Israel's Subjugation of the Palestinians Must End Now

Category: Americas, World Affairs Topics: Gaza Strip, Hamas, Occupation, Palestine Channel: Opinion Views: 3730

Israel pounded Gaza strip in retaliation for rockets fired at its Southern borders, killing over 280 Palestinians and wounding hundreds more, over half of whom were civilians, and bringing destruction to the already deteriorating Palestinian infrastructure. Israel used F16 bombers against an essentially defenseless population. The greatest weapon in the Palestinian arsenal is inaccurate makeshift rockets with extremely short range that often miss their targets. 

In responding to questions by CBS's Face-the-Nation this Sunday, Tzipi Levni, Israel's foreign minister, justified the Israeli attacks by citing its rights to defend its citizens against attacks by Hamas. When asked whether Israel wants to reoccupy Gaza and overthrow Hamas, she insisted that Israel does not wants to return to Gaza and that its military operations are limited to bring quiet to its southern borders.

The above narrative, intended to bring sympathy to Israel's aggressive actions by depicting the Palestinians as the aggressors and Israel as the victim of aggression has little resemblance with the reality on the ground. The truth is that Israel has never freed Gaza from its heavy handed occupation, but only evacuated Jewish settlers when it became apparent that it could not guarantee their safety. Its retaliation against the Palestinians, Israel reduced Gaza into the largest concentration camp in world history. Placing people under siege is an act of war and aggression.

Sealed off completely from the outside world, Gazans are prisoners in their own land. Gaza which occupies a little less than 140 square miles (4 miles X 10 miles) is the home of over 1.4 million Palestinians. Suffocated in their tiny strip of land, Gazans are not allowed to travel, trade with the outside world, or even complain about the inhumane conditions imposed on them by Israel. Their painful narrative has never found its way to Western media, which has managed, to the determent of Western long term interests, to conceal the Palestinian narrative while amplifying the Israeli's. With the exception of few astute observers, everyone who watches Western media knows that it is the Palestinians that must be blamed for their own suffering.

Israel's efforts to beat its Palestinian subjects into submission flies in the face of every principle of political equity and social justice we cherish today, and our silence in the faith of the Israeli violation of the principles of freedom, equal dignity, and justice makes mockery of our cherished values, and is bound to undermine political freedom and reverse the progress modern society made in the last two centuries.

Apparently, Israel's goal is to soften the Palestinians and bring them down on their knees. In reality, though, Israel is likely to widen and deepen the level of animosity towards it in the Palestinian territories and beyond. The history of the last sixty years shows that Israel's reliance on force has widened and broadened the negative feelings towards it throughout the world, and has intensified the level of resistance against it in the Middle East.

Hamas can be faulted for targeting civilians, for being impatient with its Palestinian rivals, or even for adopting the wrong liberation strategy. But that does not by any means justify the collective punishment imposed on all Palestinians. Israel must take major responsibility for forcing the Palestinian people to overwhelmingly choose Hamas leadership when it chose to support settlement expansion while it was engaged in Peace negotiations. The Israeli expansion into the West Bank and Gaza squeezed the Palestinians into small cantons and into the orbit of Hamas as Mahmoud Abbas and his party appeared increasingly helpless and confused.

Changing the current dynamics requires less reliance on force and more reliance on good will and humane treatment of the Palestinians. Unfortunately, the Israeli leadership is trapped in a siege mentality that prevents it to see that it is turning the Palestinians and the rest of the Muslim world into a fierce enemy. Rather than ensuring peace for the Jewish people, it is building a record of aggression and injustice that future generations will find appalling, and that future Jews will find overwhelming and burdensome. Israel can create propaganda to cover its current aggression, but will never be able to erase the records of its aggression against defenseless people in the age of information explosion.

It is about time that all people of decency and foresight in Western society in general, and Western Jewry in particular, to pressure Israel to free the Palestinians of the harsh conditions of occupation, and to embark on a process of genuine peace with its neighbors.

