This morning I received a plea from writers and artists in the world to support a free Palestine.
I was so distressed by their lies. Writers, like me!
Their statement can be seen here, as can my response, below it.
(Uninformed) Statement of Solidarity
October 26, 2023
Israel’s war against Gaza is an attempt to conduct genocide against the Palestinian people. This war did not begin on October 7th. However, in the last 19 days, the Israeli military has killed over 6,500 Palestinians, including more than 2,500 children, and wounded over 17,000. Gaza is the world’s largest open-air prison: its 2 million residents—a majority of whom are refugees, descendants of those whose land was stolen in 1948—have been deprived of basic human rights since the blockade in 2006. We share the assertions of human rights groups, scholars, and, above all, everyday Palestinians: Israel is an apartheid state, designed to privilege Jewish citizens at the expense of Palestinians, heedless of the many Jewish people, both in Israel and across the diaspora, who oppose their own conscription in an ethno-nationalist project.
We come together as writers, journalists, academics, artists, and other culture workers to express our solidarity with the people of Palestine. We stand with their anticolonial struggle for freedom and for self-determination, and with their right to resist occupation. We stand firmly by Gaza’s people, victims of a genocidal war the United States government continues to fund and arm with military aid—a crisis compounded by the illegal settlement and dispossession of the West Bank and the subjugation of Palestinians within the state of Israel.
We stand in opposition to the silencing of dissent and to racist and revisionist media cycles, further perpetuated by Israel’s attempts to bar reporting in Gaza, where journalists have been both denied entry and targeted by Israeli forces. At least 24 journalists in Gaza have now been killed. Internationally, writers and cultural workers have faced severe harassment, workplace retribution, and job loss for expressing solidarity with Palestine, whether by stating facts about their continued occupation, or for amplifying the voices of others. These are instances that mark severe incursions against supposed speech protections. Specious charges of antisemitism are leveled against Zionism’s critics; political repression has been particularly aggressive against the free speech of Muslim, Arab, and Black people living in the US and across the globe. As was the case following the September 11th attacks, Islamophobic political fervor and the widespread circulation of unsubstantiated claims has galvanized a US-led coalition of military support for a brutal campaign of violence.
What can we do to intervene against Israel’s eliminationist assault on the Palestinian people? Words alone cannot stop the onslaught of devastation of Palestinian homes and lives, backed shamelessly and without hesitation by the entire axis of Western power. At the same time, we must reckon with the role words and images play in the war on Gaza and the ferocious support they have engendered: Israel’s defense minister announced the siege as a fight against “human animals”; even as we learned that Israel had rained bombs down on densely populated urban neighborhoods and deployed white phosphorus in Gaza City, the New York Times editorial board wrote that “what Israel is fighting to defend is a society that values human life and the rule of law”; establishment media outlets continue to describe Hamas’s attack on Israel as “unprovoked.” Writers Against the War on Gaza rejects this perversion of meaning, wherein a nuclear state can declare itself a victim in perpetuity while openly enacting genocide. We condemn those in our industries who continue to enable apartheid and genocide. We cannot write a free Palestine into existence, but together we must do all we possibly can to reject narratives that soothe Western complicity in ethnic cleansing.
We act alongside other writers, scholars, and artists who have expressed solidarity with the Palestinian cause, drawing inspiration from the Palestinian spirit of sumud, steadfastness, and resistance. Since 2004, the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI) has advocated for organizations to join a boycott of institutions representing the Israeli state or cultural institutions complicit with its apartheid regime. We call on all our colleagues working in cultural institutions to endorse that boycott.
And we invite writers, editors, journalists, scholars, artists, musicians, actors, and anyone in creative and academic work to sign this statement. Join us in building a new cultural front for a free Palestine.
(Informed) Statement of Solidarity
November 10, 2023
Israel’s war against Gaza is an attempt to free Israel, the Palestinian people and the world, from the terrorist organisation Hamas. They began this war twenty-two years ago; in 2001 there were sixty rocket attacks on Israel from Gaza. However, on October 7th, Hamas terrorists and Palestinian civilians from Gaza infiltrated the border and slaughtered, burned, shot, massacred and raped over 1,400 people in the South of Israel. They also took over 240 hostages into Gaza, including babies and children without their parents. Only four adults have so far been released. Any numbers of dead and wounded that are being released by Hamas have not been confirmed by any reliable sources; Hamas are known to massively exaggerate numbers. Gaza is a part of Palestine whose people are oppressed daily by their governing body. Anyone who is gay, or trans, is killed. Anyone who opposes Hamas is killed. Before October 7th, 150,000 Gazans would enter Israel on a daily basis to work and to receive medical care in Israel’s hospitals. Many Gazans have left through Egypt and are living in Europe and the United States. In no prison in the world does its governors receive over $100 million annually. Israel was created by a resolution of the United Nations in 1948. The resolution partitioned the area of Palestine into two States: Israel and Palestine. However, the Palestinians refused to accept and opted for war.
Many of Israel’s leading judges, lawyers, doctors, scientists and professors are Arab. There are Arab parties in Israel’s parliament, and Arab CEOs of top companies. Anyone who visits Tel Aviv’s beaches will see Jewish and Arab sun-bathers side by side and there are many Arab Jewish towns such as Haifa, Ramla, Lod, and Nof Hagalil. To call Israel an apartheid state is an insult to black South Africans.
No journalists have ever been targeted by Israeli forces, and the fact that many journalists and press photographers were present at the massacres on October 7th shows prior knowledge and complicity in the worst, most brutal slaughter the Jewish people have experienced for nearly eighty years. In the weeks following, Jews all over the world have been the victim of terrifying hate crime and antisemitism, with people even losing their lives just for being Jewish.
What can we do to intervene against the lies of many writers, journalists, academics, artists, and other culture workers, spreading to those too uneducated to understand? What would writers call people who burned babies, murdered parents in front of their children, and children in front of their parents, shot, massacred and raped, then celebrated the violence of the deaths they inflicted, anything other than ‘human animals’? Even though Israel is at war, knowing that Hamas have placed their headquarters and rocket launchers in and under schools, hospitals and residential apartment blocks – a tunnel was recently discovered under a child’s bedroom – before any attack, Israel drops thousands of leaflets, calls everyone in a building to alert them of a pending air strike (which also notifies the enemy of the attack!) and provides humanitarian corridors to allow citizens to leave the endangered areas. Many thousands have succeeded despite Hamas gunmen trying to prevent them from leaving. There is no genocide committed by Israel. The war in Gaza was declared by Hamas against Israel. There is not and has never been a genocide of the Palestinians and Israel does not need foreign writers to write a free Palestine into existence. Hundreds of thousands of Jewish Israelis have been fighting together with their Palestinian brothers and sisters for a Palestinian state free of Hamas and will ultimately succeed.
Writers, who are intrinsically educated, intelligent and eloquent, should be the most careful of the words they use. Those who are calling for a free Palestine (from the river to the sea) are advocating for the genocide of the Jewish people.
And thus we invite writers, editors, journalists, scholars, artists, musicians, actors, and anyone in creative and academic work to share this statement and join us in speaking the TRUTH.