By *Jomo Sanga Thomas
(“Plain Talk” Oct. 13, 2023)
“I have ordered a complete siege on the Gaza Strip. There will be no electricity, no food, no fuel; everything is closed.” — Israeli Defence Minister Yoav Gallant.
“We are opposed to the injustice of the illegal occupation of Palestine. We are opposed to the indiscriminate killing in Gaza. We are opposed to the indignity meted out to Palestinians at checkpoints and roadblocks…Their humiliation is familiar to black South Africans who were corralled, harassed, insulted and assaulted by the security forces of the apartheid government.” — Archbishop Desmond Tutu.
Any decent human being concerned about the dignity of his fellow man will immediately condemn the criminal and fascistic tactics of the Israeli government. They should also conclude that the blood of Palestinians is not only on the hands of the Israeli murderers. Equally guilty, in fact, far more guilty of these crimes are the United States and the European Union leaders, who instinctively support and defend the cruel policies of the Jewish leaders in Tel Aviv.
To understand the conflict in Palestine, it is crucial to bear the following in mind. Beginning in 1947 with the formation of Israel, the Palestinians have lost more than 75% of their lands due to Israel’s deliberate policy of land theft. Hundreds of Palestinian towns and villages have been destroyed, and close to one million Palestinians have been exiled to make room for benighted Jewish settlers who come from wherever and assume more rights than Palestinians.
Gaza is smaller than St. Vincent. It is five miles wide and 25 miles long. Gaza is home to 2.5 million people. Most of them are refugees, or children of refugees chased from their homes. Gaza is the most densely populated parcel of land on earth. More than 50% of the residents are children. Half of the population is unemployed. Youth unemployment runs at 60%. More than 50% of the population experiences chronic food insecurity.
But there is more. In January 2006, Western-sponsored parliamentary elections were held in Gaza and the West Bank. President Jimmy Carter witnessed these elections. He declared them to be honest and fair. Hamas won the overwhelming majority of the votes in Gaza. Israel immediately imposed a land, sea and air blockage. The American and European leaders imposed sanctions. The puppet government in Egypt, led by the butcher, President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi, colludes with Israel and the West to maintain the blockade. No one goes in or out of Gaza without the expressed permission of the Israelis or Egyptians. Therefore, attacks deep inside Israel by the Hamas guerrillas speak to their sophistication, organisation and heroism.
The population of Gaza is trapped. David Cameron, the conservative Prime Minister of the UK, described Gaza as an open-air prison. Israeli historian Elan Pappe and Jewish-American political scientist have described Gaza as “the largest concentration camp” in the history of the world.
The foregoing is the context in which we must view the cycling despair and rage that burst through the media headlines ever so often. The Hamas actions in Israel that began last Saturday are a cry of the poor and dispossessed. They are the ones in need of international support, not the Israeli leaders who have no regard for international law and human rights.
Therefore, when Western leaders denounce the Palestinian resistance, they engage in a mealy-mouth moral dance that is nothing short of hypocrisy. CARICOMs call on both sides to end the violence is similar. You cannot continually punch me in the mouth and expect me to be a good, obedient citizen.
International law provides for occupied nations and dominated people the right to resist. CARICOM’s statement misses the mark when it fails to denounce Israel’s continued occupation of Palestinian lands and its imposition of apartheid policies towards the Palestinians.
The proper position is to be found in the expressions of Yanis Varoufakis, the former Greek Foreign minister and leader of the Democracy in Europe Movement, who on Tuesday urged Europeans “to wake up and redeem themselves by working for the destruction of the state of apartheid against Palestinians”. Varoufakis blamed Europeans for its “complicity in Israel’s crime against humanity in Palestine”.
The former Greek Finance minister continued:
“Those who try very hard to extract from people like me a condemnation of the attack by the Hamas Guerrillas will never get it. And they will never get it for a very simple reason. Those who care about humans without discrimination; those who care equally about Jews and Arabs, must ask themselves a very simple question: What exactly is their idea of cessation of hostilities? That the Palestinians are going to lay down their arms and go back into the largest open-air prison in the world. Where they are constantly suffocated by the apartheid state… Any human being living under apartheid at some point will either die a terrible silent death or rebel and take some innocent people with them.’
Western media decry Hamas’ act of righteous indignation. President Biden calls the Hamas resistance “evil”. French President Immanuel Macron condemned Hamas’ action saying, “We make clear that the terrorist actions of Hamas have no justification, no legitimacy, and must be universally condemned.”
In which moral universe do these Western leaders reside? On Tuesday, Daniel Hagari, an Israeli defence spokesman, told that Israeli bombings are killing innocent men, women and children, including entire families, declared, “The emphasis is on damage, not on accuracy.”
Collective punishment is universally recognised as a violation of international law and a war crime. However, the Israelis and the Western leaders view Palestinians as subhumans. Defence Minister Yoav Gallant said the people in Gaza are “animals and will be treated as such”.
There has been no condemnation of such intemperate language or disproportionate military action by Israel. In a show of support, Anthony Blinkin, American secretary of state, rushed to Israel. He was accompanied with plane loads of American munitions.
There can be no peace without justice. The Palestinian resisters have clearly taken the words of Jamaican poet Claude Mc Kay to heart.
‘If we must die—let it not be like hogs
Hunted and penned in an inglorious spot,
While round us bark the mad and hungry dogs,
Making their mock at our accursed lot.
If we must die—oh, let us nobly die,
So that our precious blood may not be shed
In vain; then, even the monsters we defy
Shall be constrained to honour us though dead!
*Jomo Sanga Thomas is a lawyer, journalist, social commentator and a former senator and Speaker of the House of Assembly in St. Vincent and the Grenadines.
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