Israel needs to wage a peace offensive
Israel ought to have known better. If Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu takes some history lessons, he will know that, in the summer of 1947, the British Mandate committed the terrible crime of attacking the illegal immigrant ship “Exodus”, carrying Jewish refugees and Holocaust survivors.
The lands that now make up Israel and the Palestinians territories of the West Bank and Gaza Strip emerged from the ashes of the Ottoman Empire. They were initially administered by the British under a League of Nations mandate. Hence the name, British Mandate.
The brutality with which the British Mandate attacked the ship carrying Jewish refugees, many of them women and children, sparked outrage and was widely deplored. With the Exodus attack, the Mandate lost international legitimacy and British rule over the country ended just 10 months after that.
Israel was equally arbitrary when, on May 30, its commandos descended on a Turkish-backed flotilla with humanitarian supplies bound for Gaza, resulting in the loss of nine lives.
The commandos raided the ship before dawn to prevent it from reaching Gaza but opened fire when some of those on board tried to fend them off with sticks and, according to the Israelis, knives. The Israelis seized six ships and detained 600 campaigners with a view to deport them.
Most governments criticized Israel’s actions but America was more restrained in its reaction, persuading the UN Security Council not to lay the blame squarely on Israel. President Obama looks hamstrung and helpless.
Israel does not have too many friends globally but it does not seem to value much those that it has, except the US, which shields it from any real impact of international criticism.
Israel must ask itself some serious questions. What will it do if more concerted civilian attempts are made to break its siege of Gaza? Isn’t the Gaza siege becoming a self-defeating exercise now? To me, the most shocking aspect of the raid on the flotilla was not just the violence on board it resulted in but also the lack of imagination on part of Israel’s government. Acting nervously, unimaginatively and predictably, it almost walked into a trap.
As an Indian, I would like to cite to the Israelis the example of the great Indian qualities of patience and restrain. I would remind them of a great man that walked our lands — Mahatma Gandhi.
As a Muslim, I would urge Muslims to look upon Jewish people as blood brothers. Our two religions, along with Christianity, share the same roots. I have said this before and would like to repeat that anti-Semitism is anti-Islamic.
Four million Jews were inhumanly killed in the Holocaust. They were expelled from many lands. Therefore, Jews deserve Muslim compassion. This sentiment, on either side, is essential for progress to be made in resolving the stuttering conflict.
There are many dimensions to the Israel-Palestinian conflict. However, this is the time to focus on uplifting Gaza from its abyss.
The blockade of Gaza, which is starving 1.5 millions of Palestinians, is illegal by Israel’s own position. The Israeli position is that Gaza is no longer occupied and Israel does not exercise effective control over any land or institution in that area.
One reason for the blockade is Hamas’s belligerent rocket attacks. Another stated reason is to cut off any traffic between Iran and Gaza. However, it’s one thing to not allow weapons in, quite another to punish 1.5 million people by cutting off essential supplies. A blockade that does not allow construction materials, crayons and copybooks?
Gaza needs to be re-built — very urgently, more so after the December 2008 “Cast Lead” assault by Israel, with caused extensive damage.
We support the Palestinian cause. But my sympathy does not blind me to the requirements of justice. I will always defend Israel’s right to exist because there is no way we can go back in history and turn the clock.
Any talk of “wiping the Jewish State off the map” is tantamount to another potential Holocaust. There is no greater crime against humanity than the Holocaust.
However, Israel has to stop acting in haste and with hegemony, and display vision in addressing the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Otherwise, it may well go on crushing the Hamas regime, and with it, the people of Gaza, but in the process be prepared to live in perpetual insecurity.
The less Israel uses its power, the more powerful it will be.
Israel needs to stop citing international war rules, deemed applicable in conflict situations between full-fledged sovereign states, to justify its four-year blockade of Gaza.
Israel’s blockade has turned Gaza into a 146-square-mile prison. Gaza, along its southwestern flank on the Mediterranean Sea and on the border with Egypt, is governed by the militant Hamas. The blockade is aimed at Hamas, but it is hurting ordinary Gazans gravely, resulting in an enormous humanitarian crisis. The blockade is untenable and unsustainable.
For any meaningful progress, UN Security Council resolutions 1850 and 1860 need to be fully implemented. Resolution 1860 emphasizes “unimpeded provision and distribution throughout Gaza of humanitarian assistance, including of food, fuel and medical treatment”.
I believe, if Israelis think hard enough, a solution can be found. A solution will have to be found. It will have to begin with a respect for the right to coexist. And it can start with a peace message from the Jewish state.(12 votes, average: 3.5 out of 5)Loading …
Posted by Zia Haq on Sunday, June 6, 2010 at 7:59 pm
Filed under World · Tagged Benjamin Netanyahu, British Mandate, flotilla, Holocaust survivors, Israel, Jewish refugees, Mahatma Gandhi, President Obama, Prime Minister, UN Security Council
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