When Israel’s ambassador to the United Nations spoke outside the Security Council on Sunday, he said: “This is Israel’s 9/11. This is Israel’s 9/11.” Meanwhile, in a PBS NewsHour interview, Israel’s ambassador to the United States said: “This is, as someone said, our 9/11.”
While the phrase might seem logical, “Israel’s 9/11” is already being used as a huge propaganda weapon by Israel’s government – now engaged in massive war crimes against civilians in Gaza, after mass murder of Israelis by Hamas last weekend.
On the surface, an analogy between the atrocities just suffered by Israelis and what happened on Sept. 11, 2001 might seem to justify calls for unequivocal solidarity with Israel. But horrific actions are in process from an Israeli government that has long maintained a system of apartheid while crushing basic human rights of Palestinian people.
What is very sinister about trumpeting “Israel’s 9/11” is what happened after America’s 9/11. Wearing the shroud of victim, the United States proceeded to use the horrible tragedy suffered inside its own borders as a license to kill vast numbers of people in the name of retaliation, righteousness and, of course, the “war on terror.”
It’s a playbook that the government of Benjamin Netanyahu is currently adapting and implementing with a vengeance. Now underway, Israel’s collective punishment of 2.3 million people in Gaza is an intensification of what Israel has been doing to Palestinians for decades. But Israel’s extremism, more than ever touting itself as a matter of self-defense, is at new racist depths of willingness to treat human beings as suitable for extermination.
Indiscriminate bombing is now happening along with a cutoff of food, water, electricity and fuel. Noting that “even before the latest restrictions, residents of Gaza already faced widespread food insecurity, restrictions on movement and water shortages,” the BBC reported that a UN official said people in Gaza “were ‘terrified’ by the current situation and worried for their safety – as well as that of their children and families.”
This is a terrible echo from the post-9/11 approach of the U.S. government, which from the outset after Sept. 11, 2001 conferred advance absolution on itself for any and all of its future crimes against humanity.
In the name of fighting terrorism, the United States inflicted collective punishment on huge numbers of people who had absolutely nothing to do with 9/11. The Costs of War project at Brown University calculates more than 400,000 direct civilian deaths “in the violence of the U.S. post-9/11 wars in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq, Syria, Yemen and elsewhere.”
Early in the “war on terror,” Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld had fashioned a template to provide approval for virtually any killing by the U.S. military. “We did not start this war,” he said at a news briefing in December 2001, two months into the Afghanistan war. “So understand, responsibility for every single casualty in this war, whether they’re innocent Afghans or innocent Americans, rests at the feet of the al Qaeda and the Taliban.”
Rumsfeld was showered with acclaim from the U.S. media establishment, while he not only insisted that the U.S. government had no responsibility for the deaths caused by its armed forces; he also attested to the American military’s notable decency. “The targeting capabilities, and the care that goes into targeting, to see that the precise targets are struck, and that other targets are not struck, is as impressive as anything anyone could see,” Rumsfeld said. He lauded “the care that goes into it, the humanity that goes into it.”
Even before its current high-tech attack on Gaza, Israel had amassed a long track record of killing civilians there, while denying it every step of the way. For instance, the United Nations found that during Israel’s 2014 “Operation Protective Edge” assault, 1,462 Palestinian civilians died, including 495 children….