The greatest moral issue of our time | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, November 29, 2016 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:17 AM, November 29, 2016


The greatest moral issue of our time

In 1977, following the late Yasser Arafat's speech at the United Nations General Assembly on November 13, 1974, where he said, “Today I come bearing an olive branch and a freedom fighter's gun. Do not let the olive branch fall from my hand” - the UN General Assembly Resolution 32/40B was passed, designating November 29 as a Day for Annual Observance for the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People. Ironically, however, it was the UN General Assembly's Resolution 181 (II) to end British power in Palestine that allowed for its partition in 1947 and called for the establishment of “Independent Arab and Jewish States and the Special International Regime for the City of Jerusalem”, without considering the plight of the Palestinians already living there. Ultimately, the decision unleashed catastrophic consequences for the Palestinians from which they continue to suffer to this day.

Interestingly enough, this month also marks the 99th anniversary of the Balfour Declaration, a letter sent by the British foreign secretary at the time, Lord Arthur Balfour, on behalf of the British government to Walter Rothschild (to be shared with the Zionist Federation) dated November 2, 1917. The letter reads “His Majesty's government view with favour the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people, and will use their best endeavours to facilitate the achievement of this object”.

Journalist and bestselling author Ben White writes that the Balfour Declaration “is a reminder, firstly, that the Zionist movement was only able to advance its goal of establishing a 'Jewish state' in Palestine with the support of a colonial power” ("A century after Balfour, the UK should face uncomfortable home truths", Middle East Eye, November 6). Today, the State of Israel is able to continue with its large scale violations of international law, again, because of the support given to it by its Western allies, especially the United States of America. These violations have been well-documented by a number of professionals belonging to every race, religion and creed.

Meanwhile, all justifiable criticism aimed against the State of Israel for its revolting mistreatment of Palestinians is criminally twisted and categorised as 'anti-semitic' by Western governments and mainstream media. I say 'twisted' because according to large numbers of Jewish scholars (and others), including Emeritus Professor of History at Tel Aviv University, Shlomo Sand, what we call Jewish people today including those in Israel, have absolutely no historic or genetic connection to what is today the land of Israel. In fact, the origin of the overwhelming number of Jews around the world today is from the area of Sumer and Babylon - modern day Iraq.

And as author and journalist Arthur Koestler wrote in his book The Thirteenth Tribe “[this] would mean that their ancestors came not from the Jordan, but from the Volga. Not from the Cannan, but from the Caucuses...then the term 'anti-semitism' is void of any meaning based on a misapprehension shared by both the killers and their victims... [and] the story of the Khazar [people of the Caucuses] empire, as it slowly emerges from the past, begins to look like the most 'cruel hoax' which history has ever perpetrated”. This is of particular significance as semitism or semitic refers not to a race, but a language group, which does not include the Khazars but does include languages from today's Arab countries spoken by Arab people, including Palestinians. One does not have to look far then to see the irony of it all, especially as the State of Israel was initially established using the justification that Jewish people were simply being allowed the opportunity to return to their homeland which, Palestine, is not.

Nevertheless, according to Jewish author and journalist Stephen Lendman, “Israel bears full responsibility for premeditated violence and brutality, unleashed without mercy against defenseless Palestinians – reminiscent of how Nazis persecuted Jews” ("Israeli Anti-Palestinian Viciousness Rages", Centre for Research on Globalisation, October 14, 2015). And that the “Western, mainly US, and Israeli media suppress what demands headlines, instead play perhaps the oldest of dirty games – blaming victims, holding them responsible for premeditated, cold-blooded Israeli crimes, committed unaccountably”.

Fortunately though, despite the Orwellian media coverage, many people around the world are finally waking up to what Nelson Mandela described as "the greatest moral issue of our time". Last year, for example, the European Commission adopted new guidelines for labelling products and goods produced in the illegal settlements in Occupied Palestine, the American Anthropological Association became the largest US academic organisation to approve a boycott of Israeli institutions and to affirm the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement and the British Labour Party's National Executive Committee voted to boycott private security company G4S for its direct involvement with Israeli prisons ("International day of solidarity with Palestine - Looking back; looking ahead", International Movement for a Just World, December 1, 2015).

The Israeli government was naturally expected to react quite harshly to these developments; given the extent of its outburst, however, many experts suggest that continuing pressure exerted on the Israeli government through boycott, divestment and sanctions may be the fastest, if not the only way, to bring Israeli officials to the negotiating table to work out a solution for the Palestinian people, particularly in the absence of any meaningful criticism by Western governments and leaders.

And why not? It worked in South Africa, didn't it? And although I am not a fan of economic warfare through the use of sanctions, etc, the only other time when it can be justified, apart from its use against the apartheid state of South Africa, is in the case of Israel for its gross violation of human rights against the Palestinian people.

And the international community must realise that this violation has not been taking place only for a few days or years, but for decades. Entire generations of Palestinians have been denied any semblance of human rights which is clearly the worst crime perpetrated against humanity since the end of the Second World War.

For the international community, especially for its leaders, sorting out the Israel-Palestinian problem should be the primary objective, at least if it is to ever claim any form of civility. The wrong that the human race has allowed to be done to the people of Palestine requires for it to stand with Palestine, now, for the sake of its own salvation. In the process, however, it must also recognise that it is the State of Israel, and not the Jewish people in general, that is guilty of committing gross human rights violations and mass murder against the Palestinian people.

It is important that people realise that the biggest critics of the State of Israel and those exposing its brutality the most, happen to be Jewish themselves. Let us not repeat the hate, condemnation and mass murder that took place against the Jewish people during the Second World War against Palestinians now, or anyone, ever again. Let us stand beside the Palestinians now, the way the world should have stood beside the Jews back then.

The writer is a member of the Editorial team at The Daily Star.

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