The Mask Of Genocide & The Court Of History

2024 Gaza Solidarity Encampment at Brown University : Credit Kenneth C. Zirkel, CC BY 4.0 via Wikimedia Commons

Phil Vellender on the echoes of the US Gaza campus protests with the anti-Vietnam war movements in the 1960s and 70s

In the 1960s & 1970s, we students protested against the Vietnam War (or, more precisely, the American War). We were a minority. They said we were wrong. In 2003, we protested Iraq. We were a minority. They said we were wrong. In 2024, students are protesting against a genocide they can watch on their phones. They too are condemned. But they are no longer a minority. They are definitely not wrong. In Vietnam there was a final “objective” for US Cold War policy: freeing the Vietnamese from those communists who would enslave them. In Iraq, it was freeing the Iraqis from a brutal dictator whose WMD could hit the US/UK bases in 45 minutes. In 2024, however, our governments are supporting a regime of extreme right, ethno-nationalists seizing on an attack by Hamas in order to bomb, shoot and drive an entire people out of Gaza, with the clear, pre-announced objective of “solving the Palestinian problem” once and for all.

In the first two cases, we were either branded commie-sympathising traitors and extremists or we were apologists for Saddam’s tyrannical regime. In this case, protesters are portrayed as Hamas terrorist sympathisers or hate marchers. As back then in 1968, so now, the TV and radio output and the op-eds’ focus is on the violence occurring around the protests, not on the mass-murder by carpet bombing, napalm and Agent Orange of the Vietnamese people in the 1960s & 1970s, nor the slaughter unleashed on the Iraqis. Today, Israel’s genocidal war on the Palestinians is similarly side-lined by coverage of violence or adolescent name-calling on college campuses. The majority of the newspapers, TV and radio are currently shilling for Israel – and they tell the students they are wrong.  That Israel has the “right to self-defence”. However, they don’t explain why the Palestinians have been denied that self same right on countless occasions since 1948.

And we were right in the 1960s, 1970s and in 2003. Curiously, many of those fronting the radio, TV current affairs programmes and/ or writing endless pro-Israel op-eds, attacking the protesters of today, now disingenuously claim they actually supported those anti-war causes they formerly vilified (you know, it was just the protester violence that they found unpalatable). They’re lying, of course. Those the mass media once vilified, history later vindicated. It’s quite understandable that many of those who lied about Vietnam and Iraq should have since flocked to stand alongside the anti-war protesters who were right all along.

In 2024, the same vilification process activists in previous anti-war struggles experienced is happening all over again. The lexis is identical. But the vilification won’t work this time. For 2024’s protesters are fighting for something even more profound than their forebears did in the 1960s, 1970s or 2003: the very survival of a people, facing erasure – in real time.

Consequently, 2024s protesters will not have to wait 50 or even 25 years to be vindicated. History has vindicated them already. It is the baying ghouls in the right-wing TV/ radio & newspapers who will feel history’s wrath. And if the ICC is indeed coming for Netanyahu’s fellow-travellers in genocide, it is the White House and Downing Street, who collaborated so enthusiastically in enabling and covering up Israel’s catastrophic, criminal campaign, who will find themselves most roundly condemned by the court of history.

In 2024, the whole world is watching.

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