Of peacemakers, prisoners, racism, land grab, and solidarity!

The Question of Palestine has two three facets to it. One is the dreadful occupation replete with chronicles of unheard of crimes against humanity. Secondly, there is the resistance of Palestinians who have adopted the right to say NO to illegalities and, who have, rejected subordination. Their resistance is disregards the fact that Israel is a mighty military power. It defies Israel knowing that it is a pauperized moral force that is holding together an occupation that is not sustainable. Thirdly, there is a defiant core of people, churches, civil society, academics, trade unions and others who have formed a chain of global solidarity. That solidarity sternly warns Israel that it risks being pushed to recluse status in the international community in due time if it will not accede to the demand to abide by international law in quick time. Patience with Israel is wearing thin and more and more countries and groups are speaking out as never before against Israel.

Israel’s options for peaceful resistance have lasted over two decades now since it signed off on the armed struggle. With Oslo, Palestinians and Israelis were meant to talk through a peace process and settlement. Palestinians are known to have crossed the religious divide in the search for peace. Their peaceful ways have brought them more by way of punitive reprisals. With an estimated 7,000 Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails, there is hardly a family which has not seen one of its members in prison. Since 1967, around 750,000 Palestinians have been in custody. Global campaigns have done little to shame Israel and alter behaviour. Jail conditions are atrocious as films, documentaries, and books reveal. Israeli army machinery destroy water pipes thus depriving ordinary people of safe drinking water – and, in some cases, go without water for days. It’s not different when it comes to roads for settlers. Each settlement means that new roads are built and, always, on Palestinians land and after destroying agricultural fields.

Meanwhile attempts to forge a just peace are stalled by Israel because it implies adopting UN resolutions and obeying international law. Political thinkers and analysts, diplomats, and government leaders know that the Palestine-Israel conflict does not need rocket science to be learned before a solution is found. It simply requires conscience and an aspiration for peace. It requires enforcing extra-judicial practices, approving laws which have no rationale or precedence in law-making anywhere else in the world barring Israel. When well-meaning mediators offered Israel painless, yet beneficial solutions Israel spurned them and walked away.

And the international community seems as if under political or, even, schizophrenic. Aid, for example, has been used as a weapon to stifle Palestinians – given with generosity on one occasion, and withdrawn at the next most convenient pretext.

A handful of countries mostly in what is referred to the Global South have remained loyal to the claim for justice for the Palestinians and steadfastly opposed to Israel’s religious and political claims to the land. At the time we write this editorial, 700 representatives and parliamentary delegations from over 50 countries are meeting together in Teheran to consider what may be their solidarity to a Third Intifada.

It has been repetitively argued that governments are not the instruments that will create the conditions for peace. Too often, they are tempted by deals that offer them crumbs from under the table of the rich and powerful countries. This explains why an issue that has some straightforward solutions is dragged out and made more complicated with each passing day.

In the end, we must adhere to hope. The wise words of the iconic American General, Robert E Lee, spoken in the1800’s resound now: “The dominant party cannot reign forever, and truth and justice will prevail at last”.

Ranjan Solomon
Commentator and analyst
Question of Palestine