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Humanity continues to bleed in Palestine

The Muslim world remains divided and even the suffering of the Palestinians is not able to unite them

 

 

 

By Abhay Kumar
As I write this story, the Israeli aggression on the Palestinians continues. The innocent civilians in Gaza are being targeted and houses are being destroyed. Reports have come that a large number of Palestinians are running away from northern Gaza as the military attacks of Israel further intensify. The brutality has passed all its previous records of cruelty and even the hospitals are not spared.

The Palestinian death toll goes past 11,000. Many more are feared to have sustained injuries and many more have been displaced. It seems that the region is undergoing one of the biggest catastrophes in human civilization. Yet, the world community, particularly the major powers, who call themselves the biggest custodians of international security and peace as well as the international organisations, which are described as the biggest watchdog of human rights, are either silent or mute spectators. Amid all this, the Israeli attacks go on and humanity continues to bleed.

In the name of teaching “a lesson” to “the terrorists” and for the protection of lives and liberty of people, the mighty Israeli state is bleeding humanity. But this has to stop and this must stop. But how?

But of course, the aggression will stop on its own. It can only halt when the people of the world rise against war and destruction. Not only Palestinians but also the working classes in the Jewish community must stand against Israeli aggression. Only the people’s solidarity across the globe will stop the reign of terror.

The political elites, on the other hand, have all turned almost onlookers. Unlike the people, they have little regard for the lives of human beings. They have been turned stone by the compulsion of geopolitics and slaves of profit-seeking corporate giants. They are more driven by “national interests” and “hard politics”, than the cries of innocent civilians.

The so-called epicentres of “liberalism” and “human rights” are the Western Europe and the USA. But the politicians in the liberal systems are almost silent. They are just issuing statements in a forked tongue. The Muslim world remains divided and even the suffering of the Palestinians is not able to unite them.

Of course, the just cause of Palestine cannot be looked at through religious prism. Palestinians have the right to self-determination because they are human beings. Human beings, as John Locke, one of the main philosophers of liberalism, argued, carry inalienable rights that existed before the establishment of the political society. The majority of the countries have based their constitution on Locke’s liberal philosophy but when it comes to implementing it in real life, they turned their back on John Locke. This is called sheer hypocrisy. The Indian political elites, who are never tired of celebrating the liberal institutions, have too turned insensitive to the human rights of the people of Palestine.

When I write this story from New Delhi, the political elites appear unmoved to see the sufferings of the Palestinians. The hard politics and the petty interests have turned them mute. While they occasionally give lip service to the cause of Palestine, their heart is fixed somewhere else and the people understand it.

Look at the irony. The inheritors of anti-colonial leaders are afraid of peaceful protests and demonstrations against the Israeli attacks. In New Delhi, the protesters against Israeli aggression in Gaza have been detained, while those who stand with the perpetrators of the crime are at liberty to do or say anything they like. The right-winger forces continue to speak, write, propagate and spread myths, lies and hatred against Palestinians. By targeting the Palestinians, their real target is the Muslim minority within the country.

This may create a false impression that the Indians have turned insensitive to the people of Palestine. But this is not the reality. Only a small section of Indians who are aligned with Hindutva politics are trying to create a false impression that the people of India have no solidarity with the Palestinians.

But the reality is not what is being shown by the mainstream media. The majority of the Indians, whose voices are not usually covered by the corporate-funded and upper castes-led Indian media, are for the people of Palestine. They stand in solidarity with them. The solidarity for Palestine is not based on religion but it is a matter of principle. The overwhelming majority of Indians grieve to see their sufferings.

Even the right-wing government in the centre is aware of this fact. That is why it is trying to suppress any protest in favour of Palestinians. The overwhelming majority of Indians firmly believe that the people of Palestine have the right to self-determination as any nation has or the Indians stressed it during the anti-colonial struggles.

Moreover, the historical ties between Indians and the people of Palestine are centuries-old. For example, during the colonial struggles, the Arabs and the Indians were friends against the colonial power. Mahatma Gandhi, the Father of the Nation, unambiguously supported the cause of Palestine. In a small booklet Hind Swaraj, which he wrote in 1909, Gandhi made it clear that the right to self-determination cannot be denied on any ground. Gandhi wrote that “anarchy under Home Rule was better than orderly foreign rule”. Had the principle of Gandhi not been forgotten by the political elites, they would not have remained onlookers to see the suffering of Palestinians.

The political leaders even do not want to remember that when Gandhi was travelling to England to participate in the Round Table Conference, the people in Egypt ran to greet him but the authorities stopped them from doing so. In the Arab world, Gandhi has been very popular and several Arabic writers wrote about his ideas and struggles against anti-colonialism. The right-wing government in India is at the forefront of appropriating Gandhi but it is not ready to continue his legacy. Similarly, the political elites are ready to bury the Gandhian legacy and India’s historical ties with the people of West Asia for immediate petty interests.

Look at how the right-wing government has stooped low and it has become so undemocratic. It has now asked the police to stop people offering prayers for the people of Palestine.

The reports in Urdu media suggest that the police threatened the mosque authority not to refer to Palestine in Friday’s speech, nor did the Imam invoke their names. What could be more farcical than this is that in the largest democracy of the world, the people are not allowed to even peacefully pray for peace, and justice and shed tears for the victims.

