Inside a synagogue in Paris, members of the Jewish community were gathered to commemorate the lives of the three teens recently found murdered in Israel. Suddenly, a group of violent protesters appeared with baseball bats, chairs, bar tables and used them as projectiles thrown onto the synagogue. (Source)
According to the report, ‘anti-Semitism, manifest in both hate speech and violent action, has generated growing fear…’ An estimated 5000 Jews will migrate to Israel this year, and there has been a statistical survey showing that 74% of French Jews are considering making Aliyah. The report did not mention the reasons behind this hate.
In January this year, there was another large protest in Paris, dubbed as the ‘Day of Anger’, when 17,000 protesters laced with bottles, fireworks, iron bars and dustbins, chanted ‘Jew, France is not for you’. (Source)
Between 250 CE and 1948 CE – a period of 1,700 years – Jew communities have been expelled from various European countries some eighty times – an average of nearly one expulsion every twenty-one years. Jews were expelled from England, France, Austria, Germany, Lithuania, Spain, Portugal, Bohemia, Moravia and seventy-one other countries. Laws have been passed against anti-Semitism in European countries only after Israel announced itself as a state in Palestine.
So when we observe the hysteric extremism of Israel, confining 1.7million Gazans in yet a smaller and smaller Gaza Strip, cutting them off from all sea and land routes from the outside world – literally imprisoning them and experimenting upon them likeguinea pigs trapped in Frankenstein’s mad-lab – we must consider the fear factor that prompts Israel to behave in such a kill-frenzy manner in front of the global audience – Israel fears more expulsions.
Not only does it fear more expulsions on the basis of hate from Europe but also an all-out expulsion from Israel itself. Any unity between the various Arab states may directly lead to a Jehad against the Israeli occupation of Palestine, as shown in past decades, or in reverse, the Palestinian cause may ignite a unity in the hitherto chaotic circumstances of the Muslim world – for chaos is the breeding ground of unprecedented outcomes.
In all this chaos, however, the thing that confronts the average human concern is to find the moral proportion between the two vying sides. Does Israel’s plea that Hamas from Gaza fires unprovoked missiles upon innocent Jews who want to live in peace with all Palestinians including the Gazans hold substance? Has Israel not provoked the Gazans?
Take a look at the five conditions,*Hamas has presented to Israel for a possible truce – Opening all the crossings with the Gaza Strip – Opening Rafah crossing, the link between Gaza and Egypt, on a permanent basis, 24 hours per day with international guarantees that it will not be closed – A maritime corridor to Gaza – Allowing residents of the Gaza Strip to pray in the al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem – Israel will release the prisoners who were to be freed as part of the “Shalit” deal, and abide by the previous prisoners agreement of 2012.
The conditions clearly show that Hamas, as one of the representatives of the sovereign state of Palestine and as the sole representative of the Gazans, has a cause – the cause of securing the basic human conditions for its people – namely their right to move within their country and outside it, to be able to trade with other countries, and to be able to use their own waters and their borders with other countries as they will. From 1967 to 2005, for nearly four decades, Israel had occupied Gaza, but eventually, when Israel was to leave Gaza in 2005, it was to hold ‘sole control of Gaza airspace and continue to carry out military activity in the waters of the Gaza Strip’ according to the Oslo Agreement. According to the Human Rights Watch, Israel is the occupying power of the Gaza Strip because Israel controls Gaza Strip’s airspaceand territorial waters and controls the movement of people or goods in or out of Gaza by air or sea. ‘[Israel has] almost complete control over Gaza’s borders, sea and air space, tax revenue, utilities, population registry, and the internal economy of Gaza’. (Source)
So no person can leave the Gaza Strip – the exit point between Gaza to Israel, the Erez crossing – and Israel does not allow Gazans or even tourists or journalists to cross through Erez, so much so that the Gazans are not allowed to cross over to the West Bank, which is part of their own country. The Rafah crossing that leads to Eygpt is also controlled by the EU Border Assistance Mission, and Egypt’s policy for allowing goods to flow into Gaza may become strict or soft unpredictably as its own political situation may change; like the present government under Sisi has strictly blocked all movement in line with its agreements with Israel. No Gazan can leave the Gaza Strip; all that comes in from the Rafah crossing and through the secret tunnels between Gaza and Egypt is through smuggling – Gazans are not allowed to bring in even the bare necessities in an honorable way – whatever humanitarian aid the Gazans receive is via rationing through Israel.
