Loving resistance calls us to dare more than words

Palestine Updates 53

Loving resistance calls us to dare more than words

We begin this issue with wise words from an apostle of peace- Mahatma Gandhi. It was 78 years ago when Mahatma Gandhi called on the Jews to abandon military domination and work, instead, towards peaceful co-existence based on good will. It is said: “No government is safe unless fortified by goodwill”.

In the tragedy of what is happening in Palestine and Israel today, good will is absent and Israel has decided that superior military force will define the future of the region. Israel is armed to the teeth with some of the most vicious weapons and knows it can subjugate the Palestinians. In fact, the threat that Israel can take over Palestine and extinguish what remains of the Palestinian entity is oft expressed. It is in the minds of the political authorities in Israel. Militancy has been the offshoot of this attempted subjugation in Palestine. Armed resistance has been discarded as an approach to realize their just claims. There remain remnants of violent resistance but the preferred option is for a just peace through dialogue.

International support for Palestine may, in fact, be slipping through their fingers given the nature of geo-politics and the influence of economic factors in international relations. Many Arab States, as well as hitherto reliable supporters of Palestinian liberations, are resorting to opportunism and making deals with Israel. This is usually, or always, under western pressure as happened to India in 1992, when India conceded their principled and ethical anti-Israel stance and chose, in lieu, lucrative economic prospects. Not to say that Israel is an economically developed country as such. It is, perhaps, one of the most dependent economies – living off aid often obtained by imposing the guilt factor on those nations which once virtually exterminated the Jews.

But you cannot live on guilt for 70 years and more. Israel has been accused of doing to Palestinians just what the Nazis did to them. Gandhi’s words ring a razor-sharp tone “if they (the Jews) must look to the Palestine of geography as their national home, it is wrong to enter it under the shadow of the British (western) gun.

Progressive people around the world today recollect the adverse effects from the infamous Balfour declaration which opened up the space for the Zionist Movement to lay claims to Israel after the British Mandate in those areas came to an end. Those who support justice for Palestinians also recall 1948 when 750,000 Palestinian refugees created between 1947 and 1948, as many as 300,000 had already been expelled by Zionist terror groups before the Arab armies intervened belatedly in an attempt to stop the massacres. Those among them who are alive still claim their ‘right to return’. International law supports their claim and Israel makes-believe that such a law is untenable.

In just the last few days, reports of Israeli atrocities beating the “drums of a religious war by inciting religious sentiments of one and a half billion Muslims around the world “were sounded.  Israel last week closed Al-Aqsa Mosque to worshipers which led to the Palestinian Authority warning that “the Israeli spatiotemporal divisional plan could lead to a religious war”. Israeli authorities incite without limits to implement restrictive policies on Palestinians as part of collective punishment. This time it was ostensibly to revenge Palestinians for the stabbing of an Israeli girl a year ago. The plight of the Bedouins is one of perpetual uncertainty.  More than 7,000 Palestinian Bedouins are still at risk of forcible transfer from their villages. Yet, there is a built-in resilience and hope that keeps them going. Their agony, however, cannot be underestimated. For how long can they be asked to cope without Israel feeling the compulsion of international retaliation of isolation?

When a country likes Spain virtually enlists people in all its geographic regions around the BDS campaign, it sends shivers down the spines of Israeli authorities. It is this brand of courage that more countries are asked to indulge in. Not the kind of opportunism that India is now absorbed in – empty words of support to Palestine and massive trade and cultural-academic ties with Israel. Gone are the days when Indians proudly displayed passports which prohibited them from visiting South Africa and Israel for the same reason- apartheid.

In, what seems to be a broader challenge, the recent debate about whether Hebron is culturally Arab has sent shivers down Israeli leaders and anxiety with Palestinians. The Holy Land is historically the place where the three monotheistic religions have their roots. Any settlement must take this vision of coexistence into account. It cannot be one over the other but an equitable arrangement based on mutuality. Neither the barrel of the gun, nor the anger of the street can bring peace.

Power is not usually disposed to giving up its privileged position voluntary. It does so under some kind of force. The Palestinian call to ‘loving resistance’ is an apt one to recall in this case. They said: “We hold a clear position that non-violent resistance to this injustice is a right and duty for all Palestinians, including Christians”. There is a slogan that gazes at me in the face every time I am at my desk to work. It says quite profoundly; yet simply: “Once the power of love overcomes the love of power, there will be peace”. Will the world dare more than words at a time when Palestinians face their darkest nights?

