From Oslo to agony: Palestinian sacrifices must not go in vain

Contrasting response to Gaza, Ukraine unveil troubling parallels in geopolitical landscape

Published : 28 Nov 2023 09:15 PM

The ongoing conflict in Gaza has escalated to what can only be characterised as nothing but a genocide, with the current completely unequal war being seen as a golden chance for the ruthless Israeli majority to achieve their aspirations, taking advantage of the substantial support that the western powers are extending.

Regrettably, expressions of grief and sorrow alone offer little respite from the relentless aggression. Historically, the Palestinians have sought a major compromise with the Oslo Accords.

Yet, some Palestinians opposed such settlements, inadvertently serving the narrative of the Israeli right, which claims the absence of a reliable Palestinian partner for peace. This claim, while now part of history, continues to influence the discourse.

The Western response to the situation in Gaza stands in stark contrast to their more decisive stance in the case of Ukraine. Upon closer examination, these two situations share troubling similarities, with the situation in Gaza arguably being even more dire.

In Gaza, basic necessities like water, food, and medicine are used as weapons in the conflict, which saw hospitals being targeted in a deliberate effort to prolong the suffering and increase casualties.

Most of these atrocities have been committed in line with the Zionist theory, leading to actions such as demolishing buildings with residents and insufficiently addressing the medical needs of the wounded.

Hundred year war on Palestine

There’s no better way to grasp the historical context than by delving into Rashid Khalidi’s book, “The Hundred Years’ War on Palestine.” Khalidi’s book goes beyond the establishment of the State of Israel in 1948, shedding light on the tumultuous years under the British Mandate that preceded it.

During this period, Arab-populated cities were often subjected to bulldozing, while the indigenous population endured hunger, poverty, and oppression, particularly during the First World War and the 1936—1939 revolution known as “The Palestinian Revolution Against Jewish Immigration.”

Khalidi’s book reveals shocking statistics, such as the claim that approximately 10 per cent of adult Arab males in Palestine lost their lives during this tumultuous time. Furthermore, in just a decade between 1930 and 1939, the percentage of Jewish immigrants to Palestine under the Mandate surged from 18 per cent to over 30 per cent.

In the aftermath of the war, international conferences played a pivotal role in shaping the region’s future. However, Khalidi notes that neither the Arab nor Palestinian perspectives were adequately represented in these conferences. To put it in Khalidi’s words, “in those conferences that determined the fate of the region, there was one fez amid many hats.”

Western powers have decided at the time to grant Palestine to the Jewish people in the hope they can address the “Jewish question.” Western Jews, particularly capitalists, pursued this goal with considerable determination and organisation. Rashid Khalidi highlighted a significant historical event — the 1905 Aliens Act in Britain — as an example. 

This law aimed to deny asylum to Jews fleeing persecution under the Russian Tsar at the time.

Following the establishment of Israel in 1948, the Zionist doctrine evolved into a form of “social engineering” with the goal of “ethnic cleansing”, albeit under different banners. One of the challenges faced by the indigenous population was the significant ownership of Palestinian land by “absentee owners” residing in cities like Beirut or Damascus.

This situation facilitated the acquisition of land by Zionist financiers, who transformed these areas into “agricultural settlements for newcomers” before arming them. This process bears a resemblance to more recent developments, but in this case, it involved land usurpation and the creation of armed settlements, often inhabited by individuals with a reputation for brutality.

Highlighting the absence of a well-defined strategy for Palestinian resistance against what he terms “settler colonialism,” Khalidi noted that the Palestinians faced a historical challenge of lacking strong leadership in a society characterised by a “patriarchal and hierarchical agrarian” structure.

Racist attitude of Zionists

Furthermore, the use of derogatory rhetoric has long been a component of Zionist strategy. This continues to exist, as exemplified by recent statements such as “human animals.” Shockingly, one of the Israeli officials even suggested using nuclear weapons, further reinforcing this disparaging perspective.

Khalidi noted that many Israelis perceive themselves as “front lines of civilisation against barbarism,” which may explain why some Israeli media have gone so far as to compare the events of Oct. 7 to Daesh.

On the other hand, some Arabs continue to undermine efforts to comprehend the conflict, both in the past and in the present. There is often a lack of commitment to adopting a rational, scientific approach when confronting Israeli arrogance.

Over time, the region has experienced an accumulation of pain and widespread instability in Arab countries, exacting a substantial humanitarian toll. 

The rise of modern social media has exacerbated the problem, diverting the Arab public into perplexing labyrinths and reshuffling their priorities, thereby missing opportunities for a more lucid understanding of the issue.

In recent weeks, there has been a heated exchange of accusations among Arabs, reaching a distressing level, with some directing their criticism towards fellow Arabs, including Egyptians, Moroccans, and Gulf nationals. Unfortunately, the latter two groups have borne the brunt of this vitriol.

Even the Palestinian Authority has not been spared. Some have issued ominous warnings, drawing parallels between the current situation and the events of 1948. It’s crucial to recognise that these military regimes often brought about oppression, poverty, and the loss of Arab land. Ultimately, these explanations serve little purpose other than to propagate unfounded conspiracy theories.

Politically speaking, the situation in Gaza must be transformed into an environment where the prevailing extremist elements become a minority. This can be achieved by supporting an Israeli faction that is willing to embrace coexistence with a Palestinian state. The sacrifices made by the people of Gaza should not go in vain.

Mohammad Alrumaihi is a thinker, author and Professor of Political Sociology at Kuwait University

Source: Gulf News