Never forget is now

Presidents and prime ministers complicit in Israeli crimes hope we will forget. But we will not.

Biden is welcomed by Israeli Prime Minster Benjamin Netanyahu, as he visits Israel amid the ongoing conflict between Israel and Hamas, in Tel Aviv, Israel, October 18, 2023.
US President Joe Biden embraces Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during a visit to Tel Aviv on October 18 [File: Evelyn Hockstein/Reuters]

In the West, this is the season of remembrance.

It is an almost sacred time, when we are obliged to pause and reflect on loss and sacrifice and to thank, among others, the remaining survivors and the honoured dead – many of whom fought the fascist agents of a Holocaust.

It was mostly ordinary men and women from largely ordinary places who did the right and necessary thing when the urgent moment demanded the defeat of a rancid regime and ideology that had not only to be vanquished but eradicated.

So, one day every year, we applaud the ordinary men and women from ordinary places who are still alive as they march together gingerly to pay quiet homage to their comrades-in-arms buried in faraway places, where they perished saving others and making history.

The irony, of course, is that the hypocrites who led the solemn ceremonies this weekend in Europe, North America and beyond and who will make recycled speeches about the imperative to remember, now want us to forget.

More than that, the presidents and prime ministers expect us to forget. They will, I suspect, be counting on it.

They are convinced that, soon enough, we will be too preoccupied with the demands and vagaries of life to recall what they have done and failed to do in this urgent moment, when we confronted the blatant human consequences of deliberate, state-sanctioned inhumanity.

Above all, these presidents and prime ministers want us to forget their complicity in the genocide we are witnessing being committed minute after minute, hour after hour, day after day, week after week, against imprisoned Palestinians in the shattered, apocalyptic-like hellscape called Gaza and bit by inevitable bit, in the occupied West Bank, by another so-called “champion of democracy”.

The presidents and prime ministers want us to forget the carte blanche licence they have, for decades, guaranteed to their dear friend, Benjamin Netanyahu and other fanatical Israeli prime ministers, to kill as many Palestinians as they want to, whenever they want to, for as long as they want to.

The presidents and prime ministers want us to forget the pilgrimages they made recently to Tel Aviv to hug and shake the hand of a strutting murderer who has a long, odious record of ordering Palestinians to be killed instantly with bullets, bombs and drones.

The presidents and prime ministers want us to forget their lectures tarring us as “terrorist sympathisers” while praising the resolve and righteousness of a wretched sociopath who has ordered Palestinians to be killed slowly by depriving them of water, food and fuel.

The presidents and prime ministers want us to forget the appalling scenes of the exodus of hundreds of thousands of exhausted Palestinians forced to flee certain death on foot, makeshift carriages and mules for miles with whatever little they could carry or rescue.

The presidents and prime ministers want us to forget when their dear “democratic” friend bombed schools, hospitals, ambulances and convoys of spent Palestinian refugees trying to escape the murderous madness.

The presidents and prime ministers want us to forget the images of limp, dead children pulled from the flattened remnants of their homes, where they once slept, laughed, played and lived and were cared for by doting mothers and fathers whom they loved in equal measure.

The presidents and prime ministers want us to forget the charred, bloodied and dirt-caked faces and bodies of haunted children on hospital gurneys calling out to their gone mamas and babas for comfort against the darkness and the horror.

The presidents and prime ministers want us to forget the sobbing babas carrying the bodies of their children wrapped in white shrouds and the mamas weeping over their hasty graves.

The presidents and prime ministers want us to forget that they said that Palestinians lied about the number of brothers and sisters, including infants and children, killed or maimed by their dear, “democratic” friend, whom a legion of Israelis believe is a habitual liar, career crook and cocky authoritarian.

The presidents and prime ministers want us to forget that when we shouted “stop” – again and again – they told the habitual liar, career crook and cocky authoritarian to keep killing Palestinians whenever he wants to, wherever he wants to, for as long as he wants to.

But take note: We will remember.

We will remember what these complicit presidents and prime ministers – and their rank confederates in the establishment press – have done and what they have failed to do because decency and our abiding solidarity with Palestinians and their just cause insists upon it.

These myopic presidents and prime ministers are just beginning to see the true and lasting breadth of support that Palestinians enjoy among millions of their incensed constituents who, in the unmistakable face of an unrelenting genocide, are moved to do something about it today and, most certainly, tomorrow.

The presidents and prime ministers have miscalculated – badly. They have misjudged our resolve, our commitment and our determination not to be bullied or silenced – today and, most certainly, tomorrow.

They cannot ban us all. They cannot arrest us all. We are the defiant many. They are the craven few.

The old tactics no longer work. We will not be cowed or deterred by the slick smear merchants in Israel or their stupid surrogates inside or outside Congress or parliament who consider Palestinians disposable fodder.

And take note: We will act, too.

We will punish these presidents and prime and their grovelling heirs by denying them what they value most – position and power.

We will mobilise. We will organise. We will channel our outrage. We exercise our agency.

We will also be patient.

In time, we will rid ourselves of these sick presidents and prime ministers and their collaborators by voting in defence of humanity and Palestine – even if carrying out our franchise is labelled a “blood libel” or “anti-Semitic” by the usual, pedestrian apologists.

We will choose wisely. We will cast our ballots for candidates who side with Palestinians not simply rhetorically, but tangibly. First, by demanding a ceasefire. Then, by helping Palestinians to rebuild their ancestral home being occupied and obliterated by the world’s most immoral army.

We, mostly ordinary people from largely ordinary places, will never forget.

The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Al Jazeera’s editorial stance.