“Never such depravity”

A picture of Hind Rajab, a six-year-old Palestinian girl wearing a school graduation outfit, standing in front of a table on which is a glass vase of tulips.
Hind Rajab, the six-year-old girl murdered by the Israelis who also murdered the two paramedics sent to her rescue. (Source: Ehab Hamada, Instagram)

Last week I listened to the BBC’s File on 4 programme about the murder of Brianna Ghey last year in a village outside Warrington after the two teenagers responsible had been sentenced. Brianna was a 16-year-old who was transgender; her killers had pretended to be her friend, but in fact had her on a “kill list” because of her gender and because of trivial personal slights. One of them had been moved from another school to Brianna’s after giving another pupil ‘edibles’, or sweets laden with cannabis, resulting in her becoming very ill; after befriending Brianna she and her male accomplice added her to the “kill list” along with four other teenagers, first attempting to poison her with tablets and then, when that failed, luring her to a park and stabbing her 28 times. They played extracts from the girl’s writings to demonstrate how meticulously planned the murder was and interviewed police officers who investigated the murder, one of whom said she had never seen such depravity.

That was more than a year ago, and maybe she meant from teenagers or outside of a war situation, who knows. I’ve heard of murders in my time where the level of cruelty has equalled or surpassed this — that of Suzanne Capper in the early 90s springs to mind. Quite often ‘friends’ are capable of the worst kinds of cruelty, especially to people with learning disabilities. However, it shouldn’t be surprising that when armies of racist adults set their minds to exploiting or exterminating a whole population, they are capable of far worse than two teenagers. There have been three waves of genocide in living memory; the first, we learned about mostly after it had finished, through eyewitness accounts and physical evidence. The second, in the 1990s, we knew of from what we now call the “old media”, particularly radio broadcasts. This latest wave has been freely broadcast on social media, not only by its victims but by its perpetrators, who are clearly supremely confident of never facing any kind of accountability for what are plainly war crimes and senseless acts of destruction.

Over the past four months, we have seen some of the most appalling cruelty meted out to plainly innocent people, including children, who were just walking the streets of their own home towns or the places they had been displaced to by Israel’s bombing of where they lived before. A family was massacred in their car by an Israeli tank; a teenage girl called for help and was shot dead while still on the phone, leaving a six-year-old girl trapped in the car with her dead relatives. A Red Crescent ambulance was sent to rescue her, given permission by the Israeli army, which then proceeded to bomb it. The young girl died, of course. We’ve seen a woman shot dead in the street while holding a white flag in one hand and a young boy’s hand in the other, we’ve seen people shot at by snipers while attempting to rescue people already wounded by sniper fire, people dragging the victims’ bodies across the ground and transporting small quantities of water across a square, where there are bloodstains on the ground belonging to sniper victims, because going out to retrieve the bodies or taking the water across would result in further deaths from the snipers. We are hearing that people ran out of grain intended for human consumption and turned to making bread out of animal feed, which has now run out, meaning that the Palestinians left in northern Gaza are now starving; meanwhile, gangs of thugs camp outside border crossings attacking the trucks which were sent to deliver aid, and the Israeli army let them.

And yet, our Tory government (whose politicians compete for who can be the meanest and nastiest) is fairly openly colluding with the forces of genocide. They threaten further limits on protests against it, accuse the participants of extremism or antisemitism, painting British Jews as the victims of a “rising tide of antisemitism” while prominent Jews, including their community leaders and representative bodies, cheer on the genocide and repeat unsubstantiated or long-debunked propaganda claims about the 7th October attacks. This week a rabbi named Zechariah Deutsch (very Middle Eastern name that) came back to the UK having spent time in the Israeli forces as they exterminate the Palestinians of Gaza, and faced no investigation whatsoever (bear in mind that British Muslims have been stripped of their citizenship for much less) and was allowed to walk straight back into a chaplain’s job for Jewish students in Leeds. Another Jewish organisation in north London, which caters to disadvantaged young men, was about to play host to a man who returned to the UK having filmed himself rifling through a Palestinian woman’s underwear drawer, though this invitation was withdrawn after protests; a London synagogue this past week played host to Douglas Murray, a long-standing Islamophobic rabble-rouser, after protests led to a London theatre pulling out on them. Last Sunday the MP for Harlow, Robert Halfon, published a thread of 14 tweets on ‘X’ complaining of an “increase in antisemitic intimidation and threats that we’ve seen on campuses since October 7th” without acknowledging that Jews have been responsible for at least thirty times as many deaths of Palestinians since, and that’s not counting those unaccounted for as their bodies are trapped in rubble.

