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In truth, I never thought Israel could have much of a future in the Middle East without shedding its colonial regime and embracing normal statehood. For a short while in the early 1990s, it seemed as if Israel was changing direction towards some form of normalcy, albeit dependent on the United States. It engaged the Palestinians and Arab states in the region in a “peace process” that promised mutual existence under favourable American auspices.
But Israel’s colonial nature dominated its behaviour at each and every turn. It wasted countless opportunities to end its occupation and live in peace with its neighbours. To paraphrase Israeli diplomat Abba Eban’s infamous quip, Israel “never missed an opportunity to miss an opportunity”.
Instead of ending its occupation, it doubled down on its colonisation project in the occupied Palestinian territories. It has multiplied the number of illegal Jewish settlements and settlers on stolen Palestinian lands and networked them through special bypass roads and other planning projects, creating a dual system, a superior, dominating one for the Jews and an inferior one for the Palestinians.
As one apartheid was dismantled in South Africa, another was erected in Palestine.
In the absence of peace and in the shadow of colonisation, the country has slid further towards fascism, enshrining Jewish supremacy into its laws and extending it to all of historic Palestine, from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea. In no time, the fanatical and far-right parties gained momentum and took over the reins of power under the opportunistic leadership of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, undermining Israel’s own institutions, and all chances of peace based on coexistence between two peoples.
They rejected all compromise and have begun devouring the entirety of historic Palestine, expanding the illegal Jewish settlement on stolen Palestinian lands throughout the occupied West Bank in an attempt to squeeze the Palestinians out. They also tightened their siege of the Gaza Strip, the world’s largest open-air prison, and dropped all pretence of ever allowing it to unite with its Palestinian hinterland in a sovereign Palestinian state.
Then came the October 7 attack – a rude wake-up call reminding Israel that its colonial enterprise is neither tenable nor sustainable, that it could not lock in two million people and throw away the key, that it must address the root causes of the conflict with the Palestinians, namely their dispossession, occupation and siege.
But the Netanyahu regime, true to its nature, turned the tragedy into a rallying cry and doubled down on its racist dehumanisation of the Palestinians, paving the way for a genocidal war. It declared war on “evil”, by which it meant, not only Hamas, but also the people of Gaza. One Israeli leader after another, starting with the president himself, implicated all the Palestinians in the gruesome attack, claiming there are no innocents in Gaza.
Since then, Israel turned vengeful, tribal and adamant on destruction and expansion with total disregard for basic human decency and international law. Israel’s colonial war became a war on hospitals, schools, mosques and residential buildings, financed, armed and protected by the United States and other Western lackeys and killing thousands of Palestinian civilians – children, doctors, teachers, journalists, men and women, old and young, as if they were enemy combatants.
But this foreign tribe has no chance of surviving among all the indigenous people of the region, who have coalesced more than ever before against the bloody intruder. Israel can no longer use its fanciful theological claims to justify its violent racist practices. God does not sanction the slaughter of innocent children. And nor should Israel’s American and Western patrons.
As Western public opinion turns against Israel, its cynical leaders will also change course, if not to preserve their moral standing, then to safeguard their interests in the greater Middle East. The change in the French position, demanding Israel stop the killing of children in Gaza, is an indicator of things to come.
Israel has no good options after its bad war ends. This may be its last chance to pull away from the brink, stop the war, embrace US President Joe Biden’s vision of a two-state solution, impractical as it is today, and accept America’s red lines for Gaza: no to reoccupation, no to ethnic cleansing and no to shrinking its territories. But Netanyahu, along with his fanatic coalition, who’ve long taken America for granted, have once again ignored – read rejected – America’s advice to the detriment of both sides.
Long before the war on Gaza, a leading Israeli journalist, Ari Shavit, predicted the demise of Israel “as we know it”, if it continued on the same destructive path. And last week, Ami Ayalon, a former head of Israel’s Shin Bet secret service, warned that the government’s war and territorial expansion will lead to “the end of Israel” as we know it. Both have written books warning Israel about the dark future ahead if it continues its occupation.
Like all other violent intruders, from the ancient crusaders to the modern-day colonial powers, this last colonial entity, Israel, as we know it, is destined to vanish, regardless of how much Palestinian, Arab and Israeli blood it sheds.
The Gaza war may turn out to be the beginning of the end, but not for Palestine. Just as apartheid South Africa’s bloody supremacist regime imploded, so will Israel’s, sooner or later.