All men are not created equal. One Israeli life is equivalent to 200 Palestinian lives. And, once again, the world has better things to do than stop Israel’s genocide. It was not the kidnapping of three Israeli teenagers that started it. Two Palestinian boys, acting on their own, kidnapped the three teenagers hoping to use them as hostages to get Palestinian prisoners freed by Israel. One of the Israeli boys was able to call the police with his cell phone; the Palestinian boys panicked and killed them. Legal machinery and due process did not come into action — raw revenge did. Orthodox Jews, typically non-violent, burned Mohammad Abu Khdeir alive. His cousin, Palestinian-American Tariq Khdeir, was held down by an Israeli border police officer while another kicked and punched him in the face. Tariq miraculously survived. The US murmured a protest to Netanyahu and was told that the police officers had been suspended for 15 days, and might face criminal charges. Had it been an Israeli-American teenager bludgeoned by Palestinians, the story would never die.
The current rain of death on the Palestinians is about the usual thing: land. The very creation of Israel is based on the dispossession of Palestinians and their continued siege since 1948. Israel has long planned and carried out attacks on Gaza and the West Bank so that it can conquer more land, build more illegal settlements and reduce Gaza to an enclave surrounded by Israel so that the question of nationhood does not arise. This Israeli offensive began on July 8, 2014, a week into Ramzan. As many as 213 Palestinians, all civilians, have been killed, Israel’s air force has destroyed a mosque and levelled a rehabilitation centre for the disabled. The water supply to Gaza has been affected to the point that the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) reports that 70 percent of its water is not potable. Four children, playing on the beach in Gaza, were murdered by Israeli fire.
That the children of Holocaust victims could wreak the same havoc on people whose land and homes they stole, and worsen their persecution with each offensive, is very challenging to the mind. Misfortune humbles most people; perhaps with some, victims become monstrous perpetrators. Those who cannot stop this atrocity just look the other way. The US, the country that has armed Israel into becoming the most sophisticated army in the world, can barely protest. The Israeli lobby has bought over essentially all of Congress and a word against Israel can guarantee loss of funding and votes in the next election.
For those, Muslims included, who think that Israel is retaliating against Hamas rocket attacks, I will quote Jewish-US philosopher and activist Noam Chomsky: “Israel uses sophisticated attack jets and naval vessels to bomb densely crowded refugee camps, schools, apartment blocks, mosques, and slums to attack a population that has no air force, no air defence, no navy, no heavy weapons, no artillery units, no mechanised armour, no command in control, no army...and calls it a war. It is not a war, it is murder.”
Also, Israel has the Iron Dome, a mobile missile-defence system that intercepts short-range rockets. The one billion dollar programme, subsidised by the US, has served Israel well; Hamas rockets are either destroyed 90 percent of the time or land in fields.
Europe and Canada are the US’s little sidekicks so no expectations there. Pakistan protested but its redundancy on the world stage is a topic for another lament. The impotence of the Organisation of the Islamic Conference (OIC) is even more pathetic than Pakistan’s. Iran is itself ostracised in the world community. Turkey is conspicuously mum. Saudi Arabia is too busy quelling revolt within the kingdom against its oppressive rule, as well as funding and grooming the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) in its agenda of killing non-Wahabi Muslims, especially Shias. Egypt, not an honest broker due to its anti-Hamas agenda, tries for a ceasefire and talks only to Israel. Hamas finds out through the media and justifiably refuses. How can there be a ceasefire without terms and direct discussion? Hamas, unaware that a ceasefire was in effect, continued rocket-fire and now Israel’s fans are screaming: “See? They do not want a ceasefire” and so Israel resumes its attacks. Brilliant PR move! Hamas’ terms of a ceasefire are reasonable: that Israel lifts the blockade of the Gaza Strip, ends aggression in the occupied territories and releases Palestinian prisoners.
The United Nations is made up of the leadership of these same sorry nations and the mumblings of Secretary General Ban Ki-moon are as worthless as they are incoherent. In my despair I do see some hope. The Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP) is a US organisation that works to achieve a lasting peace, which recognises the rights of both Israelis and Palestinians for security and self-determination. It works through grassroots organising, education, advocacy and media, and has 100,000 online activists. The JVP supports nonviolent efforts in the US and in Israel-Palestine to end Israel’s occupation, expand human and civil rights and implement a US policy based on international law and democracy.
The Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement is big news in 2014. In 2005, Palestinian civil society issued a call for a campaign of boycotts, divestment and sanctions against Israel until it complies with international law and Palestinian rights. A truly global movement against Israeli apartheid is rapidly emerging in response to this call. The BDS movement covers all Israeli products but it reserves a special focus for companies that are actually involved in — and make hefty profits from — occupation policies. On your shopping trips you might want to avoid Hewlett-Packard, Sodastream, Victoria’s Secret, Jaffa oranges and Eden Springs Water to name a few. Netanyahu and his ministers consider BDS “the greatest threat to Israel” and Netanyahu mentioning it 18 times in his speech to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) in March this year paradoxically focuses attention on Israel’s state-sponsored terrorism and spurs the BDS movement.
And my perpetual, inveterate hope is in God who says, “They plan and God plans and God is the best of Planners” (8:30). The anguish of mothers who have lost their children, the cries of suddenly orphaned children and the hunger, fear and desperation of 1.5 million Palestinians is heard by the heavens in the guarantee: “And when My servants ask you concerning Me, tell them I am very near; I answer the prayer of the supplicant when he calls on Me” (2:186).
In blessing us with free will, God watches our actions. All-forgiving, He gives us chance after chance to shape up but when we wreak havoc and spread devastation on earth, God hits His tipping point. And then we really need to watch out.
As I watch the news media in the US and Israeli officials talk of the carnage in Gaza, it is indeed ...