Daily, the events in Israel and Gaza pierce our hearts as we witness the inhumanity and cruelty dished out to ‘the other’.
The lives lost and the hope cruelly removed from the lives of young children tears us apart in these days of diplomacy, information and knowledge.
What is left is a cycle of hate, bitterness and violence – all mingled with a sense of desperation and meaninglessness.
How do we act under such circumstances? Gaza seems to be continually a lose-lose proposition.
Hate and bitterness have fermented, devaluing the human spirit. The atrocities committed by both sides reveal the depth of anger and bitterness. There is no winner in such conflicts, and when the powers that be take sides, it only worsens the ‘conflict’.
Where is the sense of humanity? Are we going to tolerate this flagrant injustice? To do so would be a global failure.
It is all very well for Western nations to talk about human rights and point their finger at how the Chinese are treating the Uyghurs. But then, they fail to recognise their immense failure in dealing with the issues relating to the Palestinian people.
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The Palestinian issue has to be considered in its widest context. It is easy to blame Hamas and Israel, but the larger responsibility lies with the international community. This long-standing issue highlights the UN’s ineffectiveness and Western nations’ guilty conscience over past failures and anti-Semitism.
National interests often dictate international responses. An immediate short-term knee-jerk reaction belies the grave injustice that has been inflicted on the people of Palestine by the collusion of European powers, the UK and the US.
With elections due in the US and with American Jews being in positions of power and money, there is a tendency for a sitting president to be swayed by these considerations. So we see the double standards of President Joe Biden. Thankfully, the Arab leaders are not meeting him.
The Western powers, through the UN, created the state of Israel in 1948. Yet, this has been a simmering issue since the early 19th Century. Anti-Semitism in Germany, the Holocaust and the treatment of Jews in Europe all led to a deep sense of guilt within Europe.
The Western powers authorised the creation of Israel in the state of Palestine. The people of Palestine were never consulted. Zionism had its friends in the Western nations, and the collusion between France and the UK led to the unprecedented influx of Jews to Palestine after the creation of the state of Israel.
Then came an influx of Jews from all over Europe and Russia – all wanting to be part of the new homeland of Israel.
What we witness today is racism and apartheid as symbols of the state of Israel, tolerated by the West.
Take a look at the map of Palestine prior to the 1930s and compare it with the present situation. You will be surprised to see how much land has been seized by the state of Israel – at the expense of the Palestinian people.
Despite all the protests and appeals to the UN and the string of resolutions, nothing has served the interest of the people of Palestine. Over time, they have been pushed to a corner.
Gaza represents an “open-air prison”, where the people are at the mercy of the state of Israel. Is it surprising that groups like Hamas thrive in such a situation? In places of poverty and grave injustice, radical elements thrive. This is not rocket science.
Now we have the US and Israel claiming that Hamas is like Isis.
Hamas, in many ways, is a creation of the state of Israel. Israel wanted an enemy, and they have got one to justify its excesses.
Despite efforts, the international community has failed the people of Palestine, while the state of Israel continues to grab land, create colonies, build walls and bomb the people of Palestine.
We need to distinguish Hamas from the ordinary people of Gaza. A shocking 70% of the youth of Gaza are unemployed. In their hopelessness, some turn to any opportunity that gives them meaning. How does one live in an open-air prison, year in and year out?
Freedom is a deep longing in the hearts of people everywhere and the expression of this, along with pent-up frustrations, occasionally erupts in the violence and desperation exhibited by the more radical elements in Gaza.
Yet, in the retribution that follows, ordinary families are the ones who pay a heavy price. They call this ‘collateral damage’.
To complicate matters, this conflict has always had a religious flavour to it that continues to inflame the Middle East. Other actors are part of the scene and this is also being subsumed by the new cold war. Geopolitical issues blur interpretations, while events continue to polarise the situation even further.
Nowhere else in the world has a people been so disenfranchised from their land so blatantly as the Palestinian people. The past wrong has to be addressed, otherwise we will continue justifying what is now happening in simplistic terms.
We have to stand by the Palestinian people and their cause. The West needs to be educated and continually reminded about the price being paid by the Palestinian people ever since the state of Israel was formed.
The disproportionate response of Israel has to be condemned. The situation in Gaza has to be recognised. The blockade has to be removed, and life and its possibilities be allowed to flourish for the Palestinian people. Is this too much to ask of the international community?
By their very actions and genocidal response, Israel is promoting anti-Semitism while Europe and the US cannot take the moral high ground in their global stance for democracy and justice. What is their cause in Ukraine and how is that different from what is happening in Palestine?
Israel must recognise that its security ultimately lies in ensuring that peace, justice, freedom and liberty are bestowed on the Palestinian people. Prosper thy neighbour and ensure the universal wellbeing of both the people of Israel and Palestine.
This requires a new mindset and a leadership that works to achieve the very best under the present challenging situation. The alternative is a continuation of violence and bloodshed – a situation where everyone loses.
We can only pray for humankind, that we serve humanity and work towards creating a humane society both in Palestine and Israel.