We are all witness to what is happening in Palestine – deplorable, despicable, shameful, horrific and completely avoidable if only some good sense could prevail on all sides. Naturally we, the common people, Muslim or not, are anguished, perplexed and confused about why among those that have power, there is so much apathy and even active complicity with the aggressors and such a lack of sympathy for the oppressed.

AllahY made laws of success and failure in this life. These are as foolproof and as incontrovertible as the laws of physics, also established by AllahY. These laws must also be learned and taken into account if you want to succeed. For example AllahY said about being influential, victorious, powerful and leading people;

وَأَطِيعُواْ اللّهَ وَرَسُولَهُ وَلاَ تَنَازَعُواْ فَتَفْشَلُواْ وَتَذْهَبَ رِيحُكُمْ وَاصْبِرُواْ إِنَّ اللّهَ مَعَ الصَّابِرِينَ 

Anfal 8: 46. And obey Allah and His Messenger, and do not dispute (with one another) lest you lose courage and your strength depart, and be patient. Surely, Allah is with those who are As-Sabireen (those with staying power).

Now keeping this basic principle in mind – that this world runs according to the laws of AllahY and if you want something you have to follow that law; dua without a strategy or a strategy while disobeying AllahY won’t work – let us see what is happening in Palestine.

To understand this we have to go back in history. Jews were persecuted all over Europe, both in Eastern (Russia) and Western Europe for centuries. The pogroms of the Tsars of Russia or the Final Solution of Hitler are all historical events – as deplorable, despicable and tragic as what is happening in Palestine today and has been happening for the past sixty years. Ironically, the only place where Jews were not persecuted was in Muslim lands, under the Ottoman Empire and earlier rulers. But it appears that memories are short and gratitude is a forgotten art. Hitler’s genocide of six million innocent people was the final straw after which Europe could no longer hide its discriminatory policies against Jews. Meanwhile Jews in Europe, though Semitic originally, became very European and a great number today have little to do with their Semitic origins and are racially speaking, European. This is important to remember in order to understand the events that unfolded after World War II and the birth of the State of Israel.

Europe accepted its culpability in the genocide of Jews at the hands of Hitler but its centuries old prejudice against Jews wouldn’t allow it to do what would have been honorable, just and logical – give them a homeland in Europe. Carve it out of Germany which was responsible for their genocide, thereby making the German people rightfully pay the price of silently supporting Hitler and his goons. Neither did the European ruling America and Russia accept their collective guilt in allowing six million innocent people to die and therefore grant a homeland to the displaced Jews in America or Russia.

Events of history always favor those who are prepared to take advantage of them. The seeds of Zionism were planted in 1896 by Theodor Herzl, long before the Holocaust. He lived in Austria-Hungary and wrote about the need for a Jews Only state – erroneously referred to as a Jewish State. Herzl founded the Zionist Organization in 1897. Israel was formed by mostly atheist Zionists whose purpose was to create a state for ethnic Jews, not to create a theocracy; a state for Jews, not a Jewish state. Zionism is a political ideology, not a theology and has nothing in common with Judaism.

There is a very interesting conversation between Arthur Balfour, UK’s Foreign Secretary, and Chaim Weizmann, the representative of the Zionist Organization, which took place in 1906.
During the first meeting between Chaim Weizmann and Balfour in 1906, Balfour asked what Weizmann’s objections were to the idea of a Jewish homeland in Uganda, (the Uganda Protectorate in East Africa in the British Uganda Programme), rather than in Palestine. 

According to Weizmann’s memoir, the conversation went as follows:
“Mr. Balfour, supposing I was to offer you Paris instead of London, would you take it?” He sat up, looked at me, and answered: “But Dr. Weizmann, we have London.” “That is true,” I said, “but we had Jerusalem when London was a marsh.” He … said two things which I remember vividly. The first was: “Are there many Jews who think like you?” I answered: “I believe I speak the mind of millions of Jews whom you will never see and who cannot speak for themselves.” … To this he said: “If that is so you will one day be a force.”

 
Two months after Britain’s declaration of war on the Ottoman Empire in November 1914, Zionist British cabinet member Herbert Samuel circulated a memorandum entitled The Future of Palestine to his cabinet colleagues. The memorandum stated that “I am assured that the solution of the problem of Palestine which would be much the most welcome to the leaders and supporters of the Zionist movement throughout the world would be the annexation of the country to the British Empire”.


