Beware of the Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing: Calls for a Ceasefire but with Conditions

Israel continues to pound civilians in the Gaza Strip. (Photo: via Eye on Palestine)

By Benay Blend

These wolves in sheep’s clothing are a continuation of the imperialist West’s desire to deny Palestinians any agency that would thwart Israel’s claim to the land.

According to this fable, a wolf comes upon a sheep’s fleece lying on the ground. Donning the fleece, he disguises himself as a sheep so that he can steal a lamb for his dinner.

In recent weeks, there have been various calls for a ceasefire, each met with much fanfare from parts of the left. For example, on January 18, the European Parliament passed a resolution that calls for a conditional permanent ceasefire in Gaza followed by efforts to find a solution.

Unfortunately, the center-right European People’s Party (EPP) forced the inclusion of two conditions:  The release of Israeli captives and the full demilitarization of the Gaza Strip. The final version calls for “a permanent cease-fire and to restart efforts towards a political solution provided that all hostages are immediately and unconditionally released and the terrorist organization Hamas is dismantled.”

In the US, Congressional members follow a similar Zionist script. While calling for a ceasefire, Senator Martin Heinrich (D-NM) joined a letter led by US Senators Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), Tim Kaine (D-Va.), and Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) urging President Biden to work with Israel to “to implement a plan that will protect innocent civilian life in Gaza, deliver sustained humanitarian aid, and work toward the long-term goals of ending Hamas’s threat, bringing hostages home, and achieving sustainable peace in the region through a two-state solution.”

The letter goes on to call out Hamas for the “unspeakable horrors” inflicted on Oct. 7, despite witnesses who have confirmed that Israeli tanks targeted both their own citizens and Hamas members, leading to the death of at least 14 Israelis, including children.

Indeed, As Scott Ritter writes:

“Nearly a third of the Israeli casualties consisted of military, security, and police officers. Moreover, it turns out that the number one killer of Israelis on October 7 wasn’t Hamas or other Palestinian factions, but the Israeli military itself. Recently released video shows Israeli Apache helicopters indiscriminately firing on Israeli civilians trying to flee the Supernova Sukkot Gathering held in the open desert near Kibbutz Re’im, the pilots unable to distinguish between the civilians and the Hamas fighters. Many of the vehicles that the Israeli government has shown as an example of Hamas perfidy were destroyed by the Israeli Apache helicopters.”

On October 24, 2023, President Biden declared that a ceasefire only benefits Hamas, while Israel claims that they will honor a ceasefire only after Hamas is dismantled. Reiterating Biden’s stance, John Kirby, the Coordinator for Strategic Communications at the US National Security Council, said at a press briefing on January 23 that the US does not want to see Hamas in charge of a post-war government as, he charged, they broke any existing ceasefire agreement on October 7th.

In response, Hamas issued a statement that rejected the Biden administration’s “guardianship” approach which seeks to control decisions and choices of the Palestinian people. It is the latter, the document proclaims, who have “the ultimate say in choosing their leadership and determining their fate.”

Perhaps compared to these hard-lined stances on the part of the West, any resolution for a ceasefire, even those with unacceptable demands, are considered a victory for the solidarity movement.

In the end, these wolves in sheep’s clothing are a continuation of the imperialist West’s desire to deny Palestinians any agency that would thwart Israel’s claim to the land. There is no mention of meeting with leaders of the Resistance, no effort to understand what Palestinians might want for their future.

Moreover, the Zionist state has shown that it cannot be trusted to abide by terms of a truce. For example, they have re-arrested the child  Yousef Abdullah al-Khatib who had been released as part of the prisoner swap in November. According to the Palestinian Prisoner Society, this was “a clear violation to the deal, and an indication that Israel is restoring the policy of re-arresting released prisoners under prisoner swap deals.”

In the meantime, the entity is ramping up attacks on the West Bank, a situation which the ceasefire resolutions do not address. On Monday evening, Zionist forces shot at a child during a deadly raid in the town of Arraba, near the northern occupied West Bank city of Jenin. As they have done in the past, “Israeli” soldiers prevented medical aid from reaching the victim so he died shortly after the shooting.

In “Oriental Blindness: How the New York Times Reimagined Israel’s Mass Murderers and Victims,” Jon Jeter describes how the media has contributed to portraying the perpetrators as victims, a role reversal that has influenced the various calls for a ceasefire. There in each the obligatory demonizing of Hamas, referring to them consistently as terrorists rather than as part of the resistance.

As Jeter notes, there is a lack of Palestinian or Arab voices in mainstream media, leaving the oppressor free to “describe the oppressed, which is the hallmark of Orientalist and postcolonial studies.” As a self-described “radical, Black, foreign correspondent” who worked in the field several years ago, Jeter understands how the media uses racist tropes to inflame the readers’ minds.

In “Palestine and the Harlot Left,” Susana Khalil calls out elements of the left that have condemned Hamas quite openly. “To say at this point that Hamas is a ‘terrorist group’ and to say that their military operations are not justified,” Khalil writes, “that what it has done is regrettable, that violence should not be used, that violence is not the solution…. all of the above not only ignores the painful reality of the native Palestinian people and their methods of survival but also ignores the imperial fascist threat that runs through contemporary world history.”

Khalil  goes on to suggest that “we must be more respectful in not imposing or dictating to others how they should fight.” For those who are nostalgic for the days of Oslo, she warns that “this episode of the Palestinian cause…should serve as a revolutionary reflection and not the intellectual comfort of the status quo.”

Rejecting the right to armed struggle, Khalil concludes, would result in “the extermination of the native Palestinian people”; therefore, she declares that their historic role “in the face of colonial barbarism is to fight them.”

Many years ago the writer Ghassan Kanafani, who was assassinated by the Mossad in Beirut on July 8, 1972, expressed much the same sentiments as Khalil. Just two years before his death, he was interviewed by British journalist Richard Carleton, who asked him why he does not believe in partaking in peace talks with Israel.

“You don’t exactly mean peace talks,” Kanafani said, “you mean capitulation, surrender,” which is why he would reject today any call for ceasefire with conditions. As Khalil makes clear, to label Hamas a “terrorist group” that should be eliminated as a prerequisite for ending the genocide represents “a stance that benefits imperial and colonial fascism.”

There is an alternate version of the wolf story. In it a second wolf is slinking around looking for a sheep, so he pounces on the wolf in sheep’s clothing, kills it and eats it for supper instead of an actual sheep.

The intended lesson: “Frauds and liars are always discovered, eventually, and pay for their actions accordingly.” The moral follows: “The evil doer often comes to harm through his own deceit.”

No one can predict the future, especially whether karma will be played out or not. Nevertheless, journalist and founder of Palestine Chronicle Ramzy Baroud makes some credible predictions. “100 days of war on Gaza has taught us” writes Baroud, “that superior firepower no longer influences outcomes when a nation takes the collective decision of resisting.”

“It has also taught us,” he continues, “that the US is no longer able to reorder the Middle East to fit Israeli priorities, and that relatively small countries in the Global South, when united, can alter the course of history.”

Netanyahu can continue digging the hole into which he has fallen deeper and deeper into trouble, Baroud concludes, but history has been written that will also be the future: “the spirit of the Palestinian people has won over Israel’s death machine.”

– Benay Blend earned her doctorate in American Studies from the University of New Mexico. Her scholarly works include Douglas Vakoch and Sam Mickey, Eds. (2017), “’Neither Homeland Nor Exile are Words’: ‘Situated Knowledge’ in the Works of Palestinian and Native American Writers”. She contributed this article to The Palestine Chronicle.

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