“Why?” is one of the most loaded and powerful questions in anyone’s language, and it is the first that springs to mind when journalists face breaking news stories. Unbelievably few asked the question following the events of 7 October in Israel. It was America and 9/11 all over again. If you want to get to the bottom of an issue, and you want to discover the real story, you must ask “why?”
I wonder why no one appeared to be that curious in the aftermath of 7 October. Could it be that the Israeli government decided that there was no need to ask “why” because if someone did, then their citizens might discover the real reason such a living nightmare was visited upon their loved ones at the Supernova music festival and kibbutzim bordering the Gaza Strip? More than 260 bodies were reportedly recovered from the festival site, according to rescue agency Zaka, but subsequent reporting by Al Jazeera revealed a different story. It transpired that the much-vaunted — but now forever tarnished — Israel “Defence” Forces fired on festival-goers from helicopter gunships. Perhaps in error; perhaps not.
New information surfaced weeks after the “Hamas killed them all” narrative pushed by the lying IDF spin doctors. The charred corpses shown to the gullible Western media were caused, it seems, by so-called friendly fire when the Israeli military responded belatedly to the surprise Hamas attack. By the time that the media caught up with the true narrative, they still failed to ask the question why: why did it happen? And what made Hamas launch such an attack?
How could nobody, apart from a few seasoned Middle East journalists such as the BBC’s Jeremy Bowen, fail to see why 7 October happened and why, especially after Israel’s genocidal response, it will almost certainly happen again?
The undeniable truth is that the Palestinians have been living their lives in pressure cooker conditions for 75 years since the ethnic cleansing of the Nakba. They finally erupted when Hamas fighters broke out of the Gaza concentration camp and attacked Israeli army barracks and settlements.
It didn’t take much to put two and two together and realise that this was the legitimate resistance response to decades of cruelty and oppression under Israel’s brutal military occupation. Every single day for the past 20 years, I have received evidence of this in my inbox, including videos exposing the violence meted out by the Israel Occupation Forces on innocent Palestinians.
I’ve watched heavily armed and protected Israeli soldiers stand over injured Palestinians and kill them in cold blood. I’ve watched footage of the killings of Al Jazeera journalist Shireen Abu Akleh and other professional journalists going about their legitimate work. I’ve watched videos of anonymous Palestinian women having their hijabs ripped off their heads. I have also watched in terror and revulsion as Israeli soldiers stormed into Al-Aqsa Mosque in occupied Jerusalem firing tear gas and pistol-whipping worshippers as they knelt in prayer.
The examples of such cowardice, cruelty and pornographic violence visited upon innocent Palestinians are seemingly endless. And to this we must add the latest horrors of the genocide in the Gaza Strip. When more than 20,000 civilians have been killed by one of the world’s best equipped armed forces, and more than half of those killed are children and women, then we all know that something, somewhere, is very seriously wrong.
Palestinian children are constantly exposed to Israeli violence, and have been for decades. Brutal arrests, beatings and field executions; we’ve seen too many killed in this way by occupation soldiers. Those who survive witness scenes that nobody should ever have to see, let alone children.
That’s why if ordinary Israelis, politicians and journalists had taken the time to look at the same sort of images that I have seen as a journalist of many years standing, they would have known “why” 7 October happened almost immediately. To me and others like me fed on a daily diet of the evidence of atrocities, the “why” was blindingly obvious and certainly not unexpected. It was only a matter of time. For most Israelis, though, the occupation is something that happens to other people “over there, in the territories”; it is pushed to the back of their minds; out of sight, out of mind.
This is the shame of it all, because the images that I have seen which are too difficult to watch are images of the victims of the armed forces acting in the name of all Israelis, whether they like it or not. It’s the Israel Defence Forces, remember? And they defend all Israelis, don’t they?
The subjects of those awful images, though, cannot just switch off and pretend it is happening to someone else, in someone else’s name. They’re certainly never allowed to forget the Israeli occupation of their land, try as they might. The IDF makes sure of that.
The Israeli authorities seized and controlled the 7 October narrative before citizens and journalists could ask the awkward questions. It is a fact that anyone daring to ask such questions about what happened on that day is made to feel like a traitor; non-Israelis face being labelled anti-Semites for daring to suggest that all is not as Israel and its sycophantic allies claim it to be.
As with 9/11, few people have bothered to take a step back and seek answers. What happened in America in 2001, and on 7 October in Israel were both regarded as the beginning of something. In reality, though both were the predictable responses to years of state violence, terror, oppression and persecution.
