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Eduardo Galeano: GAZA

Since 1948 Palestinians have lived in perpetual humiliation. They can’t breathe without permission. They have lost their country, their land, their water, their freedom, their everything.

To justify itself, state terrorism creates terrorists: it sows hatred and harvests alibis. Everything indicates that the bloodbath in Gaza, which its creators claim was designed to eliminate terrorists, will result in a proliferation of them. Since 1948 Palestinians have lived in perpetual humiliation. They can’t breathe without permission. They have lost their country, their land, their water, their freedom, their everything.

They don’t even have the right to elect their own leaders: when they vote for someone they aren’t supposed to vote for, they are punished. Gaza is being punished. It has been transformed into a rat’s nest without an exit since Hamas fairly won the 2006 elections. Something similar occurred in 1932 when the Communist Party won in El Salvador. Drenched in blood, Salvadoreans paid for their misbehavior and since that time have lived under military dictatorships. Democracy is a luxury that not all people deserve.

The homemade rockets that the militants of Hamas blindly launch into land that used to be theirs and was usurped by the Israeli occupation, are the offspring of impotence. And desperation, bordering on suicidal madness, is the mother of the futile boasting that denies the existence of the state of Israel – while an extremely efficient war of extermination has been denying Palestine’s right to exist for years.

Little of Palestine remains. Bit by bit Israel is erasing it from the map.

The settlers invade, accompanied by soldiers who correct the borders as they go. Bullets sanctify the pillage, in legitimate defense.

There is no war of aggression that doesn’t claim to be a defensive war. Hitler invaded Poland to prevent Poland from invading Germany. Bush invaded Iraq to keep Iraq from invading the world. In each of its defensive wars, Israel swallows up another piece of Palestine and the snacking continues. This process is justified with land deeds granted by the Bible, by the 2000 years of persecution that the Jewish people suffered and the panic generated by the sight of Palestinians lying in ambush.

Israel is the country that has never complied with UN resolutions or recommendations, never abides by judgements of international courts, and mocks international law. It is also the only country that has legalized the torture of prisoners.

What gives them the right to deny the rights of others? Who is granting them the impunity with which they are carrying out the slaughter of Gaza? The Spanish government couldn’t bomb the Basque region to wipe out ETA, or Britain invade Ireland to liquidate the IRA, with impunity. Perhaps the tragedy of the Holocaust introduced a policy of eternal impunity? Or is it the all-powerful US that gave the green light and has in Israel the most unfailing of vassals.

The Israeli army, the most sophisticated and modern in the world, knows whom to kill. It doesn’t kill by error. It kills for horror. The civilian victims are referred to as ‘collateral damage’, according to the dictionary of other imperial wars. In Gaza, three of every ten instances of collateral damage are children. Then there are thousands of wounded and disabled, victims of the technology of human butchery that the military industry is successfully applying in this operation of ethnic cleansing.

And as usual – it is always this way – in Gaza for every hundred Palestinians killed one Israeli is killed.

‘These Palestinians are dangerous people’ is the message rained down by the other parallel bombardment, by the mass media of manipulation, which would have us believe that one Israeli life is worth that of one hundred Palestinians. These media would also have us believe that Israel’s 200 atomic bombs are humanitarian and that it was a nuclear power named Iran that annihilated Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

Does the so-called ‘international community’ exist?

And if so, is it anything more than merchants, bankers, and warriors? Is it anything more than an artistic name the US uses on the world stage?

In the face of the tragedy of Gaza, world hypocrisy shines once again. As usual, indifference, empty speeches, vapid declarations, high-sounding rhetoric, ambiguous positions pay tribute to sacred impunity.

In the face of the tragedy of Gaza the Arab countries wash their hands – as usual. And as usual the European countries wring their hands.

Old Europe, with such a gift for beauty and perversity, weeps one tear after another, while secretly celebrating this masterful game. Because hunting Jews was always a European custom, though for half a century now the Palestinians have been paying the price for this historic crime. The Palestinians, who are also Semites but who were never, and are not, anti-semitic, are paying in their own blood and money some else’s debt.

Editor’s Note: The original text, authored by Eduardo Galeano and published in the early 2000’s, remains pertinent to this day.

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