‘Even though human life may be the most precious thing on earth, we always behave as if there were something of higher value than human life.’
These words of Antoine de Saint-Exupery, a renowned French aristocrat, struck my mind when I saw the heart-wrenching images of brutally-murdered Gaza children. In today’s world, where abuse or misuse of an animal may warrant punishment, how conveniently this ruthless genocide by the Israeli forces is ignored by the world. With immorality at its highest and regard for human life at its lowest, the acts of Israeli forces make a shameful example of brutality and bestiality.
The aerial bombardment of rockets by Israeli forces in July 2014 didn’t begin at the spur of the moment. This crisis dates back to 1948 when the Jewish control was established over the Palestinian territory. To date, all the terror, trauma and cruelties that the Palestinians have been subject to are actually an attempt to deprive them of their homeland.
The Palestine issue has its roots in two conflicting versions advocated by the Jews and the Palestinians. The Jews consider this place the Holy Land that was promised to them by God whereas the Palestinians believe that their land has been grabbed by alien oppressors. The history of this land reveals that it had been inhabited and ruled by various people. However, in 636 AD, the Palestine was conquered by the Arabs; this marked the beginning of almost 1400 years of Muslim presence in the region. In 1906, the Zionist Congress decided that the homeland for the Jews would be Palestine. With the outbreak of World War I in 1914, the Britain promised the independence of Arab leaders in return for Arab support against Turkey. It also made other conflicting commitments. This included the Balfour Declaration of 1917, in which a national home for the Jews in Palestine was promised.
After the WWI ended in 1918, the Jews began pouring into Palestine. The Jewish settlements continued till 1948, and were not accepted by the Palestinians because they feared that the Jews would be working to make a part of the British-administered Palestine a Jewish state. The Palestinians’ fears were genuine. In 1947, Britain decided to leave Palestine and called on the UN to make recommendations. The special commission of the UN proposed a partition plan to resolve the conflict by dividing the land into two’ one for the Arabs (44% of the territory) and the other for the Jews (54.5% of the territory).
Since the inception of Israel, three wars have been fought; in 1948, 1967 and 1973. These led to the expulsion of the Palestinians from their homeland and the occupation of East Jerusalem, Gaza Strip, Golan Heights, Sinai Peninsula and West Bank by the Israeli forces. Since then, there have been several attempts for returning the land to pre-1967 state, according to the international law and UN resolutions, but Israel’s obduracy and adamancy have led to the stalemate. Despite having peace on paper, Israel kept an iron grip and there was no letup in violence. It adhered to the concept of expansionism and aggression and continued to unleash atrocities on the Palestinians.
Even today, there has been no end to the Israeli aggression. Recently, a single rocket reportedly fired into Lebanon by the Israeli forces led to the killings of more than 150 innocent people including children. These events have created the right ambiance for the leaders from all over the world to come forward and speak for the rights of the Palestinians and formulate a plan that would lead to the permanent resolution of the Palestine issue.
The road to freedom for the Palestinians is a long, bumpy one. It is believed that to perform a task, there has to be the intention to do it. This is particularly true for resolving the Palestine issue. Unfortunately, the so-called global policeman of the world, the USA, doesn’t have the political will to resolve the issue. The attempts made to bridge the gap between Israel and Palestine by the US have been a complete farce. The Palestine issue cannot be resolved till the US acts as an honest and just arbitrator and keeps its own interests aside.
The UN was established with the aim of maintaining peace among the nations but it has earned the reputation of a ‘toothless’ organization which has failed to resolve any international conflict. Until and unless the UN acts as a completely independent and democratic organization, the Palestinians dream of freedom cannot see the light of the day.
The Arab world should also play a vibrant role. Simply expressing concern and condemning the Israeli attacks is not enough. They should collectively stand for the Palestinians or at least provide some economic and moral support to the victims.
The Muslim world in general too bears a responsibility. The Muslims as an Ummah should set their priorities right, should forget their personal sectarian differences and work for the amelioration of the Muslims living in Palestine. The OIC must play a vigilant role and voice the concerns of the Muslim Ummah vigorously.
Lastly, Israel must also show restraint’ which it won’t because it enjoys the patronage of the US. Palestine is a tale of people who have faced suppression, terrorism, brutalities and expulsion but these tragedies only made them stronger and more determined. When will the Palestinians dream of independence and statehood materialize and when they will be provided with their right of living in peace are questions only time can tell the answers to whom.