• Saturday, November 22, 2014

Israel has no right to steal Palestinian lands

Fakhruddin Ahmed

It is David versus Goliath in Palestine. Israel possesses nuclear, chemical and biological weapons of mass destruction. The world's fourth largest exporter of arms, Israel is teeming with the latest high-tech weaponry. It has the highest defense spending to GDP ratio. It boasts of a high standard of living (per capita income of $35,600). Most importantly, Israel has the unequivocal political, economic, diplomatic and military backing of all western nations, notably the UK, and 100% backing of the world's only superpower, the United States.

Compared to the Israeli lion, Gaza is a mouse! Merely a strip, Gaza is only 25-mile long, and 3.5 to 7.5 mile wide. With an area of 139 square miles Gaza is 61-times smaller than Israel. Gaza is dirt poor and packs 1.8 million people, with a population density of 13,069 per square mile.  Gazans have homemade and inaccurate Qassam and Fajr rockets which they have fired into Israel, and have dug some medieval technology tunnels to take the fight inside Israel.

In retaliation, Israel has unleashed its mighty military on the people of Gaza, pulverised a significant part of Gaza through aerial and naval bombardment, and artillery shelling. To date, Israel has killed about 1,400 Gazans, mostly civilians, women and children. Thus far, Israel has suffered 50 military and 3 civilian deaths. For every Israeli civilian death, 400 Palestinian civilians have been murdered.

Israel deliberately bombed Gaza's only power station, which supplies electricity, and powers Gaza's water supply and sewage system. This is clearly a war crime. One would have expected the purveyors of democracy, the West, to cry foul!  They did not. It will be foolish to hold one's breath expecting the West to hold Israel accountable. They never do. Instead, they issue Israel a carte blanche to carry out state sponsored terrorism against Palestinian civilians. Netanyahu carries out atrocities supremely confident that Uncle Sam, which is in Israel's pocket, will always bail him out, and blame the Palestinians instead.

Harvard law Professor Alan Dershowitz spoke for the West when he said on CNN that those who criticise Israel's obliteration of Gaza are anti-American and anti-West. So, American and Western values condone Israeli genocide of civilians in Gaza? This is reminiscent of former British Prime Minister John Major's Freudian slip just before the first Iraqi war in 1991:  “The WEST cannot tolerate Saddam Hussein's actions in Kuwait!” Realizing the faux pas, he quickly corrected himself: “The WORLD cannot…”

If Herr Professor is behaving badly, the US Congress is far worse. All 100 Senators and all 435 members of the House of Representatives (Congressmen) bend over backwards to support Israel to curry favour with the Almighty American Israeli Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), however unseemly it may seem.

The Senate voted 100-0 to proclaim, “Israel has a right to defend itself.”  There was no mention of Palestinian civilian deaths. The House and Senate approved a resolution demanding that Hamas be disarmed. No sympathy was expressed for mounting Palestinians civilian deaths.  Texas Republican Senator Ted Cruz threatened to block every presidential appointment until the FAA reversed its ban on flights of American carriers to Tel Aviv. The ban was reversed in 36 hours. Although the US “condemned” the bombing of children in the UN school, it did not hold Israel responsible!

The famously stingy House of Representatives moved at a breakneck speed to approve additional $225 million in aid to Israel to bolster its anti-missile “Iron Dome,” which America had financed in the first place. No sympathy was expressed for the 1,400 Gazan deaths! It cannot be that humanity has forsaken the Senators and the Congressmen. Their mortal fear of AIPAC and other Israeli lobbies trumps every other consideration. Even Hillary Clinton blamed Hamas for provoking Israel!

Fortunately, the Senators and the Congressmen do not represent the views of the American people. The latest poll found that among 18-29-year old Americans, only 25% support the Israeli actions. The number rises gradually to over 50% among those over 60. The almighty Israeli lobby cannot control social media.

Through its absolute control of the US traditional media, the Congress and the presidency, the Israeli lobby had made sure that only the Israeli narrative is heard and believed by the American people. However, these days the young people get their news from social media like Twitter and Facebook, not from the traditional news outlets. Pictures of Palestinian babies beings blown to smithereens by Israeli bombs go viral. And there is nothing Benjamin Netanyahu can do to counter the spread of the vivid truth.

Netanyahu used a lie as a pretext to attack Gaza. He blamed the criminal murder of three Jewish kids in the West Bank last month on Hamas. (Jewish settlers roasted a Palestinian boy alive in revenge!). Hamas, which always takes responsibility for its actions, denied it.  Although Israeli intelligence agencies backed Hamas' denial, Netanyahu nevertheless went ahead and attacked Gaza.

The 2012 accord between Hamas and Israel stipulated that Israel would end the blockade of Gaza in exchange for Hamas not firing rockets into Israel. Israel reneged on that promise. Gaza is still an open air prison. Israel controls its borders, its air space and its sea. It neither allows goods into Gaza, nor exports out of Gaza. It has made life hell for Gazans, while the world looked away. The only way the Gazans can draw the world's attention is through firing rockets into Israel, most of which fall harmlessly into unpopulated areas.

The world never asks why Israel is illegally occupying the West Bank which it captured from Jordan in 1967. The Oslo Accord of 1993 was supposed to result in a Palestinian state in the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem. While Israel got all benefits of Oslo upfront, such as diplomatic recognition from the world, the Palestinians got more Israeli settlements on their lands. In 1993 there were 190,000 Jewish settlers in the West Bank; now there are close to 500,000. Netanyahu recently said in Hebrew: there will be no Palestinian state! Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas is sitting at the negotiating table alone!

So, when Israel invokes the “right to defend itself,” may one ask what it means: Right to steal more Palestinian lands and build settlements? Right to deny the Gazans their right to life, liberty and pursuit of happiness? Right to perpetually hoodwink the world?  Right to bomb and kill worshippers in mosques, patients in hospitals and children in UN schools?

A question for Humanity: Can those who nonchalantly murder 1,400 plus defenseless human beings be considered human?


The writer is a Rhodes Scholar.

Published: 12:00 am Sunday, August 03, 2014

Last modified: 10:14 pm Saturday, August 02, 2014

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