Without Hamas, Gaza Would Still Not Be Free

As a classic settler-colonial state, Israel is doing the only thing it knows how to do, writes Jonathan Cook. So long as the West keeps cheerleading, that includes genocide.

Palestinians inspect the ruins of Aklouk Tower destroyed in Israeli airstrikes in Gaza City on Oct. 8. (Naaman Omar, Palestinian News & Information Agency, or Wafa, for APAimages, CC BY-SA 3.0)

By Jonathan Cook

It shocks me that in my threads I keep coming across variations of the following tweet:

“The Palestinians have it within them to rise up against Hamas to free themselves. Or Hamas can willingly surrender. Two real choices there.”

This view isn’t just being promoted in bad faith by Israeli apologists. It seems to resonate with ordinary people who presumably know very little about the histories either of Palestine or of settler colonial movements such as the Zionist movement that founded Israel.

So let’s delve briefly into both.

First, settler colonial movements are distinguished from standard colonialism — like British rule in India — by the fact that the settler population wishes not just to steal the native population’s resources but to replace the native population itself.

There are lots of examples of this: European settlers dispossessed native peoples in what we today call the United States, Canada, Australia and New Zealand, for example.

Wayside display showing Native American removal located at the Trail of Tears Overlook, near Belle Point, Arkansas. (National Parks Service, Public domain)

The definition of genocide in international law exactly describes what those Europeans did to the local population: mass killings; inflicting conditions calculated to bring about the physical destruction of all or part of the native community; preventing births within the local population; and forcibly transferring native children to the settler population.

European settlers who today call themselves Americans, Canadians, Australians and New Zealanders never had to account for their crimes against those native peoples. Which possibly explains why the tweet above is so commonplace — and why European countries and their settler colonial outgrowths are today lining up against the rest of the world to support Israel as it intensifies industrial genocide in Gaza.

[Related: LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Settler Colonialism and Chris Hedges: The Exterminators]

The truth is the “Western” world order was built on genocide. Israel is just following in a long tradition.

South Africa’s Apartheid

Protests against Apartheid in South Africa, 1980s. (Paul Weinberg, Wikimedia Commons, CC BY-SA 3.0)

Protest against Apartheid in South Africa during the 1980s. (Paul Weinberg, Wikimedia Commons, CC BY-SA 3.0)

Settler colonial movements do not always end up committing genocide. In South Africa, a heavily outnumbered settler colonial population came to an “accommodation” with the native population: the system was known as apartheid. The white group took all the resources and privileges. The black group was allowed to live but only in ghettos and squalor.

In such circumstances, peace is possible only when the settler colonial project is abandoned, power is shared and resources distributed more equitably. This happened, imperfectly, with the fall of apartheid.

The final model for a settler colonial population is to drive the native population over the border, in an act of ethnic cleansing. This was Israel’s preferred option in 1948 and again in 1967, when it decided to expand its borders by occupying the remaining Palestinian lands in the West Bank, East Jerusalem and Gaza.

The Palestinians in Gaza are an object lesson in the various ways a native population can be abused by a settler colonial movement.

Most are refugees or descended from refugees from Israel’s ethnic cleansing operations of 1948. In other words, their family homes are in what we today call Israel. They were driven off their lands into a tiny enclave, to be ruled for the next 19 years by Egypt.

When Israel seized Gaza during the 1967 war, it had to fall back on the second settler colonising option: apartheid. So it turned the enclave into an open-air prison, or – if we’re going to be more honest – a long-term concentration camp.

[Related: Gaza, Hamas & Netanyahu’s Likud and History of the Gaza Strip]

Gaza was a large – and, with Israel’s 16-year siege, increasingly much harsher – version of the townships that held the native black populations in apartheid South Africa.

Israeli troops in Gaza in August 2022. (IDF, Flickr, CC BY-NC 2.0)

What we are seeing now is Israel finally recognising that the apartheid model has failed to subdue the Palestinians’ desire for freedom and dignity.

Unlike white South Africa, Israel is not looking for peace and reconciliation. It is revisiting other settler colonial options.

In the current attack on Gaza, it is implementing a mixed model: genocide for those who remain in Gaza, ethnic cleansing for those who can get out (assuming Egypt finally relents and opens its borders).

