Never have the words of South Africa’s Archbishop Desmond Tutu been more appropriate: “To remain neutral in a situation of injustice is to choose the side of the oppressor”. Following the ICJ’s unanimous decision to accept South Africa’s case that Israel is committing a genocide in Gaza, those who support international law and human rights now have no choice but to take the side of the ‘Axis of Resistance’ countries, with all that entails. This will be a very difficult choice for many in the West, who have generally supported their governments’ other military campaigns over the last decade – notably in Syria and Ukraine, thanks to very effective propaganda campaigns against the ultimate targets, Russia and Iran. As the whole region of West Asia comes daily closer to a condition we could call ‘World War’, and Australia becomes irrevocably involved on the side of Israel and her Imperial masters, it is vital for opponents of Israel’s Palestinian genocide to take an unambiguous stand with all those countries opposing Israel and its Western supporters. It is no use to say that one is opposed to both sides – ‘to remain neutral’ – or call for a bi-lateral ceasefire that Israel will not respect. Least of all can we place conditions on our support for the victims, or make that support dependent on their meeting demands from the aggressor – such as the ‘unconditional release of the hostages’. I have written before on the ‘rules of hostage taking’ here, and Hamas’ conditions are crystal clear. It must also be stated at the start that this was a war of choice started and pursued by Israel on false pretexts, against which the population of Gaza and their military units have an unambiguous right to self defence. This is particularly the case given the grotesque imbalance between the Israeli Occupation Forces and the military brigades in Gaza, who have been powerless to resist Israel’s massive aerial bombing campaign and shelling from beyond Gaza’s prison walls. Hamas’ provocative volleys of rockets are more of a symbol of resistance and defiance than a real threat to Israeli lives. Hamas’ prime targets were, and remain, Israel’s occupation forces. This right to armed resistance does have limits of course, but there is no sign that the Gaza brigades break such rules of conduct and honour, even when they might have been able – as on October 7th. Almost everything that Israel claims about Hamas’ militias’ conduct on that day has been shown to be false or exaggerated, with Israeli tank and helicopter shelling responsible for most of the civilian casualties. The endlessly repeated and embellished claims of ‘rape’ and torture are not only fabricated but may now be seen as hate speech pertaining to genocide, with the repetition of it constituting incitement to commit further war crimes and genocidal actions against Palestinians. Even by those most supportive of Gaza, it is still seen as necessary to qualify criticism of Israel's brutality, as this otherwise excellent article does - as unjustifiable despite Hamas horrendous acts on October 7th. Things appear a little different when one realises that it was Israel's actions on that day - shooting at their own citizens from helicopters and shelling them with tanks, and then justifying a murderous genocide based on that lie - that were truly horrendous. Accepting the legitimacy of Palestinian armed resistance against invading and attacking Israeli forces, it is useful to follow the statements of Hamas spokesman Osama Hamdan, and those of Hezbollah’s leader Hassan Nasrallah. These demand not only a ceasefire and withdrawal of Israeli forces but an end to the Israeli Occupation of Palestine. There was a time when Hamas was prepared to consider a settlement with Israel along the 1967 borders, giving sovereignty and complete control over the West Bank and Gaza and East Jerusalem, but Israel never accepted such an agreement. Most now consider that any such agreement or solution that enables Israel’s endurance in the region as a ‘Jewish state’ is not an option; by its barbaric and indiscriminate slaughter of innocents in Gaza Israel has written its own death warrant as an occupying force in Palestine. The only acceptable compromise would be a state of Palestine ‘from the Jordan river to the sea’ with equal rights for Jews, Christians and Muslims, including the right of return for Palestinian refugees but ending the current right for Jewish foreign nationals to ‘make Aliyah’. The majority of countries, and all in the Global South may see this as the only possible solution, and the countries in the Axis of Resistance are now determined to make it so. They can no longer tolerate having this aggressive and disruptive rogue state – the West’s colonial settler project – in their midst. Since the full scale attack on Gaza as well as attacks and raids in the West Bank, they openly refer to the Zionist state as ‘Nazi’ and a ‘terrorist entity’ for valid reasons. Israel has practically redefined the word ‘terrorism’ in Gaza and in the West Bank. Thousands of families spend their nights in the dark and in primitive conditions listening to the sound of war planes and exploding bombs, wondering if this night will be their last or that of their neighbours. Sadistic orders to evacuate safe shelters are delivered from loudspeakers on Quad-copter drones, driving terrified and desperate crowds around like some sort of turkey shoot - as reported here by a group of journalists accompanying them to escape Khan Younis. One must however be in