Palestine, not ‘Israel’

by Midnight Jones

“Israel” is an up-to-date apartheid state.

“Israel” is a wicked occupying force.

“Israel” is a raw, primitive, viciously colonialist state, other “neo-colonialisms” notwithstanding.

Protests in the U.S. have been growing weekly. Thousands joined the National March on the White House to Stop the Massacre in Gaza on Saturday, Aug. 2. – Photo: Ford Fischer
Protests in the U.S. have been growing weekly. Thousands joined the National March on the White House to Stop the Massacre in Gaza on Saturday, Aug. 2. – Photo: Ford Fischer

And, yet, none of this is new – or, for the corporate media of empire, “news-worthy.” No matter how homicidal and genocidal, “Israel” is normally protected from criticism by Western systems of power and logic for which only Europeans (gentile and Jewish) are supposed to matter, of course.

Before this latest round of Zionist super-terror began, I spent 10 days in Palestine, most of the last half of May, to be exact. I did not visit “Israel.” I went to see about Palestine. I had to fly through an alien, ultra-fascist airport in “Tel Aviv,” “Israel,” to sneak into Palestine more or less.

For Palestine lacks self-determination under apartheid, occupation, colonization. Two days before I arrived, two Arab teenagers were sniped in the back and killed by soldiers: “Trayvons” abound – there, like here. Their “crime” was to commemorate al-Nakba, something like a Palestinian equivalent of our Maafa, or “Middle Passage.”

It is the great catastrophe of their violent dispossession and dispersion in 1948 with the settler implantation of “Israel,” as “an independent state,” into a land suddenly claimed to be “without a people.” There’s been a reign of terror ever since.

I would return to North America, which funds this terror to the tune of $3 billion-plus each year now; and, basically, “Israel” has been burning and bombing Palestinian men, women and children ever since.

They say it started in Hebron, this time. They said three Jewish teenagers disappeared in Hebron, one of five cities that I saw up close and personal. The constant murder and kidnapping of Palestinian youth over decades of apartheid, occupation and colonization was and is no similar cause for concern.

“Israel” blamed Hamas, the political force which most represents resistance in today’s Palestine and which won electoral control of Gaza beyond the West Bank in 2006-2007. That was pretext. They offered no evidence, and Hamas took no credit, for these disappearances.

Simply put, “Israel” moved to exterminate Hamas – and anything “green,” their symbolic color – as a presence of resistance with their own political kidnappings (i.e., “administrate detention”) throughout the West Bank and then, in due course, the latest state terror operation in Gaza.

Palestine lacks self-determination under apartheid, occupation, colonization.

The three Jewish teenagers were never described as “settlers” in Western media; and, logically, no one therein has thought to suggest that Palestinians of Gaza or the West Bank should defend themselves by bombing the “Israeli” state or those Israeli civilians who kidnapped and burned Mohammed Abu Khdeir alive in Jerusalem, allegedly in retaliation for the still mysterious deaths of those three settler teenagers “hitchhiking” in Hebron.

Hebron is a city of extremes. For Palestinians, it is a place of extreme poverty as well as extremist settler aggression and extreme military repression, all thanks to “Israel.”

For the Zionist settler population, their Islamophobia is extreme; their colonialist desire for expansion and new conquest is extreme; their everyday violence is shockingly extreme. Racism is too kind a word for what goes on here.

Settlers actually expand vertically as well as horizontally in Hebron. Zionists build housing on top of Palestinians here – three or so stories high; and they segregate still by erecting wire fences on top of ground-level Palestinian abodes and stalls in the market of the Old City. This is all backed up by military machine guns as usual.

For a modicum of protection, Palestinians must erect makeshift cloth barriers overhead to shield themselves – and any tourists who come to Hebron to see things for themselves – from bottles of urine and bleach that settlers rain down upon their heads and their wares at any given time, all the damn time. Racism is too kind a word for what goes on here.

A rusting fence bends under the weight of trash tossed down by Israeli settlers living in the compounds above the market in the old city of Hebron. – Photo: J. Fischer
A rusting fence bends under the weight of trash tossed down by Israeli settlers living in the compounds above the market in the old city of Hebron. – Photo: J. Fischer

Zionism has made the Old City of Hebron a mere shell of its former physical and economic self with horizontal settler expansionism as well. They have closed down Shuhada Street, once a vibrant market thoroughfare, to restructure the rest of Hebron to their Apartheid-segregationist liking.

It has been walled off like a scene from Gloria Naylor’s “The Women of Brewster Place” – its businesses left to die, now a ghost-town street strangled like “Israel” has been strangling Gaza with its controlling siege of the Gaza Strip by land, air and sea.

Palestinians on one side of the barrier have been severed from life on the other side of the barrier, some even having to enter and exit their homes from the roof to accommodate the logic of this armed Israeli apartheid where Palestinians are not allowed on certain, “settler-only” streets or roads.

This is the Occupied Territory of a place the Western media dubs “the only democracy in the Middle East.” You know, “democracy” means “white racist capitalist imperialism” for the West, of course.

I wasn’t supposed to go to Hebron, where beautiful glass and authentic keffiyeh scarves are still traditionally made, not according to the rulers. Neither U.S. imperialism nor its “Israeli Defense Forces” would have given a damn if my Black body had been disappeared there or anywhere.

