Point-blank: What would Bertrand Russel say?

Mohamed Salmawy
Tuesday 7 Feb 2023

“What Israel is doing today cannot be condoned, and to invoke the horrors of the past to justify those of the present is gross hypocrisy.”


This statement was made by the great British philosopher Sir Bertrand Russel a few days before his death on 2 February 1970. Yet, it feels as though he is still among us, observing the events in Palestine today.

What is currently unfolding there is the continuation of the horrors that began years before the establishment of the state of Israel, perpetrated by terrorist Zionist gangs and militias such as the Lehi (Stern Gang), Haganah and Irgun, the leader of which, Manachem Begin, would go on to become an Israeli prime minister. Terrorism as an instrument for founding the state became an instrument of the state. But, as Russel indicated, the West remained silent on the grounds of the persecution the Jews had suffered under the Nazis. 

Israel today has taken off its mask with the election of a government some members of which had been prosecuted on charges of racist incitement while others openly espouse “death to the Arabs.” As expected, violent clashes erupted across the occupied territories as Israeli occupation forces launched brutal attacks on Palestinian towns and villages, ostensibly targeting resistance fighters and their families.

Many innocent bystanders were killed in the process, including an elderly woman in her seventies. In addition, once again, dozens of Israeli settlers, assisted by Israeli intelligence and military personnel, stormed the Al-Aqsa Mosque sanctuary. According to press reports, the extremists toured the interior of the mosque to provoke the worshippers and performed Talmudic rites. 

Isreali occupation forces and armed Israeli settlers have committed more than 700 acts of aggression in January alone, the Colonisation and Wall Resistance Commission reported. The current Israeli government has revealed its true ugly face with the unprecedented levels of violence, bloodshed and destruction it unleashed against Palestinian people, land and property from its first day in power, said Muayyad Shaaban, the head of the commission. Thirty-five Palestinian men, women and children have been killed in just a month. 

What would Bertrand Russel say today if he saw how much more brutal the Isreali occupation has grown since he was alive? 

* A version of this article appears in print in the 9 February, 2023 edition of Al-Ahram Weekly

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