fairy land to believe such a compromise would be accepted either by Israelis or by their allies and diaspora communities, as they double down on their genocidal campaign. This forces us to make Desmond Tutu’s choice, and two things follow – first that we oppose the actions of Israel’s allies and supporters, - our own governments - and second that we support all those countries and movements who also support the Palestinian resistance. This latter position – one of solidarity against the US Empire and its allies and agents – has become one of pride and conviction for many, with the brutal and ‘selfish’ actions of Israel effectively uniting countries and people who previously remained neutral. The occurrence of a meeting between the Saudi and Iranian leaders, brokered by China, symbolizes this new solidarity, while the expansion of the BRICS and recent meeting of the non-aligned movement in Uganda points to a new direction away from the US-dominated world. Equally significant, and now highly relevant following the resistance strike on the illegal US base at Al Tanf in Syria, has been the reconciliation between Muslim Brotherhood Hamas and the Syrian government and its President. The Sunni Brotherhood dominated the militant groups who waged war on Syria until around 2018, backed by Qatar and Turkey and NATO countries, with this sectarian antagonism dating back to 1982, when the MB was expelled from Syria under President Hafez al Assad. Apart from an area in NW Syria where various Islamist groups control the local population and continue to launch attacks on surrounding settlements, Syria’s main cities now exist in relative peace, thanks in large part to Russian military and political support. Syria does however still suffer from crippling Western sanctions and the criminal theft of resources by the US occupiers east of the Euphrates. Russia came to the Syrian government’s aid back in September 2015, when Jaish al Fatah – the ‘Army of Conquest’ was advancing on Damascus from Idlib. Slowly these foreign mercenaries and extremists were pushed back North, with Russian air power and Hezbollah forces assisting the Syrian army on the ground. Despite wide majority support from Syrians for their army and President, most Western audiences believed their own governments’ lies about the Syrian government, and continue to do so. This deception has been aided by the supporting narrative from aid agencies and human rights organisations, like HRW, Amnesty and MSF. All three have been effectively responsible for assisting the violent insurgency against the Syrian Arab Army, and for spreading dangerous misinformation about Russia’s actions in Syria. Not only has this ensured that very few people outside Syria know the truth, but millions of Syrians also believed the lies told to them by Western governments bringing ‘democracy and freedom’, and continue to blame the Syrian government for their plight. One of the single most effective tools of Western disinformation about Syria has been the White Helmets organization, which gained many plaudits for its televised and staged ‘rescues’ of children from the rubble. The criminality of this ‘civil defence’ force funded by the UK and US governments has been well exposed, yet remains mostly unknown. After the staging of a ‘chemical weapons attack’ in Douma in 2018 organised by the White Helmets, members of the group were finally evacuated through Israel and then rehomed in Canada and other countries of the Western alliance. Not only did the White Helmets associate with and assist terrorist groups like Jaish al Islam in ‘rebel’ occupied areas of Syria, but Israel also assisted these groups including Islamic State, providing hospital care to those across the border in the Golan Heights. Significantly also, these ‘Islamist’ militias never expressed any antagonism towards Israel or its occupation of Al Aqsa, nor solidarity with Palestine. The group’s leader Raed Saleh even received the Elie Wiesel Holocaust museum award when visiting Washington a year later, in recognition of their “good work”. Independent Russian investigator Maxim Grigoriev has much to say about the White Helmets, based on personal interviews with witnesses and members. It should be clear from these details that a belief in and support for the White Helmets is not compatible with support for Palestinian liberation. Many people may thus need to reconsider their reasons for condemning the Syrian government and President, and perhaps ask why Bashar al Assad has such overwhelming support from the Syrian population, including the majority of Syria’s Palestinian refugee population. Many things follow from this, and the need to reconsider the whole framing of Western interventions and interference in targeted countries as ‘for their own good’, or ‘to protect them from terrorist groups’ – groups mostly created and sponsored by Western agencies. Syria’s closest allies, Russia and Iran, are thus both targets for Western destabilization and disinformation as they fight to defend themselves and their friends and allies from the NATO military juggernaut and its West Asian attack dog Israel. It is only through solidarity with all these countries on the side of Palestine that the war will be won, so the general opposition to Russia and Iran must be reconsidered, along with the position of Yemen’s Ansarullah government and the Russian-supported resistance in Ukraine’s Eastern regions. We need merely ask “which side supports Israel?” – and act accordingly.
DM 1st February 2024