Now let us come to the issue of the recent “genocide” Israel has been carrying out through indiscriminate bombings with total impunity. Lately, a ceasefire has been agreed upon between Hamas and the occupying state of Israel, even though Israel is accused of violating all past truces. To no one's surprise, Palestinians living in the West Bank and Gaza have applauded this decision and are rejoicing at what they call “the victory of resistance”, despite the fact that clashes in the Al Aqsa Mosque compound have reignited.
The recent conflict didn’t start with the heinous Israeli bombardment of the Gaza Strip or when Hamas fired some rockets in order to resist the Zionist occupation. It all began a few weeks back in the Sheikh Jarrah neighbourhood of East Jerusalem, up north of the Old City – widely regarded as the epicentre of the recent escalations. Videos went viral in social media platforms during Ramadan, showing Israeli settlers attempting to evict Palestinians from their homes, with the Israeli security forces often assisting the Jewish settlers.
Scenes of the Israeli security forces breaking into the mosque compound, attacking Palestinian defenders using tear gas and rubber bullets, really shocked the world. Unfortunately, all of this happened in the midst of a deafening silence from the mainstream media and the international community and their reluctance to expose Israeli crimes. Although social media users have been active in sharing the truth from the scene of the incidents on the ground, social media giants have been thoroughly complicit this time. They have attempted to continuously ban, disable accounts and delete any posts criticising the Zionist entity, often accusing the accounts or posts of being ‘anti-Semitic’- the most common scapegoat to somehow “legitimise” Israeli atrocities.
Mainstream media has tried to label this brutal and violent ethnic cleansing simply as “clashes” or “retaliation” to rockets fired from Gaza. Not long ago, BBC attempted to somehow justify or validate Palestinian casualties due to Israeli bombardment, using language like "61 Palestinian children 'dead’' and 2 Israeli children 'killed'". This grotesque and distorted narrative is being pushed similarly by the governments of the major power brokers like the US and UK, using the same, identical phrase - ‘Israel has the right to defend itself’. The biggest irony of all time! Israel has also bombed the offices of media outlets such as Al Jazeera and the Associated Press who were trying to portray the on-going massacres, in attempt to mute people's voices. On the contrary their desperate attempts have fired back this time.
Propaganda has failed, lies have been unearthed and the truth brought to light. All we had to do was to click a single button to wake people up. Recently more than two hundred thousand people have marched through London in solidarity with the Palestinians and an identical picture is visible all-over major cities. Recently, Italian workers refused to load weapons intended to be shipped to Israel and Jews all over the world have also stepped-up against Israeli ethnic cleansing. This is probably one of the reasons why Israel has agreed to a quick ceasefire as public opinion has largely become pessimistic towards them and they have certainly been defeated in this media war. This may not be a complete victory for the Palestinians, nonetheless it is an important step towards it as the tide maybe beginning to turn against the apartheid state.
The US may also reconsider its unconditional support for Israel in the near future (even though a total paradigm shift towards their Israeli policy is unlikely in the near future), especially the nearly 4 billion dollars in annual aid that goes to the Israeli Defence Forces. Unfortunately, the Israeli lobby (such as AIPAC) in the United States is extremely powerful with immense influence over politicians on both the Republican and Democratic side, with cases of them even ‘bribing’ politicians to support or give political support to Israel. It is true, a ‘pro-Israel’ stance is most of the times to the benefit of US politicians, till today. As a result, the US has also exercised its veto power in the UNSC to prevent even the condemnation of Israel.
The current US president, Joe Biden, is also an ardent supporter of Israel and proudly calls himself a Zionist. He has in the past called the 4 billion dollars in aid to Israel as the United States’ ‘best investment’ and also made it clear that ‘were there not an Israel, the United States would have to invent an Israel to protect her interests in the region’. This is a very clear reflection of the alignment of Israeli policies with that of the United States in the world, primarily in the Middle East. But there has started to appear murmurs from within progressives in the Democrat party for the US to reconsider its ‘ironclad’ stance on Israel, with politicians like Bernie Sanders openly opposing the current US policies surrounding Israel.
Similarly, the new generation in the United States (and the West) have also grown weary and suspicious of American policies towards Israel and their reluctance to support the Palestinian cause (mostly on humanitarian grounds) and are undoubtedly against all Zionist narratives. Maybe the time has come for the US to reassess its relationship with the Zionist state. People have also noticed a growing discontent of the current US administration over Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu as US policies don’t seem to intersect with ‘‘Israeli interests’’ in the region, especially the Iran Nuclear Deal, where the both sides seem to be systematically opposed.
