Aijaz Zaka Syed
We live in interesting times. Like the poet who wondered, “sochta hoon duniya kya se kya ho jayegi,” one is perpetually intrigued and amazed by the contrasts and contradictions of the world.
If the never-ending hypocrisies, and petty, selfishness of some wear you down, there are still people out there whose humanity and sheer generosity and nobility of spirit help retain your faith in mankind.
The latest round of Israeli aggression has seen it all. If it has seen the Zionists at their vicious and wiliest worst, setting new precedents of inhumanity, ruthlessness and pure evil, it has also witnessed amazing grace, courage and fortitude in the line of fire, literally, from the other side. The unarmed Palestinians have created new paradigms of resistance and heroic struggle against tyranny.
On the one hand, you have the entire US establishment led by Barack Hussain Obama, the proud recipient of Nobel Peace Prize, coming out in total and unequivocal support of Israel’s genocidal war on an imprisoned, unprotected population, giving it not just access to the US munition reserve for use against the Palestinians but sanctioning an additional $250 million dollars to strengthen the so-called Iron Dome.
On the other hand, some of the strongest and most vocal demonstrations against the genocide in Gaza have been held in Western capitals and cities, including in the US, and not in the dazed Arab and Islamic world. The milk of human kindness hasn’t completely dried up. If following its glorious traditions, the US/Western media has continued to view this cold-blooded, calibrated ethnic cleansing of an indigenous population through its much-used blinkers, shutting out all reality, it is courageous, solitary voices in alternative media, bloggers and online crusaders of social media who have put their lives on line to report the truth.
If Israel’s crimes against humanity have generated global outrage and anger, it is despite the falsehood and double standards of the big media and thanks to the valiant, ceaseless efforts of these courageous soldiers of truth. Yet, in Iqbal’s words, ‘Khoon-e-Muslim ki arzani nahin dekhi jaati’ (The cheapness and inconsequentiality of Muslim blood is intolerable). It is cheaper than a bottle of desalinated water in the Middle East.
The much Promised Land has been flooded with blood — with the blood of innocents — by the people who claim ancestry to noble prophets and history of thousands of years of suffering. The proud Children of Israel have even outdone the Nazis and their own illustrious record in inflicting every possible savagery on a helpless, long-suffering people. Even Hitler’s armies did not fight this unfair.
As an agitated David Attenborough, the celebrated British environmentalist, noted, “I am unaware of any animal that is as cruel as Israelis— not even crocodiles. They bomb schools, hospitals, refugee camps, orphanages, UN feeding stations, water works, power plants, ambulances, kids playing on the beach. They put millions of people in a siege. They shoot children going to school. They kidnap kids and harvest their organs. They inject prisoners with disease pathogens before releasing them. They murder by land, sea and air and worst of all, they slander their defenseless victims as ‘terrorists’.”
The United Nations, which was raised to protect world peace, cannot protect people sheltered in its own offices and schools. Impotent international institutions stand and stare as Israel mocks and derides the collective global will and every humanitarian norm and convention. Mighty world leaders with all the power and resources at their disposal watch on, as though it is a Hollywood thriller and not a real carnage that is unfolding on their TV screens. As though it’s not real flesh-and-blood people who are getting killed right before our eyes. How long would you bewail and bemoan the global indifference when our own kind can barely shake their heads? If nothing else, in the past, you heard verbal protests against Israel from Arab and Muslim elites. Not this time. This time around, except for some solitary voices, deafening silence has greeted the mass slaughter and rape of all that is holy in this ancient, sacred land. Which for the Israelis was like a license to kill.
Some blame the apathy on the complex and ever-shifting political and power equations in the region, deepening Sunni-Shia schism and the delicate tug of war between the Arabs on the one hand and Iran, Syria and their allies on the other.
The seeds of strife sown in Iraq and elsewhere as part of the New American Century project, fracturing the Islamic world along sectarian lines, have evidently borne a rich harvest. The fact that Hamas is seen as too close for comfort to Egypt’s banned and battered Islamists doesn’t help.
Following the revolutions and counterrevolutions in the wake of the Arab Spring, the so-called “political Islam” has become a word of abuse across the region.
As a result, Hamas, and by extension, Palestinians stand totally isolated and friendless in the neighborhood as one of the world’s most powerful military powers tests and showcases its deadliest arsenal against a defenseless people. But what’s new? The Palestinians are used to being penalized for one imagined or invented crime or the other.
Yesterday, it was the “intransigent” Fatah leadership of Arafat who was eventually poisoned. Today, it’s the Hamas “terrorism.” As part of its Dahlia doctrine, Israel needs some excuse or the other to “mow the lawn from time to time.”
But for all its brute military power and its utter ruthlessness demonstrated in the last month or so totally flattening Gaza, the Apartheid regime remains far from victorious.
The so-called Operation Protective Edge has left the Israelis with red faces all around, just as had been the case after the 2006 war on Lebanon. It is the Palestinians — battered, bruised and besieged from all sides as they are — who remain standing and far from vanquished.
As General Mirza Aslam Beg, former Pakistan Army chief points out, “Israeli war aim was to destroy Hamas” civil and military command structures and their hardcore fighting brigades but the Israeli armed forces have failed to achieve even 10 percent of their objective, which in military terms means defeat. Hamas has won, because the ideology of resistance cannot be defeated.” Noting that this is a grim fight between the two opposing and unequal forces, General Beg predicts: “The one with stronger will would prevail. Divine justice favors Hamas, while Israel is being condemned by the world at large.”
So the Palestinians may find themselves isolated and friendless in their immediate neighborhood but the larger world community, at least those blessed with a conscience, stands with them.
The outpouring of support for the Gazans witnessed over the past few weeks across the globe has never been seen before. Times, as Bob Dylan would sing, they are a-changing.
No country on the face of earth is more loathed and despised today. The tide has turned against Israel. And it will soon overwhelm and sweep off the racist, evil state founded on injustice and at gunpoint on stolen land. Just as the Apartheid South Africa had been not long ago.
Last week, five South American nations — Brazil, Chile, Ecuador, Peru and El Salvador — demonstrated rare courage when they expelled Israeli envoys in protest over the terror unleashed on Gaza.
In one of those delightful ironies, the Cairo-based Arab Parliament has thanked the South American nations for their principled stand.
“Your stance against Israel’s brutal and ruthless war on the besieged Palestinian people just because of their demands for freedom and the establishment of their independent state is certainly a stance that will be perpetuated by humanity,” said Ahmed Mohamed Al-Jarwan, the speaker of the pan-Arab parliamentary body in letters of thanks to the leaders of the five South American countries.
One only wishes this solidarity with the Palestinians had come a tad earlier and been more concrete. As Martin Luther King Jr warned, in the end we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends. Meanwhile, Israel has lost both the battle and the war in the eyes of the world. In the words of Palestinian Parliament, the Palestinians have “endured, resisted and won.” And they have won against all odds and in spite of their friends. The spirit of freedom and resistance has once again triumphed against tyranny and colonialism.