Gaza 2014: The Final Solution Begins

As Israel slaughters its way through Gaza, it’s frustrating to watch discussions get confused by the daily complexities of the conflict, because the underlying truth is incredibly simple: the Zionists that now firmly control Israeli government intend to take permanent control of Gaza, making it a part of their nation. There is no nuance or balance needed to see the big picture. This might be illegal, brutal and savage, but nobody can claim not to understand it. To illustrate the point, here are four maps showing Israel and Palestine at various points in the past century. Gaza is the little strip of green on the coast on the left.

The incredible shrinking Palestine
The incredible shrinking Palestine

 

In Israel’s colonial plan, Gaza is a minor issue. The real prize is the West Bank, and as the map shows, that is being taken one settlement, one house at a time. Those spots of green are getting smaller every day. They are little spots of misery in a wealthy land, lacking the water, roads and other infrastructure available to the rest of Israel, and facing regular violence from Israeli settlers, who are backed by IDF forces. The biggest prize of all is Jerusalem, and as the map shows, that was once clearly part of Palestine, and is now being surgically extracted and grafted on to Israel.

From a historical point of view, the events in Israel-Palestine are fascinating to watch. Once, such land grabs were commonplace. In fact, every point on Earth was once inhibited by different racial and tribal groups: America and Australia were, of course, not white, England wasn’t Anglo-Saxon and China wasn’t Chinese. But blatant colonialism has mostly been banished into history. Israel-Palestine is (one can hope) the last example of a once normal class of human behaviour. It is also the only colonial takeover ever to be recorded in such minute detail on social media.

In 2005, Israel withdrew all Jewish settlers from Gaza. At the time, this was hailed as progress; but Israel had no intention of staying out, or of allowing Gaza to operate a normal economy or society. As soon as the withdrawal finished, a savage blockade was begun, ostensibly to prevent terrorist attacks. Gazans (including children) were terrorised, arrested, tortured, humiliated. Gazan fishermen were prevented by the Israeli navy from legally fishing, often coming under gunfire. Denied building materials and fuel, infrastructure crumbled. Disease spread and life expectancy fell. Gaza remained a desperate place, isolated even from the main body of Palestinian life in the West Bank.

The Hamas Myth

So it’s no surprise that support for the conservative Hamas grew in Gaza, creating a rift between Gazans and those in the West Bank who largely supported the secular Fatah movement. Hamas’ rise was aided by Israel, which benefited by sowing division in Palestine, and by creating for itself an “extremist” enemy. In the propaganda war, Hamas has repeatedly proven itself useful to Israel, as has been seen again in the current conflict, confusing observers into believing that Israel actually needs to defend itself against a mortal enemy.

Hamas was elected to power in Gaza in 2006, much to Zionist delight. Now the Israeli population could be whipped up into an eternal state of fear against the extremists, and the lines between Hamas and all Palestinians could be repeatedly blurred. It is often pointed out that Hamas calls for nothing less than the destruction of the state of Israel, and this is true, but it is falsely claimed that Hamas could never be persuaded to recognise Israel. Hamas has often proven itself far more pragmatic than the “terrorist” image crafted by Israel.

Hamas has come close, at various times, to reaching a peace agreement. But Israel has never wanted peace, and nor does it want a Hamas “monster” that turns out not to be monstrous after all. Conciliatory Hamas leaders have repeatedly been assassinated by Israel: this fact alone exposes the lie that peace has ever been on offer. In 2012, Hamas leader Ahmed Jabari was close to signing a peace agreement, and so Israel, true to form, murdered him. Hamas has never been a serious obstacle to peace: Israel is the only obstacle to peace, because accepting peace would mean abandoning the colonial Zionist project of taking all of Palestine.

Again, in the current conflict, Hamas’ demands have not been extreme. Hamas has offered Israel 10 conditions for a lasting truce. The conditions are all reasonable, and in most cases simply demand that Israel complies with international law. And yet, Israel rejects them, and thanks to the lies of global media and governments, the public is allowed to believe the “peace with Hamas is impossible” lie.

Hamas is widely disliked by most Palestinians, and is largely powerless; and yet the ongoing slaughter is presented as a “war” between two sides. Such is the comedy of Zionist propaganda.

The Genocide

Since withdrawing from Gaza in 2005, Israel has alternated between providing slow death and fast death for the people of Gaza. During Operation Cast Lead in 2008/09, around 1,400 Palestinians were killed. Around half of these were civilians; those classed as “fighters” included many Palestinian police, who had been deemed a valid military target by Israel. The UN’s report, carried out by Richard Goldstone (a Jew), made clear that Israel had been repeatedly guilty of war crimes and violations of humans rights.

