Strangely, even the sight on television of the body of a small boy, the same age as Cameron, being dug by hand from the bomb rubble, is not what has stayed with me strongest from the latest attack on the Palestinians. Instead, I recall most vividly a radio broadcast on the BBC World Service two days before the attack on Gaza began.
It was a banal, everyday story of Palestinian villagers being evicted from their land in the occupied West Bank, to make way for an Israeli “military zone”. These pastoralists had lost a thousand hectares to the Israelis in the last few years, and now these ancient villages were being finally, forcibly, evacuated in a vicious act of ethnic cleansing. The shepherds claimed that what this was really about, was the precious springs that watered their livestock. Work was already starting to divert their water to nearby, and illegal, burgeoning Israeli settlements.
The BBC World Service TV has this minute, at 9.00am GMT, started its news broadcast as usual from Ashkelon in Israel, highlighting rocket attacks on Israel. There is no mention on the BBC – there has never been any mention on the BBC, or anywhere in the Western mainstream media – that for at least 4,000 years Ashkelon was an Arab town, until in 1948 the entire, Arab population of 12,000 was driven out by armed force, many being massacred. Doubtless some older inhabitants of Gaza are refugees whose home is Ashkelon.
Israel is exercising its right of self-defence in precisely the same sense that Hitler was exercising the right of self-defence in Normandy in 1944 – ie not at all. Why the world puts up with this blatant ethnic cleansing and prolonged, agonizing genocide of the Palestinain people, I have no idea. It is not just about bombs and rockets and deaths now. It is about the shepherds being pushed out of their village in 2012 as part of the same process of the massacre of Ashkelon in 1948, all a process of genocide of the Palestinians in which Obama, Clinton, Cameron and Hague, as two wholw generations of western politicians before them, are actively complicit.