Those who speak of humanitarian aid

speak with a corpse in their mouth

Those who speak of humanitarian aid

Today, with great fanfare, the US, UK, Israel and Egypt have announced they will allow 20 trucks of aid into Gaza.

20 trucks for 2.3 million people suffering under bombardment without food or water for two weeks. 20 trucks. This is the “victory” of international pressure on Israel. This naked PR stunt is Biden trying to salvage anything from his disastrously useless visit to the region, where all the Arab leaders cancelled their planned meeting with him in protest of the air strike on Al-Ahli hospital that claimed 500 Palestinian lives. Biden, for his part, embraced Bibi, and went full Infowars, claiming that the hospital bombing was a rocket backfire. Today UK prime minister Rishi Sunak echoed these claims.

This attack was a litmus test of how much genocide Israel’s allies were willing to stomach. They licked their lips and asked for more.

In the world of Biden logistical sense-making, a rocket array that can’t even damage Israeli targets is capable of levelling a hospital with a backfire, 3.4 billion dollars in annual military aid to Israel is a reasonable and necessary expense, and 20 trucks will stop a humanitarian crisis in a concentration camp of 2.3 million people under two weeks of constant bombardment.

Meanwhile, Biden has privately indicated to Netenyahu the US’ support for the land invasion of Gaza, which is to say, the implicit sacrifice of the American hostages currently being held by militants. Still, however, the IDF doesn’t attack. While the far right settler politicos at the center of the state want full invasion, it seems perhaps the IDF just wants to terrorize the Gazans into a 2nd Nakbah without actually having to fight, to reveal their absolute impotence as a military force, rather than a bodyguard for settler vigilantes.

This is not hyperbole. On October 7th, part of why Hamas was so successful in carrying out their attack was because the majority of IDF border forces were busy on the other side of the country, assisting illegal settlers putting up a Sukkah in the West Bank. This is a particularly ugly irony, as the Sukkah is a ritual structure meant to remind Jews of the suffering of the Exodus and our many periods of oppression, to point to the ephemeral nature of wealth, comfort and power, and therefore share our bounty and our shelter with any who need it. The IDF doesn’t want to look like the Russian military did in Ukraine: an incredibly expensive, cruel and ineffective farce.

As Rasha Abdulhadi argues in this incredibly important interview with Death Panel Podcast about the forms of rhetoric and propaganda around Palestine, the demand for humanitarian aid is a smokescreen, a naturalizing lie. Because Israel could just TURN THE WATER BACK ON. Israel could stop their siege, their bombardment, their blockade at any time. While of course supplies arriving in Gaza is better than their not arriving—and we must amplify any demands that Palestinians make about their own needs in the situation—do not get stuck discoursing about Egypt or Hamas or even Israel blocking the humanitarian aid that needs to arrive

Discourse about “humanitarian aid” treats the situation like a natural disaster (the effects of which are never actually “natural”, but a result of previous social, logistical, political and ecological choices). This is the liberal internationalist form of passive voice. Why do Gazans need “humanitarian aid”? Why do they have no water, no medical supplies, no food? Calling for humanitarian aid is a way of dodging this question, a manipulation of people’s good intentions and desire for peace into washing the Israeli government’s hands of responsibility for the blockade, siege and bombardment. It makes their actions seems as inevitable as a weather pattern.

But none of this is inevitable. Genocide is NOT inevitable. Israeli oppression is NOT inevitable. And talking about this as a humanitarian crisis, rather than an ongoing active genocide that can, must and WILL be stopped, is to speak the language of settler colonialism. It is to speak as an enemy of liberation.

Israel must be stopped, and any “ally” of Israel that puts effort into anything other than stopping Israel is at best participating in covering up genocide.  Do not get caught in this polite language of genocide denial, which speaks so outragedly of international law and humanitarian aid. As Abdulhadi says, over and over in the interview, take whatever you can grasp and throw it into the gears of the war machine. The “international community” is built on settler-colonial violence. We need not heed their white supremacist rules and mealy-mouthed self-justifications. All we need to do is stop this genocide. By any means necessary.