While PAJU does not condone the deaths of civilians during conflicts, it would be unrealistic to maintain that such tragedies can be avoided in times of war. The fact of the matter is that the source of the violence in occupied Palestine is Israel’s illegal occupation of Palestinian land, its brutal and suffocating apartheid system which crushes the communal life out of the Palestinians, its illegal and criminal blockade of Gaza over the past 16 years, its abuse and killing of Palestinian children – more than 3, 000 since the year 2000 and more than 1, 000 in Gaza as a result of Israel’s aerial bombardment – its administrative detention process and its abuse of Palestinian prisoners.
Colonial oppressors cannot expect to have kept their boots on Palestinians’ collective throats for 75 years without there being armed uprisings in defense of the Palestinian dream for freedom. As Nelson Mandela put it, it is the oppressor who determines the means of resistance of the oppressed. Violence begets violence.
We have heard ad nauseam the refrain from our political puppetry in Canada that ‘Israel has the right to defend itself under international law.’ International law does not permit an occupying force to kill civilians on a mass scale nor does it permit the occupying force to starve them and deprive them of water. Those are war crimes and Israel is guilty of war crimes in Gaza. A reminder for our ever virtuous politicos: a civilian population under the control of an occupying hostile military presence has the right to defend itself by virtue of international law. In accordance with international humanitarian law, wars of national liberation have been expressly embraced, through the adoption of Additional Protocol I to the Geneva Conventions of 1949 (pdf), as a protected and essential right of occupied people everywhere. Hence, the Palestinians have the right to defend themselves even by way of armed resistance. What is left unsaid by our Canadian politicians when they dismiss the right of Palestinians to self –defense is the following: Israel has the right to defend itself; Palestinians have the right to lay down and die. The Palestinians have chosen to stand and fight. That is their right.
Israel has transgressed virtually every article of humanitarian law as outlined in the Fourth Geneva Convention resulting in what may be defined as crimes against humanity. The Israeli bombing of the Al-Ahli hospital in Gaza is just such a crime. The Israeli narrative that it was an Islamic Jihad rocket gone astray that hit the hospital does not hold water. This was not the first time Israeli forces attacked Al-Ahli hospital, as it had been targeted and hit by airstrikes only a few days before on October 14, damaging two floors and injuring four people. Israel targeted and struck a UNRWA Palestinian school in the south of Gaza killing several Palestinians. No accident there either. We have just to go back to the murderous Israeli attacks and targeting of Gaza hospitals and schools in 2014 to understand that this is just Israeli propaganda supported by a captive American president, by weak Canadian politicians who have interests but no principles and by a supine and indolent self-censuring Canadian media who are all complicit in what are war crimes on the part of the Netanyahu government.
PAJU applauds all those progressive Jewish organizations such as Jewish Voice for Peace in the U.S and our comrades at Independent Jewish Voices here in Montreal for standing up for Jewish values of humanism and tolerance at a point in time when Israel is committing war crimes against a hostage Palestinian population. It is time to draw a distinction between Zionism – the cult of right-wing Jewish supremacy – and Judaism, the Jewish religion of transcendence and tolerance.