Israel’s democracy is no barrier to genocide, just like the historic Anglo-American colonialism in the US, Canada and Australia.

Alex Lo

The United Nations Human Rights Council last week published a report that found “reasonable grounds to believe that the threshold indicating Israel’s commission of genocide is met” in Gaza. This came as the UN Security Council passed a resolution demanding an immediate ceasefire.

“Israel’s executive and military leadership and soldiers have intentionally distorted jus in bello [just conduct in war] principles, subverting their protective functions, in an attempt to legitimise genocidal violence against the Palestinian people,” according to a summary of the Human Rights Council report “Anatomy of a Genocide”.

You know something truly evil is happening when even Israel’s no-limits partner in crime, the United States, abstained to enable the passage of the ceasefire vote tabled by 10 non-permanent member states. But in typical US fashion, it continues to enable the genocide as The Washington Post reported that “new arms packages” for Israel have been authorised and “include more than 1,800 MK84 2,000-pound bombs and 500 MK82 500-pound bombs.

Meanwhile, even the US State Department now has to acknowledge that Gaza is either suffering from famine or close to it.

“While we can say with confidence that famine is a significant risk in the south and centre but not present, in the north, it is both a risk and quite possibly is present in at least some areas,” an official told Reuters.

In presenting her report, UN Special Rapporteur Francesca Albanese accused Israel of violating three of the five acts listed under the UN Genocide Convention: killing members of a specific group; causing serious bodily or mental harm; and deliberately inflicting conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole and in part.

She also found that genocidal acts were approved by senior Israeli military and civilian officials. These acts, she argues, are part of a “settler-colonial process of erasure”, which has been “under way for more than 70 years.”

For decades, the Western public has been sold on the idea that Israel is the only democracy in the Middle East. But what is neglected and covered over is that all the Anglo-American democracies had historically been genocidal colonial-settler projects, in the United States, Canada and Australia.

That’s why commenting on the Gaza war, Israeli historian Ilan Pappé has called Israel the last colonial-settler project. While almost always claiming the moral high ground and noble purposes, such colonialism, as we now know, was the historical evil twin of Anglo-American democracies. It was also the mirror image of the genocidal imperialism of “old” Europe.

But why? I can’t do better than to quote from a learned correspondent.

“[Demonisation] has been essential to delegitimising Palestinian resistance to perpetual occupation and oppression and, now, is essential to legitimising genocide in Western eyes,” he wrote. “[It] is consistent with the imperialist/colonialist/racist mindset that, over centuries, has considered that slaves, the colonised, the occupied and the oppressed must accept their just fate, that they have no right to violently resist their slave owners, colonisers, occupiers and oppressors and that, should these lesser beings ever dare to do so, they deserve exemplary punishment … This dehumanising mindset is virtually obligatory for members of the immigrant ethnic group in any settler-colonial state, since no moral framework could justify doing to human beings what must be done to the indigenous population which must be dispossessed, dispersed and, often, exterminated in order for a settler-colonial project to succeed.”

Israel is holding the entire Gazan population responsible for atrocities committed by Hamas on October 7. By the same logic, shouldn’t the world now hold the citizenry of Israel responsible for the genocide?

The country has long been portrayed in the West as a lone brave democracy fighting for survival, constantly threatened by animalistic Arabs and terroristic Palestinians. The flipside is that it is a colonial state dispossessing and now, it seems, trying to eliminate the indigenous population.

Alex Lo

Alex Lo has been a Post columnist since 2012, covering major issues affecting Hong Kong and the rest of China. A journalist for 25 years, he has worked for various publications in Hong Kong and Toronto as a news reporter and editor. He has also lectured in journalism at the University of Hong Kong.