image of jerusalem 2019

Gaza: A Macrocosm of Occupation!
Some three weeks ago, when I wrote my piece on the Israeli parliamentary elections and their impact on Israel-Palestine, I promised myself not to broach this long-term conflict again until after my book on the same topic had come out later this month.

7 May   |   2019   |   Subject  Middle East & North Africa (MENA)

However, after the bellicose confrontations between Israel and the Palestinians in Gaza over the past weekend that resulted in the deaths of 4 Israelis and 24 Palestinians, I shelved my promise and decided to wade into this human morass again for a short - translate that into frustrated or even irate - opinion piece on the situation as I perceive it after this latest flare-up.

In a sense, and despite the months-long skirmishes resulting from the weekly Gaza border protests or marches, this was the first major confrontation since the 2014 Gaza war. And whilst the Israeli prime minister claimed that this latest chapter of violence had started when Palestinians (or Hamas, as they always insist) lobbed a number of missiles on Israel, the facts were somewhat different. In fact, only on the Friday before the eruption of the latest violence, Israeli military snipers had killed 2 Palestinian protestors in Gaza and wounded 116 others - including 39 children, 4 women, 4 paramedics and 1 journalist. Of those, 35 were injured by live fire and 32 by tear gas canisters.

But putting this moot point aside, the question that crops up for me is whether Palestinians should simply accept their oppressed status or whether they should seek their basic freedoms as a people with a future? Should they succumb to a Jabotinsky-friendly style of colonisation whereby they accept their masters’ rules? Or can they aspire for something better such as self-determination and independence? Will they be herded forever into their 1.8-million-person open-air prison?

Over the past three decades, I am proud to say that I have often spoken out on behalf of Palestinian self-determination. I have rarely viewed this conflict, whether you use its starting date as 1948 or 1967, as one of religion or ideology, but rather as one of two nationalisms conflicting over a small parcel of land. As such, I have always insisted that Palestinians should be allowed their sovereign and contiguous state next to Israel. However, I have also added that the rampant colonisation of Palestinians let alone the plundering of their rights and lands and the blighting of their hopes and dignity, is immoral and unacceptable. So the last thing I want to hear is anyone accusing me of consorting with ‘terror’.

Let me also refute here the Israeli meme - or tedious mantra as it were - that Palestinians turned Gaza into a terrorist land once it was returned to them in 2005. This Israeli official narrative suggests that Palestinians cannot be entrusted to run their own state because they will simply transform any land under their jurisdiction and control into a terrorists’ den. However, let me politely add that this is absolute balderdash. Yes, the late Ariel Sharon did return Gaza to Palestinians - reluctantly - but Israel then rendered this strip of land into an unforgiving gaol that does not even allow Palestinians the most basic ingredients for a half-decent life. Just consider this scenario anywhere else in the world: if someone gives you a house, but then decides who enters or leaves it, what comes in or goes out, and disconnects all your forms of communication, transport, employment, water or living, can you ever truly call this house your home? Do you not over time turn against the person(s) controlling you?

Let me be frank about it, despite the brazen platitudes of politicians or shy statements of journalists, and challenge the likes of the EU - alas - or the media who strain to look at this conflict as one between two co-equal parties. Wake up, will you? Israel does not want any Palestinian state whatsoever and is happy to exercise its apartheid-like policies to prevent one from putting down roots on Palestinian occupied lands. In fact, Israel considers Hamas, that it incidentally helped create in 1987 in order to weaken the PLO, as an ally because Hamas’ control of Gaza is the best way for Israel to avoid a two-state solution seeing the light of day. Conversely, Hamas is now slowly becoming the movement that dwarfs the Palestinian Authority into inaction.

Is it not the irony of ironies that we are meant to buy gullibly into a scenario that showcases a weak and feeble Israel - with its arsenal and nuclear might - being threatened by the mighty and strong Palestinians - with their home-made missiles or kites and slings?

If I were still involved in any serious negotiations today, I would endorse the idea that Israeli politicians can perhaps start off with three confidence-building measures (or CBM’s) that pave the way for some forward momentum. Why not allow Palestinians in Gaza for instance to have an airport, a desalination plant for potable water and the gas fields that they can exploit for their own benefit and income? Then, once the people of Gaza begin to feel the freedom that comes with self-determined choices, they will no longer be inclined to confront rifles or warplanes with flags, stones or missiles.

I also agree with other seasoned pundits that the latest truce concluded with Egyptian, Qatari and UN mediation, will be nothing more than a fragile holding pattern until the next round of violence. In fact, the cynic in me would suggest that the truce was agreed by Israel simply in order to gain some peace and quiet during the Yom Ha’atzmaut [Independence Day] celebrations this week as well as the Eurovision Song Festival on 18th May.

Finally, and just in case Israeli politicians think that things will change without the need for any real change on the ground, I regret that they are sorely mistaken. Palestinians will not vanish because of a separation wall and a myriad checkpoints splintering the West Bank. Nor can they be bribed by the economic largesse of the Kushner-Greenblatt-Friedman ‘ultimate deal’. If anything, they will keep on resisting, at times peacefully and at others violently, until Israeli opposition to any two-state solution inexorably drags us into the even more difficult arena of a binational solution. Remember, power is not in Palestinian hands, but justice is - as is the willpower to dream for a better future.

If only PM Benyamin Netanyahu and his ready allies or mouthpieces would pause for a minute to think seriously - honestly - about the future beyond their own ruinous ambitions.

© Dr Harry Hagopian   |   2019   |   7 May


Print or download a copy of this article.


Google: Yahoo: MSN: