Feeling the ‘Nakba’ Pain of the Palestinians

Torn between Arab Apathy and Zionist Antipathy!

“How much longer is the world willing to endure this spectacle of wanton cruelty?”
― Bertrand Russell

As the world is passing through a difficult pandemic patch, Zionist Israel is at it again. According to Israeli plans, it is planning to annex more land from the occupied Palestinian territory of West Bank, on July 1, as agreed between Bibi and his new-found ally Benny Gantz, the head of Blue and White party. The annexation comes as part of Trump’s so-called “deal of the century” plan, which was announced on Jan. 28. It refers to Jerusalem as “Israel’s undivided capital” and recognizes Israeli sovereignty over large parts of the West Bank.

As usual, despite widely expected condemnations of the move by the Arab League and the Organization of Islamic Cooperation(OIC), the annexation will pass, as the transfer of the American embassy to Jerusalem did, and US administration recognition of the legitimacy of the settlements. The question remains, ‘Will the OIC and the Aran League at least this time, do not continue to put the Palestinians on the firing line and go beyond their idle rhetoric and prevail upon the UN and the international community to stop Trump-Bibi duo’s onslaughts on their dignity as well as Israeli impunity?

72 Years On! the Shameful Legacy of the Nakba Continues. The proposed annexation will bring a new calamity for Palestinians, similar to Nakba in 1948 and would constitute another chapter of dispossession for Palestinians in 2020. The 72nd anniversary of Nakba or cataclysm- a date inked in infamy for generations of Palestinians ” denoting 1948 expulsions by Zionist gangs in historical Palestine, cannot come at a worst time, when an extremist right-wing government in Israel is bent to expand its territory to all of historic Palestine. As Hanan Ashrawi, a member of the Palestinian Legislative Council[1] says ‘The annexation of Jordan Valley is an attempt to complete the catastrophe of 1948 and to completely liquidate the Palestinian cause. The US government, was a partner in crime at a time when the world was preoccupied with the outbreak of corona virus’. She, however, hoped that the European countries will speak against the annexation.

In reality for Palestinians, the Nakba thus does not just represent a historical event but a continuing process that began way before; in the 1880s as European Zionist settlers started moving into Palestine to lay the groundwork for their future state, up to this date. The dispossession of lands, homes and the creation of refugees have continued almost without pause since. The Nakba was also not an unintended result of war. It was a deliberate and systematic act necessary for the creation of a Jewish majority state in historic Palestine, which was overwhelmingly Arab prior to 1948. The Nakba, thus continues to live and breathe venom. The Nakba is not just about original refugees but their descendants – today some five million of them qualify for the services of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNWRA). In its current formulation, Israel knows only one direction: to deepen its domination over a people whose land it has stolen and continues to steal. [2]. The Zionist state of Israel continues to systemically and consistently deny Palestinian suffering, with the mainstream media across the world downplaying and misrepresents Nakba time and again.

Despite this continuing impunity, both the Arab and Muslim leaders have been adopting a laissez-faire approach with regard to violation of Palestinian dignity. At the OIC Summit 2018 held in Istanbul to protest the US embassy move to Jerusalem, Turkish President Erdogan stressed this by saying “The Islamic world failed Jerusalem. Muslim leaders are very good at fighting one another but are shy when fighting enemies of Islam”.

While the Palestinians continue to suffer under Israeli repression, the OIC (Organization of Islamic Cooperation) and most Muslim governments have largely abandoned the Palestinian cause of liberation. At a crucial time where the plight of the Palestinians calls for all the Muslim support they need, it is a shame to see the vicious attempt by Saudi Arabia and the UAE to normalise their relationship with criminal Israel. Israel is already driving conflict between Arabs and Palestinians to undermine their cause and strengthen its own position. Many Arab countries quietly cooperate with Israel on trade, security and other issues, and the once-common stance that Israel has no right to exist has lost some traction.

A drama called Exit 7 produced by Saudi Arabia’s MBC TV was a case in point . It recently contained a scene of two actors arguing about normalization with Israel. “Saudi Arabia did not gain anything when it supported Palestinians, and must now establish relations with Israel… The real enemy is the one who curses you, denies your sacrifices and support, and curses you day and night more than the Israelis,” one character says. Most saw it as part of a broader campaign to vilify Palestinians and rehabilitate Israel as part of warming ties between it and Gulf states. With their history of ‘cozying-up’ with the Zionist regime and given the level of state control in Gulf countries, it was certain that the show’s messaging must have been officially sanctioned.

There were however voices speaking up against Israel’s action. Jordan’s King Abdulla II, in an interview published by Der Spiegel recently, issued a stark warning over Israel’s plans.”Leaders who advocate a one-state solution do not understand what that would mean. What would happen if the Palestinian National Authority collapsed? There would be more chaos and extremism in the region. If Israel really annexed the West Bank in July, it would lead to a massive conflict with the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan. The UN’s special Middle East envoy Nickolay Mladenov said such a move would be a “devastating blow” to the internationally-backed two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, as the EU said annexing Palestinian territory “would constitute a serious violation of international law”. France is urging its European Union partners to consider threatening Israel with a tough response if it goes ahead with a de facto annexation of parts of the occupied West Bank. Belgium, Ireland and Luxembourg also want to discuss the possibility of punitive economic measures, though all member states would have to agree to any collective action.

