“All the Consent That’s Fit to Manufacture”

New York War Crimes

New York War Crimes

New Writing

“Zionism is the Catastrophe”

Seven months and seventy-six years of Nakba
A Nakba Day demonstration in Gaza, May 15, 2019. Photo by Mohammed Zaanoun.
Kaleem Hawa, Palestinian Youth Movement
May 15, 2024

Many have allowed themselves to be desensitized, rather than experience the war each day as if it were the first. This is in part a reflection of the enormity of the destruction, in part the adaptive qualities of a mind which resists too frequent a decampment to another’s field of vision. In these seven months, we have seen the wholesale ruination of Gaza’s life-sustaining infrastructures, its public utilities now makeshift; education and healthcare inoperable; food and water withheld. Almost every site necessary for political and social life has been destroyed: municipal and district archives with years of history are gone, records of families with century-long stories are gone.

In Gaza, the ultimate challenge of the 21st century has been consolidated: how to manage the desires of a people who have refused submission and dispossession; what is to be done with those who will not bend. The Zionists found their answer, built off of the prior answers, and accelerated — backed by the most sophisticated tools of torture and immiseration ever conceived by the advanced forces of American empire.

Seven months into the campaign of extermination, it is the sadism that stands out: hovering quadcopters made to sound like crying babies; elementary schools carpet bombed; and dark-site concentration camps, where Palestinian men are blindfolded and Israeli families are invited to watch and to laugh, as they are burned with lighters, drenched in scalding water, and electrocuted.

Zionism is the catastrophe. Its violence is world-historic, its regional ethnonationalist project takes the form of a sprawling entity of death and dismemberment declared by and for the Jewish people. This entity has no borders because it claims the entire Arab world, just as it has claimed thousands of Lebanese martyrs and thousands of Yemeni martyrs. With American support, it crushes and de-develops any who resist, installing ruling compradors to maintain a system of extraction and plunder that operates with impunity.

Every day we have ten Palestinian children who become amputees; every day ten children lose one or more of their limbs. Just like the Nakba, amputation is a political structure, its root is Zionist mutilation intended to enact politicide. The amputation of people from land, amputation of children from their families, amputation of limbs from their little bodies; these are the products of a colonial trauma that flows seamlessly into social trauma, the phantom pains and attempts at re-grafting an overwhelming challenge for the popular cradle.

No ceasefire will change the reality that made this permissible. This truth complicates the solidarities whose demands have not yet hewn to the objectives of national liberation. To those still indulging in self-mythologization or teary-eyed hugs, to what extent is Gaza truly the compass of your ideological project, to what extent has it led to your spiritual dislocation from the existing world system?

In your vision of justice, does the siege end? Do the lands return? Do Palestinians return to those lands, does the forced starvation go away, do the water and trees come back, are our prisoners freed? With thousands of children in graves, and thousands more whose families are in graves, our demands today are no different from the demands we made in our text during the first week of the genocide: that you do not waiver and that you remain committed until total return.

All of this — each blasted particularity — is sanctioned by the Israeli people. It is cheerled by them; they make videos to celebrate their violence, the martyrdom, the imprisonment, the starvation. They smile when our people are tortured beyond recognition. Theirs is not a social formation that can be lived alongside. To the Jewish anti-Zionist allies, it is not good enough to say that this genocide is a false idol: every major institution of Jewish political and religious life in the West supports the aggression, sending their money and their children to fight and kill Palestinians. Your task, then, is not a “redemption” of Judaism, not the salvation of the Jewish kids spiritually disfigured by their parents — it is Palestinian freedom, which necessarily requires a militancy in withdrawing, confronting and creating contradictions within these institutions.

Armed with this knowledge, we must be secure in the belief that the fight to stop Zionist aggression is just and true, which means defending those who do. The Palestinian resistance is our inspiration; we salute our brave fighters, who have faced every weapon known and as yet unknown, and who continue to struggle for a different world. If there is anything to be learned from the ongoing genocide it is to reject those who erase the immense contributions of the resistance, and to distinguish those who want unconditional liberation from those who just want the “violence to end” so as to sleep at night.

Because of this resistance project, we have claimed some victories in the imperial core. The movement is stronger than ever, more militant, more connected to the working class, to labor, to the students, whose encampments have bravely resisted their cities’ counterinsurgency strategies. Because of this work, the contradictions have become undeniable, an American left has been injected with new energies and now circles the fascists and their mercenaries.

The task at hand is to capture, maintain and organize this energy. Hundreds of thousands of people across the world have taken to the streets for Gaza, have fought for divestment in the universities, have demanded an end to surveillance and policing collaboration programs.

Those in power have doubled-down, sending more money and more weapons to the Zionist entity. The seemingly intractable appears at once daunting and hallucinatory, personally painful too, for those in our movement whose families and friends have spent their long October transmitting fear and rage from America’s extermination camps. If there is any solace to be found it is in those dreams and words and rockets that have remodeled the land — 76 years of assembly and disassembly, 76 years too long, but also proof that with Gaza as the heart, there will be courage and with Gaza as the eyes, the aim will be true.