War on Gaza, 2023

Distortions, omissions, outright lies, false equivalencies, victim-blaming, dehumanization!

“Hamas terrorists”, “hostages”, “anti-Semitism”, Israeli “right of self-defense”, standing with Israel, upholding the “laws of war”, peace thru “negotiations”, “2-state solution”, end game?  What are the relevant facts?  How should recent events be evaluated?

Double standard

Western imperial states (US, Britain, France, Germany, et cetera) and their mainstream media report the conflict with a pro-Israel anti-Arab bias.

+ Palestinian violence is categorized as “terrorism”, while Israeli violence never is.  Statistics: Israeli violence (2008-2023 June) killed 6,407 Palestinians, while Palestinian violence killed 307 Israelis.[1]

+ Israelis taken captive by Palestinian fighters are categorized as “kidnapped” and “hostages”, while the 4,500 Palestinians (including 147 minors as young as 12) in Israeli detention are not so categorized despite the facts that: more than 1,100 are held under administrative detention without charge or access to any court, and many of the remainder were detained on purported “security grounds” (sometimes for nothing other than: denunciation of harsh Israeli policies, relationship with actual militants, expressions of sympathy with the resistance, and/or mere suspicion of support for militant resistance) by military courts (used only against Palestinians) with outcome almost always predetermined with a 99% conviction rate).[2]

+ Ethnic cleansing is recognized in international law as a crime against humanity, but the Zionist state’s ethnic cleansing to create a Lebensraum for their so-called “Jewish state” is simply accepted.

+ Apartheid in South Africa (though the US and its Western allies did not always oppose it) is now considered an injustice, but Israeli apartheid-like persecutions of Palestinians go mostly unmentioned and without condemnation.[3]

+ The territory between the river and the sea is often called “Israel”, never “Palestine”.

+ When Israeli forces kill Palestinians one or a few at a time; it is barely, if at all, mentioned. It is only when Israeli bombings kill Palestinian civilians by the hundreds and thousands that the West sees fit to report on it. Killings of Israelis by Palestinians are reported empathetically as tragic, while Palestinians killed in far greater numbers by Israeli forces are merely unfortunate. With Israel now beginning to mass-murder Palestinians of all ages with indiscriminate bombing and thru starvation (preventing access to food, safe drinking water, and necessary medical supplies with which to treat mass casualties from Israeli bombing); Western state leaders excuse Israeli genocidal war crimes in Gaza, with banal assertions that Israel is only exercising its “right of self-defense” against “terrorists”, assertions which go unchallenged in the mainstream media.

+ Palestinian grievances (home demolitions, road blockages and checkpoints applied only to Palestinians, land and water resources taken from Palestinians and given to neighboring illegal Israeli settlements, grossly inequitable social services, travel restrictions applicable only to Palestinians, the economic siege of Gaza which impoverishes its population, the closing of Gaza’s borders so as to turn it into an “open-air prison”, and so forth) almost invariably go unmentioned.[4]

+ Ever increasing attacks (including murders) upon West Bank Palestinians by neighboring Israeli settlers, sometimes accompanied by participating Israeli soldiers, are perpetrated with impunity and rarely reported in the Western mainstream media.[5]

The most overtly fascist coalition now governing the Zionist state has intensified its oppression of the Palestinians, especially in the occupied West Bank. That has naturally provoked an increase in militant resistance. Hamas and Islamic Jihad, notwithstanding their faults, currently constitute the most organized force in said resistance. The current armed conflict (begun October 07) between Gaza and the Zionist state is the natural outcome of Israeli/Zionist persecution and violence against the Palestinians.


There are valid criticisms of Hamas as a governing entity. For example, it has permitted its most Islamist faction to impose a religiously intolerant, theocratic, and patriarchal regime in Gaza (acts which oppress fellow Palestinians); but that is not why Israel and the US condemn it.

Hamas evolved from a Palestinian affiliate of Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood.  Israel originally promoted Hamas as an alternative to the PLO which then represented the Palestinian resistance to Zionist oppression.  Indiscriminate Israeli violence against Palestinians during the first intifada (1987—93) affected all Palestinians including Hamas supporters. At that point, Hamas embraced the resistance against the Zionist state. Following the Oslo Accords (1993), Fatah and Israel established the Palestinian Authority which then devolved into a corrupt and subservient client regime for the Zionist state.  Hamas has filled much of the vacuum for the militant resistance.

