Israeli leader Benjamin Netanyahu and his generals have made a serious error of judgement by launching their latest military offensive against the people of Palestine. Far from terrorising the civilian population, they have galvanised the 73-year Palestinian struggle for liberation, freedom and statehood.
In their hate-induced myopia, Netanyahu and Co. have probably done more to unite Palestinians from the River Jordan to the Mediterranean Sea than failed Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas and his corrupt administration in Ramallah could even dream of. Meanwhile, resistance movement Hamas appears to be soaring in popularity with support pouring in from Palestinians in Lebanon, Jordan, the occupied West Bank and even those within Israel itself.
The Zionists have unwittingly triggered a Third Intifada. Courageous Palestinians have taken the Israel Defence Forces (IDF) by surprise, while Western politicians and media either demonise the Palestinian people as “terrorists”, or cast them as perpetual victims, incapable of running their own Arab state or destiny without help from the West. Sometimes both at once.
My only surprise is that anyone is surprised by the Palestinian reaction to Israel’s apartheid policy of forced displacement in occupied Jerusalem. Even before hellfire missiles and bunker-busting bombs razed residential tower blocks and media offices in Gaza to the ground, life for Palestinians was unbearable. These men, women and children have to navigate a brutal occupation, violent settler- colonialism, ethnic cleansing and apartheid every single day and have done for decades.
Some days are worse than others. Palestinians are not allowed to live in safety, security and dignity, but surrender is not in their vocabulary even though they have taken on the fourth best-equipped army in the world. Their refusal to abandon their legitimate rights, including the right of return, is nothing short of breathtaking, so it was inevitable that something had to give.
That is why I salute the Palestinian people and urge the rest of the world to stand up and show them the respect and solidarity they deserve as they expose and resist the failed Zionist project known as the settler-colonial state of Israel. The people have a legitimate right to resist the Israeli occupation, something that Israel and its vile lackeys in the West wish the rest of us would forget.
As we saw in South Africa, apartheid does not work. The damning Human Rights Watch report on Israel and its Zionist ideology, which confirms the conclusion of Israeli rights group B’Tselem that it is an apartheid state, makes it impossible for any reasonable person to deny the institutionalised racism that is endemic within Israel.
Palestinians do not want our tears, pity or sympathy. They do, however, need our support in terms of solidarity action. Whether in politics, the boycotting of Israeli goods, humanitarian aid or simply spreading the word on social networks, they need us to do as much as we can. Whatever we do, it is appreciated greatly.
The recent simple hashtag #SaveSheikhJarrah told the story of courageous Palestinian Jerusalemites rising up against the latest criminal policies of Israel. In the meantime, the defenders of Al-Aqsa Mosque refused to back down when Islam’s third holiest site was threatened by right-wing Zionist extremists during the blessed month of Ramadan.The Palestinian in Israel have also been threatened by gangs of marauding vigilante thugs from the majority Jewish community The Arab Israelis, as they are labelled by the apartheid state — they’re actually Palestinian citizens of Israel — are suspected, searched, accused, targeted and punished severely for refusing to surrender their hopes, opinions and ideals. Even thinking can be a crime in the state if your thoughts conflict with Zionism, but now they too are fighting back.
The victories of recent days belong to all of Palestine and all Palestinians; the evidence is there for all to see. The spontaneous resistance of Palestinian Jerusalemites forced the Israeli occupation forces to back down and cancel the annual Zionist hate-fest known as the Jerusalem Day flag march. Moreover, the Supreme Court was pushed into delaying its judgement regarding the theft of Palestinian-owned homes in Sheikh Jarrah so that they can be handed over to illegal settlers. It was this resistance in the holy city that re-ignited the passions of the Palestinians living in the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip, as well as the diaspora.
While we in the West sign petitions, contact politicians, march, rally and wring our hands in angst, the Palestinians are standing up to the might of Israel’s armed forces. Many have paid the price with their blood but the slaughter would have been even more devastating if they had waited for the West to act.
