Palestinians search for casualties at the site of Israeli strikes on houses in Jabalia refugee camp in the northern Gaza Strip. [Abed Sabah/Reuters]

Anger on the move

24 November 2023. Gaza: at least 14,854 people killed, including 6,150 children and 4,000 women; and at least 36,000 injured. At least 6,800 missing. The Al Jazeera ‘Israel–Gaza war in maps and charts: Live tracker’ also shows the dead in the Occupied West Bank, which, according to the Palestinian Health Ministry, the Palestine Red Crescent Society, and the Israeli Medical Services, number at least 229, at least 52 children. In Israel, figures show, the total number killed is at least 1,200.

While images of and individual stories about some of the hostages held by Hamas continue to flow across Italian (and other Western) TV media and political talk shows, the Palestinians who are killed day by day remain a remote, vague, and shadowy presence.

Anger is on the move. It grows, nourished by some of the most potent fertilizers: hate, violence, and fear. When the treatment for a wound becomes the combination of any of these ingredients, the medicine shows its other face. The pharmakon can alleviate pain or cure a disease, but it can also become lethal. The escalation of violence across the world in speech and action that followed Hamas’s 7 October attack and the unfolding of the responses of the Israeli government reveal, once again, the poisonous effects of remedies that seek to alleviate pain or find justice through the production of more pain and injustice.

As antisemitism is increasingly expressed in isolated actions by extremists across the world, so too is Islamophobia. As some observers seek justice for the horrors of 7 October, many others dismiss the subsequent massacre perpetrated by the Israeli government and forget the ongoing oppression that has been the normalized reality of a horrific story for the Palestinians in the past 75 years. This story begins with the establishment of Israel and the empowerment of Zionists among the Jewish people.

The outcome of this history of oppression is a reverberation of violence, hatred, fear, and a loss for the whole of humanity, that is, for more innocent people whose lives will be sacrificed in the name of a blind positioning on one or another side of the barricade.

The roots of violence

On the Italian Friday TV show Propaganda Live, journalist Francesca Mannocchi reports on her work in the weeks following 7 October in both Tel Aviv and the Occupied Territories. The children who live in the West Bank Occupied Territories tell how their ordinary life unfolds through the indiscriminate and illegal acts of violence perpetrated by the colonizers or otherwise called “settlers.” They may be beaten up, detained in administrative custody, threatened, blocked on one or another side of the checkpoints installed by the colonizers, and killed. Their life is one of permanent terror, humiliation, and violence. Children lose their friends, miss their parents, and see their loved ones killed in a chaotic, unreasonable, and absurd game of asphyxiation, where the muscular power of Israel must be constantly demonstrated through an uncountable and unaccountable series of crimes.

Military occupation has been the only reality that young, adult, and old people have lived since they were born. As a result, most of these children tell the journalist that their dream is to become fighters in the name of God. They feel that fighting is their responsibility – it is the only chance they have to exist since their right to live in peace and freedom, to hope and dream a better life, has been violently taken away. At the same time, their older brothers, sisters, and their parents attempt to protect their families through daily acts of resilience. This can take multiple forms, from daily acceptance of injustice through patience and struggle, to fighting (which will mean dying or being imprisoned) against the occupying groups.

It is within this humiliating and dehumanizing normalized hell on Earth, which the most powerful governments in the world have produced and maintained in absolute silence and/or by supporting the perpetrators of this human catastrophe, that we need to frame the debate related to the violent events of 7 October 2023 and the subsequent revenge taken by the Israeli government, which has taken the form of the indiscriminate mass killing of Palestinians – a programmed and spectacularized live genocidal war.

Visions of violence

In the Introduction to his book The Question of Palestine, Palestinian scholar Edward Said (1979) writes:

‘I suppose that to many of my readers the Palestinian problem immediately calls forth the idea of “terrorism,” and it is partly because of this invidious association that I do not spend much time on terrorism in this book. To have done so would have been to argue defensively, either by saying that such as it has been our “terrorism” is justified, or by taking the position that there is no such thing as Palestinian terrorism as such. The facts are considerably more complex, however, and some of them at least bear some rehearsal here. In sheer numerical terms, in brute numbers of bodies and property destroyed, there is absolutely nothing to compare between what Zionism has done to Palestinians and what, in retaliation, Palestinians have done to Zionists. The almost constant Israeli assault on Palestinian civilian refugee camps in Lebanon and Jordan for the last twenty years is only one index of these completely asymmetrical records of destruction. What is much worse, in my opinion, is the hypocrisy of Western (and certainly Zionist) journalism and intellectual discourse, which have barely had anything to say about Zionist terror.’

Over forty years after this text was published, on 15 October 2023, in the online magazine Ebb, Hassan Harb names the operation launched on 7 October by Hamas and other fighters from Palestine as ‘the Palestinians’ way to enter decisively in this historical moment of US decline, launching a war of liberation against the Zionist entity that, like the muqawama, combines the past and present towards the future’.

The conceptualization of the killing of over a thousand civilians as a ‘war for liberation’ should not lead us to argue for or against the legitimacy of the violence perpetrated by Hamas and other groups of fighters on 7 October. Rather, we should pose another crucial question: where does such a horrific event come from? What could possibly have caused people to reach the point where violence became the only solution they could embrace in seeking freedom and justice?

