There is no chance of peace in the deadlock between a bellicose Israeli government and the destructive ideas and methods of Hamas, believes RABBIL SIKDAR
A SINGLE air strike can completely change the life of a Palestinian: suddenly orphaned, driven into poverty, made homeless, deprived of water and electricity.
The pain does not end there. Palestinians are used to sifting through the rubble of previous conflicts. The situation refuses to change.
Fury with the injustice has bled into another conflict. The extremist nature of some illegal Israeli settlers has been provocative, and the actions of some Palestinians have been mind-bogglingly senseless. But Israel always offers a disproportionately violent response. This is a remorseless apartheid state, one that wishes to expel all minorities to promote its Jewish ethnicity. It has hemmed the Palestinians in a small, overpopulated, impoverished prison, stripped of access to basic utilities and rights while it continuously builds land illegally on Palestinian soil.
And yet, even as this happens, even as Israel regularly bulldozes Palestinian homes, executes innocent people, arrests hundreds without proof and kills thousands if necessary, the world somehow imbues Israel with the moral authority.
Much is made of Hamas. It is an appalling organisation — let that be said. Its call for the genocide of the Jewish people is not a method to fight for Palestinian liberation. If it appeals, it’s due to the intense suffering, misery and fury of the ordinary people, many whom are young and nursing a severe sense of injustice. But Hamas was born very recently. And there is a symbiotic relationship between its existence and Israeli aggression: both feed off each other, providing sharp-edged, hysterical propaganda of fear and wild generalisations, perpetuating the circle of violence.
Right now it’s difficult to see a peaceful progressive force emerging in Palestine. And why should it? Pacifist resistance is not the way forward. Israel would interpret that as tolerance and simply continue expanding its borders into Palestinian territory. Gaza would remain oppressed. The current predicament confronting the Palestinians is a massive driving force for radicals within the region, who use their suffering to promote an anti-Israeli agenda. But Israel knows this. It is deeply conscious of how its actions have scarred the collective psyche of a nationless community and created a kind of anger that will not easily — if ever — pass. It’s the anger that now has little time for diplomatic solutions and favours the fiery retaliations whipped up by Hamas.
And what of these illegal settlers? They regularly abuse and taunt the indigenous people, whose small businesses and basic way of life they can disrupt. There are many who are calling for a peaceful resolution but this is land belonging to the Palestinians. Diplomatic pressure has failed to sway Israel into dismantling its illegal settlements. At the end of the day, the settlers have to go. Whether they go by choice or they are removed is a matter for the Palestinian people.
But the violence and bloodshed will not end — not while there are people within the Israeli government denying that a Palestinian state will ever exist. Not while the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu exempts Hitler from responsibility for the Holocaust and blames the Palestinians instead. Not while compulsory military service forces Israeli citizens to grow up regarding Palestinians as enemies and not as neighbours. Not while Israel continues its oppressive actions against Palestine, in turn sparking an angry response from the Palestinians, used by Israel as propaganda confirming the savageness of its “enemy.”
It’s a familiar cycle. For Palestinians, it’s a terrible nightmare that keeps going on. They have suffered enough torment, pain and humiliation. The siege around Gaza has to end. The illegal settlers in the West Bank have to go. That is the roadmap to long-term stability. Any other approach offers nothing more than a temporary ceasefire.