Are all the world’s so-called top leaders going to sit like mute spectators even as hundreds are getting killed and hounded and pounded, in and around Palestine? Why can’t peace talks or a dialogue start off right now… bringing along some level of ceasefire or truce? Why can’t deaths and destruction be somehow or anyhow halted? Killings, whether of Israelis or of the Palestinians, got to halt and now and immediately, before the situation gets compounded with arms lobbies and arms dealers get readied to supply more war equipment!
Where is the United Nations? Where are all the forums and platforms set up for peace? Where are the politicians of the day who come up with speeches after speeches with those lofty promises! All seems such a farce … sheer synthetic stuff in today’s synthetic setup!
In fact, if only there had come up a permanent solution to the Palestinian crisis, then perhaps lives and livelihoods of the innocent masses be saved. It is an alarming and a very depressing situation. For years and decades there have been complete disasters taking place in that region. What, with human beings killed or made to sit uprooted, refugees in their own territory. Tension had been mounting in the region right from the spring of this year (2023), when even worshipers in the Al-Aqsa Mosque were not spared by the Israeli forces, yet seemingly little efforts made by any of the so-called world leaders to contain those targeted attacks and killings.
To quote the New Delhi based academic- author, Professor V K Tripathi on this current disaster taking place: “I am deeply pained by the escalation of Palestine-Israel conflict. The surprise attack by Hamas forces into Israel and killing of 600 people was a matter of condemnation. So is the much fiercer counter offensive by Israel, that has already killed over two thousand people in last two days and put Gaza on seize. However, passive condemnation of violence is not nonviolence or humanism. Look at the ground reality of the people indulged and affected by the conflict. Palestinians in Gaza and West Bank have been in a state of continued repression and occupation by the Israeli regime for years. The people of Israel have been living in suspicion of surprise attack by Palestinian militants. The Israeli regime is immensely more powerful and backed by USA, hence, life for Israelis has been much better off than for Palestinians. Both the people have right to live in peace and earn their livelihood with dignity. Israeli regime has to understand this. Hamas must repent for its outburst. You can’t play the game of occupiers, put lives of Israeli and Palestinian citizens in peril.… I have been bothered by Israel-Palestinian question since1982 when Israel carried a war on Lebanon and killed 20 thousand Palestinians. I decided to leave USA and returned to India in January 1982 as Professor of Physics at IIT Delhi, hoping that I will be able to inculcate nonviolent activism in India and Third World countries. However, I have not been able to do anything beyond superficial talking. I am pained our PM can’t see the folly of continued oppression.”
There ought to be a permanent and lasting solution of the Palestinian issue. It is unfortunate that the earlier Peace accords failed even before they could be implemented. I recall one of the former Palestinian envoys to India, Osama Musa, telling me during the course on an interview, “I’ve earlier served as Commander of my country’s Air Force and then when the Oslo Agreement was signed in 1994, I was appointed Chairman of the Regional Security Committee which was meant to oversee the implementation of the Agreement on the Palestinian side, but that Agreement failed … today the situation in Palestine is so bad that it is Israel which decides everything, including the mass killings of our children! Today America-backed Israel controls our lands, our lives! Can’t America see the disasters taking place! And I can tell you that without America’s support, Israel is zero. Israel cannot survive a single day if America didn’t support it!”
And when I had interviewed the well-known Arab academic, Clovis Maksoud – who was then Professor of International Relations and director of the Centre for Global South at the American University in Washington and before that he had served as the Arab League ambassador to India from 1961-66 and later ambassador to the United Nations and the US – he’d dwelt on the significant fact that people of the Arab countries had come to realize that there was vested interests of “outsiders”, to destroy their lands. During our conversations, Clovis detailed why the Arab world was not taking on foreign intrusions, “There is a broad strategic dependence of the Arab States on the US, based on the false assumption that the US is the only power that can make Israel respond to the Palestinian issue. This dependence is flawed because Israel has flouted all international norms. Israel is the only country in the world that has never declared its boundaries since 1967… It has not acknowledged the fact that it’s an occupying power and given itself the license to expand its settlements. This has meant violating UN resolution of the 4th Geneva Convention that does not allow any occupying power to alter the boundaries of the country it occupies… At the same time the US has chosen to make Israel its principal ally and this has given Israel the license to defy the UN convention with impunity.”
I have attended Press Conferences of fiery Palestinian envoys to India and the emotions they generated amongst the Indian masses. I do recall rather too vividly that warm hug that Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat gave Indira Gandhi when she had hosted an elaborate reception for him here in New Delhi. Indira Gandhi’s office had sent invites to even middle rung Muslim families besides the usual list of the Who’s Who. Of course, those were the days when there were no security phobias. No hyped statements. That was phase of Government of India’s close bonding with Palestine.
Today, of course, political slants and the political build-ups on every possible front stare in the face. Compounding the situation is Indian government’s more than apparent slant towards Israel and Allies. This pro-Israel tilt more than obvious right from 2014, peaking in the summer/July of 2017, when Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi made a trip to Israel, equipped with a long shopping list, to buy or order the latest military equipment.
What a contrast to India’s stand under Jawaharlal Nehru and Indira Gandhi. In fact, Jawaharlal Nehru’s vision and policies vis-a vis West Asia made the entire region tilt towards India. He was clear and forthright about his firm stand on the Palestine territory and the genuine rights of the Palestinians. And with that, had made the Palestinians and the Arabs strong allies of India. Today there’s no Nehru and there’s little trace of the connect with the Palestinian masses.
Ending this week’s column by this verse of SUCHITA PARIKH-MUNDUL (Amity Peace Poems, Hawakal Publishers):
is full of historic syllables,/
many of which are anchored/
to the invisible sound/
of violins. Familiar consonants/
with the fullness of vowels/
are always promising/
to soften the edges of conflict./
Messages we’ve heard (and those/
we never will) have been gathering /
discreetly like footnotes,/
filling eyes, touching lips/
with deep lines./
Ah, rhetoric. Its parenthetical/
Smile must be liberated.’
Humra Quraishi is a Gurgaon based independent writer-columnist-journalist.