January 15, 2024

 

The US corporate media has maintained a near unanimous support for the Israeli destruction of Gaza– the home of 2.2 million Palestinians. While pundits engage in parlor games over what degree of violence is “justified” by the Hamas attack upon Israel, while public intellectuals fall in line with the gutless unconditional support of Israeli punitive actions, tens of thousands of Palestinian people– largely men, women, and children going about their day-to-day lives– have been killed, maimed, wounded, or terrorized.

Corruption, racism, and cowardice come together to produce a rare near-total US ruling-class consensus behind the brutal action of the ultra-right, ultra-nationalist, and racist Israeli government.

The enforcement of this consensus is unprecedented and a truly appalling sight to behold.

The highly publicized clash over even an embarrassingly tepid pushback by elite administrators at elite universities over free speech– a normally sacrosanct intellectual fallback– underscores the complete, unconditional freedom-of-action that Israel enjoys with the rich and powerful in the US.

While the machinations of donors and administrators at Harvard, Penn, and MIT should be of little more than entertainment value for most of us, the raw, public exercise of the power of wealth in shaping academic institutions should cause many to recoil. Those who naively believed in the independence and integrity of academia should be chastened accordingly.

Black Harvard President Gay would learn that neither her own elite background nor the thin armor of the faddish liberal DEI mutation of anti-racism would protect her from the vulgar bullying of wild-eyed Zionist billionaires and rightwing witch hunters.

Christopher Rufo, puffed up with his own role in bringing down Harvard’s Gay, concedes that he couldn’t have done it without the collaboration of the center-left that accepted any excuse to enforce support for Israel.

Despite the crude editorial endorsement of and overwhelming official enthusiasm for the Israeli slaughter of Palestinians, a different message has gotten through to the US populace. Whether it is the heart-rending pictures of death and destruction, the cracks in the carefully hedged and vetted news stories, or the alternative media, a bold, determined movement against Israel’s vicious assault on Gaza has emerged to challenge the ruling-class monolith. Risking economic reprisals, future status, and public shaming, hundreds of thousands– overwhelmingly youth– have stood and marched for life and a future for Gaza and Palestine.

It is truly a remarkable moment of crass opportunism, slavish conformity, and viciousness confronted by high principle, self-sacrifice, and courage. It is this kind of moment that forces people to examine how their words and self-styled image cohere with reality.

The facts are effective in awakening people to the brutal fate of Palestinians as a people. Because the Israeli government is so blatantly indifferent to international outrage, The Wall Street Journal is embarrassed to report the truth-on-the-ground in Gaza. Whether reluctantly or not, a recent front-page news story– Gaza’s Destruction Stands Out In Modern History (softened in the online edition to: The Ruined Landscape of Gaza After Nearly Three Months of Bombing) — describes an almost unimaginable living hell. Its lead is worth quoting in full:

The war in the Gaza Strip is generating destruction comparable in scale to the most devastating urban warfare in the modern record.

By mid-December, Israel had dropped 29,000 bombs, munitions and shells on the strip. Nearly 70% of Gaza’s 439,000 homes and about half of its buildings have been damaged or destroyed. The bombing has damaged Byzantine churches and ancient mosques, factories and apartment buildings, shopping malls and luxury hotels, theaters and schools. Much of the water, electrical, communications and healthcare infrastructure that made Gaza function is beyond repair.

Most of the strip’s 36 hospitals are shut down, and only eight are accepting patients. Citrus trees, olive groves and greenhouses have been obliterated. More than two-thirds of its schools are damaged.

While most media mention the 22,000 or more deaths or the over 80,000 total Palestinian casualties, they dutifully treat the facts as allegations and with vastly more than warranted skepticism. Nonetheless, the numbers have shocked millions around the world.

But the WSJ article goes further, offering comfortable, secure readers a taste of what life is like for those not physically harmed by Israeli bombs:

In the south, where more than a million displaced residents have fled, Gazans sleep in the street and burn garbage to cook. Some 85% of the strip’s 2.2 million people have fled their homes and are confined by Israeli evacuation orders to less than one-third of the strip, according to the United Nations…

According to analysis of satellite data by remote-sensing experts at the City University of New York and Oregon State University, as many as 80% of the buildings in northern Gaza, where the bombing has been most severe, are damaged or destroyed, a higher percentage than in Dresden [the site of murderous firebombing in WWII].

The WSJ presents a set of facts and expert observations that are nothing if not damning of the Israeli tactics:

• Robert Pape, political scientist at the University of Chicago: “What you are seeing in Gaza is in the top 25% of the most intense punishment campaigns in history.”

• ” Some 85% of the strip’s 2.2 million people have fled their homes and are confined by Israeli evacuation orders to less than one-third of the strip, according to the United Nations.”

• ” He Yin, an assistant professor of geography at Kent State University in Ohio, estimated that 20% of Gaza’s agricultural land has been damaged or destroyed. Winter wheat that should be sprouting around now isn’t visible, he said, suggesting it wasn’t planted.”

• ” A World Bank analysis concluded that by Dec. 12, the war had damaged or destroyed 77% of health facilities, 72% of municipal services such as parks, courts and libraries, 68% of telecommunications infrastructure, and 76% of commercial sites, including the almost complete destruction of the industrial zone in the north. More than half of all roads, the World Bank found, have been damaged or destroyed. Some 342 schools have been damaged, according to the U.N., including 70 of its own schools.”

• Where the US dropped 3,678 munitions on the entire nation of Iraq in seven years, Israel has dropped 29,000 on tiny Gaza in a little over two months.

• On Gaza city: “‘It’s not a livable city anymore,’ said Eyal Weizman, an Israeli-British architect who studies Israel’s approach to the built environment in the Palestinian territories. Any reconstruction, he said, will require ‘a whole system of underground infrastructure, because when you attack the subsoil, everything that runs through the ground—the water, the gas, the sewage—is torn.’”

• ” The level of damage in Gaza is almost double what it was during a 2014 conflict, which lasted 50 days, with five times as many completely destroyed buildings, according to the Shelter Cluster. In the current conflict, as of mid-December, more than 800,000 people had no home left to return to, the World Bank found.”

To those seduced by a gutless media and a bought-and-sold political establishment, this picture constructed by one of the US’s most conservative papers should bring Israel’s crimes against Gaza into sharper relief; it should be painful to even imagine living under such conditions; it should remove the Gaza question from the realm of political debate to the basic issue of human dignity and survival.

Is there any humane answer beyond: Cease Fire Now!?