Besides the human cost, Israel destroyed or damaged schools, hospitals and 20,000 homes during Cast Lead. Once the conflict was over, a resumed blockade ensured that these could not be rebuilt. Gaza became increasingly unfit for human existence: in 2009, the UN reported that Gaza’s water supply was close to collapse – and yet Israel continued to blockade any investment in infrastructure. This has been nothing less than slow genocide, carried out in full view of the world.

Those Rockets

So Hamas has blindly fired puny rockets at Israel. Didn’t Native Americans have the right to fire arrows at white settlers, even if the act was futile? The firing of rockets is futile, and plays into Israel’s hands. But what. The fuck. Are Palestinians supposed to do? By way of comic interlude, here’s a cat being startled by a scary Hamas rocket.

The Anti-Semitism Shield

As a Jew, I have no fear in attacking Israel, but many of my non-Jewish friends tell me that they often hold back for fear of the standard “anti-Semite” attack. During this current attack on Gaza, I’ve been heartened to see increasing numbers of Jews, in the UK, US, Israel and elsewhere, standing up for Palestinians. Ex-IDF soliders too have been speaking out. In doing so, they help burst the myth that this conflict is about Jew against Arab, or Jew against Muslim.

It is true that anti-Semitism is, and has been for centuries, a powerful force, especially in Europe. It may well also be true that European anti-Semitism is on the rise. In part, that rise is the result of Israeli terrorism. Europe’s Jews can’t expect support from Israel’s Zionists; indeed, the Zionist wet dream is that an upsurge in violence against Jews in Europe will drive us to Israel, increase the Jewish population there, and add strength to the conquest of Palestine.

The Final Solution for Gaza

Oh – did I mention that Gaza has an estimated $4bn of gas reserves?

So it has been obvious, for years, that Israel’s 2005 withdrawal from Gaza was a temporary step, rather than an acceptance that Palestinians could keep hold of that little coastal strip of land. The question was when, and how, they would seize Gaza.

Today, we began to learn. The map below was tucked away at the bottom of a BBC news article. Israel, which has already killed over a thousand in the current conflict, and maimed countless more, declared a “buffer zone” in Gaza, and advised civilians to leave it. The problem with this announcement being that the zone takes up almost half of Gaza. Or, in other words, Gazans are being squeezed into half the previous space: and Gaza was, already one of the most densely populated places on the planet. Gazans (half of them children) are, as we speak, being driven into the sea.

If this isn’t genocide, what is? Will the world wake up? If not now, when?

Gaza: The Final Solution
Gaza: The Final Solution

Richard Dawkins: Moron or Bigot?

I write this post with a heavy heart: there was once a time when I had a valid claim to be among Richard Dawkins’ greatest fans. There was a time when I would have treasured a tweet from the great man; but when my moment arrived (last Saturday), I was long past getting excited by it.

I had decided I was an atheist around the age of twelve, but on reaching my twenties, I realised I couldn’t fill all the gaps in my detailed understanding of evolution, and decided I needed to remedy that situation. The remedy was Dawkins’ book, The Blind Watchmaker, which I tore through in days, enjoying every page. A little later, I read Dawkins’ first book, and true masterpiece, The Selfish Gene, which blows away the idea that evolution necessarily favours the most violent, selfish individuals, and thus gives a little hope for mankind in a godless universe.

And then, in 2006, came The God Delusion, a highly ambitious project. This time, instead of using biology alone to undermine religious ideas, Dawkins travels across a wide range of philosophical arguments in order to destroy the basis of religious belief. Again, I bought the book almost as soon as it was available (OK, perhaps I waited for the paperback) and read it fast. Again, many of the arguments were fascinating and compelling. In his usual razor-sharp way, the author shredded any possible religious response. The God Delusion is a devastating blow to religious thinking.

But there was something a little different and disturbing about this book. For the first time (at least, the first time I had noticed), the mask of scientific impartiality slipped. Dawkins’ hatred of religion became more pronounced, most blatantly in Chapter 8: “What’s Wrong With Religion? Why be So Hostile?” On its own, this was no problem to me: I’ve never been a fan of religion either. But Dawkins was now attacking the basis of religious freedom, arguing that to teach a child irrational belief was effectively child abuse. The subtext was clear: child abuse cannot be tolerated in a civilised society, and so – if society accepts his argument that religion is indeed abusive – then religion cannot be tolerated either. It’s a position that any fascist would be proud of: “we are too tolerant to tolerate you!”

The intolerance of ideas is a deeply unscientific position, and thus an odd one to be coming from someone who has spent so much of his life promoting science. The Enlightenment – which laid the foundations of modern democracies – was based on the twin ideas of reason and freedom of thought. The fathers of the Enlightenment advocated a free marketplace of ideas as the only model for human advancement. Dawkins himself invented the word meme to model how ideas spread and mutate within such a marketplace. Either Dawkins has no faith that his own ideas could thrive against religious ones in a free marketplace, or his hatred of religion is driven by just that: hatred.

