By Ameen Izzadeen
May 14 was Al Nakba day – the day on which the freedom-denied Palestinian people remember the catastrophe that hit them 72 years ago. Every year, the day reinvigorates their resolve to fight for freedom and justice, as much as it reminds them of how armed Jewish terror gangs evicted more than 900,000 Palestinian people from their villages.
The day is also a reminder that the world system is incapable of delivering peace and justice to an oppressed people. The day on which the expelled Palestinians hold high the corroding keys of their houses is a damning indictment on states that call themselves civilized, especially the big powers which project themselves as human rights champions, paragons of virtues and believe they are morally qualified to direct the destiny of the world. Sad to say, in the so-called present era of post-enlightenment, the world’s number one power, the United States — and other Western powers to a lesser degree – encourages colonial Israel to oppress the Palestinian people with impunity. If a nation’s culturedness is ranked by its commitment to uphold global justice and end oppression wherever it takes place, which country other than the US and Israel can qualify to be at the bottom of the list? The US’ forefathers must be rolling in their graves after learning that the value-based political system they had left behind has been upended by latter day presidents such as Donald Trump, easily the worst so far to occupy the noble seat.
Nakba means catastrophe. Trump has made sure that yesterday’s Nakba day was a double disaster for the Palestinians. In recent days, while the world’s attention has been on the Covid pandemic, the US and Israel have expedited moves to annex large areas of occupied Palestine in terms of Trump’s so-called peace plan.
Arriving in Israel last Wednesday in a show of support was Trump’s Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, the evangelical zealot who suffers from the illusion that the second coming of Jesus Christ is possible only when the Kingdom of Israel is re-established. Encouraged by the Zionist movement, this 19th century innovation rooted in the Evangelical movement is now a political force that is driving Trump’s reelection campaign. It is this Evangelical vision or the lack of it that prompted Trump to appoint his Zionist son-in-law Jared Kushner to work out a one-sided peace plan. In January this year, at a Washington DC ceremony attended by hardline Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and a handpicked group of ardent Zionists, Trump presented it as the ‘deal of the century’.
As the pandemic saps the political energy of the United Nations and is keeping world leaders’ attention away from other burning issues such as the Palestinian problem, what better time than now for Israel and its servile guardian, the US, to launch what could easily be described as the world’s biggest land robbery legitimized by Trump’s Middle East plan written in prostituted peace language.
Come July, the Israel’s rightwing coalition government will roll out the legislative process to annex more than 35 percent of the West Bank, which Israel occupied during the 1967 war. The peace plan is nothing but a move to drive hundreds of thousands of Palestinians out of their homes and confine them to Bantustans surrounded by Israeli security forces. This is Nakba 2.0, worse than the first Nakba 72 years ago.
One Palestinian village that was ethnically cleansed during the first Nakba was Dier Yassin. Just before dawn on April 9, 1948, armed members of the Zionist terror groups Irgun and Stern Gang raided this village that lay outside the area allocated by the United Nations to Israel. The terror gangs told them that they must either leave the village or face death. When the Palestinians defied their orders, more than 100 of them were lined up and gunned down.
Nakba is the Palestinian equivalent of the Holocaust. But sadly Nakba does not evoke sympathy the way the holocaust does. Renowned British historian Arnold J. Toynbee said: “The treatment of the Palestinian Arabs in 1947 (and 1948) was as morally indefensible as the slaughter of six million Jews by the Nazis. Though not comparable in quantity to the crimes of the Nazis, it was comparable in quality.”
Prior to World War I, Palestine was indeed a land of peace and prosperity. From the fertile lands of Palestine, the world’s best oranges, olives, dates and other agricultural products were sent to many a world market. Before the British took over the land under the League of Nation mandate, following the defeat of the Ottoman empire in WW1, the Arabs, including Muslims and Christians, accounted for more than 88 percent of the population. The native Jews were around 4 percent. After the 1917 Balfour Declaration, the territory saw a systematic demographic change and a rapid migration of European Zionist Jews.
The declaration issued by the then British government stands even today as a symbol of imperial arrogance. What moral right did Britain possess to take large chunks of Palestinian land and give it to the European Jews to form a state? As a result of this high-handed act, much blood has flowed in Palestine, instead of milk and honey. All the perfumes of Arabia will not sweeten this dirty British hand which committed the gross historical injustice to the Palestinian people.
As if the Balfour declaration was not enough, the then big powers dealt another blow in the form of the UN resolution 181, according to which Palestine was partitioned giving the Jews who formed 31 percent of the population 55 percent of the land, while the majority Palestinian people got 45 percent of the land.
In the dark clouds over Palestine, appearing as the silver lining this week was the statement from France and three other European Union members. France has told European Union partners to consider threatening Israel with a tough response if it annexes parts of the occupied West Bank.
Belgium, Ireland and Luxembourg have said they want to discuss the possibility of punitive economic measures if Israel carries out the annexation which is against numerous UN resolutions and international law.
But possible EU sanctions appear farfetched, as any form of sanction requires unanimity. Besides, Israel has many rightwing supporters such as ‘Balfour’ Britain and Hungary within the EU. With the Palestinians denied justice, the Middle East problem is all set to aggravate in the post-Covid world disorder; more so, if Trump is reelected.
(This article first appeared in the Daily Mirror, Sri Lanka)