Israel, the US, and their apologists accuse Hamas of being ISIS.  That is not a valid comparison; in fact, Hamas denounced ISIS and its crimes.  Hamas fighters may have committed some “atrocities” (killing unarmed Israelis of all ages) in the current conflict; but the sensational allegations (beheading babies, immolating captives, raping women) voiced by Netanyahu and Biden are evidently false. Moreover, the charge that Hamas targeted “innocent” civilians ignores context (which is never considered by apologists for Israel, even though it mitigates Palestinian violence). For example, the Kibbutz residents attacked by Hamas are largely armed settlers in possession of land stolen from Palestinians.  Furthermore, most non-Arab Israeli adults (women as well as men) serve, or have served, in the Israeli army, which has perpetrated decades of often-murderous persecutions of the Palestinians (including ethnic cleansings); and those Israelis are military reservists until they reach the age of exemption (which varies from 40 to 49 depending upon rank and specialty).  Reasoned analysis of Hamas’ actions indicates that they intended to take as many captives (bargaining chips) as possible rather than simply kill Israelis. It appears that it was primarily those Israelis who resisted capture, including by fleeing, who were the ones killed.

Should actual Hamas atrocities be disapproved? Yes. Should every violent Palestinian response to Israeli violence be denounced? No. Should Hamas excesses be equated to, and condemned equally with, those of the Zionist state? To do so (as have, all too eagerly, many left liberal peace advocates posturing as sympathetic to the plight of the Palestinians) is to equate the violence of the resistance to that of the oppressor. In effect, it legitimizes the existence of a racist state built upon mass murder, often brutal persecutions, and the violent ethnic cleansing of a country stolen from its indigenous population. Is it appropriate to express uncritical praise for Hamas (October 07) action (as have some radical pro-Palestinian activists)? No. Such response dehumanizes and fails to recognize that the dead and wounded (sometimes avoidably, sometimes unavoidably) included, not only actual enemies, but also innocent children and likely some Israeli Jews of the minority which are actual opponents of the Zionist oppressions of Palestinians. Israeli assertions to the contrary, Hamas does not hate Jews in general; but it is not wrong in recognizing that Israeli “civilians” are not all “innocents”.


Many Jews in Israel (and elsewhere: Jewish Voice for Peace, If Not Now) have sought an end to the Zionist state’s apartheid-like oppressions of the Palestinians[6]; but, in Israel, they are a minority.  A much smaller minority of Israeli Jews (along with many Jews in other countries) actually renounce the Zionist project and demand a single state between the river and the sea with equal rights for all, and the right of return and compensation for exiled Palestinians. Certainly, justice-seeking Israelis (some affiliated with organizations such as B’Tselem) do not deserve to suffer and die because of the crimes perpetrated by their government, crimes which provoke the inevitable counter-violent resistance by its victims.

Fantasy: a permanent peace based upon the 2-state solution!

Many liberals (including many of those denouncing Hamas while posturing as sympathetic to the suffering Palestinians) insist that the “Palestinian problem” be resolved thru negotiations toward the vaunted “2-state solution”. They evade the facts. The Zionist state (regardless of ruling party) has never been willing to share Palestine with any actual Palestinian Arab state.

  1. After 30 years of British Mandatory rule with democratic governance denied to the Palestinian populace (in violation of Mandate precepts); the UN (then with white-ruled countries constituting nearly ¾ of its 56 member states), indifferent to the rights of the indigenous Palestinians, divided Palestine so as to give 55% of the territory to the Zionist settlers who then constituted 32% of the total population.
  2. The Zionists, after having “agreed” to the UN plan, then invaded, conquered, and annexed half of the 42% of territory designated by the UN for the Palestinian state (which was never established). The Zionists also permanently expelled a majority of the Palestinians from the 77% of Palestine which then came under their rule.
  3. The Zionist state, in secret alliance with Britain and France, launched a war of conquest to seize the remainder of Palestine plus the Egyptian Sinai. The US, then led by President Eisenhower, issued a firm “no”, and compelled the aggressor: to abort before it had seized the West Bank, and to withdraw from seized territory in Gaza and Egypt.
  4. Israel launched another war of conquest, this time enabled by the US and its allies, and seized all remaining Palestinian territory plus parts of Egypt, Syria, and Lebanon. It then began its ongoing practice of planting illegal Zionist settlements in the newly conquered territories.