There seems to be a particular type of Twitter atheist that revels in attacking, and trying to upset, religious people. Many of these atheists were raised with religion before becoming atheists, and tend to blame their earlier intolerance on their religion rather than on their own innate wankishness. They seem not to notice that they’re just as intolerant as they used to be: they’ve just converted from being religious wankers into atheist wankers. Dawkins, since taking to Twitter himself, has attracted a large following of such people (and simultaneously lost many of his earlier admirers).

Dawkins’ Twitter rants have become infamous, and he has often been denounced as a bigot. Until recently, I haven’t subscribed to the idea that he is bigoted against any one religion or group; he clearly has a hatred for religion (and religious people) in general. But it has been hard to ignore that he, like so many “enlightened” people, has a special hatred for Muslims (although he would no doubt characterise it as a hatred of Islam rather than the religion’s followers). To my eyes, his crime has been far worse than just irrationally hating people: he has shown himself quite willing to abandon scientific principle in order to demonstrate his dogmatic view that religion is evil. Thus, he will happily tweet about the flogging of a woman for adultery (because the abuse has a religious justification) while ignoring mass slaughter in Congo or Sri Lanka (because he has no interest in rapes or murders that can’t be blamed on religion). This, from a man who was the University of Oxford‘s Professor for Public Understanding of Science for over a decade. Cherry-picking data to suit your dogma is the very crime for which he has correctly castigated purveyors of creationism and Intelligent Design.

Dawkins is also happy to spread anti-Islamic mythology when it serves his purpose. His site purports to be dedicated to removing the influence of religion, and yet carries several articles about female genital mutilation; this is clearly done to perpetuate the myth that FGM is an Islamic practise. But it isn’t: it’s primarily an African cultural one, largely perpetrated by women against their daughters and granddaughters. What do articles about FGM have to do with Dawkins’ war on religion? In reality, nothing, but they help him demonise religion as evil, and stir up intolerance. Clearly, accuracy and truth – things that are at the core of science – matter less than creating hatred against religious people. In trying to destroy religion, Dawkins has adopted the methods of religion.

Is he just naively amplifying far-right propaganda against Muslims, or does he have a far-right agenda of his own? I have long supported the former view, but evidence is increasing for the latter. One of many generic far-right Muslim-baiting Twitter accounts is @JihadistJoe. Although Joe claims to be a running a JIHADIST PARODY, COMEDY & SATIRE account, he seems to have forgotten he’s supposed to be a PARODY. Besides forgetting to tweet in character, Joe also forgets he’s supposed to be tweeting COMEDY. Joe does retweet a lot of bigoted comedy, and yes I admit, some of it is even funny if you can get past the small-minded hatefulness of it all. But Joe’s own material is as funny as you’d expect from someone who’s too stupid to know what “parody” means (i.e. not funny at all).

Dickie’s view differs from mine, however, and on Saturday he tweeted:

As a result of which, Joe acquired several thousand new followers. So Richard Dawkins, man of science, thinks that tweets such as the following are “very funny and DEADLY accurate”?

Laugh-a-minute stuff, and oh! such wonderful parody! At least, Dickie thinks so:

In response to Dawkins’ praise for Joe, I tweeted:

To which he replied:

Being attacked by Dawkins for being shit at biology would be hurtful, but being abused by one of the world’s most humourless men for my lack of humour? I can handle that. Note the “.” to make his tweet public – I was then, of course, bombarded with tweets from moronic Dawkins fans for a while; I make no protest, as I’ve frequently employed the same tactic.

So Dawkins has proven a huge disappointment to me, and many others who admired him as a man of science. Is he really stupid enough to fall for the anti-Muslim propaganda that’s become so prevalent? That seems unlikely; but he seems guilty of the anti-science crime of not questioning data if it backs his own bigoted views. And for that reason, however high his IQ might be, I think it’s fair to say that Richard Dawkins is a moron.

Dumb Atheists

I’ve encountered a couple of interesting stats about the British people lately. The most recent was that, according to some humanist survey, the majority of Brits are now non-religious. I greet this as good news, but I’m far less excited about it than I might have been a few years ago. The second stat, heard on a radio science programme, was that science literacy (however that was defined) has long remained around the 10% mark in the UK (as well as in the US).

Those two numbers seem to be a mismatch. I’ve long assumed, till recently, that atheists and the scientifically literate comprise roughly the same group of people. But it seems not. Certainly, most science-educated people are atheists; but that apparently doesn’t work in reverse.

I like to define science as the art of separating fact from fiction. A grounding in science allows you to quickly take a fact, assess its likelihood of being true, and then find the evidence to confirm or overturn your original assumption. Today, a scientific/reasoned approach (I use the terms interchangeably), allows one to plough through the piles of crap friends post on Facebook and decide how ludicrous each post is.

