I Have Been Listening to Billy Bragg’s ‘Rachel Corrie’. By William Wall

Via: Irish Left Review.

In the last few days I’ve been replaying Billy Bragg’s ‘The Lonesome Death of Rachel Corrie’ a lot. Perhaps this is because I feel completely powerless, living as I do in a country that is broadly pro-Palestinian but with a government that is frightened to lift a finger to help, even when it has sent a minister to visit Gaza.

What is astonishing to me is how far Israel has moved from the admittedly elastic international norms. Imagine if the Irish army had boarded a ship in International waters, opened fire on its passengers and crew, killing many and kidnapping them and their ship.

I know. I hear you say, that’s completely farfetched. I admit it’s hard to see the Irish Navy or the Royal Navy, for example, doing something like that.

Let’s imagine a more realistic scenario. Suppose a peaceful demonstration was taking place outside the Dáil and soldiers suddenly appeared in full battle dress. Let us suppose then that the soldiers waded into the crowd. Let us further suppose (to accept the Israeli propaganda description) that the soldiers had been attacked with sticks and had their side-arms taken from them (even though it seems that not a single Israeli soldier suffered gunshot wounds). Finally, let us suppose that the soldiers responded by opening fire, shooting some in the head, killing at least ten and injuring many more. Even, given that some had been so incompetent as to lose their pistols in an entirely predictable melee, would we be prepared to accept the deaths of 10 unarmed civilians and the shooting of others?

But Israel seems to think that this is a mere public relations problem. They can send out their PR woman to spin it. There was ‘provocation’, she says. ‘We were attacked first’.

I even saw a reference to the hilarious idea that these marines were armed with paint-ball rifles.

Now that would be interesting, if it were true though I think it highly unlikely. But if it is true, it suggests the future intended line of propaganda had they been successful. ‘Pro-Palestinian Activists were disarmed by Paint-ball guns’ would make the whole flotilla a pathetic joke.

In the event, it seems, the passengers correctly resisted an attempt to seize their ship in international waters at night. Quite possibly the resistance did not begin until the Israelis opened fire. When a crew resists Somalian pirates they are regarded as heroes and this was good old-fashioned high-seas piracy, never mind that it was practised by a government. Who attacked whom is immaterial. The Israelis had no legal right to board the ship – never mind their abject moral degradation as a nation.

Israel is a fascist state.

I have been criticised before for saying this. The argument goes: ‘You have never been to Israel, you have no right to comment.’ But I would not have gone to Germany in 1933 either. Israel’s sympathisers often (correctly) blame European states for not condemning Germany and acting against Hitler while there was time. Anyone could see where Hitler’s policies would lead to, is the argument. You didn’t need to go there to understand that fascism was a terrible creed. I agree.

Therefore I can say that Israel is a fascist state because I have thought about it, read about it, and because I have seen its actions. Not only have I not gone there but I will never go there. I have no desire to see such a country.

The response of the EU has been predictably pathetic, and Obama seems to have lost all self-respect. I suppose fighting a stupid and unwinnable war in Afghanistan weakens principles. The EU and the USA now find themselves in such murky waters that the killing of 10 people in an act of piracy by a supposedly legitimate state only merits ‘condemnation’.

Of course, it’s not in the least surprising that nobody gives a shit about the Palestinians in all of this. I’ve written before on that subject – here and here. The fact is the activists who boarded those boats in all their various ports of departure knew precisely that their actions, because of their countries and their nationalities, would count for so much more than any action from within Palestine. There was not so much as a single fool on board those ships. They understood the discourse and how Israel propagates its hegemony. I hope that their sacrifice has not been in vain.

William Wall is the author four novels, the most recent of which, This Is The Country (2005), has been described as a ‘broad attack on the Celtic Tiger’. He has also published poetry and short stories.

Visit William Wall at Williamwall.eu.



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