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With Genocide in Gaza, the Word ‘Never’ Has Been Stripped from ‘Never Again’

ActivismActivismWith Genocide in Gaza, the Word ‘Never’ Has Been Stripped from ‘Never Again’

A Palestinian man holds a child as he mourns the death of twin babies Naeem and Wissam Abu Anza, killed in an overnight Israeli air strike, during their burial in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip on 3 Mar 2024.
(Photo by Mohammed Abed/AFP via Getty Images)

The Palestinians, facing down the most powerful countries in the world, left virtually alone even by their allies, have suffered immeasurably. But they have won this war.

8 Mar 2024 – The richest, most powerful countries in the Western world, those who believe themselves to be the keepers of the flame of the modern world’s commitment to democracy and human rights, are openly financing and applauding Israel’s genocide in Gaza. The Gaza strip has been turned into a concentration camp. Those who have not already been killed are being starved to death. Almost the entire population of Gaza has been displaced. Their homes, hospitals, universities, museums, and infrastructure of every kind has been reduced to rubble. Their children have been murdered. Their past has been vaporized. Their future is hard to see.

Even though the highest court in the world believes that almost every indicator seems to meet the legal definition of genocide, IDF soldiers continue to put out their mocking “victory videos” celebrating what almost looks like fiendish rituals. They believe that there is no power in the world that will hold them to account. But they are wrong. They and their children’s children will be haunted by what they have done. They will have to live with the loathing and the abhorrence the world feels for them. And hopefully one day everybody – on all sides of this conflict – who has committed war crimes will be tried and punished for them, keeping in mind that there is no equivalence between crimes committed while resisting Apartheid and Occupation, and crimes committed while enforcing them.

They and their children’s children will be haunted by what they have done. They will have to live with the loathing and the abhorrence the world feels for them.

Racism is of course the keystone of any act of genocide. The rhetoric of the highest officials of the Israeli state has, ever since Israel came into existence, dehumanized Palestinians and likened them to vermin and insects, just like the Nazis once dehumanized Jews. It is as though that evil serum never went away and is now only being recirculated. The “Never” has been excised from that powerful slogan “Never Again”. And we are left only with “Again”.

Never Again.

President Joe Biden, head of state of the richest, most powerful country in the world, is helpless before Israel, even though Israel would not exist without US funding. It’s as though the dependent has taken over the benefactor. The optics say so. Like a geriatric child, Joe Biden appears on camera licking an ice-cream cone and vaguely mumbling about a ceasefire, while Israeli government and military officials openly defy him and vow to finish what they have started. To try and stop the hemorrhaging of the votes of millions of young Americans who will not stand for this slaughter in their name, Kamala Harris, US vice-president, has been tasked with the job of calling for a ceasefire, while billions of US dollars continue to flow to enable the genocide.

And what of our country?

It is well known that our prime minister is an intimate friend of Benjamin Netanyahu and there is no doubt where his sympathies lie. India is no longer a friend of Palestine. When the bombing began, thousands of Modi’s supporters put up the Israeli flag as their DP on social media. They helped spread the vilest disinformation on behalf of Israel and the IDF. Even though the Indian government has now stepped back into a more neutral position – our foreign policy triumph is that we manage to be on all sides at once, we can be pro- as well as anti-genocide – the government has clearly indicated that it will act decisively against any pro-Palestine protestors.

President Joe Biden, head of state of the richest, most powerful country in the world, is helpless before Israel, even though Israel would not exist without US funding. It’s as though the dependent has taken over the benefactor.

And now, while the US exports what it has in abundant surplus – weapons and money to aid Israel’s genocide – India too is exporting what our country has in abundant surplus: the unemployed poor to replace the Palestinian workers who will no longer be given work permits to enter Israel. (I’m guessing there will be no Muslims among the new recruits.) People who are desperate enough to risk their lives in a war zone. People desperate enough to tolerate overt Israeli racism against Indians. You can see it expressed on social media, if you care to look. US money and Indian poverty combine to oil Israel’s genocidal war machine. What a terrible, unthinkable, shame.

The Palestinians, facing down the most powerful countries in the world, left virtually alone even by their allies, have suffered immeasurably. But they have won this war. They, their journalists, their doctors, their rescue teams their poets, academics, spokespeople, and even their children have conducted themselves with a courage and dignity that has inspired the rest of the world. The young generation in the Western world, particularly the new generation of young Jewish people in the US, have seen through the brainwashing and propaganda and have recognized apartheid and genocide for what it is. The governments of the most powerful countries in the Western world have lost their dignity, and any respect they might have had. Yet again. But the millions of protestors on the streets of Europe and the US are the hope for the future of the world.

Palestine will be free.

_______________________________________________

Statement written by Arundhati Roy and delivered on her behalf at the meeting of Working People Against Apartheid and Genocide in Gaza, at the Press Club, New Delhi, on 7 Mar 2024. The remarks were first published by Scroll, an independent media outlet in India.

Arundhati Roy, born Nov 24 1961, is an Indian novelist and political activist. She studied architecture in New Delhi, where she now lives. She is the author of the novels The God of Small Things, for which she received the 1997 Booker Prize, and The Ministry of Utmost Happiness. A collection of her essays from the past twenty years, My Seditious Heart, was recently published by Haymarket Books. Roy was awarded the Sydney Peace Prize in 2004 and has concentrated on penning down political issues being a critic of neo-imperialism and linked to anti-globalization movements. Roy’s subversive nature has made her accustomed to criticism. “Each time I step out, I hear the snicker-snack of knives being sharpened but that’s good. It keeps me sharp”, she said when interviewed by an Indian magazine.

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