Even many peace activists in Israel are afraid of what this state has turned into
It's hard to celebrate the beginning of 2009, a year that was to begin at least with great hopes following the election of Barak Obama, as people of Gaza are being bombed mercilessly by Israel.
In the last three days, Israel's shelling of civilians has left more than 300 dead and a thousand injured. This came in response to rocket attacks by Hamas, which killed one Israeli citizen. The enormity of the humanitarian crisis began when Israel, in its attempt to put pressure on Hamas closed its borders to Gaza even for food and basic necessities. It led many in the West to ask where the Israeli government is headed. What is their intention? The bombing is now another twist in this terribly sad saga. It has prompted many nations in the West and the East to call for an immediate halt of such immoral behavior. The Bush administration, as usual, has continued to take the same one sided and unconditional support of the Jewish state. Rice immediately condemned Hamas and in a different tone talked of the plight of the Palestinians in the Gaza strip.
It is hard to watch the arrogant way the Israeli government officials, from Ehud Barak to Omer to their Foreign Minister and their representative at the UN talk. It is an unbelievable portrayal of sheer arrogance which we have seen too many times on the part of the Israeli officials. Ironically, in its "humanitarian" gesture, Israel has allowed the shipment of some food to the Gaza strip. How generous of them! First they bomb, and then they give them food!
I have never thought I would say this but deep inside I do not think Israel wants peace or wants a two state solution. They want no solution; they want the Palestinians to just go away for good.
On the other hand, the Arab nations are convening to discuss their problems. The Arab governments have been irresponsible, incompetent and engulfed in their own corrupt world, only building and propping up cities such as Dubai and keeping with the flow of capitalist ugly structures while no good solution for the conflict has ever been proposed or implemented by them.
It is no wonder that in this never ending saga, someone like the Iranian President Ahmadinejad becomes more popular in the Arab world than any of their own leaders. At least even if his rhetoric has done nothing for his own people, it is comforting to many in the Middle East who are helpless and feel hopeless.
Israel is no longer the democratic state she claimed to be, one which was supposedly founded on good moral values and laws. It cannot function democratically while it engages in political assassinations, sends tanks and soldiers to civilian areas, bombs civilians by air and has rarely respected any of the International laws set by all nations. Israel has repeatedly ignored UN resolutions and lives by its own set of rules, always under the pretext of self protection.
Even many peace activists in Israel are afraid of what this state has turned into. There is no mercy from a people whose ancestors were cruelly persecuted. It seems that they have no compassion whatsoever for the Palestinians who have endured over three decades of humiliation and displacement. For the Israeli leaders, military might speaks louder than human compassion.
The infamous Shabra and Shatila massacres took place in 1982; Lebanon was invaded twice, the second time in 2006 when thousands died, countless numbers were displaced and southern Lebanon was destroyed. Now it is the turn for Gaza to be shelled. The images are too gruesome for words. A boy is being targeted by an Israeli soldier for throwing a stone! It reminds me of a photo on the cover of NY times when the late Edward Said was throwing stones in the Palestinian territory to show the world how throwing stones has kept the Palestinian nation alive.
No one can say anymore that Israel has the right to protect itself by bombing indiscriminately. Killing civilians is not acceptable under any international law. But again, Israel does not abide b y International law; Israel does what she wants, at anytime she desires.
I am sure after writing this piece, I may be called an anti-Semite as anyone who criticizes the Israeli state is immediately branded, but hey, if we don't stand by justice, we will be like those who, while Jews were being murdered by Hitler, stood by and kept silent. I would rather not be silent.
In 1997, the Syrian poet and diplomat Nizar Qabbani wrote a poem in which he said,
We are accused of terrorism,
if we write about the ruins of a homeland
torn, weak ...
a homeland with no address
and a nation with no name.
I seek the remnants of a watan
none of its grand poems is left
except the bemoans of Khansa.....
Qabbani wrote this after his wife was murdered in Lebanon. There are many good individuals both on the Israeli side and the Palestinian side who want to see peace but their leaders by their actions bring misery upon their people. Both Israel and Hamas are responsible but here and once again Israel has gone too far.
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