Reflections on Gaza: The Day After

The Link Vol. 57, Issue 1 [Americans for Middle East Understanding]

Stathis Gourgouris



The day after in Gaza is at this point not quite even visible. The remnants of genocidal annihilation of all social life—as a result of carpet bombing that puts to shame Nixon’s bombing of Cambodia—are at this moment conceptually incomprehensible. Apart from the fact that this raises insurmountable problems of rebuilding at a concrete practical level, we have a psychological humanitarian devastation of unprecedented scale that permeates every aspect of a society. Whole lines of families eradicated, leaving behind not a single relative, are debilitating attacks upon the very notion of generation, of time itself. How can the notion of the future have any meaning in these terms?

Moreover, from the Israeli side of things a permanent condition of war—under the perverse discourse of security—is perfectly visible. From this standpoint, the only solution would be the total clearing out of the land, as if by magic. I realize this may seem an extreme picture, but it is not. It certainly occurs in the realm of feasible fantasy for many Israelis, including people holding posts in the current government.

So, from any worthy standpoint of social science policy, the idea of “the next day in Gaza” is perfect unreality. It cannot happen, because in order for it to happen, everything that has happened has to be reversed, as if by magic. We all know magic does not occur in human history, hence the brutality of visions of annihilation. Hence also the epistemological void we face at the prospect of “the next day in Gaza.”

If for the sake of argument we could seriously envision “the next day in Gaza” as a fact, then the very first and absolute priority must be no Israeli settlement—not even an inch of ground. About this there must be no compromise. Alas, plans of settlement, which would in fact divide the strip into five sections, already exist with actual mapping. So, the primary responsibility of the international community would be to prevent—by any means necessary—Israeli settlement. Given the perfect failure of the international community to prevent this catastrophe, I cannot imagine this is possible.

Ideally, all control of Gaza should be turned over to the Palestinians. Whether we like it or not, they deserve to run their society as they please—as all societies deserve. But knowing this is not even discussable at this point, the second and necessary element would have to be control of the region—including military and security control—to be turned over to the United Nations. This would have to include the billions necessary to rebuild a society, infrastructure and superstructure, whatever the cost, which must be forwarded by the Great Powers that enable Israel to conduct this catastrophe unimpeded. This too would have to be handled by the United Nations. But, again, given the perfect failure of the United Nations to put a stop to this catastrophe, I cannot imagine this is possible.

What I can imagine perfectly well is a world unlike anything we have known since the end of WWII and the nuclear bombings of Japan. A complete collapse of international order. We are much closer to this becoming a reality than it seems today, and we are way past any moral boundaries that would guarantee humanity a livable future.

(Jan. 10, 2024)