Muslims Must Continue Struggle against Israeli Occupation
Unquestionably, the Palestinians are fighting for justice. They are seeking justice against illegal and oppressive Israeli occupation of their land. They are demanding that Israel must stop its immoral, illegal and unjust colonizing policies towards them, giving them their inalienable rights to self-determination and freeing from persecution and oppression. Israel must desist from using its army and other agencies in killing unarmed civilians, shelling their towns, confiscating their farmlands and olive trees, and demolishing their homes. They must not be subjected to political assassinations, forced expulsions, land confiscation and other apartheid-like policies by Israel.
If peace is to be ensured, Israel must withdraw from the West Bank and Gaza Strip according to the Oslo accords when Palestinian leaders gave monumental concessions, receiving only 22% of their original homeland for the sake of peaceful coexistence with Israelis. Obviously, the American-backed process of renegotiating this peace was a ploy that allowed Israel time to grab more land and transform the ground realities in its favor. Consecutive Israeli administrations have stalled and reinterpreted the previously agreed upon agreements to extract as much advantage as possible at every step in the process. Thus in clear violations of the Oslo, they vigorously expanded their settlements and connected them by roads thereby breaking up the unconnected enclaves in occupied areas into "bantustans", making a mockery of any settlement for a prospective Palestinian state.
Pursuit of justice is in the very nature of humankind and is the primary objective of the Islamic system in all affairs of human life extending from the home to state.
As an added insult to injury General Ariel Sharon, the current Israeli Prime Minister then dared to make his infamous visit to the Haram Al-Sharif. This was intended to send a clear message that, regardless of any other commitments, the predominantly Palestinian East Jerusalem will remain under Israeli occupation as part of the "eternal, undivided capital of Israel". The Palestinians could not tolerate this war criminal, the butcher of Sabra and Shatila refugee camps now brazenly jeering at them. This was the start of Alaqsa Intifada (Jerusalem uprising) and the barbaric reaction by the Israeli government, which has resulted in 500 deaths and an additional 14,000 injuries, more than 30% of which involved children.
Islam and Muslims are all for peace, but it must come with justice. The very word Islam stands for peace; it aims to secure peace within one's self and one's surrounding of nature and with other humans through securing peace with the Creator and Lord of the whole universe. This peace is accomplished through God-consciousness and pursuit of justice.
Pursuit of justice is in the very nature of humankind and is the primary objective of the Islamic system in all affairs of human life extending from the home to state. The Qur'an says: "We sent aforetime our messengers with clear signs and sent down with them the book and the balance (of right and wrong), that men may stand forth in justice" (57-25). Strength must also be drawn from men of conscience who throughout the history of humankind have upheld justice. "Of those We have created are people who direct (others) with truth, and dispense justice therewith" (7:181).
Justice in Islam is based on much more penetrative motivations than any man-made system could envisage. This is because it comes from internalization of God -consciousness -that we are acting in the presence of God who knows our innermost secrets, our actions as well as intentions and nothing is hidden from Him.
As a people of faith, Muslims are for securing peace through all possible means, even in war with enemies. "But if the enemy inclines towards peace, do you also incline toward peace, and trust in God: for he is the one that hears and knows (all things)" (8:61). Thus while we should always be ready for a fight that is forced upon us, but even in the midst of it we should welcome a genuine peace offer. And we should deal kindly (60:7-8) and justly (5:8-9) even with those against us.
However, with regard to those who fight us because of our faith, drive us out of our homes and property or support others in these endeavors, it would be wrong to turn to them for friendship or protection. "God only forbids you, with regard to those who fight you for (your) faith, and drive you out, of your homes, and support (others) in driving you out, from turning to them (for friendship and protection). It is such as turn to them (in these circumstances) that do wrong" (60:9). This obviously because it is against the very dictates of justice and thus becomes a precondition of peace. It is a pity that our current leaders ask for help from the very people who violate us and have no intention for a just conclusion in their mediation.
Indeed, the Mitchell Report abysmally fails to render justice for the Palestinians. It completely ignores that it is Israel, a regional military power, which is the occupying force violating international laws against a captive civilian population. This report followed by the visit of the CIA Chief George Tenet, aims to diffuse the Alaqsa Intifada without giving any thought to why it happened. The entire focus is on making security arrangements for Israel, thereby completing the assignment of policing the occupied territories on behalf of the state of Israel. This is tantamount to the continuation of occupation, only in disguise with the help of the Palestinian Authority. Therefore as a forgone conclusion, this initiative would result in failure, either with a continuation or rekindling of the current Intifada, or an ultimate uprising of the whole Palestinian population against the perpetuation of unconscionable injustices that are perpetrated on them.
In view of the above, it is high time that Muslims in America and everywhere work on two fronts. We must mobilize the American public opinion against injustices, realizing that we are facing a well-entrenched Jewish lobby and its unquestioning supporters. We also know that in the current war of words, the special-interest media is heavily biased against us and, therefore, we should use every opportunity to write comments and letters to the editors in the local community papers. This should proceed along with vigorously exposing the reality with regular write-ups and wider dissemination by our own organizations accompanied by drives by the local Islamic centers for greater public enlightenment. Importantly also, we should call on our congressional representatives and write to them that occupation is the core of conflict in the Middle East, that America's own interests in the Middle East and the entire Muslim world are being harmed by the current uncritical and unjust support of any and all Israeli actions, that the dolling out each year of billions of taxpayer dollars, unbeknown to most Americans as continuous aid to Israel must discontinue, and that as a priority, the supply of American weapons used by Israel against the Palestinian civilians must stop forthwith.
Along with the above, it is imperative that we call on the international community to respond to its responsibility for rendering justice. Right now, it must intervene and protect the Palestinian people. We should pressure our leaders in and out of America to turn to the global community to redress the situation and ask for an international peacekeeping force to monitor the area and record the injustices carried out under Israeli occupation. Thus rallying people to the cause of justice, the truth will prevail and the right will triumph, and not the brute and barbarous might. Justice is a precondition for peace in the Middle East, as it is elsewhere.
Dr. Siraj Mufti currently serves as an Islamic consultant for the Correctional Corporation of America in Arizona. Previously he worked as a research professor at the University of Arizona and a chaplain with the U.S. Department of Justice.