Politicians repeated false rumors that Hamas had beheaded Israeli babies. When the children are Palestinian, they shrug their shoulders.

Earlier this week, I sat down to write an article about a campus security officer at a public college in New York who told pro-Palestinian protesters that he supported genocide. “Yes, I support genocide,” the officer said, after a protester accused him of it at a graduation event at the College of Staten Island, part of the public City University of New York (CUNY) system, last Thursday. “I support killing you all, how about that?”

It’s possible that you haven’t heard about this incident: although it was covered by some outlets, including the Associated Press, it didn’t get much attention in the media. It certainly wasn’t featured on the front page of the New York Post as it would have been if the guard had made the same comment about Israelis. The New York Times, which has written extensively about security on college campuses — and published an article about anti-Israel speeches at CUNY just days before this incident — did not appear to consider this newsworthy. And the White House did not make a horrified statement about anti-Palestinian bias on campuses. After all, that wasn’t a big problem, right? It was just a security guard saying he supports genocide. Which, it should be clear by now, is essentially the same position as the US government.

So yes, that was what I was going to write about. But after a few paragraphs, I stopped writing. I took a quick look at Twitter/X, you see, and it was full of the horrors of the tent massacre in Rafah, where an Israeli airstrike killed at least 45 people in an area where displaced Palestinians were sheltering. This, of course, is already old news: more deaths followed the massacre on Sunday night – and Israel has said it plans many more months of this.

The images from Gaza have been unremittingly traumatic, but the massacre in Rafah was simply unbearably disturbing. Reports of decapitated babies. Charred children. People burned alive. All this just days after the International Court of Justice (ICJ) ordered Israel to halt its military offensive in Rafah. All this while the US government makes excuse after excuse for Israel’s blatant violations of international law, which Israel said was just a “tragic mistake.”

After these images, I could no longer function. I certainly couldn’t sit down and try to write. The despair and horror and my anger became unbearable. My complicity has become unbearable – knowing that this mass killing is being facilitated and financed by the US taxpayer, knowing that a small part of my writing income goes towards this suffering. All this while the public school around the corner from my house in Philadelphia is failing because there is never enough money for education and the library near me is closed on Sundays because there is never enough money for public services and there are people going bankrupt in the U.S. because of medical bills because there is never enough money to invest in public health. But there is always money for bombs.

What is the point? I keep asking myself. What is the point of writing when it is now very clear that there are no red lines, that absolutely nothing will stop the carnage? Not the United Nations Human Rights Council classifying this as genocide, not the international courts telling Israel to stop, and certainly not my little opinion pieces.

The point, I have to keep reminding myself, is that all genocides begin with dehumanization, and we all have to do what we can to combat that. This genocide was built on decades of Palestinians being demonized and dehumanized – and public consent for this attack on Gaza was manufactured with the help of dehumanizing narratives designed to ensure that no one could think of a single Palestinian as an innocent civilian or even a human being. human.

One of the most flammable examples was the false rumor that 40 decapitated babies were found on kibbutz Kfar Aza following the Hamas attack. Hamas, of course, committed atrocities on October 7, including the murder of 38 Israeli children. But the fake news about 40 beheaded babies – which the Israeli government press office confirmed to Le Monde was not true – was powerful and emotional and spread absolutely everywhere, including to and from the White House.

Joe Biden repeated these unverified reports even as his team advised him not to. He even lied about seeing photos of these babies. It was the issue of Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction all over again. It was the Kuwaiti incubator rumor all over again. This laid the foundation for genocide; for politicians to look at photos of Palestinian children, decapitated by US-made missiles, and just shrug their shoulders.

We see this same dehumanization come into play when it comes to campus politics in the US. Pro-Palestinian protesters are portrayed as hateful and dangerous, while violence by pro-Israel voices is downplayed. When a pro-Israel mob attacked pro-Palestinian protesters at UCLA, for example, the police (normally ready to suppress protesters) allowed the attack to happen. The US press used the passive voice and characterized the violence – which was, by most accounts, extremely one-sided – as “clashes”.

As for the CUNY official who supports genocide? His words were also minimized by the mainstream media. The Hill, for example, which is centrist, chose the following headline: New York College suspends officer after perceived threats to protesters on campus. Note the use of perceived: the language downplays the incident. There is also a clear choice not to put the words “kill you all” in the headline. And although there is a video of the officer making the statements, The Hill made a point of saying in the article that “it appears” he was making the statements.

Now compare this to a similar incident where a pro-Palestinian protester said something violent. In April, The Hill published a story with the headline: Columbia banned student protest leader who said ‘Zionists don’t deserve to live,’ university says. In this case, they put the inflammatory quote in the headline. There were also no qualifying words about the video; because it was a pro-Palestinian protester saying something violent, it was accepted at face value. All of these small choices in reporting add up to a larger narrative about who is violent and who is not. They help manufacture consent.

So while it may seem pointless to write this, the point is to make it clear that many of us do not consent to what is being done with our tax dollars and with the encouragement of our elected representatives. The goal is to ensure that all of this is recorded. Because, decades in the future, when Israeli condominiums line the ethnically cleansed beaches of Gaza and people look back on this genocide, there will be many people who say they didn’t know. There will be people who will try to rewrite history to make it seem like the genocide unfolding now was too complicated to understand. The goal is to remind everyone who is too cowardly to speak out that their silence is complicity.

By Arwa Mahdawi, Guardian columnist.

Source: https://www.ocafezinho.com/2024/05/31/onde-esta-a-furia-de-joe-biden-sobre-os-bebes-palestinos-decapitados/

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