Palestine victimised by the world
"My sympathies are all with the Jews. I have known them intimately in South Africa. Some of them became life-long companions. Through these friends I came to learn much of their age-long persecution. They have been the untouchables of Christianity. The parallel between their treatment by Christians and the treatment of untouchables by Hindus is very close. Religious sanction has been invoked in both cases for the justification of the inhuman treatment meted out to them.
“But my sympathy does not blind me to the requirements of justice. The cry for the national home for the Jews does not make much appeal to me. The sanction for it is sought in the Bible and the tenacity with which the Jews have hankered after return to Palestine. Why should they not, like other peoples of the earth, make that country their home where they are born and where they earn their livelihood?
“Palestine belongs to the Arabs in the same sense that England belongs to the English or France to the French. It is wrong and inhuman to impose the Jews on the Arabs. What is going on in Palestine today cannot be justified by any moral code of conduct. Surely it would be a crime against humanity to reduce the proud Arabs so that Palestine can be restored to the Jews partly or wholly as their national home.
“The nobler course would be to insist on a just treatment of the Jews wherever they are born and bred. The Jews born in France are French in precisely the same sense that Christians born in France are French. If the Jews have no home but Palestine, will they relish the idea of being forced to leave the other parts of the world in which they are settled?
“The Palestine of the Biblical conception is not a geographical tract. It is in their hearts. But if they must look to the Palestine of geography as their national home, it is wrong to enter it under the shadow of the British gun. A religious act cannot be performed with the aid of the bayonet or the bomb. They can settle in Palestine only by the goodwill of the Arabs. They should seek to convert the Arab heart.”
Mohandas K Gandhi said those words (abridged here) in November 1938 (www.whatwouldgandhido.net), and that is why he is mahatma (esteemed one).
Palestine as a region passed from Turkish to British rule in 1917 and remained a singular political constituency for the next thirty years but the region inhabited predominantly by Arabs, continued to witness Zionist settlements in Palestine under British protection. And today the same British are enforcing arms embargo on Israel.
Meanwhile, the Palestinian Arabs could only offer mute resistance, often bloody, as the Jewish population rose from 85,000 in 1914, or 12 percent of the 687,000 inhabitants then in Palestine, to more than 600,000, or nearly 35 percent of a population of almost 1.9 million in 1947. In 1947 the United Nations (UN) decided that Palestine should be partitioned between a Palestinian Arab state and a Jewish state, with Jerusalem to be under international control. The Zionists agreed to the partition plan and established Israel as a Jewish state in May 1948. But they continued to annex Palestine land.
European Union's top foreign policy official Javier Solana called on 13 July for the United Nations Security Council to recognise a Palestinian state by a certain deadline even if Israel does not. But the Palestinian Authority leadership currently refuses to enter negotiations with Israel until it stops construction of illegal West Bank settlements, recognises past agreements, and agrees to the creation of a sovereign Palestinian state. Solana said the declaration should include the borders of the Palestinian state, the fate of Palestinian refugees, control over Jerusalem and security arrangements, and full membership of the UN. (Ma'an News)
Amidst such international viewpoint, the Israeli municipality of Jerusalem demolished last Monday midday a Palestinian home located in East Jerusalem and attacked the family of Ala Al Shiwki and his eight family members. The municipality says it was built without the needed permission. Ironically, Israeli occupied Jerusalem in 1967. Since then it has rarely given Palestinian residents permissions to build homes, while they continue to build settlements in and around the city, an act which is illegal by international law. (IMEMC News, 13 July)
In other developments over the past week, and it is not any different round the year, the Israeli military kidnapped three Palestinian civilians on Monday during pre dawn invasions targeting northern West Bank communities. Two civilians were kidnapped when Israeli troops searched and ransacked a number of homes in the city of Tulkarem. Meanwhile another civilian was kidnapped when troops attacked homes in the nearby city of Qalqilia. The military said that the kidnapped men were on the army. (Agencies, 13 July) Hah at best!
Furthermore, Israeli settlers from the nearby illegal settlement of Biet Ein set fire and destroyed Palestinian owned lands (37 acres) on Monday near the southern West Bank city of Hebron. Also last week, and it is not any different round the year, Israeli soldiers attacked Palestinian villagers along with their international and Israeli peace supporters during the weekly non-violent protest against the wall in Ni'lin village, west of the city of Ramallah, last Friday.
Sara Roy writing in The Electronic Intifada: 'Gaza is an example of a society that has been deliberately reduced to a state of abject destitution, its once productive population transformed into one of aid-dependent paupers. This context is undeniably one of mass suffering, created largely by Israel but with the active complicity of the international community, especially the US and European Union, and the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank.’ (9 July 2009)
According to the Palestinian Center for Human Rights, during the week of 02 - 08 July 2009, a Palestinian child was killed and her father and uncle were wounded by Israeli forces in the Gaza Strip. Three Palestinian civilians, including two children, were injured when Israeli forces used force against peaceful protest against the Annexation Wall. Israeli forces conducted 25 incursions into Palestinian communities in the West Bank. Israeli forces abducted 18 Palestinian civilians, including seven children, and an American human rights defender in the West Bank.
And yet the Arab world, the UN, the international community looks on. As for us, we pray for the Palestines every Friday and on Eid days. Our weak prayers are being answered, it seems.
(R) thedailystar.net 2009