In the tumultuous landscape of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the Gaza Strip has been rendered a crucible of suffering, trauma, and unfathomable despair. Amid the carnage wrought to Gaza by the Israeli army which has resulted in over 9000 people killed, an insidious force continues to erode the very essence of humanity: the systematic dehumanization of the Palestinian people. This dehumanization is exasperated by the shameless, woeful rhetoric used by prominent right wing politicians, journalists, celebrities and social media influencers.
Beyond the physical devastation inflicted by incessant conflict, the dehumanization of Palestinians in Gaza inflicts a profound and enduring psychological toll, perpetuating a cycle of animosity that threatens to undermine the prospects for peace. It was through the systematic dehumanization of Jews by the Nazis, through various means such as propaganda, discriminatory laws, and social ostracization, contributed to creating an environment where the mass murder of millions of Jewish people became possible.
Vermin such as rats, lice, cockroaches, along with creatures like foxes and vultures were employed by the Nazis to belittle and degrade the Jewish population. They also resorted to the use of derogatory language. In a study delving into numerous Nazi speeches, articles, pamphlets, and posters, analysts reveal how this process of dehumanization aimed at Jews, which commenced even before the Nazis gained power and contributed to the rise of the party, was tactfully manipulated to rationalize heinous acts. Leading up to the Holocaust, Jews were portrayed as devoid of any human emotions. As the Nazis initiated their early steps to eradicate them, European Jews were depicted as malevolent agents, demons, and part of a wicked conspiracy plotting imminent dangers. The outcome, whether by design or not, was the removal of moral obstacles to the mass annihilation of the Jewish community. By the culmination of the war, the Third Reich had systematically executed six million Jews.
Similarly, in the current war between Israel and Gaza we have witnessed the exact same loathsome tactic of dehumanization used by Israel and its supporters. Numerous references have been made by the highest ranking Israeli politicians and military officials likening the Palestinians to animals, whose lives are worthlessThis disgusting tactic is not conducted in closeted hidden circles orin hushed private conversations but openly declared before the entire world on broadcast and social media.
Israeli Defense Minister, Yoav Gallant, the man responsible for translating Israel’s declaration of war into an action plan: “We are fighting human animals and we will act accordingly,” he said on October 9. ‘Accordingly,’ here, meant that “there will be no electricity, no food, no fuel. Everything is closed.” And, of course, thousands of dead civilians. This statement received no objection from Israel’s strongest supporters the United States and Britain. Also, Former Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett erupted at a British anchor for asking about Palestinian suffering in Gaza: “Are you seriously [sic] keep asking me about Palestinian civilians? What is wrong with you?” In the U.S., meanwhile, Republican Senator Lindsey Graham has said that Gaza should be “flattened,” while Republican presidential hopeful Nikki Haley implored Netanyahu to “finish them.” She coldly repeated her statement “finish them” three times. Indeed, this tactic of collective retribution against innocent civilians is a familiar tactic employed by colonial rulers.
Tragically, dehumanizing rhetoric has become ubiquitous on all types of media platforms. The zionists who peddle this kind of propaganda know that they will not incur any consequences due to apathy by most mainstream media outlets. Yet, if the same kind of rhetoric was applied in the opposite direction (towards the Zionists) not only would the perpetrators most likely lose their positions and reputations, they would be cancelled from the public sphere in an instant. This further highlights how Palestinian lives are regarded as worthless by the Israeli government officials and their closest allies in politics and the media.
Furthermore, this equivocation of Palestinians lives is perpetuated within schools and Universities on a recent BBC Arabic interview the Israeli researcher at Bar-Ilan University and political analyst Dr Mordechai Kedar said “I do not equate them [ the Palestinian in Gaza] with animals, because that is an insult to animals”.
Numerous videos on social media have shown how classes of primary school children are indoctrinated to view Arabs as subhumans. Many videos of primary school have surfaced showing how small children are being taught how Arabs are their enemies, with whom a final war is inevitable when their Jewish ‘Messiah’ eventually arrives.
Nurit Peled-Elhanan details in the book ‘Palestine in Israeli School Books’ Israeli schoolchildren are indoctrinated with negative stereotypes and outright hatred of Palestinians and Arabs from an early age. Furthermore, Peled-Elhanan writes in the book of how Israeli educational materials depict Israeli-Jewish culture as being of higher standing compared to Arab-Palestinian culture. They promote the notion that Israeli-Jewish notions of advancement are superior to the Palestinian-Arab way of life, while also suggesting that Israeli-Jewish conduct is in line with universal principles.
However, the issue extends beyond education alone. Israeli youth are raised in a heavily militarized settler-colonial environment, with most being aware of their future involvement in the military, where they will receive orders to occupy and engage in combat. The early inculcation of specific ideologies appears to play a critical role in ensuring that very few individuals will opt out of participating in such endeavors. Indeed this evokes the memory of the infamous depiction of Israeli schoolgirls inscribing messages on artillery shells before they were launched into Lebanon during the 2006 Israeli assault, resulting in the deaths of over 1,200 Lebanese civilians and causing extensive destruction throughout the region.
As the world grapples with the complexities of this enduring conflict, it is imperative to shed light on the alarming consequences of dehumanization and recognize the urgent need for justice and a collective endeavor to restore the dignity and humanity of the Palestinian people in Gaza.
Ultimately, many decades of relentless calumnious propaganda have reared a poisonous harvest as the deaths of so many people in such a violent and unmercifully manner is met with a dismissive hand wave by politicians and right wing media personalities. They continue to advocate for Israel’s right ‘to defend itself’ no matter what the cost to Palestinian lives, property or infrastructure. Such apathy can only be understood as a direct byproduct of the dehumanization of an entire race of people to both in Israel and the rest of the world.