The Labour party are no better. It continues to tiptoe around the sensitivities of British Jews (and it’s amazing that a community that sanctions the above, and much more besides, can be quite so sensitive), making empty calls for restraint or respect for international or humanitarian law, while suppressing protests against it and punishing both MPs and members for speaking “out of turn” on the genocide as they had about the preceding decades of oppression and violence by Israeli soldiers and settlers. Kate Osamor was suspended from the party for merely mentioning the genocide in Gaza among other genocides including the Holocaust. Hilary Benn had to weigh in on the matter of the war criminal in Leeds, taking claims of death threats at face value and calling the protests antisemitic, claiming (as did Halfwit of Harlow) that Jewish students felt threatened and had the right not to. Well, other students, such as Muslims, especially Palestinians if there are any in Leeds (there certainly are in London), have the right to feel safe as well. The drumbeat campaign against ‘antisemitism’ in the Labour party during Corbyn’s leadership has resulted in a repressive atmosphere where everyone is expected to watch what they say about Israel or British Jewish complicity, that Jews (meaning the Jewish establishment and those allied with them, not dissenting Jews) dictate what does or doesn’t constitute antisemitism, regardless of what crimes the Jewish state they support are currently engaged in.

And this week, we have twice seen them cower in the face of corporate media and Zionist pressure and withdraw support from both their candidate in this week’s Rochdale by-election, Councillor Azhar Ali, after he was secretly recorded suggesting that Israel had prior knowledge of the Hamas attack and let it happen so as to engineer a pretext for its genocide, and then from Graham Jones, the former MP for Hyndburn in Lancashire who is standing again for the seat he lost in 2019, who called for British citizens who travel abroad to fight for the IDF to be “locked up” (a quite reasonable demand, given that British nationals who have participated in other military campaigns known for atrocities have been imprisoned). Azhar Ali’s claim itself is dubious, though it is no secret that elements within Israel favour the explusion of all Palestinians from the West Bank in particular, but yet again we see Labour policing what people can and can’t say about Israel — not Jews, let alone British Jews, but Israel — as Israel massacres Palestinian civilians in a “safe area” they had forced them into. Such opinions might have actually helped him in Rochdale if he had actually stuck to them rather than grovelled as soon as they were revealed, and by throwing Azhar Ali under the bus, Keir Starmer and his cronies may well have gifted the seat to the odious George Galloway. We should not have to watch what we say about Israel at a time like this, and being an MP or any other kind of public servant should not depend on loyalty to Israel or any other foreign country.

And finally, we have the feminists who are normally so vocal about women’s rights overseas when it’s Muslims violating them, yet entirely silent on the effects of the Israeli onslaught against the women of Gaza, everything from having to cut bits of cloth from their tents to use as sanitary protection to undergoing Caesarian sections (among other surgical procedures Gazans have had to undergo since Israel bombed their hospitals and cut the supply of medicines) with no anaesthesia. The worst offenders are those who have been railing against the acceptance of trans women for the past decade; many of them (not all, in fairness, but some of the more prominent of them) have been repeating Israeli propaganda stories about mass rape during the October Hamas attack which are unsubstantiated but repeated often to justify genocide, accompanied with slogans about “believing women”, as if believing a woman who comes forward to say she has been raped is the same thing as believing rumours and propaganda circulated by an army that is intent on genocide. “These sub-humans we’re slaughtering did this five months ago, and it’s taken us this long to get our stories sort of straight.” Yeah right.

Israeli lobby groups in the UK play a double game, on one hand demanding that we do not hold British Jews responsible for the acts of the state of Israel, and on the other, openly advocate for the state of Israel regardless of its oppressions and atrocities and demand that its opponents be silenced or punished while using the word ‘Jew’ or ‘Jewish’ in their names: the Jewish Labour Movement, the Board of Deputies of British Jews, the Union of Jewish Students. They complain that, for example, the synagogue in Leeds which employed Rabbi Deutsch had “free Palestine” sprayed on it, which absolutely would be antisemitic if it was just any synagogue rather than one whose rabbi joined the IDF during a genocide. We are told again and again that Jews feel unsafe because of “rising antisemitism since 7th October”, and even because of the persistent protests against Israel’s genocide in Gaza and its ongoing oppression of natives of the West Bank, while these organisations and prominent Jewish columnists peddle the propaganda of Israel on a day-to-day basis. I am not suggesting for a minute that anyone be blamed for Israel’s actions merely because of their origins, but those who support Israel regardless of its disregard for humanitarian law and the cruelty and depravity of its thuggish soldiers and settlers by repeating propaganda, blaming victims, casting false doubts and demanding censorship and repression on Israel’s behalf absolutely should be held responsible. They are accessories to war crimes and genocide.

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