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Analysis Human Rights

Palestinians are being sacrificed at the altar of Islamist, leftist and Zionist utopias

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By: Kunwar Khuldune Shahid

The worldwide outrage following 62 people being massacred in Gaza wasn’t over Palestinians being killed. It was over Palestinians being killed by Israelis.

If the many torchbearers of Palestinian rights were actually that, some of the indignation would’ve been reserved for the Palestinian refugee camp in Yamouk being obliterated by Syrian forces, pushing over 5000 refugees to flee, or when the Islamic State (IS) beheads and rapes Palestinians en masse.

Even so, individuals, groups, or even entire communities, have the right to have selective preferences for certain conflicts and/or even skewed value for human life.

However, what they would also be advised to embrace is their contribution to that very loss of human life that they evidently value over others.

But before we look into the role that Palestine’s loudest supporters have played in their brutalisation, it’s important to dissect those actually pulling the trigger.


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Zionist occupation

That a separate state should be synthesised for a religious population through mass migrations is an outlandish idea. That this dogmatic nation-building was orchestrated by an overtly secular leadership renders it even more bizarre. That all of this took place merely seven decades ago, underscores a modern ideological calamity.

These realities are what make Israel and Pakistan uniquely doctrinaire nation-states. And it is the former that is the more obvious enemy of the Palestinians than many of those that are its loudest proponents.

Zionism, the idea that there should be a Jewish state in the ‘historic land of Israel’, is intrinsically no different to other forms of nationalism. This is why just like its Chinese, Pakistani, Indian, or Turkish equivalents, it is conducive to being interpreted to justify occupations.

A GROUP OF FORMER BUCHENWALD INMATES ON BOARD THE REFUGEE SHIP “MATAROA” IN HAIFA PORT.

This includes orthodox Zionists visualising their state as the Old Testament’s ‘land of Canaan’, with ancient Israel set between Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea, which includes ‘Judea and Samaria’ – modern day West Bank – where many of the Biblical tales were played out.

It is these settlers, now approaching half a million in number, that are believed to be as big a stumbling block as any for the creation of two states between the Mediterranean Sea and Jordan River, failing which Israel would have to choose between being Jewish, democratic and/or occupying the ‘historic land of Israel’.

Hankering after these Biblical prophesies both predates, and influenced, Israel’s occupation of the lands following the 1967 war, with religious parties Mafdal – now HaBayit HaYehudi – and the more orthodox Agudath Israel, gaining political influence in Israel, and hogging the narrative on settlements in the West Bank.

It is these settlers, now approaching half a million in number, that are believed to be as big a stumbling block as any for the creation of two states between the Mediterranean Sea and Jordan River, failing which Israel would have to choose between being Jewish, democratic and/or occupying the ‘historic land of Israel’.

Zionism, however, is only one of three overlapping dogmas violently exacerbating Palestinian plight.

Caliphate dream

For the vast majority of the Muslim world, West Bank settlements or Palestinian nationhood are largely superfluous. Israel, for them, is an aggressor by virtue of its Jewish identity and its existence.

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This is why the Arab coalition attacked Israel on May 15, 1948, not for the creation of a Palestinian state but for the destruction of the Israeli one. Hence, despite Gaza being under Egyptian, and the West Bank under Jordanian occupations before 1967, neither was a Palestinian state created in these territories nor was there a global Muslim movement push for one.

This is why only 13 Muslim states recognise Israel, 12 of which – paradoxically – did so after 1967, mostly in the aftermath of the Soviet collapse.

Meanwhile, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the president of Turkey – the only Muslim state whose recognition of Israel predates the 1967 war – has recently been calling for an ‘army of Islam to attack Israel’.

This collective resistance toward Israel, is owing to the prevalence of Islamism in the Muslim world, and how the existence of a Jewish state – that too on a ‘holy Islamic land’, not atop the land of Palestinians – signifies failure of their religionist ambitions.

Islamists use the scriptures to define elimination of Jews – not settlers, colonialists or any state, the entire people – as an integral part of a global Islamic caliphate that they strive for. And hence, the fight against Israel, for the Islamists, is a struggle for the eradication – or at the very least the expulsion – of Jews, to mirror their mass cleansing from the Arab world.

