By Ameen Izzadeen
Abandoned by Arab regimes and vilified by the pro-Zionist world media, the people of Palestine continue to suffer a fate that has no parallel in history if the suffering is measured in terms of time.
The persecution of the Jews – the Holocaust – during World War II was over in six and a half years. It began with Kristallnacht, state sponsored anti-Jewish riots during the nights of November 9 and 10, 1938 in Germany and Austria and ended in early 1945 with the liberation of the Jews from Auschwitz and other concentration camps.
But the persecution of the Palestinians has continued for more than seven decades with no signs of peace or Israeli withdrawal from occupied Palestine on the horizon. Every year, the day after Israel celebrates its Independence, the Palestinians mourn an-Nakba, meaning the Catastrophe, an event that marked the massacre of hundreds of people and ethnic cleansing of hundreds of thousands of Palestinian Arabs in April-May 1948.
One Palestinian village that was ethnically cleansed was Dier Yassin. Just before dawn on April 9, 1948, armed members of the Zionist terror groups Irgun and Stern Gang raided Dier Yassin, a village that lay outside the area allocated by the United Nations to Israel. They told them that they either leave the villages or face death. When the Palestinians defied their orders, more than 100 of them were lined up and gunned down, just as ISIS does to people who defy its orders. Blood and brutality flowed in the land of peacemakers instead of milk and honey.
Little is spoken about Nakba in the Western media, though they give wide coverage to stories about the Holocaust and anti-Semitism. A classic example is the ongoing media debate over remarks ex-London Mayor Ken Livingstone made, calling Adolf Hitler a Zionist.
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.”
The persecution of the Palestinian people began long before Nakba or Israel’s birth. It began in 1918 with the defeat of the Ottoman Turks, the rulers of Palestine, in the First World War, and the subsequent arrival of the British troops in Palestine. The British had in the meantime given the Zionist movement permission to set up a Jewish state in Palestine as though the conquered territory was their ancestral property. This was in terms of the so-called Balfour Declaration of 1917. With Palestine coming under Britain following a League of Nations resolution, the demography of the Palestinian territory began to change rapidly. According to a census conducted by the British in 1922, Palestine had a population of 750,000, of which 88 percent were Palestinians. This included 10 percent Christian Palestinians. The Jewish population by then had risen to 11 percent due to the migration of Zionist Jews to Palestine. But just before the 1947 partition in terms of a preposterous United Nations resolution, the population had risen to 1.8 million, with 68 percent Palestinians and 31 percent Jews. Please note that under the UN partition plan, the Jews, who made up 31 percent of the population were given 55 percent of the land, while the majority Palestinian people got 45 percent of the land. The outrageous partition was one of the early indications that the UN, instead of being a hallowed temple of justice and embodiment of world peace, had become a pawn in the hands of big powers to facilitate their agendas which were responsible for much of the world’s violence, injustice and chaos. In the process, the UN has become the biggest irony and deception of our times, with the Nobel peace prizes it has won and its achievements in the socio-economic sphere only forming a veneer to cover its rotten core. It is largely because of the structural weaknesses of the UN – rather than its impotency – that we see a world order that rewards the oppressor – Israel — and demonises the oppressed –the Palestinian people fighting for freedom from occupation. Pardon me for the UN bashing. Ironically, the UN is the only organisation that still offers a glimmer of hope to the oppressed people of occupied Palestine. It looks after hundreds of thousands of Palestinians living in squalid conditions in refugee camps. It runs schools and raises a voice when Israel uses food and medicine as a weapon to punish the Palestinians when they revolt. The UN is also the only organisation where the Palestinians’ right to statehood has been partially realised, despite the United States’ use of its veto at the Security Council to protect the persecutor. The UN has a special committee headed by Sri Lanka to report on Israel’s human rights violations in the occupied territories. Headed by Sri Lanka’s UN Envoy Rohan Perera, the UN Special Committee to Investigate Israeli Practices Affecting the Human Rights of the Palestinian People and Other Arabs of the Occupied Territories, last week presented its annual report, once again, affirming that “Israeli security forces have used disproportionate force” and in some instances it amounted to possible extra-judicial executions. Please note that the committee’s findings hardly found mention in the pro-Zionist world media. Neither will there be any coverage in the pro-Zionist world media for this Sunday’s Nakba day when the Palestinians in occupied territories and in refugee camps in Lebanon, Jordan and elsewhere will hold high the corroding keys of their homes from which they were expelled — a pathetic display of a people hoping against hope that the world will stop and take note of their plight. Sadly, the Syrian crisis has obliterated the Palestinian problem from the international agenda. One wonders whether the Israelis are adding fuel to the Syrian fire in a bid to keep the Palestinian crisis off the international agenda. The talk on Arab streets is that the terror group ISIS is an Israeli creation. Barack Obama nowadays says nary a word about the Palestinians, though he, upon becoming the President of the United States in 2009, made his first overseas call to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, and months later made a valiant speech in Cairo stirring hopes in the Palestinian minds that he was a leader who would help them achieve statehood. Obama defied the powerful Israeli lobby and made genuine efforts to make peace. He opposed Israel’s settlement building activities, set time frames for peace and sent the Secretary of States to the Middle East on multiple peace missions. But as he spends his final year in office, he apparently realises that Israel is more powerful than the United States. As the Palestinian frustration builds up, a hapless Obama could only ask himself whether he has done enough to earn the Nobel Peace Prize in 2009. If Obama cannot deliver peace , can the Palestinians expect peace to dawn under President Hillary Clinton or President Donald Trump who with their campaign speeches have already assured Israel that the United States’ Middle East policy will be drafted not in Washington but in Tel Aviv. Palestinians, fend for yourselves!
(This article was first published in the Daily Mirror, Sri Lanka)