However, despite European Union foreign ministers agreeing to step up diplomatic efforts to try to head off such a move, the past has shown that, classical Europe has been a neutral Europe, which doesn’t intervene against any injustice Israel commits. Europe, as always, will formulate statements, hold consultations, summon ambassadors – and stand on the side-lines. As Gideon Levy in an article published on 16th May 2020[3] says, ‘When it comes to Israel there are other rules, and a different international law, and different conduct. Fear of the United States on the one hand and guilt over the Holocaust on the other, together with the unbelievable efficiency and extortion efforts of the Zionist propaganda machine, stronger than any obligation to international law, than the obligation that Europe has to the fate of the Palestinians, and stronger than European public opinion, which is much more critical of Israel than any government… Four and a half million people will continue to suffocate without rights and without a future, and Brussels will go on patting itself on the back and feeling good about itself’.

In this context, given the cold shoulder shown by the so-called Arab stalwarts in the Gulf region, as well as the sheer arrogance of the Zionist criminal regime supported by its US backer US which flashes its veto at the mere mention of Israel, Palestine may feel abandoned. However, the Palestinians should not feel powerless. There is much they can do to stop Israeli expansionism. As Marwan Bishara correctly says in a Al-Jazeera article [4], ‘Surrender is not an option. Accepting the so-called “deal of the century” put forward by Trump and Bibi is to surrender to Israeli hegemony. It means living in captivity in perpetuity. As war and diplomacy come to a dead end, and as Israel dashes forward arrogantly grabbing and annexing more Palestinian land, Palestinians need to speak up and not let Netanyahu and Trump get off easy. Palestinians should no longer be satisfied with passive “steadfastness”. They need to reactivate and re-energise the popular base’. Bishara also speaks of ‘boosting Palestinian immunity’ by ‘offsetting Israel’s new attempts at dividing and ostracising them by improving business infrastructure and economic life to help people endure’ and ‘rebuilding alliances’ by rebuilding links to European, Latin American, African and other foreign solidarity movements. Palestinians also need to counter the Israeli-inspired campaign equating anti-Zionism with anti-Semitism.

Further, at the grass root levels, the Arabs in particular and the Muslims all over the world in general still see the struggle for justice in Palestine as a symbol and extension of their own fight for justice. While the effects of the Palestinian struggle on the conscience and sentiment of Arabs worldwide thus remain significant, for Palestinians to regain support and trust, they must however put up a unified front.

Overseas, Muslim grass root level organizations should also keep up the pressure on their governments to act against Israeli impunity and hold those in breach of international laws and human rights to account. The ‘Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions’ (BDS) movement has also been playing a pivotal role in this regard. In the West, for example, BDS has pulled liberals toward greater support for the Palestinians, making Israel an increasingly partisan issue in the US, associated less with Democrats and progressives than with Trump, evangelicals and the far right. In the UK, BDS has brought turmoil to courts and local councils, embroiling them in disputes over the legality of local boycotts of settlement goods. In the UK, BDS has brought turmoil to courts and local councils, embroiling them in disputes over the legality of local boycotts of settlement goods. It has compelled Israel’s more critical supporters to justify their opposition to non-violent forms of pressure on Israel, when the absence of real pressure has done nothing to bring occupation or settlement expansion to an end. In fact, as the Israeli-Palestinian conflict drags on, many Israelis worry that BDS will become more mainstream.

Thus, be it as it may, by the grace of Allah SWT, the Nakba has its own sumud, its own steady perseverance. The catastrophe has persisted for seven decades and will show no sign of abating. As Palestinian scholar Joseph Massad, a professor of modern Arab politics and history at Colombia University in New York, notes, there is a rationale in continuing to resist Nakba, and argues “In resisting the Nakba, the Palestinians have struck at the heart of the Zionist project that insists that the Nakba be seen as a past event. In resisting Israel, Palestinians have forced the world to witness the Nakba as present action; one that, contrary to Zionist wisdom, is indeed reversible,[5]

Globally, the Israeli occupation has been the greatest challenge to international law and the Charter of the United Nations. As the Israeli‑Palestinian conflict remains “locked in a dangerous paralysis that is fuelling extremism and exacerbating tensions”, there is a growing risk of more unilateral actions and the loss of hope that peace can be achieved through negotiations. The unreserved support of the US for Israel, has emboldened the Zionist regime to commit international crimes with impunity. Therefore, based on the global consensus on their right to self-determination and on the parameters of a just solution being strong, tangible steps are urgently needed to reverse a negative trajectory in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. It is “past high time” to redress a colonial foreign occupation that is rapidly mutating into apartheid.

Specifically, these continuing apathetic attitudes on the part of their Arab and Muslim brethren will not only harm the dignity of the Muslim world, but will also further reinforce the reversal of reality alive in the public mind boosted by a biased Western media that it is the Palestinians, the “Arabs” and the “Muslims” who are racist, anti-Semitic terrorists intent on ridding their region of a “Jewish” state. It is in this context that it is imperative for the Muslim world, in particular, to keep Nakba as a focal point of reference. It is necessary we remember and discuss it as a formative part of the history of the Palestinian struggle while working towards re-gathering global efforts to bring peace and the reality of a homeland closer to a people that have lived in catastrophe for near on a century and long for peace, freedom and security.

More importantly, as we Muslims are completing a month of fasting, worship and reflection, it is important to raise our hands in prayer to Allah SWT to grant the oppressed Palestinians the justice of a homeland they richly deserve and punish the oppressors.

Reckon not that God is heedless of the oppressors; rather He defers their punishment to a day in which eyes roll over and intellects evanesce. – Qur’an, 14:42

[1] https://www.aa.com.tr/en/middle-east/-israeli-plans-to-annex-west-bank-loaded-with-disaster-/1841979
[2] https://www.middleeasteye.net/opinion/nakba-palestine-Israel-climax-occupation
[3] https://www.haaretz.com/opinion/.premium-europe-s-disappointing-response-to-israeli-annexation-of-the-west-bank-1.8850785
[4] https://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/opinion/palestine-200518141158305.html
[5] https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2020/05/nakba-day-palestinians-historical-event-200512135241146.html

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