Zionist Gardening Mission Started Long Before Oct. 7, 2023
By Emin Poljarević
More than a month into the genocide in Gaza, many readers now have access to countless narratives and stories from amateur journalists, social media influencers, survivors, refugees, medical staff, UN personnel and news anchors detailing the atrocities and mayhem of Hamas’ Oct. 7 attack on Israel and the latter’s unyielding military assault. All of this is supported by thousands of firsthand accounts and statements from the Gazan authorities about the ensuing dreadful collective punishment and suffering of their people. One such witness was Dr. Hammam al-Louh, a medical doctor at Gaza City’s battered, besieged and breached Shifaa Hospital, who was tragically killed at the age of 36 on Nov. 13 while striving to save lives of sick and wounded Gaza residents.
Representatives from international organizations such as UNWRA (The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East), the Red Crescent, Amnesty International, UNICEF, and Doctors Without Borders have provided additional information, insights and commentaries, all corroborating the numerous atrocities and war crimes committed by Israeli forces (www.truthaboutpalestine.com).
Local and international media outlets such as Al-Jazeera are tirelessly reporting and recording the Gazans’ struggle for survival. Al-Jazeera analysts such as Marwan Bishara repeatedly contextualized the economic and political logic driving the ongoing massacre of innocent civilians by Israel and, by proxy, American war machines.
We can see how millions of morally outraged citizens worldwide demonstrate to push their various governments to stop the unyielding assault and blockade on what Jimmy Carter called the world’s largest “open-air prison.” We might think that these popular cries had some effect on the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) vote on the resolution to call for “immediate, durable and sustained humanitarian truce leading to a cessation of hostilities.” In sum, 120 states voted in favor of it, 14 states (including the U.S.) opposed it and 44 abstained (https://news.un.org/en/story/2023/10/1142847).
It all makes sense, and yet, at the same time, it doesn’t! It’s a mystery.
It makes no sense to hear how Ursula von der Leyen (president, European Commission) and Anthony Blinken (secretary of state, U.S.), together with other senior Euro-American officials justify, condone and support Israel’s unrestrained blockade, bombardment and assault of the densely populated Gaza Strip. It especially makes no sense to see and hear the different set of standards employed by the same leaders and media outlets in relation to the year-long Russian occupation of eastern Ukraine and the 75-year-long settler colonialism and apartheid in the Palestinian territories (www.btselem.org). Some other leaders, among them Gustavo Petro (president, Colombia) and Richard Boyd Barrett (Irish MP) simply call this apparent double-standard hypocrisy.
It also makes no sense that Euro-American right- and some left-wing pundits, commentators and mainstream media outlets overwhelmingly view any criticism of Zionism and its political project as antisemitism; or that chants such as “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free!” are interpreted as calls for another holocaust; or that the BDS campaign has inherent antisemitic undertones (https://www.newyorker.com/news/q-and-a/is-anti-zionism-anti-semitism). These assumptions are as senseless as they are mysterious.
There are numerous plausible and less plausible ways to answer this question. One way is to unpack how economic interests drive the ethnic cleansing and total annihilation of northern Gaza due to the discovery of energy deposits in Gaza’s waters, as posted by Victor Kattan (https://al-shabaka.org/; April 24, 2012); or that, according to Ari Rabinovitch and Nidal Al-Mughrabi (www.reuters.com/; Feb. 3, 2021), there are plans to build a long-distance pipeline close to northern Gaza border.
Another way is to suggest the Zionist project has entered a new phase that demands driving out the remaining refugees to complete the original 1948 Nakba (The Catastrophe). Yet another way is to consider the Zionist argument of security concerns vis-à-vis Hamas-governed Gaza that require physical incursions to destroy any resistance infrastructure. Or a number of other ways. Or all of the above.
Answering this question is of lesser importance in comparison to understanding some of this mystery’s key parts, namely, the evident Euro-American powers’ cynicism, moral disregard, double standards and indifference to the Arab and Muslim peoples’ immense suffering.
One key part of this mystery is to probe the Euro-American supremacist mindset. Consider this: During his Oct. 13, 2022 speech, Josep Borrell (high representative for foreign affairs and security policy) informed the European Diplomatic Academy that “Europe is a garden. We have built a garden. Everything works […] Most of the rest of the world is a jungle, and the jungle could invade the garden. The gardeners should take care of it, but they will not protect the garden by building walls. A nice small garden surrounded by high walls in order to prevent the jungle from coming in is not going to be a solution. Because the jungle has a strong growth capacity, and the wall will never be high enough in order to protect the garden” (www.eeas.europa.eu; enter 14.10.2022).