Even so, more than the rest of the Muslim world, it’s the density of Islamism in the Palestinian leadership – that has increased in synchrony with both growth in global jihadism, and the rise of right-wing in Israel – that is aggravating the conflict.

And so, when Hamas has had ‘invalidation of Israel through Islam’ in its charter – even its ‘revised’ charter rejects Israel’s right to exist – or when the less radical Palestinian Authority regularly echoes ‘Islam’s war against Jews’ it is easily to interpret the movement as an offshoot of the abovementioned Islamist caliphate dream.

However, while the Islamist narrative on Israel is consistent with its hardline anti-Jew ideology, it is the left that’s guilty of most of the abovementioned hypocrisy.

Left not right

While the religionists justify their fixations through the divine, the global left makes infallible gods out of anyone opposing the West.

The traditional Marxist narrative on the Palestinian resistance was to interpret the movement as a struggle to remove Western capitalism from the Middle East, with Israel’s existence seen as a colonial project and the quest for its elimination, in turn, as the apogee of anti-colonial struggle.

The Popular Front for Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) represented this Marxist-Leninist position of a ‘one-state solution’ for the conflict till the Soviet dissolution jolted the global left, in turn paving the way for the Oslo Accords.

The post-Soviet left adapted fixation with the US and earmarking the West as the primary force in every conflict, instead of revising its failures and incorporate evolving poltico-economic global dynamics into a post-communist narrative.

The hypocrisy of singling out Israel for crimes that others – often their own states – are guiltier of, is an offshoot of the aforementioned anti-West fixation that they’ve inherited and the outrage commodification that they’ve formulated.

However, out of the ashes of traditionally liberal left, sprung the trigger-happy millennial left – with outrage decibels of the Old Left of the early 20th century, but faced with realities of the 21st.

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For many of these, the hypocrisy of singling out Israel for crimes that others – often their own states – are guiltier of, is an offshoot of the aforementioned anti-West fixation that they’ve inherited and the outrage commodification that they’ve formulated.

In the post 9/11 world, where the focus has inadvertently been on jihadist terrorism, Israeli brutalities also provide a chance for many from the left to create false equivalence between Zionism and Islamism, in a bid to shrug of labels of ‘Islamophobia’ and self-hatred for those from within the Muslim communities.

With the Islamist and leftist collective singling out for their respective dogmatic belief-systems becoming an increasing phenomenon, the disproportionate focus on Israel is fueling the orthodox Jewry’s age-old propaganda that deems valid criticism of the state as synonymous with ‘anti-Semitism’.

And with the leftists and Islamists long finding common ground in Israel’s destruction, the left has inadvertently adapted anti-Jewish bigotry.

The fourth utopia

Amidst the three centrifugal, and yet hyperbolically intersecting, utopias the two-state solution – or at least a version thereof – remains a quixotic idea that few seem to be genuinely aspiring for.

The Jewish settlements in West Bank are often interpreted as the death knell for the two-state solution. And yet inherent to this school of thought is the assertion that the idea of Jews living in a Muslim majority state of Palestine is outrageous – yet no one would bellow ‘Islamophobia’ here.

Another option is a confessionalist arrangement, with Israel and Palestine sharing territorial blends as two consociational nations – something that has worked in Bosnia and has been adapted in Lebanon and even Netherlands.

Even so, at the heart of any such arrangements lies a substantive peace offer from Palestinian representatives. For, treaties with Egypt and Jordan prove that such deals can work, with Israel’s 2005 withdrawal from Gaza more than hinting at some form of reversal of settlements.

Similarly, the Palestinian leadership needs to recognise Israel’s right to exist, which should be echoed by the remaining states the world over.

As far as the Muslim world is concerned, there would be no greater push to safeguard Palestinian lives and their state, than to accept Israel as a state with its pre-1967 borders. For, one can’t hold a state accountable if one isn’t recognising its existence, which is just as legitimate as any other state in the reshaped post-colonial world order.

But as long the boundaries of ‘state of Israel’ and its ‘illegal occupation’ remain undefined in the simplistic rhetoric of their respective proponents, and asking the Palestinian leadership to accept Israel continues to be frantically dubbed apologia for occupation and massacres, the Palestinians would continue to be sacrificed at the altars of Zionist, Islamist and leftist utopias.

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