At the same time, reports have begun to emerge within Israel and around the world that the Israeli PM has intentionally instigated this violence to further solidify his position at home as he is currently going through a trial due to corruption charges and a re-election campaign, with the former Israeli Defence Minister, Avigdor Lieberman even accusing him of ‘cooperating with Hamas’ (although the claim from Lieberman seems quite unlikely). Moreover, to add fuel to the already raging fire in Netanyahu’s political career, far-right politician and former ally Naftali Bennet has secured an alliance with centrist leader Yair Lapid in an effort to form a national unity government in Israel to eventually oust the incumbent PM. Thus, it is only a matter of time before Bibi's 12-year reign over the apartheid state could come to an end, for better or for worse. Although US may continue to hold Israel’s back and remain strategic allies, it is rational for us to expect the unconditional support for Israel to not remain as an official US policy in the near future, at least among future Democrats.
The history of Zionism, the principle on which the modern state of Israel was established, is marred in lies, hypocrisy and deceit. Documents and reports still exist today which expose some interesting facts about the Zionist movement. Zionist paramilitary organisations such as Irgun and Haganah (who later formed the bulk of the initial Israeli Defence Forces) have had deals with the Nazi’s and have cooperated with them, especially in Mandatory Palestine which was under British control, in an attempt to wipe out the indigenous population. Zionists, who strive to portray themselves as the ‘vanguards’ against anti-Semitism, were involved in making deals with Nazi Germany, the vilest anti-Semitic regime in modern history.
A parallel narrative and picture can be drawn in the Muslim world, predominantly in the Arab world. Arab regimes have begun normalising ties with the Zionist entity in an attempt to benefit economically with increased cooperation with Israel. This is also a political and strategic step by some gulf nations to garner the support of Israel against their common foe, Iran. However, this normalisation in ties is not only a stab in the back to the Palestinian cause, but also a slap in the face of our humane values by cooperating with an apartheid regime.
After the UAE and Bahrain, Saudi Arabia is also in the process of normalisation and they also sought to pressure nations like Pakistan to establish diplomatic ties with Israel in a move to further draw down the reaction from the Muslim world that might emanate from their normalisation. Reports had also emerged showing Israeli tourists flocking to the UAE after its normalisation. These nations should be at the forefront of this long struggle given their influence and clout in the Muslim world, but are now on the same bed with the Zionists. This has certainly aggrieved Palestinians, who really seem to feel betrayed.
Yet, resistance continues. Beginning from the successful defence of the Al Aqsa Mosque Compound against settler colonialism to the struggle and defiance in Gaza in the face of a blockade and continuous bombardment, Palestinians have portrayed their resilience in the face of a military power and the betrayal from many who have chosen to side with the Zionists. This reminds me of a quote from the late founder of Hamas, Sheikh Ahmed Yassin. He said, “When we were young our understanding was Zionists occupied Gaza. When we grew up in life, we came to know that the entire Arab lands are under Zionist occupancy except Gaza.” In the 2006 Palestinian Legislative Elections, Hamas won a majority defeating other factions, most importantly the secular Fatah (a party under the umbrella of the Palestinian Liberation Organisation) after the latter’s popularity began to fade due to series of compromises and its eventual recognition of the Zionist state. Unfortunately Fatah rejected the outcome of the elections forcing Hamas to seize the Gaza Strip and has been governing it since then.
The controversial 1993 Oslo Accords further diminished the popularity of PLO and its supporting factions as it gave Israel full control of Palestine's economy as well as civil and security matters with Palestinians accusing the current internationally recognized Fatah-led government to be corrupt and working for Israeli interests. Nevertheless, it's high time for the factions to unite in this resistance and long struggle even if they don’t see eye to eye in various issues. However, we have witnessed a different scenario this time where the people in Gaza, the occupied West Bank and all around the globe are standing firm in this cause, from all walks of life. A battle had ensued literally both on the ground and on social media despite censorship. I came across a phrase on social media, “from river to sea, Palestine will be free." I don’t think it’s a far and distant reality. Until then its FREE PALESTINE until Palestine is free!
Shah Radifat Islam is a student of Grade XI, Scholastica School, Dhaka. He may be contacted at [email protected]