“…the darkest hour of the night comes just before the dawn.” (Thomas Fuller)

Ranjan Solomon

Mahatma Gandhi said no to forced settlement of Israelis in Palestine
“The Palestine of the Biblical conception is not a geographical tract. It is in their hearts. But if they must look to the Palestine of geography as their national home, it is wrong to enter it under the shadow of the British gun. A religious act cannot be performed with the aid of the bayonet or the bomb. They can settle in Palestine only by the goodwill of the Arabs.”(Mahatma Gandhi)

India and Israel established full diplomatic ties on January 29, 1992 and in the first ever prime ministerial visit to the nation, Narendra Modi is scheduled to visit Tel Aviv from July 4 to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the diplomatic ties. In these 25 years, Israel has emerged as India’s most reliable defence partner and India as Israel’s largest defence market, accounting for 41 per cent of its arms export.But it was not like this always. In fact, if it took 45 years after the independence for India to allow Israeli Embassy in New Delhi, it was because of India’s principled solidarity with the Palestinian cause that was against the forced settlement of Israelis in the Palestinian territory. And the origin behind this principled stand can be traced back to Mahatma Gandhi, our Father of the Nation, who believed that Israelis could settle in Palestine only with the permission from Arabs and it was wrong for them to enter with the might of the British gun.

Writing on November 26, 1938, Mahatma Gandhi says that his sympathies are with the Jews some of whom have been his friends since his days in South Africa. Thus, he knows about the age-long persecution of the Jews. But, he draws a line here saying his sympathy for the Jews cannot blind him to the requirements of justice. “The cry for the national home for the Jews does not make much appeal to me.” He says that Palestine belongs to the Arabs in the same sense that England belongs to the English or France to the French and it is wrong and inhuman to impose the Jews on the Arabs.”
Read more on India today

Spain defines BDS as protected speech
This year marks the 50th anniversary of Israeli military rule and nearly 70 years of Palestinian dispossession and ethnic cleansing. Enough is enough. It is encouraging to see support for Palestinian human rights grow across the Spanish state.

Spanish parliament unanimously passed a motion recognizing the right to advocate for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) as protected under the right to freedom of expression and association. Unidos Podemos (progressive parliamentary coalition) said: “On June 27th the International Cooperation Committee of the Spanish Congress unanimously approved a motion “to recognize and defend the right of human rights activists from Palestine, Israel and other countries to engage in legal and peaceful activities, protected by the right to freedom of speech and assembly, such as the right to promote boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) campaigns.”

Spain must now uphold those rights and act against the harassment of activists engaged in peaceful, legal and legitimate campaigns against the violation of human rights in Palestine. It has joined Federica Mogherini (EU Vice-President and High Representative), the Governments of Ireland, the Netherlands and Sweden, and the Parliament of Navarre.

Ana Sanchez, International Campaigns Officer with the Palestinian BDS National Committee (BNC) said: “This is a victory for all those acting on their conscience by participating in the BDS movement for Palestinian human rights. As boycotts, divestments and sanctions campaigns continue to grow around the world, state institutions in Europe, the United States and beyond are increasingly affirming the right of their citizens to participate in the BDS movement to advance Palestinian human rights. Dozens of Spanish cities have declared themselves “Free of Israeli Apartheid,” joining the existing network of more than 70 Spanish public institutions, including provincial councils and a regional parliament, that have long taken a position against Israeli Apartheid.

Read more on the International Middle East Media Centre

Israel closed Al-Aqsa mosque provoking heightened tensions
 “In taking such moves, Israel allows the drums of a religious war by inciting religious sentiments of one and a half billion Muslims around the world.” (Mahmoud al-Habash, the supreme sharia judge in the Palestinian Authority)

Israel last week closed Al-Aqsa Mosque to worshipers, an escalatory move that upset the Palestinian Authority. The PA warned that the Israeli spatiotemporal divisional plan could lead to a religious war. The incident began when Israel was closing Al-Aqsa to Muslim worshippers, and the chief of the occupying Police Yuram Levi broke into the mosque with a group of Jewish extremists marking the anniversary for the killing of a Jewish settler. The intruders commemorated the death of Hallel Ariel, a girl killed last year by a Palestinian in Al-Khalil, in Hebron. Israel’s Minister of Agriculture Uri Ariel later suggested naming Al-Mughrabi Gate after Hallel.

The Palestinian government condemned the Israeli decision and a PA spokesman said that such move “contradicts all human values and morals and is considered a serious abuse of all international laws.” They called on the international community to take quick and binding decisions to stop the occupying authorities from committing additional crimes against the Palestinian people and their Muslim and Christian holy sites.

