Published by Mediterranea's board | 22 / Oct / 2023

Stay human

(Vittorio Arrigoni)

As we write about what has happened and is happening in Palestine and Israel, particularly in the south of the country and in Gaza, our activists are busy on several fronts. In Morocco, one of our fact-finding missions has been touring the earthquake-ravaged country, bringing aid to civilians and trying to get around government obstacles. In Ukraine, we continue to provide basic health care and humanitarian assistance to civilians and war refugees exhausted by nearly two years of conflict and Russian invasion. In the central Mediterranean, the Mare Jonio has in the last few days rescued another 116 people who were at risk of dying at sea because they refused to surrender to torture in Libyan camps or to the violence of the Tunisian police, to hunger, war and misery.

Is that enough? No, it is never enough. And above all because for us, "going to sea", meeting and allying with people whose way of life is often not recognised, but humiliated and denied, has meant learning to see differently, finding a way to name the horror of our present and transform our struggles so that, in this present, we never resign ourselves to it.

For the same reason we want to be in Gaza, in the West Bank and in Israel now, we want to be with all the civilian populations, with those who are under rocket fire, with those who have been and are the target of atrocious violence, with those who are fleeing the bombs, with those who are suffering siege and forced expulsion, in order not to stop seeing, as Mediterranea has always done, in order to take a stand.

Doing and seeing are once again the most difficult things to do, but the only things possible. To see, to take a stand and to act, is an ethically necessary effort that we do not want to shy away from.

What we have seen so far, and what we are about to see, is simply horror. But how can we give a name to this horror that has taken us by surprise, recognise it in the terrible declensions of its reality?

We want to say that the massacre perpetrated by Hamas on 7 October against Israeli women, men and children is not a heroic act, but a despicable and cruel attack, a planned massacre against the civilian population. It is an act that is undoubtedly rooted in a specific terrain, that of the perception of a life denied and mutilated by an entire generation of young Palestinians who have grown up with the image of their parents, brothers and sisters barbarically killed by the Tel Aviv army, a terrain on which the Hamas leaders have cultivated hatred, revenge and nihilism, functional to their political and military rise.

We want to say more, without turning to the past, because it is the lessons we have learnt from other comrades we have met around the world and in recent years that urge us to look forward. It is from the struggle of the Iranian women imprisoned and murdered by the ayatollahs' regime, from the democratic confederalism pioneered by the Kurdish people of Rojava, from the transfeminist movement that has spread from Latin America around the world that we draw the imagination of a politics to come, the lesson that an anti-Semitic, misogynist and theocratic project cannot be reconciled with a struggle for liberation and radical equality.

We want to denounce that in the open-air prison that is the Gaza Strip, built over the years like an animal cage by Israeli governments, war crimes, crimes against humanity, are being committed. That bombing civilians and often the very caravans of inhabitants who have been ordered forcibly evicted from their homes, indiscriminately striking homes, hospitals, the headquarters of humanitarian associations, leaving without light, food, water, more than two million people who cannot escape anywhere, using deadly weapons such as white phosphorus, is an abomination.

We want to recall that the violent and inhuman policy of the Netanyahu government is only the tip of the iceberg of the Israeli occupation that has been humiliating and oppressing the Palestinian people for decades. The Israeli state, with the complicity of other regional states, and thus often Arab regimes, and the West has been depriving the Palestinian people of their rights, peace and land for decades. That armed settler violence in the West Bank has in the past year reached almost unprecedented levels of brutality and inhumanity.

We want to stand, while a unified chorus invokes Israel's right to defend itself, with that part of Israeli society which today opposes the occupation of the territories and the destruction of Gaza as well as the authoritarian vocation and sectarian drift of its state until yesterday, with the American Jews who occupy Capitol Hill, with Noa's father, a Hamas hostage, and say with him: 'After what has happened, let us make peace with our neighbours, whatever the cost'.

War in the name of revenge is capable of any shame.

If the killing of one child to right the wrong of another child killed by shelling is only darkness, the clear and not at all future-oriented ferocity of revenge is the alibi and inspiration for the crimes committed by Hamas and the Israeli army in Gaza before the eyes of the world. A blind and self-destructive policy for the people of Palestine and Israel. Gideon Levy, Ruba Salih and many others have well explained that the occupation, this collective punishment of the Palestinians that Israeli governments have been carrying out for decades, is not only inhuman, but also the best fodder for fundamentalism, and that ending it would be the only antidote to the spiral of violence. And for Netanyahu, a corrupt, militaristic leader supported by the most fundamentalist sectors of Israeli society, it now seems the only option for political survival.

We cannot help but turn our gaze to those who live today on that piece of land overlooking the Mediterranean, to the Israeli population living under the constant threat of terror and to the population of the Strip about to be invaded and razed to the ground; to that disputed land torn apart by walls and militarised borders; to that region of the world ravaged by war. We cannot but think of those people held hostage by war, the innocent Israelis under the Netanyahu government, the innocent Palestinians trapped and the innocent hostages in the hands of Hamas.

There is no alternative, if we are not to die as a human race, but to seek and build peace in justice. The justice that the Palestinian people have been waiting for for 80 years: freedom of movement, the possibility to exercise their social and political rights, to live in peace in their own land, an indispensable condition for the Israeli people to enjoy equal security, freedom and rights.

For this to be possible, there is no alternative to the first step that Israel must take: to put an end to the offensive on Gaza and to the apartheid of which the Palestinian people have been victims for decades, and to a colonial and violent occupation, the price of which the civilian population continues to pay. May the cry of the Israelis to take a step towards peace by abandoning the occupation be heard.

Stop the bombs and missiles from the air and the invasion from the ground.

Free ALL hostages: the more than 250 civilians kidnapped on 7 October and the 2.5 million absurdly imprisoned in Gaza and the West Bank, who must be guaranteed the right to live in dignity and freedom in the land they inhabit. A cessation of hostilities to open the space for peace.

We will do all we can in this difficult situation to turn the words of this communiqué into deeds on the ground, where they are needed.

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