Open letter to UK Government

Palestine Protest
People expressing support for the Palestinians march through Hyde Park towards the Israeli embassy

For the attention of:

UK Prime Minister – Rishi Sunak;

UK Home Secretary- Suella Braverman;

UK Foreign Secretary- James Cleverly,

and all those who blindly support Israel in its oppression of the Palestinian people and by doing so, recklessly support the escalation of conflict into a major global war.

While Israel pounds Gaza, with the intent to bomb Palestinian civilians ‘back to the Stone Age’, I am struggling to understand why the UK Government has blatantly taken the position to support Israel. Israel has and continues to commit War Crimes, besides defying with impunity more UN resolutions that any other country. UK Government buildings have been flying the Israeli flag. Contrast this to the treatment Home Secretary, Suella Braverman, wanted metered out to those of us who, through critical and informed analysis, have chosen to support the oppressed by flying Palestinian flags. Fortunately some level of sanity still prevails in this country as many police chief constables have openly challenged the home secretary’s government directive. Rallies with demonstrators carrying Palestinian flags in support of the right of Palestinians to resist oppression, have taken place across the country without police intervention.

They say the first casualty of war is truth. I hear the rhetoric that Hamas are the terrorists and Israel, is the victim. This fiction is repeated over and over again as if by saying it adfinitum will make it true. With or without Hamas as the elected government, there was always going to be a time when Palestinian resistance was coordinated and strong enough to rise up and challenge the occupation of their land. By labelling Hamas a terrorist organisation, separate and acting against the interests of the Palestinian people, the UK government has been ruthlessly dismissive of the rights of Palestinians to self determination and of their internationally recognised legal right to armed resistance against a brutal occupying power. The choice Palestinians faced in Gaza was to die a slow genocidal death imprisoned in their concentration camp, or to breakout. And breakout they did, quite spectacularly.

I don’t celebrate any form of violence, but I also can’t condemn violent resistance against an oppressor. Israel has tacitly been allowed to commit war crimes against Palestinians without ever being seriously called to account. The decades long oppression of the Palestinian people is a fact that cannot be denied however hard our Western governments and media might like to air brush it out. That doesn’t mean I don’t grieve for the loss of human life in all of these globally inspired conflicts. The death, the injuries, the suffering and the psychological damage wars inflict upon innocent people… the children especially, is sad and reprehensible beyond words.

The Palestinians are a dignified resilient people. It was inevitable that at some point they were going to break out of their insufferable prison life. The Gazan people have been held captive in the Gaza concentration camp for 16years were they have been deprived of clean water, adequate food and medical supplies. Israel controls everything that comes through the checkpoints besides controlling how much water and electricity is available in Gaza. The airport and seaport that was built by Palestinians was destroyed by Israel years ago cutting Gaza off from, not only their families in the West Bank but from the rest of the world. Half the population are children who don’t even have the right to sleep soundly in their beds because they never know when an Israeli bomb is going to tear their homes and lives apart.

Netanyahu says “leave.”

Leave where? Palestinians have been fleeing from their homes since 1948. If leaving had offered them protection, maybe they wouldn’t have risen up quite so decisively. The reality is that wherever Palestinians have fled; Refugee camps in Gaza, West Bank, Egypt, Jordan, Syria and Lebanon, the rockets and massacres have followed. Israel has never defined its borders for good reason. With inferred support/plausible denial from Western leaders, israel have been allowed to take what land it wants since it was first established.

I’ve spent time with Palestinian families in Gaza, West Bank and Lebanese refugee camps. I’ve met very young orphaned children in Gaza who were so traumatised they could no longer speak or engage in any way. I’ve been in the West Bank when Israeli tank forces have come into Palestinian towns with guns, shooting at civilians who didn’t get off the streets or made the mistake of peering out of windows. Through the introduction of a friend who was present during the 1982 Christian Falange and Israeli massacre of Sabra/Shatilla, I’ve come to know the families of victims and heard their horrific accounts of what happened. This massacre, of an estimated 3,000, occurred after Israel said they would withdraw from Lebanon if all the PLO, and men of fighting age left. The UN promised to protect the remaining women, children and old men, so the men left trusting their families would be safe. Such betrayal is beyond words.

This relentless cruelty has been inflicted on the Palestinian people simply because they exist and refuse to go away. Their existence challenges the lie that, as Golda Meir once said; “there was no such thing as Palestinians”, and that Palestine was an empty land just waiting for a people to make the desert bloom. Palestine, as those who have occupied it now pretend not to know, was a land with flourishing orange and olive groves, beautiful buildings and homes. Before the event of Zionism really taking hold, Palestine had a long and rich cultural history where Muslims, Christians and Jews lived in relative harmony.

As Palestinians struggle to stay alive there has been no talk of raining in Israeli aggression and seeking a just resolution to this century old injustice from either Israel or Whitehall. In fact the opposite. For the US and UK to send war ships into the Mediterranean, amidst Israel’s expansion of tension to neighbouring countries, serves as a reckless provocation to all those countries who have been rightly horrified by the brutality inflicted upon Palestinian civilians. What we are witnessing is a UK government that not only fails to understand the decades long root caused of oppression suffered by the Palestinians, but also fails to take any responsibility, for the historical disaster British policy has wrought upon the Palestinian people.

By supporting a Jewish State on Palestinian land, Britain, America and the UN, have not only alienated most of the Arab world, they also created the potential for major global conflict. We see that conflict playing out now as countries line up to declare their allegiances. Isreal has made it clear they are looking to expand this conflict to other regions. Besides the ongoing threat to bomb Iran, Israel has recently been flying war planes over Beirut and demonstrated further aggression by firing rockets into southern Lebanon and dropping bombs on Syrian airports.

To keep victim-hood and the myth of Israel defending itself Western Governments and media have labelled Palestinians, along with anyone defending Palestinians as terrorist. By coming out totally in support of Israel, the UK government isn’t only supporting hate speech, it is actively promoting hatred, violence and war.

Heather Stroud is an activist

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