This revealing statement provides a glimpse into a version of Europe’s 21st-century colonial mindset — a mindset that translates into chauvinistic attitudes, policies and geopolitics. Perhaps, only perhaps, can our attempt to understand it explain some of this tangible Euro-American discrimination between conflict victims of European origin and those of Arab (or simply non-European) origin. The high level of Euro-American leaders’ moral outrage at the violence committed against Ukrainian and Israeli civilians versus the same leaders’ justification of civilian deaths on Gaza’s killing fields is astounding. After all, “Israel has the right to defend itself.” On what moral or material basis can anyone defend killing thousands upon thousands of children, women, and innocents?
Moreover, consider the analogy of Israelis “mowing the lawn” used by some analysts to explain this latest attack, as recounted in Yousef Munayyer’s Oct. 10, 2023, article (www.slate.com). This dehumanizing analogy fits well with Borrell’s analogy of the European gardeners’ mission. In this case, these “gardeners” are Israeli Zionists. The major problem here is that this particular horticultural venture has evolved into what Craig Mokhiber (who resigned as director in the New York Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights), calls “a textbook case of genocide” of Palestinians in Gaza.
The current Zionist “gardening” mission started long before Oct. 7. It began slowly in 1917 (the Balfour Declaration), picking up pace during the waves of terrorist attacks in the 1920s and 1930s, until 1948, when the Zionists carved out the early borders of a version of Borrell’s “European garden.” Another event happened the same year. On Dec. 9, the UNGA adopted the Convention on Genocide, a term coined by the Polish-Jewish lawyer Raphael Lemkin just four years earlier. According to the Convention, “genocide means any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group.” Although this term was coined rather late in human history, it did exist much earlier.
Some of the earliest calls for genocide can be found in the Old Testament, “Now go [King Saul], attack the Amalekites and totally destroy all that belongs to them. Do not spare them; put to death men and women, children and infants, cattle and sheep, camels and donkeys” (1 Samuel 15:3). In this context, the reality of this verse’s fictionality is beside the point. The interesting part is that Netanyahu repeated its genocidal message, almost verbatim, in his televised address to the Israelis some 3,000 years later. Defense Minister Yoav Gallant made a similar call to his army — to mercilessly annihilate the “human animals” and “children of darkness” (i.e., the Palestinians). Several Israeli government officials have made similar statements.
At a minimum, such statements are declarations of genocidal intent, as noted by Nicole Narea and Sigal Samuel, in their Nov. 13 article “How to think through allegations of genocide in Gaza” (www.vox.com). And intent is the single most important criteria in legally establishing the case of genocide. This and other statements are at the center of three Palestinian organizations’ legal cases against Israel, submitted to the International Criminal Court on Nov. 8. The Palestinian human rights attorney and academic Noura Erekat is one of the experts involved (https://www.democracynow.org/2023/11/10/icc_lawsuit).
It seems that Zionism, as an extension of the “European garden” in historic Palestine, enjoys unconditional support from its Euro-American allies. The ideology has seemingly reached its apex. This is perhaps more evident in relation to the surrounding lands, where the shackled and helpless Arab and Muslim populations watch in horror at how their fellow brothers and sisters are being destroyed in real time. The evident impotence and/or unwillingness of the Arab Muslim leaders to act makes the Zionist project appear even more robust.
This helplessness and impotence has allowed the Zionist garden’s numerous drudges and its collaborators outside Israel to uproot, mow, cut, and prune the “jungle” and erase the “human animals” outside its walls in order to clear the “wilderness” and presumably steal even more territory from its indigenous populations. Zionists have publicly stated that ultimately and explicitly they want to expand into Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, and even Egypt (Sinai). In the end, it seems meaningless to resolve the mystery of Euro-American leadership’s indifference and moral bankruptcy regarding the Palestinians’ right to be human (www.cjpme.org/fs_236/). The only meaningful act is to resist the Israeli apartheid system of oppression and domination, its dehumanizing colonial enterprise, and the continuous Zionist humiliation and annihilation of Palestinians (www.alhaq.org, Report: “Israeli Apartheid: Tool of Zionist Settler Colonialism”).
Emin Poljarević is an associate professor of Islamic studies at Universiti Brunei Darussalam.