by Syed Suhail Yaqoob
Many people have supported the two-state solution with Jerusalem a common entity between the two states. This is an official line adopted by the United States as well as United Nations.
It was horrible to watch the bombardment of the Gaza Strip by Israeli armed forces. Before Egypt brokered the ceasefire, 248 Palestinians including 66 children and 39 women, were killed, and 1910 survived injured.
Israel arguments rested on “self-defence” in wake of rockets being fired by Hamas. Less than ten per cent of these rockets actually landed in various Israel localities and have killed 12 people.
Defending ‘Promised’ Land
There is another theory in circulation. Apparently, propounded by the Zionists, it states that God has ‘promised’ the Jewish people this land and they are simply protecting it. There are implications of this theory one being that only Jewish people have the right and claim over this land and the ‘other’ communities must leave or made to leave.
This is exactly what happened during the earlier days of Israel. Many historical towns and villages were completely wiped out. In places like Haifa, ethnic cleansing was carried out to make room for settlers.
This theory has visible holes. When the Jews were being subjugated in Egypt, they went towards present-day Palestine, then inhabited by the Cannities and actual inhabitants. They fought a war with them and made their way into the land, so the theory that Jews are the original inhabitants of the land is surely untrue.
Zionists also claim that they have lived in the land for more than 2000 years. The presidents of the USA, who are the biggest supporters of Israel, especially Barak Obama, often chided Tel Aviv for using this reason to claim Palestine. If this reason and logic are accepted then Muslims can also lay claim over Spain as also they have ruled over the region. Some commentators have also claimed that the theory that only Jews have claim over the land is nothing but extreme racism. No wonder the earliest schools in Israel taught their children that Arabs have ‘long tails, are violent and have hatred towards Jews’.
Further the slogans like ‘A land without the people for a people without land’’ was deliberately used in order to make sure that ethnic cleansing takes place without any international condemnation. The sloganeering like these created an impression that Palestine was sandy deserted and nobody lived there. In fact, the land was and always was flooded with people who were dislocated in order to make way for the Jewish settlements. One wonders how land could be without people when it was an important place to three religions of the world: Islam, Christianity and Judaism.
The argument that Arabs hate Jews is nothing but falsehood deliberately spread to create a false idea of the Israeli nation. The Arabs and Jewish people have a long history especially after the emergence of Islam.
Upon the arrival of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) in Medina, a significant and historical pact was signed between different communities living in the region including Jews. The pact is famously known as the Constitution of Medina. It was the first ever written document with full social, economic and religious liberties. However, on the political front communities were asked to collaborate with each other in case of external danger.
The Muslims respected the agreement with utmost honesty. However, the Jews often created a danger through intrigue for the emerging state. They did this, especially for two reasons. First was their racist attitude towards other communities. They believed that prophets can only come from their race. The idea that the prophet Muhammad (PBUH) belonged to Quraish was completely redundant to them.
Further, their hold over the claim that they are the holders of sacred scripts was becoming less and less invisible. No wonder they tried to intrigue and endanger the emergent Muslim nation in Medina (Yathrib as it was called then). The danger was especially grave in the battle of Uhud when they invited many tribes for a unified war against Muslims. Also, they tried to woo away the Jews (and they succeeded) to make a pincer attack on Muslims. However, their plans were thwarted by the ever-vigilant Muslims. After the fight was over the Jews were asked to leave the area.
The Jews always received favourable treatment at the hands of Muslims given the tribal nature of the society.
We have many instances of this kind of treatment. For instance, when Muslims liberated Jerusalem under the caliphate of Umar the great, he signed the document that gave guarantees of civil and religious liberty to Christians.
Further, when Jerusalem surrendered to Muslims for the first time almost in 500 years of oppressive Roman rule, Jews were once again allowed to live inside Jerusalem. It must have been awe-inspiring to see the head of Muslims travel from farther region to Jerusalem simply because the chief bishop asked for it.
It has been recorded in the annals of Muslim chronicles, that at the time of the Zuhr prayers, Sophronius invited Umar to pray in the rebuilt Church of the Holy Sepulchre. Umar declined, fearing that accepting the invitation might endanger the church’s status as a place of Christian worship and that Muslims might break the treaty and turn the church into a mosque. After staying for ten days in Jerusalem, the caliph returned to Medina.
History has showered praise on the attitude of Saladu-din (the liberator of Jerusalem) towards minorities. Never in the annals of the history of Islam were Jews punished except for their treachery and intrigue. In fact, it is fellow Christians who never had any sympathetic attitude towards Jews.
Few people know that in addition to the holocaust, anti-Jewish feeling ran rampant in Europe in the past as well as today. The holocaust was not carried out in any Arab country but in Europe. Anti-Semitic feeling ran rampant in Europe almost in every century. Who would not accept that Jews were forbidden even to live in their own area? History is a witness to the sympathy shown by the Muslims towards Jewish people compared to Christians and other faiths.