The 7 October killings represent one extreme attempt by groups of fighters from Palestine to move against the oppressors whose legitimacy has been normalized and justified by the most powerful countries in the world. The consequence of such a war for liberation has been the killing of more than a thousand innocent people and the kidnapping of about two hundred children, women, and men (part of them opponents of the present Israeli government who were active in peace-making initiatives in support of Palestinians). It goes without saying that the indiscriminate killing of innocent people who had no responsibility for the crimes committed by the Israeli government is a horrific reality and any intention to destroy all Israelis and Jewish people must be condemned. Such horror, however, is not the outcome of the incursion of mad terrorist fanatics who have completely lost their minds, as a large portion of mass media tend to frame the question. The so-called “terror” has roots.

The violence one breathes and learns from (being an ordinary subject of injustice and discrimination) rarely vanishes into thin air. Horror produces horror, and the violence to which Palestinians have been structurally subjected sadly transformed and turned innocent civilians into targets. An eye for an eye – the law of violence; this is the only option left to a people whose right to exist has been negated since before they were born, and whose lives have been violated by Zionists and the European and American imperialist project born of the very idea of eradicating the Palestinians who inhabited Palestine.

This imperialist (US-led) project of the so-called “Global North” does not begin with the events following the 7 October killings and it does not have much to do with the specific context of the Israel-Palestine conflict. The horrific events we are witnessing daily are only one expression of a much larger and ongoing process of discrimination, displacement, mass-killing, and dehumanization of certain groups of people – these “others,” being the Palestinians, the Arabs, the terrorists, the ethnic/religious minorities, or the illegal (one should rather say “illegalized”) migrants.

As people wait to be killed and plead with the world to hear their call to be recognized as human beings with dignity and rights, the world is watching. We are all – those who can afford it – active witnesses and observers, participants, and responsible fellows of those who are actively committing crimes against humanity, which are otherwise crimes against every one of us, including the perpetrators.

When oppression becomes the norm and the denial of freedom and the use of indiscriminate violence is perpetrated and justified, resistance can take the form of violence, and this is simply because all other possible forms of democratic or peaceful opposition end in inevitable defeat when violence is used on the other side. This is the history of Palestine in the past seventy-five years. As a result of this overlooked and normalized paradox, hate has been growing, and it is now, even more clearly to the rest of the world, on the move.


Hate has been growing for many years. Diatribes, especially in politics, are filled with anger. Violence is everywhere and it is endemic. It proliferates and expands, and it modifies the way in which we see the world. As it affects how we think, it also affects what we are – because, after all, we are what we think.

Protests in defense of the Palestinians, who are being abandoned to death through the imposed lack of access to vital resources, or actively killed, are witnessing increasing episodes of violence and anger against Jewish people. Antisemitism is re-emerging as a profound distortion of contemporary society. Again, the logic is that of two opposing sides: if you are not with me, then you are against me. This dichotomy builds on a great misunderstanding, that is, if you are with the Palestinians, then you do not recognize the Jewish people and their rights or the horrible killings committed by Hamas on 7October; and if you condemn Hamas, then you should support the indiscriminate genocidal actions perpetrated against the Palestinians by Israel. The false conflations of Hamas’s violent attacks with all Palestinians and the Israeli state/Zionist project with the Jewish people continues to stoke conflict. Hate grows, but such sentiment is the outcome of circles of false narratives which distort the facts.

Being able to recognize the horrors committed by Hamas on 7 October does not prevent one from being equally capable of understanding the historical context which has led to such events and therefore firmly condemning the horrible killings committed by Israel in recent weeks and throughout the seventy-five years of occupation. Cause and effect are inevitably and inextricably tied together in the world-history of oppression for domination.

The blood of innocent people and civilians does not have flags or sides. One possibility we may have as we try to orient ourselves into the future is a response to this growing violence through the deactivation of hate and the cultivation of peace, understanding, and comprehension. It is important to learn how to examine an extraordinary event by paying attention to a series of less noticeable and often hardly visible ordinary events, and to observe the common threads through which power emerges, violence proliferates, and the violation of people’s rights becomes an almost invisible and mostly accepted reality.

We must work together to deactivate such a paradigm. The memory of the violence suffered by our predecessors cannot become the trigger for more violence. If that happens, we have lost before we have even started on the path to (ir)reconciliation.[1] When violence calls for more violence, we have fallen victim to a historical cycle of horror. Such a vicious cycle must be halted.

As Antonio De Lauri well elucidates in The Courage of Historical Truths, we all have a responsibility in the process. Being united to bring an end to violence and the flowering of peace is what I wish to orient our life towards. Peace requires knowledge. And knowledge requires the ability to turn negative and corrosive emotions into strength and creative energy. This is possible, and it is necessary – for all the civilians who have been killed and for those who are condemned to die because of our complacency; for the migrants of the past, the present, and the future; for all those whose premature deaths are being neglected, forgotten, or turned into a justification by political propaganda; for something better to come through a collective and shared act of responsibility, justice, and comprehension.

This new horizon of humanness must break from purely rhetorical humanitarian narratives filled with empty promises and unfulfilled ideals, and critically question (to drastically change) the world-order of capitalism and economy-led principles which shape our lives and produce others’ deaths in circles of violence.


Harb, H. 2023. Al-Aqsa Flood: Imperialism, Zionism and Reactionism in the 21st Century, Ebb. Available at: . (Accessed: 15-10-2023).

Said, E. 1979. The Question of Palestine. Vintage Books Edition, New York.

[1] For a critical ethnographic view on irreconciliation – taken as instances when survivors refuse to forgive in response to persistent impunity of past injustices, see Mookherjee, N. 2022. On Irreconciliation. John Wiley and Sons Ltd.

Leave a Reply