Dr. Louay Safi is the executive director of ISNA Leadership Development Center, an Indiana based organization dedicated to enhancing leadership capacity. He writes and lectures on issues relating to Islam and the West, democracy, human rights, leadership, and world peace. His commentaries are available at: http://louaysafi.com


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  6 Comments   Comment

  1. Tamim I. from U.S.A

    I put the blame on the Palestinian leaders and the dis-unity among them.

    The division amongst the leaders hurting the Cause and costing innocent paletinians lives.

    The same has been happening in Afghanistan.

  2. Kam from Britain

    Arab-Israeli-Palestine problem has been simmering for such along time and I believe it should be brought to a meaningful closure. I see nothing wrong in trying novel solutions. As Romesh Chander suggests let Israelis and Palestinians slug it out. Winner takes all. Sooner the better. The world is tired of this pestering problem. -- Kam

  3. nizam from India

    I wonder, what path is left to the oppressed other than fighting back with whatever means they have? The article start with what we hear and read in media over and over again! israel is retaliating against rocket launch! As if, if those rockets were not launched, then israel would give back all the lands they have stolen by force. Mr. CHANDER, just go back 60 years when ur british friends occupied ur land for 200 years and there were many who sacrificed their life (lablled as TERRORIST) while there were many like you who used to advice those TERRORIST not to kill innocent people (British and its collaborator). I am sure, you do not read history. History tells us that oppressed had to sacrifice their life and were always in a disadvantageous position while fighting the oppressor and ofcourse were lablled terrorist. Even Nelson Mandela is still a terrorist in the eyes of morally superior country USA. Therefore, I have no problem to understand your thoughts. But it hurts me seeing people without conscience!!

    More hurting ofcourse Palestinian president and his gangs. They are coward and hypocrites. Hamas are brave fighters and true to their faith. I am sure, the rest of the arab countries are terrified by the rise of Hezbollah and Hamas and they are now befriending ISRAEL AND US. Little they know that the hypocrites end are always humiliating in this world and hereafter. For those not aware: Just think about Mussarraf! Soon, these arab hypocrites will be humiliated by Allah (SWT). So my dear palestinian brothers and sisters, please have patience and fight back with whatever means you have. Do not give the oppressor more space to operate. They will never get tired killing innocents untill they get a good blow. May Allah (SWT) bring that blow soon.

  4. Jamila Ibrahim from Canada

    Israel has been a major trouble in the Middleeast

    & all the arab countries are watching them get

    a way with it e.g the very rich countries Saudi

    Kuwait,Dubi & so on , Gaza doen't just need food

    & meds because this is happining over & over Israel needs to stop & free the palestinians

    the Arabs needs to be united first then goods things will happen. I was reading the news last

    night again it's just a heart ache over & over

    Oh is that how the Israeli celebrating their

    60yrs living in a Land doesn't belong to them

    by killing people in the Holly Land left & right.

    ALLAHU AKBR

  5. Nargiza Nurmukhammad from Uzbekistan

    MashAllah Dr. Louay Safi for writing this article!

    To other Muslim brother and sisters:

    Assalamu alaykum dears,

    WHAT CAN WE DO TO MAKE A CHANGE?

    1. Boycotting products that support this oppression. This includes Israeli, US made products. Please follow the link below to find brands to BOYCOTT.

    2. Distribute this info via copying, printing and telling friends and relatives.

    3. Print and have it on hand when going shopping.

    Let's take a STAND and DO what we can to help oppressed in Palestine from our own homes wherever we are.

    URL: http://www.inminds.com/boycott-brands.html

  6. Romesh Chander from US

    There is one and only one solution to Israeli/Arab problem -- let them slug it out, and the winner takes all. If Jews lose, they get annihilated. If the Arabs lose, they get out of Israel/Palestine/Gaza area and move permanently to other Arab lands. There is no half-way solution. It is all or nothing.