The supreme sharia judge in the Palestinian Authority said: “In taking such moves, Israel allows the drums of a religious war by inciting religious sentiments of one and a half billion Muslims around the world.” Arabs were called to visit the mosque in an attempt to prevent the Israelis from producing a demographic and religious change in the Palestinian Holy capital, Jerusalem.
Read more on Aawsat

The refugees’ return to Palestine is a must
The issues of stolen properties and war crimes would have to be resolved in a way that holds the Israeli authorities accountable for the crimes they have committed; justice must prevail, after all. There is no reason, though, that return could not happen in a way which respects the human rights of all who live in the historic land of Palestine, Arabs and Jews alike.

Palestinians will mark the 70th anniversary of the Nakba in under a year from now. It was the year that marked the Catastrophe leading to their expulsion from Palestine. Contrary to the Israeli propaganda which held sway in the West for many years, this was an act of ethnic cleansing on a massive scale. It was an attempt to remove the entire indigenous population of a country to make room for a more ethnically “pure” sectarian state: Israel.

Unlike many other wars where refugee status is usually temporary, the Palestinian refugees have been systematically blocked from returning to their homeland by Israel, as have their descendants. The so-called “Jewish state” does not have room in its colonial vision for too many Arab babies. The myth that Palestinians “left voluntarily” during a “war” deliberately distracts observers from this central, brutal fact. Of the 750,000 Palestinian refugees created between 1947 and 1948, as many as 300,000 had already been expelled by Zionist terror groups before the Arab armies intervened belatedly in an attempt to stop the massacres.
Read more on the Middle East Monitor

B’Tselem: Israeli army disrupts life for Deir Abu Mashaal residents
…”Retaliation has become a matter of policy for the military, in a cynical abuse of its power to mistreat civilians. This kind of collective harm is morally and legally indefensible,” (B’Tselem) 

Israeli authorities have continued to implement restrictive policies on Palestinians in Deir Abu Mashaal in the central occupied West Bank district of Ramallah, after three residents of the town were shot dead last month after allegedly carrying out a deadly attack near Damascus Gate in occupied East Jerusalem, which killed an Israeli police officer, B’Tselem reported. After it was revealed that the three alleged assailants were from the village of Deir Abu Mashaal, the town was subsequently placed under lockdown, and was subjected to multiple military raids.

Based on field research conducted in the village, B’Tselem reported that, on the night of the attack, Israeli forces installed an iron gate at the entrance of the village and erected large rocks and piles of dirt on three dirt roads used by villagers, and refused to allow any Palestinian from leaving or entering the area, putting the village under a complete siege.
Read more on Maan News

UNESCO: Hebron heritage request too focused on Muslim history
The PA not fully making its case for inscription as a heritage site and Israel’s decision to ban the experts from visiting the site make it difficult to conclude if an emergency situation exists, the International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS) said in an 11-page report.

UNESCO experts warned the Palestinian Authority that it overly focused on Hebron’s Muslim history, at the exclusion of the Judeo-Christian heritage, when it requested that its “Old Town” be inscribed on the “World Heritage in Danger” list.  ICOMOS said the PA would have done better with an expanded timeline and larger geographical area of the city, which could have spoken of its importance to the development of three monotheistic religions starting from 2200 BCE.  “On the basis of the current Mamluk focus of the nomination dossier, ICOMOS considers that insufficient detail has been provided to substantiate the outstanding nature of the survival of town planning and buildings relating to the Mamluk era. “There appears to be the potential for a strong case to be made for considering Hebron as a pilgrimage centre but to support this Tell Rumeida would need to be included and a clearer focus on sites relating to Jewish heritage,” ICOMOS stated.

The group of experts made clear that IDF activity in Hebron’s Old Town was “systemic” and interfered with the conversation of the historic properties there. ICOMOS said. It called for “a political response” and demanded Israel to allow its team of experts to visit the site. ICOMOS has failed thrice so far to endorse the site inscribed as a “World Heritage in Danger”.
Read more on the Jerusalem Post

Film gives ‘human face’ to Palestinian Bedouins’ plight 
With more than 7,000 Palestinian Bedouins still at risk of forcible transfer from their villages, a newly released documentary sheds light on communities that thrive through resilience and hope. In The Enclosure, Canadian filmmaker Simon Trepanier chronicles the daily life of Bedouins in five different communities throughout Area C, which makes up 60 percent of the occupied West Bank and is under full Israeli control.

The interactive web-based documentary, produced by Oxfam, seeks to “give a human face to the situation facing Bedouins in Area C” by creating the space for them to tell their own stories. The film takes the viewer through a journey involving home demolitions, restrictions on movement and labour, and finally, relocation – realities that many Bedouin communities live through daily.
Read more on Aljazeera