None of that has anything to do with Hamas. The most one can say is that Hamas’ resistance has forced Israel’s hand. It has had to abandon its siege-apartheid model — the long-term imprisonment of a population with no resources, no freedom of movement, no clean water, no jobs.

Instead, it has returned to the tried-and-tested formulas of genocide and ethnic cleansing.

Hamas is a symptom of the decades of trauma Palestinians in Gaza have been through, not the cause of that trauma.

Palestinians overthrowing Hamas, or Hamas surrendering, would not turn Gaza into a Dubai-on-the-Mediterranean. Palestinians there would still be prisoners, though possibly allowed slightly better conditions.

If you doubt that, look to the West Bank, which is ruled not by Hamas but by the supine Palestinian Authority of Mahmoud Abbas. He calls security cooperation with Israel — suppressing on Israel’s behalf the Palestinians’ craving for freedom — a “sacred” duty. His biggest aspiration is a diplomatic solution that creates a severely circumscribed Palestinian mini-state.

Abbas with U.S. Secretary of State Anthony Blinken in Ramallah, West Bank, on Jan. 31. (State Department, Ron Przysucha, Public domain)

If Israel can’t allow freedom to the West Bank under Abbas, how is it ever going to give freedom to tiny Gaza, even without Hamas, especially after the United Nations declared the enclave as fundamentally “uninhabitable” in 2020?

Israel could never allow the Palestinians out of their Gaza prison because their rapid growth in numbers is seen as a threat to Israel’s Jewish majority.

Remember: settler colonial populations are there to replace the native population, not to make peace with them, not to share resources, not to give them their freedom.

Israel is doing the only thing it knows how to do. And as long as the West is cheerleading, that includes genocide.

Jonathan Cook is an award-winning British journalist. He was based in Nazareth, Israel, for 20 years. He returned to the U.K. in 2021.He is the author of three books on the Israel-Palestine conflict: Blood and Religion: The Unmasking of the Jewish State (2006), Israel and the Clash of Civilisations: Iraq, Iran and the Plan to Remake the Middle East (2008) and Disappearing Palestine: Israel’s Experiments in Human Despair (2008). If you appreciate his articles, please consider subscribing to his Substack page or offering your financial support

This article is from the author’s blog Jonathan Cook.net

The views expressed are solely those of the author and may or may not reflect those of Consortium News.

17 comments for “Without Hamas, Gaza Would Still Not Be Free

  1. Arch Stanton
    November 3, 2023 at 19:55

    Here in the UK, the leader of the opposition Keir Starmer (soon to be the next PM) openly supports the ongoing genocide being committed in Gaza.

    Starmer was the piece of slime who served up Julian Assange whilst he was Director of Public Prosecutions, so yes, he’s another Zionist stooge.

    There is no one to vote for in next years elections, it’s all rigged. Democracy doesn’t exist but the plebs believe it does

    • Valerie
      November 4, 2023 at 03:39

      I read yesterday Arch that a couple of labour MPs are calling for his resignation because of his stance, supportive of Israel. And 30 councillors have resigned from the labour party. So it might not be a forgone conclusion on his PM position. (We can only hope.)

  2. Em
    November 3, 2023 at 15:04

    Very weird seeing a German picture of pasted wall placards, stating: Entführt, which in English translates to ‘kidnapped’ (take someone – an individual) away illegally by force, typically to obtain a ransom.

    However, there are hundreds of such placards pasted on walls all over the place. Yes, these individuals were taken randomly, but in truth, they are a group of political captives, held as bargaining chips in a cause greater than singular lives, according to the slef-chosen Israelis.
    Isn’t this how Ben Gurion and his cohort of ancestors and their descendants saw and see their cause – call it the Ben Gurions devilish bargain with the Nazis.

    Yet, apparently, they still don’t get the truth in the idiom: what is good for the goose is good for the gander. Equality has never been the rule that they play by.

    Yet they proclaim they are stringently following the “rules of war”, as if this is not an atrocious oxymoron
    Given the much more serious nature of the genocide being perpetrated by Israel in Gaza, the placards should have been more exact with their banner headline.

