I do not know yet who your loved one was. She might have been a baby a few months old, or a young boy, a grandfather or one of your children or parents. I heard about your loved one’s death from Chico Menashe, a political commentator on Reshet Bet, Israel’s main radio station.
He explained that the killing of your loved one, as well as turning Gaza neighborhoods to rubble and driving 150,000 people from their homes, is part of a well-calculated Israeli strategy: this carnage will destroy the impulse of Palestinians in Gaza to resist Israeli policies.
He calls the genocidal policies so far “refisut” — feebleness of mind and spirit. He demands far more massive destruction in the future with the knowledge that this is how you behave if you want to defend your “villa in the jungle,” as former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak described Israel.
Yes, I am afraid to say the Israeli media and academia are fully behind the massacre apart from few, hardly audible voices in this inhuman wilderness. I am not writing this to tell you that I am ashamed — I long ago dissociated myself from this state ideology and do all I can as an individual to confront and defeat it. Probably it has not been enough; we are all inhibited by moments of cowardice, egotism and maybe a natural impulse to take care of our family and loved ones.
And yet I feel the urge today to make a pledge to you, which none of the Germans my father knew during the time of the Nazi regime was willing to make to him when the thugs committed genocide against his family. This is not much of a pledge at your moment of grief, but it is the best I can offer and saying nothing is not an option. And doing nothing is even less than an option.
This is 2014 — the destruction of Gaza is well documented. This is not 1948 when Palestinians had to struggle hard to tell their story of horror; so many of the crimes Zionist committed then where hidden and never came to light, even until today. So my first and simple pledge is to record, inform and insist on the truth.
My old university, University of Haifa, has recruited its students to disseminate Israel’s lies all over the world using the Internet, but this is 2014 and propaganda of this kind will not hold water.
Pledge to boycott
But surely this is not enough. I pledge to continue the effort to boycott a state that commits such crimes. Only when the Union of European Football Associations throws Israel out, when the academic community refuses to have any institutional ties with Israel, when airlines hesitate to fly there, and when every outfit that may lose money because of an ethical stance in the short-term understands that in the long run it will gain both morally and financially — only then we will begin to honor your loss.
The boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement has had many achievements and continues its tireless work. The obstacles still include the false allegation of anti-Semitism and the cynicism of politicians. This is how an honorable initiative by British architects to force their colleagues in Israel to take a moral stance rather than be accomplices in the criminal colonization of the land was blocked at the last moment.
Similar initiatives were sabotaged elsewhere by spineless politicians in Europe and the United States. But my pledge is to be part of the effort to overcome these hurdles. The memory of your loved one will be the driving force, together with the vivid memory of the suffering of the Palestinians in 1948 and ever since.
I do it all egotistically. I really pray and hope that in this worst moment of your life when Palestinians stand in Shujaiya, Deir al-Balah or Gaza City, gazing at the slaughterhouse created by Israeli warplanes, tanks and artillery, you would not lose hope in humanity.
This humanity even includes Israelis, those who do not have the courage to speak but who express their horror in private as my overflowing email and Facebook inboxes attest, as well as the small handful who demonstrate publicly against the incremental genocide in Gaza.
It also includes those not born yet who perhaps will be able to escape a Zionist indoctrination machine that teaches them, from cradle to grave, to dehumanize the Palestinians to such a level that the burning alive of a sixteen-year-old Palestinian boy fails to move them or shatter their belief in their government, army or religion.
For their sake, mine and yours, I wish we can also dream of the day after — when Zionism will be defeated as the ideology that governs our lives between the Jordan river and the Mediterranean sea and we all have the normal life we crave for and deserve.
So I pledge today not to be distracted even by friends and Palestinian leaders who still foolishly pin their hopes on the long-gone “two-state solution.” If one has the impulse to be involved in bringing regime change in Palestine, the only reason to do this is for a struggle for equal human and civil rights and full restitution for all those who are and were victimized by Zionism, inside and outside the beloved land of Palestine.
May whoever is your loved one rest in peace knowing that their death was not in vain — not because it will be avenged and revenged. We do not need more bloodshed. I still believe there is a way of bringing evil systems to an end with the power of humanity and morality.
Justice also means bringing the murderers who killed your loved one and so many others to court, and we must pursue bringing Israel’s war criminals to trial in international tribunals.
It is a far longer way and, at times, even I feel the impulse to be part of a force that uses hard power to end the inhumanity. But I pledge myself to work for justice, full justice, restorative justice.
This is what I can pledge — to work to prevent the next stage in the ethnic cleansing of Palestine and the genocide of Palestinians in Gaza.
The author of numerous books, Ilan Pappe is professor of history and director of the European Centre for Palestine Studies at the University of Exeter.