The European Union’s financial support for Israel’s war industry is a well-established fact. But it may not be visible to the average citizen – unless they go digging through the databases documenting the millions channeled to companies making weapons that rain death on Palestinians.
But as Israel marks what it calls its “independence,” several European states are openly celebrating their military alliances with an entity founded through the ethnic cleansing and destruction of Palestine and which only continues to exist through the brutal occupation and dispossession of millions of Palestinians.
European and NATO countries, including Austria’s neo-Nazi government, sent their air forces to take part in a show over Tel Aviv on Thursday, Israel’s official “independence” holiday according to the Jewish calendar.
That’s just a few miles up the coast from Gaza, where the buzz of drones and the roar of jet engines from Israeli warplanes has for years been used to deliberately inflict terror on Palestinians – that is when the planes are not dropping bombs, as during Israel’s 2014 assault that killed one in every 1,000 of the two million people confined in the besieged territory.
Other countries dispatching their warplanes included Greece, Poland, Canada, Italy and the United Kingdom.
Western air forces do not limit themselves only to display flying alongside Israel.
Some Arab governments also appear willing to step up their cooperation with Israel.
Emirati military leaders see the United States as a “big brother” both to their country and to Israel.
Western air power has from the start been an essential element in Israel’s subjugation of the Palestinians and its wars against other countries in the region.
As Joseph Massad wrote for The Electronic Intifada in 2014, American, British and Canadian military aviators played a key role in Zionism’s 1948 colonial conquest of Palestine.
In 1998, Gordon Levett, a Royal Air Force squadron leader during World War II, reminisced in The New York Times about his role flying in the nascent Israeli air force as it began its 70-year career of bombing the people of the region into oblivion.
“It was quite fun stuff,” Levett said.
The air force displays are only a part of the effusive congratulations and support European governments are extending to Israel on its 70th “birthday.”
These expressions point to an official policy of Nakba denial: All have ignored that Israel’s so-called independence was not a liberation but a violent conquest that has never paused or ended.
“Their independence is our Nakba,” the Palestinian BDS National Committee (BNC) said on Thursday. “The ethnic cleansing of 750,000 to one million indigenous Palestinians 70 years ago and turning them into refugees to establish a Jewish-majority state in Palestine is no cause for celebration.”
The BNC, the steering committee for the global boycott, divestment and sanctions campaign, emphasizes: “The Nakba is not a crime of the past, it is ongoing. Seventy years later, Israel continues to demolish Palestinian homes, steal our lands to build illegal settlements exclusively for Jewish-Israelis, push Palestinians out of Jerusalem by revoking our residency rights, and deny Palestinian refugees, like many of our members, our internationally recognized right to return to our homes.”
The BNC points to Israel’s attempt to “criminalize our grief.”
This is a reference to Israeli laws penalizing commemoration of the Nakba that are akin to the recently passed Polish law promoted by Holocaust revisionists to whitewash Polish complicity in the Nazi extermination of the country’s Jews.
But Palestinians will not be silenced.
“We commemorate by asserting our right to return home and to live in freedom and dignity,” the BNC insists. “Thousands of Palestinians in Gaza continue to take part in the Great March of Return, facing the Israeli military’s shoot-to-kill-or-maim policy.”
As for what people around the world – especially in the countries “celebrating” Israel’s “independence” can do – the BNC urges mass mobilizations to push “governments and institutions to ban all trade with and divest from companies implicated in Israel’s illegal settlements and other violations of Palestinian human rights.”
“There should also be a comprehensive military embargo against Israel, including a ban on collaborating in or sharing military research with Israel,” the BNC states.
The grotesque display of Western complicity in the skies over Tel Aviv serves as a reminder that Israel’s apartheid system rests on pillars of global support, and therefore the Palestinian struggle can only succeed if it also mobilizes grassroots support all over the world.
On the day Israel “celebrates,” young Palestinians in Gaza are using the social media hashtags #GazaUnlocked, #YouthUnderOccupation and #GazaToHeartland to remind the world that they are not free, they refuse to be forgotten and they are struggling for their rights.
The urgency is great. Palestinians cannot afford to wait another 70 years for their liberation.