I wasn’t supposed to go Hebron because those joint imperialist forces did not want me to see what life is like in Palestine for Palestinians. They do not want us to see and tell about it. But I did see and I do tell.

And they were very concerned about my Black body in a very concrete fashion. The soldiers of Zionism policed my body and its Blackness in Hebron obsessively. They were deeply concerned about my place, the place they couldn’t put me in, as I did not make sense to them there at all.

They were wildly concerned about the big black boots my Black body was wearing because these boots were symbols of power – old, militant Ice Cube (“stalking, walking”) predator-style power – and symbols of power which are heavily racially segregated for “Israel.” A young Palestinian man finally pulled me aside at the end of our day in Hebron and asked me where I got those boots from before explaining the angry, resentful reaction I’d been getting from Zionist state soldiers for so long:

“If I were to wear those boots,” he clarified, pointing 15 feet away to soldiers posted to guard the segregated and military-checkpointed “Cave of the Patriarchs,” which boasts the Biblical tomb of Abraham, the real reason settler “Israel” covets Hebron, “they would come get me, drag me to the police station, and I would come back in bare feet with no shoes.”

Those soldiers were as silently hostile to me as so many Palestinians on the street were verbally, vocally affirming of me and my Black body on the move. Yet it would have been so easy for me not to make it back from this besieged Hebron where I was not supposed to go and witness, according to the rulers, who could have at any minute hauled me away down a “settler-only” road to some military-police compound, from which no brown or Black person is guaranteed to return.

I wasn’t supposed to go Hebron because those joint imperialist forces did not want me to see what life is like in Palestine for Palestinians. They do not want us to see and tell about it. But I did see and I do tell.

“Will you get to Gaza?” “Did you get to Gaza?” These were questions I got coming and going from a number of friends, colleagues and comrades. They knew that the colonially shrunken, densely populated Gaza Strip is an “open air prison” locked down by a blockade-siege since 2007. It has been trapped and controlled by and for Zionism on a nutritional diet calculated by occupiers to only barely keep them alive.

Graffiti in East Jerusalem in May 2014 – Photo: Midnight Jones
Graffiti in East Jerusalem in May 2014 – Photo: Midnight Jones

Too few outside get to Gaza and more than a few die trying. I would not get a chance to go to Gaza. I saw “Free Gaza” graffiti in my East Jerusalem neighborhood. I saw Gaza in the unifying consciousness of a cruelly and deliberately fragmented Palestinian people.

Then, back in the settler-colonial country that funds all these atrocities, I saw every place I did visit explode from a distance – Bethlehem, Nablus, Ramallah … beyond Hebron – and it makes my flesh crawl. To quote Bob Marley from “Slave Driver,” it makes “my blood run cold.”

“Israel” is an up-to-date apartheid state.

“Israel” is a wicked occupying force.

“Israel” is a raw, primitive, viciously colonialist state among other neo-colonialist states, yes.

And, clearly, what they call “Israel” is a terrorist and genocidal state hell-bent on land-grab by mass murder – child by child, family by family, region by region, Arab by Arab across Palestine – with $3 billion-plus of money derived from our labor, each year, regularly in tow. It is an ongoing Nakba or Maafa which has gone on to train and supply other states in the business of unleashing state terror against the masses of people of all places, making Palestine a virtual lab space for anti-people terror technology.

Now the corporate liars revise and begin to concede that their bogeyman in Hamas had nothing to do with the disappearance or death of three settler teenagers in Hebron.

Yet the bombs they keep dropping. More than 1,800 Palestinians they have killed, again, most of them civilians and children, and well over 8,500 have been terribly, physically wounded. The number of those who bear psychological trauma or soul-scars may be countless.

Their supposed crime was never the death or disappearance of three settler teenagers hitchhiking; or Gaza’s desperate, self-defensive rocket fire; or Hamas’ political membership in Gaza or the West Bank. The supposed crime was and is resistance, pure and simple, simple and plain.

Whether in Gaza or the West Bank, Palestine is not supposed to defend itself against apartheid, occupation or colonialism. Palestine is not supposed to defend itself against imperialist violation or demand an end to the Zionist siege of Gaza or diabolical caloric deprivation and open-air imprisonment, just for example.

Whether in Gaza or the West Bank, Palestine is not supposed to defend itself against apartheid, occupation or colonialism.

In “February 1965: The Final Speeches,” the anti-Zionist Malcolm X speaks brilliantly on the wickedness of “dollarism” and also “the science of imagery” whereby the Western media skillfully makes “the victim look like the criminal and the criminal look like the victim.”

So Obama, Hillary and Kerry parrot the press releases of Netanyahu and tell you “Israel” has a right to defend itself against the peoples it apartheids, occupies and viciously colonizes: “America,” the empire, is telling us that Israel has “human rights” because only Europeans are actually “human beings” and have “human rights” to life and land, anywhere, everywhere in this world order, unlike Palestinians and the rest of us.

Whether in Gaza or the West Bank, Palestine is not supposed to defend itself against apartheid, occupation or colonialism in this basic logic of the white Western capitalist world, but it does – valiantly. Long live Palestine!

Midnight Jones is a university professor of literature and Black studies in New England who can be reached via editor@sfbayview.com.