People across the world who seek justice do what they can and must to respond to the plight of Palestinians who remain trapped in a deepening cycle of violence, humiliation and despair. Palestinians have called out to their brothers and sisters in around the world as their suffering proliferates. They shed tears as they shout in anguish: “Enough is enough. No more words without deeds. It is time for action.” Since that call, churches, civil society, the human rights community around the world have individually and collectively advocated for justice on an pressing basis.
Yet, Palestinians suffer land theft, more settlements, forcible transfers, desecration of heritage and holy sites, random incarceration, killings and expulsions. On the other side, Israelis enjoy every single free gift on the land of historic Palestine, while Palestinians only receive statements of support from the international community. As if to pour unwarranted and added humiliation, Palestinians are encouraged to exercise restraint and accept incongruous solutions of which western countries are the architects. By contrast, Israelis collect real financial, military and political support from the same international community and a blind eye turned from the ruthless military aggression and infringement of the Palestinian rights. Even western aid to Palestine is not different opium. Its function is to attempt to silence Palestinians into silence and submission by focusing on survival needs, not a distant future rooted in freedom with justice. Palestinians recognize this but need to await their time to come. It will. It must.
Country leaders who visit the UN General Assembly every year and swear by peace have huge stakes in such a peace. But they must ask themselves: “Do we dare more than words”? This may be the time when countries must find every way possible to bring Israel to the table for talks that are genuinely justice oriented. The Madrid and Oslo models have caused deeper suffering for Palestine in the name of a durable peace. Mediators pulled wool over the eyes of the Palestinians offering a fictitious peace formula in which Palestinians lose more and more with each passing day. In the asymmetry that divides Palestine from Israel, Israel is easily winning for now.
Let us know this unarguable fact: ‘This is for now only’! Times will change’!
A dear friend of mine and a global partner in the Palestinian struggle for justice recently wrote to me in response to an editorial in Palestine Updates in which I argued that Hamas might be the only bulwark between Israel and the subjugation and political extermination of Palestinians. He asked: Is there no space for an authentic global movement that can bring about spot-on justice in Palestine-Israel that is not a mere patchwork settlement?
It was a question that deletes the notion that an armed struggle is inevitable. I was reminded of what Gandhi once told the British while they were into their most aggressive phase of colonialism. He said, we seek freedom through non-violence. But if you are cannot hear or comprehend our just claim, we know other methods too. Perhaps, non-violence has a shelf life that is not eternal.
In Israel’s current mood, and with a weak, though committed Peace Movement, and a reluctant international community, this idea of a peaceful end to the occupation is somewhat farfetched. And yet, it may be the ideal conclusion. But then, there must be interlocutors who have the courage to stand for truth and justice in a fair manner. This is neither within the purview of US political interests, nor with Europe, for that matter.
A new set of actors – perhaps, even eminent citizen-statespersons- from different parts of the world- a group of people with high credentials of fairness and a deep understanding of history, religion, and politics of justice. Such a group will need an African, an Asian, Latin American, a Pacific Islander, a Caribbean citizen, and Europeans and North Americans. The way forward lies outside the box not in the comfortable options irrational and short sighted politicians will choose. It is possible to laugh at the notion and blow it off. The state of play in Palestine-Israel that Israel is playing now with the referee and linepersons on the side of Israel. There is no level playing field. Plus the goal posts are constantly in a state of shift. It is simply unfeasible to have western regimes that have previously practiced colonialism step into the reconciliation arena.
Reconciliation requires justice as a precondition. Sadly, we miss a Mandela or a Tutu who would take us forward.
Ranjan Solomon is a Palestinian rights activist