Their flag, like their state, will fall

(Afif Amera - WAFA)

Omar Zahzah

Mondoweiss  /  May 28, 2022

While the Jewish settlers flag march through Jerusalem’s Old City is rotted to the core with colonial racism, it also reveals an anxiety about belonging that Zionism can never fulfill.

There is no danse macabre quite like the unbearable sequence of murder following murder that is the Zionist entity’s war upon Palestinian life. There are no true caesuras to speak of to this terrifying tune, for the only states resembling anything akin to a cessation are the often embattled moments and sites of grief and anticipatory panic that seem to come almost too late, for as soon as we become conscious of these states, the killing cacophony starts back up again.

If only language existed to capture what is impossible to feel, yet is inflicted all the same; not just a state of perpetual mourning—for this is at least definable, if no less unbearable. No, there is something more: it is also the terrible weight of the discord between perpetual mourning (which includes the certainty of mourning to come) and that, 74 years on, even as the façade continues to crack, there are still liberal bromides that sanction this status quo or, worse yet, blame us for it, asking us to be silent about being slaughtered with total impunity, having our homes destroyed on a whim, to swallow our sweat, our tears and blood in addition to the unbearable burden of a false “peace:” asking us to say that this was fine, to abandon our keys in the dirt or, if we can’t do that, at least die quietly so that a liberal establishment that defines state-sanctioned genocide as an adequate antidote to horrendous oppression can sigh with comfort.

74 years would be considered a mark of maturity in a person. It is therefore far beyond reasonable to presume that more than enough time has passed—time that never should have passed in this manner to begin with, and would not have if it weren’t for the imperialism that sanctioned today’s settler-colonial system—for the various politicos who whine about “peace” and “stability” to grow up, stop their nervous shuffling and reject the notion that our collective life should be the price for an atrocity with which Palestinians had nothing to do.

They must reject it, first, because it is absolutely ahistorical. But in its very ahistorical nature, we get a glimpse of how deeply Palestinian dehumanization has been and remains entrenched in US capitalist imperial politics. This is no doubt part of what we might consider the success, if not even the ethical magic of Zionism, which eventually succeeded—never completely, but we might say well enough—in erasing its own settler-colonial aspirations and violence within the radically underdeveloped political consciousness of hegemonic US culture.

Anything one could say about Palestinians and Arabs more broadly, no matter how ridiculous, how laughable, was to be believed. Meanwhile, Zionism was virtually untouchable, so much so that Palestinians and Arabs could be surveilled, fired, erased from public life, even assassinated for their criticisms.

One could object—rightfully, I would say—that many of these officials don’t actually believe what they are saying, that geo-imperial interests actually dictate their moves, and that the reasons they provide are nothing more than an artificial, surface-level defense. And this is exactly the problem. For Palestinians, there has certainly never been any kind of “surface” that could justify what has been inflicted upon us since the very beginning of the Nakba, but at this moment in time, there is also no surface to speak of within mainstream politics, either.

We have seen the Zionist entity inflict every possible permutation of violence on camera, read about it in newspapers, watched it on our computers and cellphones. We have seen the feigned finger-waggings and heard variations on “we are getting very concerned” repeated so often they have punctuated many of our childhoods and early adulthoods. Still, the money flows to ensure that Palestinian blood will soon follow.

But something else is happening, too. What Palestinians live with—not just the spectacular, but the daily forms and conditions of violence under Zionist colonial supremacy are being increasingly transmitted. And as this happens, there is little compunction, little reservation in Zionist brutality.

It is doing quite well, swelling to ever more arrogant proportions and configurations.

The Zionist entity has brutally murdered 15 year old Zaid Ghneim, the third Palestinian child martyred within the span of a week. Eight Palestinian communities in Masafer Yatta (located in the south of the West Bank) can have their homes destroyed at a moment’s notice due to an inhumane ruling by the Zionist High Court. Following their assassination of Palestinian journalist Shireen Abu Akleh, Zionist forces began a continuing practice of assaulting Palestinians at funerals.

As if this all weren’t horrendous enough, this Sunday, May 29th, fascist Zionist settlers will be holding a flag march throughout Palestinian areas of Jerusalem’s Old City. Rotted to the core with colonial racism, this march is intended to celebrate Zionist forces’ seizure of East Jerusalem in 1967. The same event during which droves of fascist settlers could be heard chanting “death to Arabs” in 2021, the flag march is nothing short of racist provocation. Yet Zionist police commissioner Kobi Shabtai insists that the settlers have the right to hold the event.

But in the seeming surety of escalating violence, of brazenly fascist bravado, an anxiety about belonging lurks. And it is this anxiety that helps drive the continuous ruthlessness of Zionist brutality against Palestinians. Because, as Steven Salaita writes, “The settler doesn’t need a “reason” to kill the native.  The settler kills because deracinating the native is a precondition of his social identity.” 

The Zionist settler—the enfranchised squatter, the fascist role-playing colonization—is at times constructed as the “fringe” of Zionist society, but he is its hollow, beating heart. Suspended in a state of international irresolution and brutal juvenile impatience, the settler wields with every act of violence the history and future of the Zionist state. A colonial state birthed and sustained in Palestinian blood. A state whose “statehood,” whose possibilities for affiliation, are ultimately negative in orientation, negative because they can only exist by and through the negation of the native—the Palestinian.

But the Palestinian has what the settler will never achieve, can never realize: a history. A claim. A narrative.

A culture.

Threatened by this inherent display of legitimacy, of effortless belonging, the settler lashes out. He mangles and breaks stories until they become about him. He waves a flag whose colors, for all of his screaming and jocularity, never seem to run nearly as deep as red, white, green and black. And, of course, he kills. He kills even as the lives he takes continue to outlive him in posterity and connection.

A state defined by and through negation, through sanctioned racism and supremacy, is a state running on borrowed time. The settlers may march on Sunday. And they may wave their flags.

But their flag, like their state, will fall.

And may that fall be as swift as it is sure.

Omar Zahzah is the Education and Advocacy Coordinator for Eyewitness Palestine as well as a member of the Palestinian Youth Movement (PYM) and the US Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (USACBI)