the ramping up of repression in the West Bank since operation Al-Aqsa Flood, you could also play an integral role in getting the stories of Palestinians there back to the masses here in the U.$. as well as help in the already ongoing humanitarian efforts going on there. Just something to think about as we move into the summer.

In case you weren’t aware, We behind the gulag walls admire your unshakable and uncompromising support for Palestine’s liberation, and your unwavering courage in the face of wave after wave of attacks by Zionist reactionaries and their pig helpers. You inspire us behind the wall and We can’t wait to see what you do next.

From the river to the sea,
Palestine will be Free!

MIM(Prisons) responds: Wimmin and children have fought bravely in the resistance to Zionist occupation. There is something concrete to seeing the murder of children as more egregious in terms of the immiseration of a people via genocide by destroying its capacity to produce for the nation and build the future. But to treat wimmin’s lives as more precious or needing additional protection feeds into the patriarchal thinking that lets I$rael use myths of rape to rally support for bombing thousands of more Palestinians. To the extent that it is true that grown men are doing more of the fighting for Palestine, this only demonstrates the value their lives have for the nation.

MIM talked about genocide as one of a number of forms of “absolute immiseration” today:

“there is a sociology discourse claiming that Marx’s ideas of”absolute deprivation” are incorrect, because supposedly absolute immiseration of the proletariat has not happened under capitalism since Marx’s time. …To avoid talking about [examples of absolute immiseration like] militarism, the environment and prison, the bourgeois social scientists talk about “relative deprivation” …Genocide is a matter of absolute immiseration. There can be nothing worse.”

It is no mystery that Palestine is a key contradiction in the imperialist system today. It is not because Palestinians play an important role in value production, but because of the absolute immiseration they face at the hands of U.$. imperialism in its attempt to maintain a foothold in the part of the world they happen to inhabit.

Notes: 1. Patrick Wolfe, December 2006, “Settler Colonialism and the elimination of the native”, Journal of Genocide Research, 814
2. Noam Chomsky, “The Fateful Triangle – The United States, Israel, and the Palestinians, ( Haymarket Books, 2014), pp. 200
3. Irfan Galaria, February 23, 2024,”Doctor in Gaza sees only annihilation”, San Jose Mercury News
4. Noam Chomsky & Ilan Pappe, “Gaza in Crisis: Reflections on the U.S. Israeli War on the Palestinians” (Haymarket Books, 2013), pp.69
5. Nur Masalha, “The Palestinian Nakba: Decolonizing History, Narrating the Subaltern, Reclaiming Memory” (Zed Books, 2012), pp. 86
6. Adel Manna, “Nakba and Survival: The Story of Palestinians who Remained inn Haifa and the Galilee, 1948-1956” (University of California Press, (2022), pp. 75-80
7. Kermit, “Watching and Waiting?: On Speaking Out & Being Silent During Genocide”, Slingshot Issue 140 Summer 2024, pp. 2-3
8. Ward Churchill, “A little Matter of Genocide: Holocaust and Denial in the Americas 1492 to the Present” (City Lights Books, 1997), pp. 36-49
9. Patrick Wolfe, December 2006, “Settler Colonialism and the elimination of the native”, Journal of Genocide Research, 814
10. Ward Churchill, pp. 363-364
11. Ward Churchill, pp. 265-366
12. FP Explainers, 3 May 2024, After Colombia, now Turkey: Which other nations have cut ties with Israel over Gaza war?, FirstPost.com
13. DD, “Resisting the Neoliberal University & Unethical Investment”, Slingshot Issue 140 Summer 2024, pp. 5
14. MC5, March 1999, On the Internal Class Structure of the Internal Semi-Colonies, MIM Theory 14: United Front, p.57-58.