Not nothing


welcomeThe unremitting horror going on in Gaza is beyond most people’s comprehension – certainly I cannot imagine the fear and suffering there, and for this I remind myself how privileged I am.

But seeing this horror, the reaction from many, many people seems to be exhaustion. Personally, what wears me down the most is the inevitability of these attacks, and the futility of protests.

Every few years it’s the same – the Israeli war machine finds an excuse, and pounds, pounds, pounds, again, again, again. (Of course, the idiot terrorists in Gaza, or the West Bank, or Lebanon, help in providing this excuse. And yes, they are terrorists. Their aim is to terrorise. They are bad. The Israelis are worse.)

And the Israelis are good at it. Of course they are. They have the money, the have the equipment, and they’ve had many years’ experience pounding the shit out of the Palestinians – of course they’re fucking experts.

If ever there was justification for a “Jewish state”, it is long gone now, buried under tens of thousands of corpses, millions of lives shattered. From saying “never again”, the abused have become the abusers, perpetuating the racially-charged violence and destruction that was once wrought against them.

And every time, the international public condemnation grows. Even commenters on the Daily Mail website mostly support the Palestinian cause. But it doesn’t do anything.

Boycotts – shun Israeli products. Oh no, someone else says, they don’t work, they only hurt poor workers, in Palestine or somewhere else.

Protests, posts – no, no more posts about Gaza, people say. You’re preaching to the converted. What is the point, it is just upsetting.

Donations, charity – but what if it goes to buy more rockets, more excuses for Israel to kill. Most aid everywhere is problematic, especially in war zones.

So, what then? What can we do? In the West our politicians know we will never vote them out of office for supporting Israel. No matter how much we shout or scream, it won’t do anything. It didn’t work for the fucking banks – why would it start working now?

This shit is fucked.

With the exception of that final sentence, I wrote all of the above last night. That last line is an accurate summation of my thoughts at 3am when I gave up.

And I mean, yes – this shit is pretty fucked. But that doesn’t mean we stop trying, right? I read what I wrote back, and it seemed to suggest that doing nothing was the only remaining course of action.

No. We have to do something. However small it is, we should do it.

So write to your representative. Here’s a letter I wrote to my MP.

So boycott Israeli products and companies, as well as international companies which profit from shares in Israeli companies. It’s quite hard to find a good and current list which is not US-focused, but in the UK most food products should be labelled with their country of origin. Other companies to avoid include L’Oreal, Victoria’s Secret and Motorola.

This is probably the hardest thing to do in practical terms. Israel makes significant contributions in IT (Intel’s chips are mostly developed there), medicine, scientific research and so on. While we can’t not gain utility from the millions of servers running Intel chips, we can at least refuse to buy laptops with Intel CPUs (no more MacBooks). We can also write letters.

Then there’s the cultural boycott – avoiding artists who perform in Israel. It’s probably worth telling them why you’re not going to see them, too.

Israel is not a pariah state for most of the western world. Even Arab countries are buying land and quietly dealing with Israel now, preferring Zionists to Iran’s Shias. So things might take a while to change.

In the meantime, you can donate to charities supporting people living in Gaza or the West Bank. I would personally recommend Oxfam, which can hopefully be relied on to do its best to deliver direct aid where at all possible.

Finally, I have to say I disagree with the idea of hiding from the misery Israel inflicts. Keep reading, keep seeing it – scratch it like a wound, to keep it from healing, to remember the pain. Otherwise, it can slip away.

Yes, there are lots of other horrific conflicts going on right now, plenty of places where people are being oppressed and abused and killed. But very few of them are supported in so lavish a fashion by countries which are otherwise quick to condemn violence and oppression.

So do something, anything – as long as it’s not nothing.

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  1. Pingback: The revisionist’s guide to internal repression - Eliot Beer

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