Sunday, August 03, 2014

The War Against Palestine

The ongoing tragedy of Gaza ignites a mixture of feelings of deep sadness and anguish. Israel’s daily demonstration of brutality and military ferocity fills our screens with images of the sufferings of innocent, helpless people. Civilian casualties are facts of war; however, the ratio of civilian deaths and injuries caused by Israel’s highly trained and well-equipped military is mind numbingly high. While the Israeli Government is indeed entitled to launch war to protect its citizens, it seems conveniently to forget that it also has the ultimate responsibility for protecting the citizens of the occupied territories. Israel, with the support of the USA and the international community, has refused to accept an independent Palestinian State without a comprehensive peace agreement and, accordingly, Israel, is responsible for protecting the civilians of Palestine. Hamas, a terrorist organization, actually has no legal standing and no responsibility towards the people of Gaza, Israel does! What ratio of inadvertent civilian deaths does the Government of Israel consider acceptable? And if, Hamas is indeed using innocent civilians as human shield, the question remains the same, what ratio of civilian deaths does Israel consider acceptable, remembering, that Israel, not Hamas, who holds the responsibility for protecting the lives of the non combatants in the occupied territories.

Naturally, when a defenseless population is being so ruthlessly attacked, any force fighting back is seen as righteous and courageous resistance. While the resurgent anti Islamist wave has caused many in the Arab World to turn a blind eye towards the suffering in Gaza and blame Hamas for it, indeed a small loud minority has actually been voicing support for Israel. Yet, the majority of Arab and Muslim people have again been seduced by the daring of Hamas, they are seen as the only force in the Arab World actually standing up to Israeli aggression and defending the defenseless. Once again, Hamas have become heroes and are now being labeled the Resistance. Alas, it is not the State of Israel that Hamas and the so-called Palestinian and Islamic Resistance are resisting, indeed it is Palestine, the State of Palestine is resisted by an unholy alliance of both Hamas and the Israeli right wing Government of Benjamin Netanyahu.

The days of armed resistance against Israel were the days when Israel said there was no such thing as Palestine, when Israeli spin was all about Jordan being the Palestinian state, when Golda Meir told the world, it was she, who was indeed a true Palestinian, but just didn’t like the name Palestine.  All of this came to an end with the Oslo Accords; Israel recognized the Palestinians as people and the road towards the Two State Solution commenced. The Israeli right wing never liked the Two State Solution and neither did Hamas, both rejected it, both for their own distinct reasons. The Israeli hawks fundamentally believe that any sacrifices made by Israel would endanger it needlessly and they believe that time is ultimately, on their side, much like it has been since the Arab rejection of the 1947 UN Partition Plan.  Benjamin Netanyahu articulated his positions over the years, from the days of his youth, when he went by Ben Nitay, to his years in the opposition as a Likud leader; his acceptance of peace in Government has been nothing but mere lip service, his actions speak of his strict adherence to his earlier beliefs.

Moreover, Hamas, unwittingly but with full diligence, does aid the Likud in achieving their objective of thwarting the establishment of a Palestinian state. It is indeed such a sad irony that the military wing of Hamas, named after Izza’din Al- Qassam, a man whose violent anti Jewish hate in the twenties and thirties contributed to the ascent of Jabotinsky and his more exclusive brand of Zionism; Hamas follows in his very same disastrous footsteps. It is hard not to wonder what the shape of Palestine would be today had it not been for the massacre of Jews in Hebron and Safed. For it was only following these tragedies that Nationalist Zionism dominated the Jewish agenda in Palestine. Likud co-opts Hamas’s words and actions again and again to achieve its racist exclusionary goals.

Hamas leadership is keenly aware of the impossibility of eradicating a state that enjoys vast military and technological superiority and has wide backing from world powers. So, what drives Hamas to continue in a winless fight?  Ultimately it is hate! Hate both for the injustice and for those who it sees as responsible for that injustice and hate for Jews.  Hamas leadership has redefined short-term victory to mean the ability to fight submission to the will of Israel; sadly at the expense of the defenseless people of Gaza. Moreover, under Hamas’sdoctrine, no peace is possible without eradicating Israel, so with the current power disparity, the struggle must continue for hundreds of years if need be. Neither side must know or live in peace and normalcy the conflict must remain open-ended. Today, Hamas’s immediate struggle is against the Two State Solution. Such a strange set of goals for a war and, Hamas’s long-term resistance to Israel translates into immediate resistance for the establishment of a Palestinian State!

Many Arabs and Muslims dream of the re-establishment of Palestine in its full historic boundaries and remain invested in the idea of reversing the gross injustice that befell the people of Palestine. Yet, the sons and grandsons of the those Israelis who massacred the Palestinians in 1948 and burnt their villages following their flight are hardly responsible for the crimes of their fathers and grandfathers. Fact is absolute justice is, not only not attainable, but it is also impossible to define and achieve without new major new injustices.

Despite of their difficult lives as refugees, in the 1970’s the Palestinians used to pride themselves for being the most educated amongst Arab people and boasted about having higher percentages of advanced academic degrees than most Arabs. These days are long gone; the refugee camps are over filled and today Palestinians face crises in education, in employment and in healthcare. Today, the Palestinians suffer a great deal for basic human dignity and are becoming poorer every year.  For Palestine from the River to the Sea is a luxury dream, only the ordinary people of Palestine pay for. It is time for the Arab and Muslim intellectuals to speak up for the people of Palestine, whose lives today are ultimately more important than the land and the historic justice.

Rather than counting the number of rockets from Hamas, Israel should be looking at the ratio of explosive power and destruction and ask itself for how long it can escape international justice and accusations of war crimes and genocide, how long can it work to evade the establishment of a Palestine. Hamas cruelty towards the people of Palestine today, resisting the establishment of an independent Palestine in the West Bank and Gaza to keep the conflict going, hoping that future generations can eradicate Israel, is a crime against the people of Palestine who deserve the best they can have now, today!

Ayman S. Ashour
August 3, 2014

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