The familiar warning not to poke a bear with a stick because it will inevitably turn on you hasn’t been heeded. Israel has spent a lifetime — literally — humiliating, oppressing and abusing Palestinians, and an undeniable and entirely understandable resentment has grown over the decades. Concessions have been made by the people of occupied Palestine, who have been given nothing in return. Commitments to agreements and timelines in a bogus “peace process” have been reneged upon by the occupation state. Promises by treacherous Zionist supporters in Washington, London, Paris and Berlin have raised false hopes — does anyone really think, in hindsight, that the Oslo Accords were meant to bring peace? — only for them to be cruelly dashed. And the Palestinians were just supposed to play along with the humanitarian paradigm and see their right to self-determination disappear over the horizon, never to return. Just like the Palestinian refugees and their legitimate right to return to their land. It will never happen as long as Zionism dominates in Israel.
Why, then, was anyone really surprised at what happened on 7 October? Israel has spent seven decades and more sewing poisonous seeds of discontent; it has always known that one day it would have to reap the bitter harvest. Just as America must have suspected that a 9/11 catastrophe would happen sooner or later.
US presidents are promoted as the leaders of a peace-loving nation, the leaders of the “free world”, yet most occupants of the White House have initiated and launched wars, and invaded and bombed more than 200 places since World War II. They have meddled in countless elections in foreign lands and installed despots heading tyrannical regimes from East to West and North to South.
President George W Bush’s so-called “War on Terror” saw the Geneva Conventions trashed, human rights ignored and international laws violated with impunity. America and its people are still damaged psychologically as a result of 9/11. Nothing else explains Guantanamo Bay, which is still in operation. US imperialism filled Vietnam, Korea, Iraq and Afghanistan with hundreds of thousands of corpses. Then 9/11 happened. You reap what you sow.
Until Al-Qaida leader Osama Bin Laden declared war on America, US citizens had little or no interest in what was being done in their name overseas. As they reeled in shock over 9/11 it would take some years before the truth finally dawned on them why their beloved Stars and Stripes flag was being burned regularly in streets across the Global South. Many Americans began to lose their appetite for military adventures overseas, just as they did during the Vietnam War.
It seems that Israelis have yet to come to terms with 7 October, although angry family members of the hostages taken on that day realise that they’ve got more chance of seeing their loved ones returned alive through negotiations rather than Netanyahu’s saturation bombing. Maybe the people will wake up one day and ask themselves why their flag is also being trashed around the world.
OPINION: There is ‘absolutely no’ chance of a two-state solution because Israel killed it
Back in June 2021 I wrote about the great Albert Einstein. I believe that if he was alive today, he would not be at all shocked by events unfolding in occupied Palestine.
The genius predicted the demise of Israel when he was asked to fundraise for its terrorist cells. Ten years before the Zionist State declared its “independence” in 1948 on land stolen from Palestine, Einstein described the proposed creation of the state as something that conflicted with the “essential nature of Judaism.” As a Jew himself he fled Hitler’s Germany, and needed no lessons in what fascism looked like.
Supported by other high-profile Jewish academics, Einstein spotted the flaws and fault lines in 1946 at the Anglo-American Committee of Inquiry on the Palestinian issue. He couldn’t understand why Israel was needed. “I believe it is bad,” he told the committee. Two years later, he and several Jewish colleagues sent a letter to the New York Times in which they denounced Menachem Begin’s Herut (Freedom) Party, “a political party closely akin in its organisation, methods, political philosophy, and social appeal to the Nazi and Fascist parties.”
While investigating Einstein’s views, I discovered a brief letter from him — no more than 50 words — which foretold the “final catastrophe” facing Palestine at the hands of Zionist terror groups. It was addressed to Shepard Rifkin, the Executive Director of American Friends of the Fighters for the Freedom of Israel, based in New York. They promoted the anti-British ideas of the terrorist Stern Gang, and raised money in America to buy weapons to drive the British out of Palestine. Rifkin was urged to court Einstein for funding, but in the wake of the Deir Yassin massacre, the world-renowned physicist crafted the following letter to him:
When a real and final catastrophe should befall us in Palestine the first responsible for it would be the British and the second responsible for it the Terrorist organizations build [sic] up from our own ranks. I am not willing to see anybody associated with those misled and criminal people.
Such a conclusion was not rocket science and it shouldn’t have taken a genius to explain the blindingly obvious. Albert Einstein knew the “why” 75 years before the events of 7 October. The “final catastrophe” he predicted is the demise of the rogue state born out of violence and terrorism.
So, despite much hysteria invoked over “from the river to the sea” meaning “kill all of the Jews” — it doesn’t; it means “Palestine will be free” of Zionism, the pernicious ideology underpinning the state of Israel — it is entirely feasible that the state is in terminal decline by its own hand.
It is interesting to note, though, that Einstein said that those “first responsible” for the “final catastrophe” will be “the British.” Britain basically delivered Palestine to the Zionists on a plate, so maybe ministers in London will finally develop a conscience and seek to right the terrible wrong that their predecessors inflicted upon the people of Palestine with the creation of the apartheid state of Israel.