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Facing the Palestinian faces

By Joseph Wakim - posted Friday, 1 August 2014

If we were witnessing a kangaroo cull through aerial bombardment, there would be moral outrage.

If we were witnessing a whale cull through sea ships, there would be moral outrage.

But when we witness a Palestinian cull by air, land and sea, we are told to blame the victims for hiding among terrorists.


The euphemism for this mass murder of civilians in Gaza is 'mow the lawn', reducing Palestinians not to animals, but to blades of grass. It is sold to us as a two-sided war between the Israeli Defence Forces and Hamas terrorists – not Palestinian people. The Palestinians all belong somewhere on the terrorism continuum as potential terrorists, breeding terrorists, born terrorists, supporting terrorists, hiding terrorists, or armed terrorists. The loaded label is intended to throw a blanket over our eyes to blind us from any questions of legitimacy or humanity.

This is the well-worn, war-time propaganda of dehumanisation, aimed to absolve us from any guilt that the humans are like us – with a name, a face, a family, a home, a dream.

But it is time that this dehumanisation was worn out and discarded.

It is the 'de' that needs to be mowed away to so we can see humanisation.

Propaganda relies on controlling the cameras. But social media has become a powerful weapon. As pilots 'send' air missiles down to Gaza, Palestinians 'send' videos up for the world to see – graphic and uncensored. Unlike the pilots who see inhuman dots on a screen, the videos enable us to see terrified humans with nowhere to hide. In real time, we become eyewitness to the destruction of indigenous Palestinians and the reduction of their homeland to an abattoir.

When the terror-tinted glasses are discarded, this is not hyperbole. This is the making of history. This is the map of Palestine being shrunk and flattened, year after year, war after war, talk after talk, settlement after settlement.


If we could see Palestine from high above the unmanned drones, the picture makes more sense. Gaza is only 360 km2, home to 1.8 million Palestinians, less the current cull. It is wedged between Israel Egypt and the Mediterranean Sea, so unless they can swim, fly or dig, the people are besieged. Even the birds and fish avoid the area as a no go zone.

This is one of the most densely populated areas on the planet, with over 5000 people per square kilometre. This equates to Drummoyne in Sydney, St Kilda in Melbourne or Fortitude Valley in Brisbane.

Imagine a leaflet telling you to leave these crowded areas. How is it possible for Israel's pinpoint technologies to avoid the indiscriminate slaughter of innocent civilians? Where exactly are the humans supposed to swim, fly or dig? How can combatants hide behind human shields in a totally civilian area? How can there be any shields when no school, hospital or UN shelter is spared?

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About the Author

Joseph Wakim founded the Australian Arabic Council and is a former multicultural affairs commissioner.

Other articles by this Author

All articles by Joseph Wakim

Creative Commons LicenseThis work is licensed under a Creative Commons License.

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