But what about the aggression of Hamas? This is how Israeli aggression is justified. Let me take up this issue here. No doubt, in the ongoing conflicts between Israel and Hamas, it is innocent people who have suffered. Both Israeli citizens and Palestinians have suffered casualties. Nobody denies the fact that innocent Jews lost their lives in the Hamas attacks and they cannot be justified.

But what about using the excuse of the Hamas attack to launch an attack to wipe out Palestinians? Can it be justified? Should every person living in Gaza be punished for what Hamas did? What about the innocent children who do not know anything? What about the sick who have been in hospitals for months and they do not know what Hamas did? Do they have the right to get medicine and food? If yes, how could Israel be justified to continue attacking Gaza weeks after the Hamas attack?

Let me say it again: while the attacks of Hamas can never be justified, one cannot ignore what Israeli forces have been doing since then. They have no regard for humanitarian laws and no respect for human rights. Should Israel be not held responsible for what they have done? In their attacks over 11,000 Palestinians have lost their lives and thousands of them got injured and displaced. Their houses and markets have been reduced to debris. Is this the best way to fight so-called terrorism?

Those who hold Hamas to carry out “terrorist” attacks on Israeli people forget that the history of Palestine and Arab conflicts predated the birth of Hamas. Hamas was set up in 1988 by Sheikh Ahmed Yassin. When there was no Hamas, there should not have been any problem. But it exited and the Palestinians suffered. When Hamas was not born, they were being displaced from their own houses. When Hamas was not in the picture, the Palestinians were being harassed and tortured in their own home. When Hamas was not around, their resources were controlled by foreigners, while the locals were rendered poor.

These bitter realities show that the question of Palestine cannot be reduced to religion. It is also not a security issue. Nor can it be linked to terrorism. It is purely a political issue and the Israeli establishment is least interested in addressing it politically. It wants to approach it as a security problem. The Israeli state knows very well that it is armed to the teeth and it is militarily far superior to non-state actors like Hamas.

Modern state has got a monopoly over violence and it inflicts violence more often and more deadly than any non-state actor can ever imagine. This is the reason why the propaganda machinery of Israel wants to give it a security turn. But the democratic forces of the world put pressure on it to address it politically and come to the negotiating table. This is not only good for Palestinians and Israelis but also the whole world.

The first thing both parties can do is to declare a ceasefire. Fire cannot be extinguished by fire. The strategy of ‘an eye for an eye’ can make the whole world blind. Both parties, therefore, should realise that the Israel-Palestine dispute is a political question and it can only be solved through dialogue. The militarisation of the region has taken a huge toll on humanity. It is high time both parties go for a talk.

But vested interests are active and trying to fish in troubled waters. They want conflict to continue as it serves the arms (read war) industry. The world community, therefore, must beware of them. It is this powerful lobby that has reduced the political question to a mere security issue. It does not want the issue to be deliberated upon, dispassionately. If the talks succeed, it fears, its armed business may slow down. For it, war is profitable and the era of peace is the period of loss-making.

The vested interest lobby is active elsewhere as well. In India, it has influenced a powerful group of people, who are working in the media. They are also active on social media, posting comments to divert people’s attention from the real issue. It is the power of their hateful propaganda that the political question of Israel and Palestine is being given a religious turn.

Amid this human tragedy, a hateful campaign on social media is being launched to demonize Muslims and hold them responsible for the violent and condemnable acts of Hamas. Not to talk of social media activists, several mainstream Indian journalists have operated within the communal framework. They have completely failed to maintain a balance in their approach. Instead, the reporting and TV shows are designed in such a way as to give a one-sided view of the complex issue.

It is often seen that during commercially driven, prime-time, television shows the anchors framed the question in a skewed manner; depicting the attacks by Hamas as the beginning of the problem; taking this shallow argument further to say that the elimination of “militants” among Palestinians would solve all problems! While the anchors are seen, forcing the participants to condemn the attacks by Hamas on Israel, they appear hesitant to condemn the counter-attacks by the Israeli state on one of the most marginalised peoples in the world. Journalists, who are expected to show all sides of the truth, are concealing the larger issue that the military acts of Israel have been at a much bigger scale and pose a much bigger threat.

But the Islamophobic lobby does not utter a single word about how the mighty Israeli state has launched a crackdown on the people of Gaza. Apart from military attacks, the area is also facing a severe shortage of food and medicine. It is simply a human tragedy.

When I see the mighty Israeli state, I see the irony. While the people of Israel have suffered in history and their historical journey is punctuated by migration and persecution, the Israeli state, which derives its legitimacy in the name of protecting the rights of historically marginalised Jews, is not hesitant to use force on the poor Palestinians.

Who can deny that the contribution of Jews in human history is unmatched but the Israeli state is also known for securitising the political issue? Without the realisation of an independent state for the people of Palestine through holding dialogue and democratic means, the region would find it difficult to achieve a lasting peace.

[Dr Abhay Kumar is an independent journalist. He has taught political science at NCWEB Centres of Delhi University. Email: debatingissues@gmail.com]

 

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