Is New Zealand A State Sponsor Of Terrorism?
Terrorism is the unlawful use of violence to advance political aims, particularly if that violence targets civilians. The terrorist entity can be a non-state actor, such as Al-Qaeda which toppled the Twin Towers in New York in 2001, or the far-left Brigate Rosse/ Red Brigades that committed spectacular acts in Italy back in the 1970s, including the kidnapping and murder of former Prime Minister Aldo Moro. State terrorism, in contrast, – such as the 1985 French bombing of the Greenpeace ship Rainbow Warrior in Auckland Harbour or the death squads run by the CIA in Central America from the 1960s onwards – differs only in that it is carried out by agents of a state. The USA has a list of countries it considers “terrorist states” including Cuba, Iran, Syria and North Korea.
States, like New Zealand, should not knowingly provide material support or resources to a foreign terrorist entity – whether that be a state or a non-state actor. And yet, clearly, we have done so for decades and are doing so now with Israel.
Throughout my life, New Zealand has fought in America’s wars - wars that delivered death to millions, destroyed societies – notably in Vietnam and Afghanistan – destabilised regions, displaced millions and attempted to impose compliant pro-Western rule. These are textbook cases of state terrorism. Our role has always been minor; we were Fredo to American mob boss Don Corleone - but guilty nonetheless.
Whilst New Zealand has designated Hamas a terrorist organisation and decried the October 7th attacks – and, in respect to the killing of civilians, is quite right to do so – it has been largely silent or incoherent on Israel's large-scale crimes against humanity. By this double-standard, in chorus with Western leaders around the world, we have provided invaluable support to Israel to unleash atrocities against the benighted Palestinian people. Until Chris Hipkins' surprising volte-face on 19 November, the Greens and Te Pāti Māori, with an honourable mention to Labour’s Nanaia Mahuta, were the lone voices of solidarity amongst our parliamentary parties, calling a spade a spade. Earlier this week, on 14 November at Harvard, the former Prime Minister Jacinda Adern fell short of even calling for a ceasefire – raising the ire of some progressives who accused her of being a dragon - hoarding her treasure, her political capital – instead of using it to provoke meaningful action.
National’s Christopher Luxon made an astonishing statement earlier this month:
"We condemn Hamas attacks on Israel as barbaric... and unprovoked.” Unprovoked?
He then went on to say that it wasn't for him to determine whether Israel was acting under international law, or whether its response was collective punishment.
What rational person could not recognise that Israel’s indiscriminate bombing of refugee camps, apartment buildings, hospitals, schools, ambulances and fleeing civilians constitute serious crimes against non-combatants? How do you end up killing thousands of children and not be guilty of acts of barbaric terrorism? How can you cut off power, water, food and medical supplies to a population you are relentlessly bombing and not be pursued by the International Criminal Court of Justice – unless that court is controlled by Western powers? How can you hear Israeli leaders say they want to deliver a non-nuclear Hiroshima to Gaza, they want to drive 2.3 million people into the Sinai, they want to incorporate Gaza and the West Bank into Israel, and not recognise this as Tier One terrorism?
What is happening today in Gaza is defined by hundreds of leading jurists, genocide and Holocaust scholars as a genocidal siege. The homes of over one million people have been flattened. Imagine if that happened to Auckland. What we are witnessing is the largest displacement of Palestinians since the Nakba of 1948.
New Zealand was one of the countries that voted in favour of the Partition Resolution at the UN that created Israel in 1947. We have never recognised Palestine as a state and have thereby been complicit in the further dismemberment of Palestinian territory and the brutal subjugation of its people. That alone should put us in the dock.
In 1918, within a year of the Balfour Declaration, New Zealand troops in the ANZAC Mounted Division committed a massacre of 40 -100 male civilians in the village of Surafend al-Amar in retaliation for the killing of a Kiwi soldier by an unknown assailant. General Allenby called the New Zealanders “cowards and murderers”. No one was ever charged and New Zealand resisted pressure to pay nominal compensation to help rebuild the village.
Prior to 7 October 2023, 95% of the victims of Palestinian-Israeli violence were Palestinians. Ponder that. It may help explain why Hamas would likely win in any free and democratic election held throughout Palestine tomorrow. One man’s “terrorist” is another woman’s “freedom fighter”. Which is exactly why Israel and the USA will ensure free and fair elections do not occur – and death squads will eliminate the political leadership of Hamas.
The Hamas attacks on civilians must be condemned. The question then is: how should the Palestinians respond to the multigenerational oppression inflicted on them by the racist, apartheid state of Israel, supported to the tune of hundreds of billions of American dollars?
If you are outraged by Hamas, ask yourself where was New Zealand over the past 30 years as Israel and America dodged implementing the Oslo Accords? What, aside from measured condemnation, did New Zealand do when in 2018 peaceful Palestinians protesters were gunned down in their hundreds by Israeli snipers, and thousands maimed according to the UN during the “Great March of Return and the Breaking of the Siege”?
More often than not, New Zealand has been complicit in ensuring that Israel feels no real pressure to stop construction of settlements on stolen land, thereby failing to fulfil its obligations as an occupying power under the Fourth Geneva Convention. New Zealand politicians mouthing platitudes does not cut it.
We currently have a close intelligence sharing relationship with Israel as an adjunct to the Five Eyes alliance. Acting against Israel, breaking ranks with the Broederbond, is seen as too costly to our strategic relations with the USA - and so our leaders mostly read the script the Pentagon feeds us and we let the Palestinians suffer. Realpolitik 101.
What we are witnessing is not just the murder of countless innocent civilians and the start of ethnic cleansing; we are seeing Israel’s key ally, the US, putting a bullet in the head, finally finishing off “the rules-based order”. After this, how could anyone seriously invoke international law should another 9/11 style attack occur, another invasion like that of Ukraine is launched, another London underground bombing is committed? Where is the benchmark, what is the rule, the common sense of justice and humanity that would cry out “This is evil! This cannot stand”?
Sure, hold Hamas accountable for its attacks on civilians. And Putin. And Assad. But if Israel and the US are not held to account for their crimes against humanity, then we are back to what the Greek Thucydides famously said in his History of the Peloponnesian Wars ....”The strong do what they will; the weak endure what they must”.
Therefore I hand down my judgement now on those who are failing to protect the 2.3 million people of Gaza, and I believe it will be the same judgement that History will deliver: Guilty.
If New Zealand wishes to plead for mercy, then it should render mercy and succour to the Palestinian people. We need to shake off our mental shackles and see and label Israel and America for what they are: rogue terrorist states. Guilty as charged.
EUGENE DOYLE is a community organiser who lives on Wellington’s South Coast. He received an Absolutely Positively Wellingtonian award in 2023 for community service to coastal communities, environmental action, water quality, emergency resilience and other causes..