Nevertheless, it could get a whole lot worse if Netanyahu and his generals launch a ground offensive into the Gaza Strip. Tanks and heavy artillery wait menacingly close to the nominal border in the north. Palestinians living nearby are evacuating from the area to live with friends and relatives further south. The situation will be compounded further if Israel deploys its militarised police battalions into the mixed cities within the state, an option that the right-wing government appears to be considering, to the alarm of many Israelis for whom the effects of the brutal occupation have always been somewhere else.
It’s worth remembering that no one supplies the Palestinians with smart missiles, laser-guided bombs, Apache Attack helicopters, naval gunboats or fighter jets. They get absolutely zero in military aid, unlike the billions thrown at Israel every single year courtesy of the US taxpayer. Now, though, the unthinkable is beginning to happen in US government circles as politicians are being asked to support Minnesota Democratic Betty McCollum’s bill to prohibit Israel from using US military aid to demolish Palestinian homes, arrest Palestinian children and annex Palestinian land.
A few days ago, while lobbying more politicians, around 20 members of the American Jewish group If Not Now gathered outside New York Democrat Representative Jerry Nadler’s office, blocking traffic and protesting. “For my whole life, Jerry Nadler has been a member of Congress fighting for the children of our city,” shouted INN’s Ben Pakman through a loudhailer. “Jerry, you have an opportunity to continue your track record of being a fighter for children — but this time, not in New York. This time, you gotta fight for the children in Jerusalem, and Gaza, and the West Bank.”
In the US, Canada and across Europe, more and more Jews, especially young people, are beginning to question the brutal occupation inflicted on Palestinians by Israel. At the same time, increasing numbers of Palestinians are beginning to resist the Zionist control over their lives. In the past, they have been demotivated by lacklustre leaders, but it seems that times are indeed a-changin’.
Grubby pro-Israel lobby groups are still holding governments like those in Westminster and Washington under political occupation, but the roles of these Zionists are being scrutinised ever more closely. The members of such groups are shameless in their effort to whitewash Israel’s growing list of war crimes and crimes against humanity, but they are being found out, exposed and called out for their complicity.
Despite the death, misery and pain inflicted during the anniversary of this year’s Nakba there is renewed hope among the Palestinians. The demonisation of Hamas is no longer as effective as it was, and Palestinians are uniting. Even pro-Israel cheerleader Tony Blair, the former British Prime Minister, has admitted that it was a mistake not to engage Hamas in dialogue. Better late than never.Israeli society meanwhile has been shaken profoundly, psychologically as well as physically, by the resistance rockets fired from Gaza. Air traffic has been paralysed at Ben Gurion Airport, and thousands of Israelis scuttle towards previously unused bomb shelters when the sirens sound. The much-vaunted Iron Dome missile defence system is not all that it was cracked up to be, despite the immense cost. The latter will concern the Israeli government since arms exports are a major contributor to the country’s treasury; the relative failure of the system will be derided at the next major arms fair.
The uncomfortable truth for the West is that Hamas and the Palestinians appear to be winning the war, even though they are paying an extremely heavy price in terms of casualties. It remains to be seen if Netanyahu will pay a political price for his gung-ho attitude — intended, I’m sure, to boost his image as Israel’s strongman and possibly save him from a prison sentence for corruption and fraud — even as potential investors lose their enthusiasm for the state.
The Israeli prime minister will be reminded, no doubt, that this is a war which the Palestinian people didn’t ask for; a war which has caused huge divisions inside Israel. Some observers believe that we are seeing the beginning of the end for the Zionist state. Others recall the prediction by former US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger that Israel would not exist in its present form beyond 2022.
While Israel’s friends on the UN Security Council contemplate that prediction, they would do well to heed the words of another great leader when wrestling with their conscience over the future of “the conflict”. South Africa’s Desmond Tutu, theologian, peacemaker and chair of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, said famously, “If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor.” The time when the international community could fudge its decisions to avoid upsetting the pro-Israel lobby is over; neutrality is not an option.
Heroic Palestinians are resisting the occupation from the river to the sea, so the world needs to do what is right both morally and legally to end the occupation. The decades-long injustice meted out to the Palestinians makes them the most wronged people in the world. It has to stop.
The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.