till, it is a matter of concern why the Gazans accept material that is used in the manufacture of crude, ineffective missiles through the tunnels. What may be the thinking that compels them to attack an invader that is multiple times advanced to it in technology, finance and the will-to-kill? Why does Hamas rocket Israel when it knows that in return of those harmless missiles, Israel will kill its civilians, destroy whatever little infrastructure it has and spray its people with phosphorous? Is Hamas using the innocent civilians of Gaza as human-shield? Is Hamas provoking Israel to retaliate, while Israel is trying to be nice all the time?
One must keep in mind the acute humanitarian conditions prevailing in Gaza, which is the world’s most densely populated area, holding 1.7million people squeezed in a 10km x 40km strip – its poverty and unemployment rate is around 40%– 43% of the population is under 14. There is an acute shortage of food, medicines, clean drinking water and basic supplies. In 2001, Israel bulldozed one-third of the arable land of Gaza to create a buffer zone all along its length. Fishing is a major industry for the Gazans, but Israel restricts their activities to six nautical miles, limiting the yield to negligible. Fuel is a basic sour point for Gaza, the only power plant Gaza has is mostly powered off due to shortage of fuel, which affects most livelihoods, hospitals, schools and colleges. All this coupled with the everyday abuse and disgrace; when they confront themselves as a nation; when they stand in the ration lines controlled by the Israelis; when they cluster at the Rafah outlets to see what the world has sent them in charity; when they sneak through the tunnels, risking their lives, in hope of providing for their families some provisions of life; and when they have no work and have to find work in the homes and streets of their abusers in Israel again every day.
So the bottom line is that the Gazans have barely any means of living a normal life or of dreaming of a brighter future like most of us. Living in the midst of the globe, in the middle of the 21stcentury, watched by international audience, they are being treated by the Children of Israel worse than the pharaohs once treated the Israelis. Israel may be right in its own fears and insecurities, but certainly it has crossed all lines of human ethics in its strife to secure itself – to secure its own human rights, it has acted barbarically in snatching away the same from all others it confronts. So those who suppose that the Gazans should act in a tolerant, cool-minded diplomacy and have their issues resolved politically, seeking peace with Israel – are alluded.
They are alluded in the thinking that for a human society to exist and survive, freedom, self-respect and the sovereign control over their land is perhaps not a necessity. They are alluded in the thinking that imprisonment does not bring agony; that abuse does not bring anger; that bulldozing one’s home and killing one’s dear ones does not bring thoughts of suicidal revenge. When you are forcefully occupied and forced on slavish subjugation, it is only natural for you to retaliate, and notto find the fire of freedom-loving in your souls is apathy. And how is the love for freedom expressed?
All the ways in which freedom-fighters express their love for freedom are morally high. Stone-pelting, destroying the occupier’s weapons, capturing the occupier’s personnel, guerilla warfare tactics, civil disobedience, processions or empty missiles – all are virtue when used for seeking freedom; the cause behind the act defines whether the act is good or bad. Coming back to the question, has Hamas failed the Gazans?! Or should the question had been, has humanity failed the Gazans?!
There is hardly any path to conflict resolution that the Palestinians of the West Bank and Gaza have not treaded. The Peace Talks have been an ongoing phenomenon for decades – the UN, in the case of the Gazans, turns into a suggestion-giving sympathizer that has no power over Israel except pleading; the human rights organizations from all around the world have nothing more than more and more detailed reports on the agony of the Gazans. If the whole civilized world cannot do anything to give the Gazans their basic rights of existence, then the moral question falls not on the Gazans nor on Israel but on the world’s peace and justice giving organizations.
When offence has been committed, it is not expected from the offender to bring a just conclusion to the case, nor is the victim expected to level the case himself – it is the job of the courts of justices to bring justice to the people and punish the offender.
But where the courts have been rendered impotent – the victim will not stay civil for long.
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