In Gaza, Israel trials new face of America's imperial laboratory

In Gaza, Israel trials new face of America's imperial laboratory
Israel has shattered its precedent of sadism, paving the way for wider imperial corruption and the end of the West's neoliberal mirage, writes Yoav Litvin.
6 min read
30 May, 2024
Israeli actions in Gaza serve as a 'trial balloon' for continued US imperial corruption, writes Yoav Litvin [photo credit: Getty Images]

On Saturday, October 7 2023, a significant shift occurred in the Palestinian-Israeli narrative.

A normalised, gradual genocide over 76 years of Zionist colonialism, peppered by savage episodes of “mowing the lawn”, obscured by liberal Zionist propaganda and backed by imperial Washington, became an unapologetic, even gleeful mass murder of Palestinians, grotesquely captured on video for the world to witness.

Throughout its history, the Zionist movement has exploited fear-mongering and the lure of land and resource theft to subjugate and entice its populace into compliance.

In the aftermath of October 7, Israeli propagandists escalated their gaslighting of Palestinians and their allies, silenced opposing viewpoints in the media, concocted atrocity propaganda to justify Israel's brutality and rallied support for extensive military action utilising Judaic motifs of revenge and trauma.

For nearly eight months, Israel’s settler colonial, white supremacist genocide has systematically shattered international taboos with its military accused of committing war crimes, crimes against humanity and the crime of genocide.

Israel has sought to obliterate Palestinian society by bombing hospitals, aid trucks, churches, mosques, schools, universities, UN facilities and tent encampments, while targeting women, children, the elderly, the sick, the disabled, journalists, healthcare workers and academics, among others. 

Yet, in the process, Israel has done more than devastate the besieged Gaza Strip. It has intensified an inevitable unravelling of its internal apartheid fabric, with significant implications for global neoliberal dominance.

As Israeli actions continue with impunity - backed by financial, diplomatic, and military support from Western countries, led by the United States, and complicity of many countries in the Global South - they threaten to trigger a cascade of global acts of fascistic aggression.

The ethical fabric of human society 

An orderly society shares a common ethical fabric, upheld by taboos at its extremes. Taboos shape human communities by regulating behaviour, defining identity, maintaining social control, preserving cultural practices, protecting communities, and influencing norms.

Ethical boundaries define the societal mainstream and are typically codified by laws and enforcement practices. For example, the United States Constitution defines rights and restrictions, with evolving interpretations empowering or disempowering individuals within society.

Taboos can be broken in various ways: (i) Violation: Deliberate acts against the taboo, like incest or forbidden rituals; (ii) Ignorance: Unintentional breaking due to lack of awareness; (iii) Rebellion: Acts of defiance against societal norms; (iv) Cultural change: Evolution of societal values can modify or eliminate taboos, and; (v) Contextual exceptions: Taboos may be relaxed in specific contexts, such as religious ceremonies.

"The genocidal imperial laboratory in Gaza could serve as a template for future aggressive episodes in the Global South and against dissent in the imperial core"

Breaking taboos can lead to social progress and dismantling oppressive norms but also cause social tensions and conflicts. Societies constantly face conflicts between forces aiming to stretch or shrink ethical boundaries to serve specific agendas — ideological, social, political, or economic. Taboos are deeply embedded in the human psyche, making their erosion a process that requires both resistance and persistence.

Trial balloons

Breaking taboos and redefining behavioural boundaries often start with experimentation - trial balloons. Successful experiments, where society is conditioned to accept change while maintaining structural integrity, set precedents that shatter taboos. If these experiments face little resistance and set precedents, ethical and moral boundaries may stretch, shifting society in a regressive or progressive direction. 

Importantly, trial balloons are effective within a broader context of a society primed for a particular change. In addition, an experiment must receive sufficient support so as to withstand a variety of challenges to its integrity, whether from within the society or external to it.  

For example, bombing of hospitals has been deemed a war crime. To justify targeting hospitals in the Gaza Strip, Israel initially claimed, with no proof, that there were Hamas command centres underneath Gaza’s hospitals.

On October 17, a massive explosion hit Al Ahli Hospital, causing hundreds of casualties. Israeli officials suggested a failed rocket launch by Hamas or Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) caused the explosion, while Palestinian authorities, reports from the ground and several independent investigations (e.g. see here) attributed it to an Israeli airstrike.

Regardless, the event was used by Israeli leaders as a trial balloon to assess public and imperial reaction to such a grave violation of a societal taboo.

Since it deemed opposition to it, most significantly the US, inconsequential, and despite the negative reaction of the West to a Russian attack on a maternity hospital in Ukraine in 2022, the Israeli military has targeted many more hospitals throughout the strip.

The Ahli Hospital incident was one of many trial balloons the Israelis carried out in Gaza, including the targeting of schools, UN facilities, universities and aid delivery convoys.

How Israel scapegoats to obscure criminality

 The calculated dehumanisation and scapegoating of the Palestinian people echo a historical pattern of white supremacist colonial atrocities masking subsequent land grabs and gangster-like corruption of society from its highest echelons.

In fact, current Israeli genocidal aggression against Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank have served to conceal failures preceding October 7, and have extended to targeting any perceived and manufactured threats to the colony.

This signals an impending escalation of conflict between Israeli military/Zionist militias and opposition to apartheid and genocide in the Occupied Palestinian Territories and within Israel itself.

Of particular concern are Arab citizens of Israel, constituting over 20% of Israel’s population, primarily identifying as Palestinian but also encompassing Druze, Circassians, other Muslims, Christian Arabs, and Armenians, all of whom are already subjected to an array of discriminatory laws. Such an escalation may very well unravel the existing apartheid structure of Israeli society, leading to civil chaos and its ultimate collapse.

Further, the genocidal imperial laboratory in Gaza could serve as a template for future aggressive episodes in the Global South and against dissent in the imperial core, potentially marking the beginning of the end for the neoliberal mirage of “the West” in which, under the guise of “promoting democracy” and “humanitarian interventions,” the United States and its allies in the global north have aimed to extend their capitalist dominance whilst disrespecting and attacking international legal bodies.

In this scenario, naked fascism constructed of US-imposed taboos and lack thereof would prevail, propelling a colonial race to plunder global resources while scapegoating BIPOC communities. Israeli actions thus serve as a trial balloon for continued US imperial corruption and exploitation on the road to climate change-induced international turmoil.

Resistance to erosion of taboos on the one hand, and the promotion of accountability for criminal actions toward decolonisation on the other, may serve to blunt this dangerous downward spiral toward lawlessness and violence.

Yoav Litvin is a writer, photographer and doctor of psychology/neuroscience

Follow him on X: @nookyelur

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Opinions expressed in this article remain those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of The New Arab, its editorial board or staff.