    IMO they should have read: ALS GEISELN GENOMMEN (taken as hostages).
    What is going on today in the consciences of the German governments psyche?

    They obviously will never be able to live down their conduct in WWII, which, in fact, tragically means they are hostages to their past history, as are the Jews, to their past history, not only with their contemporary neigbors, but to the paranoia they daily demonstrate in their genocidal lived behaviors towards their Palestinian neighbors.

  3. Charles E. Carroll
    November 3, 2023 at 12:10

    Free Palestine! Remember the USS Liberty. 34 American sailors dead, 171 sailors wounded.

  4. CaseyG
    November 3, 2023 at 08:58

    If America were truly a democracy—-Biden would not be propping up Israel— And we do have a world court and what is happening to Palestinians is a crime that’s been raging since 1948 with Nakba.
    Of course this is also the American where historically Native People , Asians, Afro Americans, Hispanic people are also derided by those in our own government.
    And by the way, Joe Biden, do you and Blinken realize how many Americans are now homeless, jobless, without support? Yet you continue giving and gloving for war?????

    Sadly America seems to be turning into the lines of that old poem :
    ” This is the way the world ends, not with a bang, with a whimper. ” : (

  5. susan
    November 3, 2023 at 08:27

    I’m so ashamed to call myself “American”…

    • Em
      November 4, 2023 at 13:41

      The spelling of the name has changed! It is now be spelled “Americant” or “American’t” either way it refers to the same global rogue state.

  6. Robert Barry
    November 3, 2023 at 07:00

    You need to add one more factor to the “mixed model”. Israel are systematically reducing Gaza to rubble to make it impossible for Gazan’s to live there.

  7. Lois Gagnon
    November 2, 2023 at 23:17

    This horrid system of settler colonialism must be defeated and replaced with true democracy and equal rights for all. Free Palestine!

  8. ks
    November 2, 2023 at 23:04

    Thank you for this. Col Larry Wilkinson was asked how he would characterize Hamas and he said, as guerillas. I think that’s correct. It’s a western conceit that we know best what kind of resistance force should represent Palestinians.

  9. Rafael
    November 2, 2023 at 19:50

    The European settlers in what’s now South Africa did not “come to an accommodation with the native population”, they used them as captive labour. That is why they needed them to remain alive.

    It’s even more erroneous to say about present conditions that “power is shared and resources distributed more equitably”. What ended was what people call petty apartheid, the structural apartheid remains.

  10. Valerie
    November 2, 2023 at 18:20

    “Hamas is a symptom of the decades of trauma Palestinians in Gaza have been through, not the cause of that trauma.”

    And Hamas, along with Al-Qaeda, Isis, Muslim Brotherhood, Hezbollah, RAF -Baader-Meinhof Group, IRA etc are all symptoms of western imperialism/aggression/fascism/trauma i believe.

  11. mary-lou
    November 2, 2023 at 18:09

    big TQ for this article. only just now I was going to send a comment to one of my substack subscriptions pointing out exactly this, the inhumanity of settler colonial movements – welcome indeed to the wrong-footed history of the US, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand. it should be condemned for the atrocity that it is and shouldn’t be sancioned any longer.

  12. SH
    November 2, 2023 at 16:56

    It always amazes me that it takes so may words to describe something that requires so few ,,,

    • Drew Hunkins
      November 2, 2023 at 17:29

      Zionist liars and hustlers make it this way. They’re extremely adroit prevaricators.

      They have very high verbal IQs and bully and browbeat discussions on this topic. Of course their virtual total control of the establishment press doesn’t hurt either, they dominate the talking head shows and are slick propagandists in the mainstream media.

    • Valerie
      November 2, 2023 at 17:56

      And the “forked tongue” speak.

  13. Drew Hunkins
    November 2, 2023 at 16:07

    “The Palestinians have it within them to rise up against Hamas to free themselves. Or Hamas can willingly surrender. Two real choices there.”

    What a sick joke.

    The Palestinians tried non-violent resistance and it was an abject failure: they were slaughtered in cold blood by hubristic psychopathic IDF snipers.

    Hamas is a response! It’s a reaction to 80 years of Zionist inflicted violence, humiliation, murder and land-theft.

    Stand in solidarity with Hamas!

Comments are closed.