Violating Basic Norms
The crisis in Palestine and atrocities including forced settlements carried out by Israel on its people is nothing but a sheer violation of international human rights. The United Nations has taken cognizance of the matter and has advised both sides to de-escalate the situation as soon as possible. It is also important to note that despite huge presence of Muslims in the region Israel is able to get away with the violations carried out on Palestine people. The major point lies in the lack of democracy in the region.
Almost every country in the region is under a dictator, which is supported by the western governments through arms sale and intelligence. These dictators fear that forcing Israel to accept a durable solution will result in the curtailment of western support to them. Further, it’s in the interests of the Arab countries to see a crisis in Palestine continues. It acts as a distraction so that common people don’t ask for important and essential things from the government.
Further, the conflict and confusion raging in the Arab countries have provided an opportunity for Israel to conduct its colonial project against the Palestinian population. There is constant fighting going on between Iran and Saudi-Arabia in the region for influence. Iran is now officially involved in the Syrian war where both western powers including Saudi- Arabia have interests. Saudi government wanted an end to Assad’s regime. Iran has also made its influence felt in Yemen, which shares borders with Saudi Arabia. There is constant fighting between Houthis and Saudi Arabia. Many have died in the unfortunate war and United Nations have declared it the worst human tragedy.
Few books and articles are needed to figure out what happened in Iraq and Libya. The western countries forcefully invaded the countries on the pretext of having ‘Weapons of Mass destruction” as if the USA and its allies do not have nuclear weapons in their arsenal. The USA was the first nation that dropped nuclear weapons on Japan even after the country was on the brink of accepting the defeat.
A National Movement
The Palestine movement was in its first-place strictly a national movement. It was further observed that this movement was later deliberately tagged with an Islamist movement. The leading figures of the world like Edward Said and Noam Chomsky are of the opinion that Israel had a great role in pushing the Palestine national movement towards an Islamist movement.
In n western countries everything which is tagged with Islam, especially after 9/11, is considered terrorism. No wonder almost every Israeli politician uses the Palestine liberation movement as a terrorist movement. They use Islam and terrorism side by side although Islam has nothing to do with terror.
Further, the Palestinian people have fallen into the trap knitted by the Israeli government. These politicians from day one wanted the Palestine movement to be associated or tagged with Hamas, a militant outfit. This very thing has provided Israel with an opportunity to behave as it wishes.
After a bruising 11 day pounding of Gaza using brute air force, Israel and Hamas have accepted the ceasefire proposed by Egypt. The quick ceasefire accepted by both sides especially Israel signals that the country has carried out a self-goal.
The images of destruction in Gaza and especially the killing of women and children have shifted the sympathy in favour of Palestine people. The New York Times significantly carried out the editorial, clearly signalling that Israel is losing public sympathy also among the American people. The amount of content viral on social media and bombardment of the Aljazeera network was the last nail in the coffin.
The ceasefire especially reflected two important changing political dynamics. First, in the unofficial meetings, the USA no longer supports the bombardment of Gaza and is inclined towards the two-state solution. This was reflected in the quick ceasefire proposed by Egypt (which must have been supported by the USA).
The USA is in crisis especially after an almost total defeat in Afghanistan and Coronavirus spread that devastated its economy. Secondly, it is not possible for Israel to win a war in the social media era where people especially the young flood it with content. Moreover, Israel pushed almost a ‘corporate sale’ of its Iron dome. The images flashed by the top-ranking people in Israel also tended to tell the tale that other country can have the same when needed. It was both a show of strength and a serious business exercise. This was despite the fact that the dome could not stop all the rockets that Hamas fired.
Although the ceasefire is a good step so that the civilian population goes back to their lives, however, the international community must not be carried out by optimism. The crisis in Palestine dates back to around 1948 and it has repeated itself many times causing death and destruction. It is important to have a permanent solution so as to prevent constant danger to the civilian population.
There needs to be a rational approach towards the crisis in Palestine. Many people have supported the two-state solution with Jerusalem a common entity between the two states. This is an official line adopted by the United States as well as United Nations. It talks of establishing an independent Palestinian alongside Israel providing Tel Aviv security and a Jewish demographic while granting Palestinians a state over their heads.
According to independent experts, the border should be drawn on the basis of the Arab-Israel war of 1967. Israel has, however, pushed the settlements further into Gaza which makes the border issue even more difficult. Further, the change in the status of Jerusalem (Israel is now making it its capital) has brought new issues into the crisis. Although the original two-state solution was seen as a headway, Israel has used many roadblocks to counter even this solution.
(The author is a pursuing PhD in economics from the AMU. The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author’s and do not purport to reflect the opinions or views of Kashmir Life.)