Judging from my own Facebook feed, the rise in atheism has not been accompanied by a rise in reason. A handful of my friends do post religious messages, but in terms of their dumbness, these are benign next to the other things I regularly see. What’s annoying and even frightening is that a high proportion of my friends subscribe to mythology in some way, and mostly it has nothing to do with a belief in God. Many of the new myths revolve around some badly defined, shadowy force, which secretly runs the world. For some, it’s the Illuminati or the New World Order. For others, it’s Big Pharma, genetic modication, the Davos summit. For feminists, its Patriarchy. Other are worried about the Zionist media, or the white supremacist hierarchy… the list is endless. Then choose from a series of conspiracies: apparently someone is using planes to put (undefined) poisonous chemicals into the air – you thought those contrails were just condensed water? No, they’re actually chemtrails! Sodium fluoride isn’t put into water to improve dental health: No! it’s a neurotoxin! Vaccines are being used to poison our kids! Fruit and veg can cure cancer, which means that actual cancer medicine (you know, the kind that works) is part of some kind of plot to poison us. Evolution messed up and so we need to consciously detox our bodies. The white man is hiding the Truth that Jesus was black! 9/11 didn’t happen! Muslims are [insert your favourite Islamic threat here]. Someone invented an engine that runs on urine but Big Oil is suppressing it! Patriarchy is simultaneously promoting nude imagery to degrade women, and banning nude imagery to prevent female empowerment (depending which type of feminist you are).

In The God Delusion, Richard Dawkins points out that 95% of people simply adopt the religion of their parents. He doesn’t point out though that it works the other way too. Once most people disbelieve in any god, so will their children. Humans are herd animals, and once atheist beliefs become dominant, the majority will quickly decide to be atheists. We appear to have reached that tipping point in the UK. There are additional incentives to adopt an atheist viewpoint: many on the far-right now use atheism as a stick with which to beat Muslims. I suspect atheist Nazis once used a similar tactic to attack Jews. Hence, it’s premature to celebrate the ascent of atheism as a sign that reason is also on the rise; on the contrary, it appears that reason is going through a particularly bad patch right now.

So Dawkins and his militant atheists have declared war on the wrong target. Religion has been in long-term decline for centuries, without their help. The decline has accelerated in recent decades as ideas have spread more quickly. But religious ideas have just morphed into new forms, the most dangerous of which are widespread within parts of academia, and on the liberal left, and are thus fashionable. Science denial has updated itself, and is alive and well. It’s fun – and easy – to attack creationism, but this misses the point. Creationism is a hangover of ancient, dying belief systems. It’s far harder, and much braver to take on the new dogmas.

Just like religion of old, the new dogmas are highly intolerant of heresy. Ask a fundamentalist why evil exists, and the (non-)explanation is: the Devil. People who would laugh at the invocation of Satan will happily invoke modern satans. I’ve seen “skeptics” invoke a modern devil, the Patriarchy (“the” is optional) to explain away differences between male and female behaviours that already have perfectly strong explanations in evolutionary biology and genetics. Today, it is heresy to suggest that “outdated gender stereotypes” are the result of evolution. “Biological determinism” (a term created by feminists to attack biological science that contradicts feminist dogma) is sneered at by postmodern fundamentalists, just as evolution is dismissed as nonsense by religious fundamentalists.

This now means that any attempt to explain human behaviour via evolution is attacked by many “liberals”. Just as creationists once claimed that humans are fundamentally different from the other animals, so now do many on the secular left. The academic “gender expert” who denies “biological determinism” is taking a creationist position that’s been updated for the 21st century. Both belief sets assume that we have some kind of essence (or perhaps soul) that can be separated from our physical self. That we can deny our underlying nature by some form of magical intervention. This new religious ideology underlies modern attempts to suppress human sexuality. Just as Christians claim that monogamy is a natural state of affairs (because God created humans, and he wouldn’t have made us promiscuous, would he?) so the conservative left attacks expressions of human promiscuity from pornography to sex work. Many skeptics laugh at the religious preacher who says that the female form is dangerous and must be covered up. And then applaud the feminist campaigner who uses very different words to say exactly the same thing, with an equal lack of supporting evidence.

How bizarre, and depressing, that science today comes under its strongest attacks from the secular left, not the (comical) religious right. Those who thought that eradicating religion would lead to a rise in reason (me included) have been proven wrong. So this is a call to skeptics and militant atheists: leave the old religions alone – they’re dying, albeit slowly. If you’re feeling brave, take on the dangerous new dogmas instead. You could start by questioning a friend’s belief in the Patriarchy. But be prepared to be burned at the stake.