Whither justice and freedom for Palestine?


By Ranjan Solomon*


According to international law, Palestine should now be a full-fledged state in the community of nations having fulfilled all required attributes to lay claims to be one. Obstructing that is an obdurate and foolhardy Israel which prefers to make-believe that this is not reality. From the time of the Partition plan in 1947 created by the United Nations, Israel has replicated one oppressive action after another on the Palestinians with both tacit and explicit support from western nations. The Partition itself plan was an unmerited solution to the vicious holocaust days that the Jews endured from 1933-1945. Jews underwent over a decade of one of the most brutal eras in world history which saw Adolf Hitler’s Nazi Germany and its collaborators killed about six million Jews. It remains a blot on human history.

On the 27th January, the world commemorated Holocaust Memorial Day. 27 January coincidentally marks the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau, the largest Nazi death camp.

This was a day declared as a day for people the world over to pause to bear in mind the millions of people who have been murdered or whose lives have been altered dramatically during the Holocaust, Nazi Persecution and in subsequent genocides in Cambodia, Rwanda, Bosnia and Darfur, Sri Lanka, and many similar conflicts. More than a time for vacant commemoration, the real implications for a commemoration such as the holocausts, is to use the lessons of their experience to inform rationale and dialogical political behaviour. The question that arises is: Do the times we live in not offer us solutions outside of the peace of the graveyards?

It is clear that the Jews, in general, have not learned the lessons of the holocaust. Since 1948, Israel has unleashed a reign of terror against the Palestinians. Palestinians have been mourning the loss of their homeland since 1948. Nakba Day, an annual day of commemoration inaugurated by the Palestinian Authority in 1998 is a relatively new addition to the international calendar.

“Nakba”, the Arabic word for disaster is the word that recalls the displacement of hundreds of thousands of persons and the establishment of a Jewish state following the Israeli War of Independence. With Israel’s military machine on high speed and permanent state of continuum, the Palestinian Nakba seems never ending.

The Palestinians ask the world: “Whither justice”? Why is the oppression and humiliation of one people worthy of commemoration; while the very same people who were once dehumanized now turn around to wreak havoc on the people whose lands they now occupy? Why must Palestinians undergo the humiliation of dispossession and dehumanization every day?

Israel invades and acquires Palestinian areas as and when it pleases with impunity. The best that the international community does is to pass yet another resolution and evades invoking mechanisms that make those resolutions un-implementable and permits Israel to stay accountable. This persistent pattern of condemnations and resolutions from the United Nations is akin to the man who cried “wolf” only to attract attention.  But even at the end of that folk tale, the wolf does appear at the end, and there is retribution. .

Threats and denunciation must end. The last remaining apartheid-colonialist structure must, in this era of global democracy, give way to freedom rooted in justice for the Palestinians. Freedom cannot await an opportune season or an auspicious moment especially for those who suffer the pangs of injustice. For those who join Palestinians in their quest for justice, these words from Margaret Mead, an American anthropologist, arouse hope and courage: “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”

 *Ranjan Solomon is a Commentator and analyst on issues pertaining to the ‘Question of Palestine’. He is Director of ‘Badayl’ (Arabic for ‘Alternatives’, an international Consultancy focused on Organizational Development with focus on human rights, development and justice.