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Collateral Murder* in Gaza 2003

Paul Hendler

Mar 18

Commemorating Rachel Corrie

Many Zionists that I have encountered have demonised me as an ‘enemy/traitor of my people’ or a ‘friend of terrorists’.

Many others and also Jewish people who don’t consciously identify as Zionists, go silent when I raise the uncomfortable topic about inconvenient truths regarding the Zionist colonisation of historic Palestine. I get the same reaction from many — but not all — Germans: I have in-laws in Germany so I know of what I speak. Recently, I published an article about the impact on German society of this silent refusal to confront historic and contemporary facts about Israeli apartheid.

I think that many people are driven by fear and a deep cynicism about human nature. I think many who encounter me regard my ‘idealism’ as naïve and dangerous for the survival of the Jewish people.

I am idealistic and following the South African anti-apartheid scholar and activist Rick Turner, I understand the need for utopian thinking as a basis for advancing knowledge, developing as ethical beings and being clear about the type of societies we would want to create as fit for decent human life. While some of my critics might respect these idealistic impulses their cynicism about human nature trumps scientifically analysing and understanding past events. In my view this cynicism impedes thinking beyond present fears and paranoias.

If we allow ourselves to be driven by fear and cynicism we risk being complicit in atrocities, like the many committed by Israel against the Palestinian people. Haaretz journalist Gideon Levy comments on an Israeli sniper’s murder of a Palestinian protestor near the fence with Gaza during 2017. This is a particularly gruesome example of the violation of another person’s right to his physical integrity and health and ultimately his life.

In my utopianism I am inspired by Rachel Corrie, the 24 year old US citizen who, as part of the International Solidarity Movement, resisted the destruction of Palestinian houses in the occupied Gaza strip. Rachel died in March 2003, from her injuries caused by being run over twice by an Israeli bulldozer which she had stood in front of, protesting the destruction of the house of a family in Gaza.

Collateral Murder’ is the title of a video that records United States (US) helicopter pilots murdering civilians in Iraq in 2007, during the invasion and occupation of that country by the US and its allies.

For publishing this video Wikileaks founder Julian Assange is currently detained in a maximum security prison at Belmarsh in England, struggling to resist attempts to extradite him to the US where if found guilty of charges of espionage he could spend the rest of his life in solitary confinement.

Two Reuters journalists were killed in the helicopter attack — the Reuters Baghdad chief has recounted his attempts to get US military to provide detailed information about what happened that day, but to no avail.

In the end, Chelsea Manning, then a US military intelligence analyst in Baghdad, released the video and other classified US military information about the occupation of Iraq, to Julian Assange. For this Manning was sentenced to 35 years imprisonment by a US military court — in his final days in office President Obama pardoned Manning, although she was detained subsequently as a key witness to testify against Assange, something she has vowed never to acquiesce in, and then released again.

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