Op-Ed by Dr M McDaid

Abstract: Condemnation of Hamas’ actions has not served its victims and has instead fed into a frenzy of mainstream excuses for the ensuing crimes committed by Israel in the weeks after. 

Activists, scholars, politicians and NGO representatives have been forced to caveat statements of support for Palestine with a condemnation of Hamas’ October 7th attacks. Meanwhile, Israel has been committing unfathomable consecutive massacres, which its supporters are rarely - if ever - called to condemn. Rather, Israeli violence has been condoned by the West and has backing from the media who pedal this framework. The focus on October 7th is now serving to both avoid a discussion of the root and wider causes of the current violence as well as a narrative that thePalestinian people deserve their annihilation because ‘Hamas started it’. Condemnation of Hamas in a vacuum should be understood as a tactic that does not call for mourning or acknowledging its victims and is instead used by the media and powerful institutions as an arc upon which to justify the massacre of Palestinains and to undermine  international solidarity with Palestine. 

The US, Britain, and the EU are offering uncritical support for Israel and are also seeking to make supporting Palestine more difficult. These include attempts to ban the Palestine flag and pro-Palestine chants, as well as pushing legislation that would make boycotts of Israel illegal. It appears more important than ever, then, to resist narratives which ignore the wider crimes of apartheid and persecution that Israel has been committing since at least 1948. The condemnation framework denies a conversation about the wider context of settler-colonialism. The systematic ethnic cleansing of Palestine during and since the Nakba of 1948 is not something to which the Israeli State has been held accountable.  Moreover,  collective punishment is implicitly justified by Israel by treating all Palestinians as terrorists, whether a militant or not, whether elderly or a child.. The Israeli State has never hidden that they see every single Palestinian as a target regardless of who they are and this is a view reproduced by the media.  

Israel has, however, faced criticism from international human and civil rights organisations including UNICEF, Human Rights Watch, MSF and the WHO who either called for ceasefires or unrestricted humanitarian access.  ,  Clearly statements of strong disapproval from such organisations have not been effective in stopping the previous or current Israeli actions Furthermore, the creation of Israel came at the expense of  Palestinian self-determination.  Codes of war enshrined in international human rights law have never protected Palestinains from the injustices they have endured nor have such legal frameworks imposed consequences for the occupying Israeli State. More recently, Israeli actions in the lead up to the attack on October 7th were completely ignored internationally.   It is therefore important to resist the narrative that isolates the actions of Hamas under a microscope. .  No doubt what is happening to Palestine constitutes unconscionable war crimes that cannot be justified by any legitimate moral or legal code. In the last two weeks thousands of Palestinans have been killed after thousands of others in the years preceding.  Yet, those in power have little to say on the increasingly violent destruction of Gaza and Palestinains who are entrapped, politically powerless, oppressed and condemned. 

Israel is now using human rights and international laws it has rarely observed as a justification for its deepening violence against Palestinians and those within Israel who are dissenting. In the time since the Nakba, Israel has seldom been held accountable by the systems that are supposed to prevent or address its breaches of international law including crimes of apartheid, persecution and occupation. Palestinians are not Hamas, but they are punished as if they are one and the same. Therefore, statements of solidarity with Palestine that frame the violence as starting on October 7th, feed a justification tactic that is being used as ‘moral cover’ by those complicit in these war crimes. We bear witness that, so far, no amount of condemnation from human rights experts and institutions is stopping Israeli genocide However, what is also clearly unfolding is that Israel’s propaganda war, with support of the West and the media, has been totally ineffective in controlling the narrative for ordinary people across the world. Hundreds of thousands of people are marching, protesting and demonstrating at Israel’s violence and their own governments’ complicity. In the 75 years of attempts to wipe out Palestine, this time there is a clear and measurable indication that those in power who are trying to distort the narrative of violence in an isolated condemnation framework, do not represent the vast majority of people who wish to see justice for Palestinians and an end to Israeli impunity.

Dr M McDaid is a Social Historian and Researcher based in Ireland.

Article or Event Link
Oct 30, 2023
Public Policy


Public Policy

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