Middle East Monitor / January 12, 2021
“Shocking scenes of violence” was how the Jewish Insider described last week’s storming of the Capitol Building in Washington DC by supporters of outgoing US President Donald Trump. It is a dissociative statement, one that does not equate the US with violence, apart from glossing over the fact that Trump himself encouraged and incited such action in his own country.
But perhaps the greatest dissociation comes from Israeli diplomats, whose statements are bizarre. The article quotes the former Israeli Ambassador to the US, Michael Oren: “Israel has faced an impossible dilemma: how to embrace the historic achievements of the Trump White House while dissociating from its incendiary domestic acts.” Briefly, Israel admires US violence and disregard for the law on foreign territory, especially when used to benefit Israel, such as the string of diplomatic concessions which have paved the way for the “postponed” annexation of more Palestinian land.
Former settler leader Dani Dayan called Trump “a diplomatic miracle” in relation to Israel. Meanwhile, former Knesset member Dov Lipman, asserted, “I still believe that Israelis are able to make a distinction between that [the violence] and being thankful for things that Trump has done for Israel.” Presumably this is because the violence inflicted upon the Palestinian people by Israel is not regarded as such in the settler-colonial narrative.
Yet having Israeli officials attempting to distance themselves from just one manifestation of violence does not constitute an absolute condemnation. The truth is, Israel and the US only classify violence as abhorrent when this is turned inward; when the aggression taught and condoned by the state is used by its own citizens to influence or obstruct a particular political outcome within that state.
US violence in Latin America, for example, is explained away by claiming to be “bringing democracy” to the people. Never mind the thousands of people killed and disappeared by the US-backed dictatorships in the region. Meanwhile, Israel’s violence against the Palestinian people is classified as a “security necessity” and “self-defence” in the colonial narrative. Both Israel and the US have absolved themselves of any culpability and accountability.
However, if the settler-colonialists propping up Israel look at its existence in Palestine from a historical perspective, the bloody terrorism which begat the Zionist state is demonstrable. Violence created Israel and erased the Palestinian people through ethnic cleansing and forced displacement; the violence was given a veneer of legitimacy by the Zionist paramilitaries being incorporated later into the nascent Israel Defence Forces. Today the IDF plays an intricate role in determining Israel’s political agenda. Besides the well-known military offensives against Gaza, the IDF provides settler-colonial perpetrators of violence with protection and impunity.
In terms of US-Israeli political violence, Trump’s record is by far the most overt, yet it builds upon the legacy of his predecessors. With the US promoting and financing the security narrative of Israel and its illegal settlers, it will take a complete overhaul of Israeli society to ponder its violence openly and honestly and accept that it is the violent product of a violent colonial project. And that America, and those who work within the Capitol Building attacked last week, play a prominent role in supporting the Israeli state and its atrocities against the Palestinian people. The double standards applied when determining which violence is acceptable, or not, are clear for us all to see.
Ramona Wadi is an independent researcher, freelance journalist, book reviewer and blogger; her writing covers a range of themes in relation to Palestine, Chile and Latin America