1993-95. Israel signed onto the Oslo Accords, which did not include any actual provision for the creation of a real “state” in the West Bank and Gaza. Palestinians are wrongfully blamed for the failure to achieve a 2-state peace agreement. In fact, no Israeli government, then or at any other time, has ever been willing to remove the illegal settlements or to accept a truly sovereign and independent Palestinian state. Moreover, repeated Palestinian attempts to achieve justice by peaceful methods have always been thwarted by the Zionist state and its imperial allies.

For a more detailed history, see Charles Pierce: “The essential facts concerning Zionism and Palestine,” (Dissident Voice, 2023 Oct 10).

End game?

Israel, asserting “right of self-defense” as pretext, states its intention to wipe out Hamas and its operatives. Toward that end, Israel, in addition to bombing the territory into rubble, plans a ground invasion of Gaza. If that occurs, it appears reasonable to expect: much more mass killings of Gaza Palestinians (whom the Israeli Defense Minister describes as “human animals”, followed by a very brutal Israeli military rule, and eventual establishment of a quisling regime to rule the populace, plus Israeli detentions of any Palestinians who openly decline to be subservient to that regime, and inevitably a renewed violent Palestinian resistance to the ongoing persecution. Either that or Israel will complete its ethnic cleansing (as advocated by some parties in the ruling coalition) by expelling most remaining Palestinians from all Israeli-ruled territory.

Biden, most members of Congress, and the US foreign policy establishment

Israeli and US leaders responded to outrage over the aerial bombing of the Baptist hospital in Gaza (on Oct 17), with death toll in the hundreds, by blaming it on a misfired Islamic Jihad rocket. Except by their apologists, that assertion is reasonably disbelieved. Militants in Gaza simply do not have rockets with bombs large enough to kill hundreds; whereas Israeli bombs have actually and deliberately destroyed multi-story buildings in Gaza, killing hundreds of their residents. Lies and cover-ups such as this are nothing new for the US; remember previous lies: babies taken from incubators in Kuwait, WMD in Iraq, unprovoked Vietnamese attack in Gulf of Tonkin, no US commanders’ orders to massacre civilians at No Gun Ri and elsewhere during the War in Korea, et cetera.

Biden, who rushed to assert that the US “stands with Israel”, pretends to be pressing Israel to abide by the “laws of war” which prohibit making war on civilians; but he certainly knows that Israel will not comply as long as he refuses to use US leverage to compel compliance; and he clearly will not do so. Likewise pro-Israel politicians in the US Congress will not stop, or even put conditions upon, the $3.8 billion/year of US taxpayer funding (to which Biden intends to add an extra $14 billion) for the Israeli war machine; because (beyond their commitment to Western imperial world domination) they only care that the election-campaign funding, provided by the rich and powerful Zionist lobby and US Zionist billionaires, shall go to themselves rather than to their challengers.

The anti-racist “left” needs to recognize that Biden along with most members of the US Congress and their counterparts in the Western allies, all now rushing to assist Israel, are ultimately no less racist than are Trump’s MAGA Republicans and other right-wing populists.


[1] United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs: “Data on casualties,” 2023.

[2] Addameer: “The Israeli military court system,” 2017 July.  B’Tselem: “Statistics on Palestinians in Israeli custody,” 2023 Sep 07.

[3] B’Tselem: “A regime of Jewish supremacy from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea: This is apartheid,” 2021 Jan 12.

[4] Amnesty International: “Israel’s apartheid against Palestinians, a look into decades of oppression and domination,” 2022 Feb.

[5] Leila Fadel: “Palestinians appear to have been killed in reprisal attacks in the West Bank,” NPR, 2023 Oct 18.  Amira Hass: “Israeli Settlers Aren’t Pausing the Expulsion and Dispossession in the West Bank,” Ha’aretz, 2023 Oct 12.

[6] Ellen Brotsky & Ariel Koren: “We’re anti-Zionist Jews and we see genocide unfolding in Gaza,” Guardian, 2023 Oct 18.

Charles Pierce is a social-justice activist (since his youth in the early 1960s), a former/retired labor activist (union steward & local officer), and currently a researcher and writer on history and politics. He can be reached at cpbolshi@gmail.com. Read other articles by Charles, or visit Charles's website.