The Jews themselves were sick of Europe and Europeans and the growing anti-Semitism and had been actively planning for an independent country for Jews in Palestine. Their worst fears came true with Hitler’s horrific holocaust which was directed not only against the Jews but also against Gypsies and other so-called non-Aryan people. But the Jews by far exceeded all other ethnicities for the number of lives lost. The holocaust is one of those events in the history of mankind which one wishes had never happened but also illustrates how those who are prepared can take advantage of the worst calamities and turn them into opportunities.

The plan to create a Zionist state in Palestine was underway much before Hitler came into power with the Balfour Declaration of 2 November 1917.

“The Balfour Declaration (dated 2 November 1917) was a letter from the United Kingdom’s Foreign Secretary Arthur James Balfour to Baron Rothschild (Walter Rothschild, 2nd Baron Rothschild), a leader of the British Jewish community, for transmission to the Zionist Federation of Great Britain and Ireland.

His Majesty’s government view with favour the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people, and will use their best endeavours to facilitate the achievement of this object, it being clearly understood that nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine, or the rights and political status enjoyed by Jews in any other country.

The text of the letter was published in the press one week later, on 9 November 1917. The “Balfour Declaration” was later incorporated into the Sèvres peace treaty with the Ottoman Empire and the Mandate for Palestine.”

 


Figure 1The Balfour Declaration. Credit: Wikipedia

What came to the aid of the Zionists were the events of history and they were prepared to take every advantage. The great Ottoman Empire ceased to exist and was being dismembered and parceled off to local rulers who were puppets of the real rulers – British/American/European combine. The goal of finishing off the Khilafa Othmania or Islamia had been accomplished. Mustafa Kamal Pasha was enthroned on the Ottoman Throne with the mandate of demolishing the Khilafa which he did. However, two major problems remained – what to do with the Jews and how to ensure that a new Islamic Khilafa didn’t emerge if one day all the local rulers decided to unite under one banner.

The solution was very simple for anyone who’d read history and happened to have the strings of power in hand at the time. Create a ‘so-called historical Jewish homeland in Palestine’ which was the traditional land of the Abrahamic Faiths – Judaism, Christianity and Islam. Palestine was never Jewish alone after Titus finished with it and was always the common property of the three religions who claimed common lineage from Abraham (Ibrahimu). But at this point in history, Islam was on the back foot – the Ottoman Empire was dead and the local chiefs who had recently been given their own kingdoms were like kids in a toyshop – beyond care for anything other than the latest toy their money could buy. The Christian powers were the brokers and the Jews were more than ready to do the deal. And so the term Judeo-Christian came into being and Israel was born.

This served both the objectives – getting the Jews out of Europe and putting a Europe friendly power in the middle of the chicken coop of Arab countries which could be used in the future to keep any aspiring leaders in check and ensure that no puppet could break his string. That is why all the military aid, atomic weapons and a carte blanche to Israel – after all you don’t become tough on your own tool.

As for Palestinians, they were conveniently as weak then as they are now. They belonged to nobody and were fair game; open season was declared on them and this has not closed since then. As the saying goes, ‘As long as lions have historians, history will always glorify the hunt.’ Weakness has never been fashionable and as Hitler said, ‘Victors write their own history.’ The poet Iqbal put it very aptly when he said:

Taqdeer ke Qazi ka ye fatwa hai azal se
Hai jurm-e-zaeefi ki saza marg-e-mafaajaat

 
From the first day of creation the ruling of the Judge of destiny has always been
The punishment for the crime of weakness is sudden death


Now let us apply the laws of AllahY to this situation. As is mentioned in the Ayah above AllahY laid down two rules – adherence to the Kitaab wal Sunnah and Unified Strategy. Each is not sufficient by itself. They have to both exist simultaneously and work dynamically for the result to happen. The plane needs wings and an engine. Neither by itself is sufficient. The man making Dhikr and dua still needs to pull the rip cord of the parachute if he doesn’t want to die. The rule is the combination of its elements. Not either element by itself. The equation works when both sides interact. With only one side it is not an equation. To recollect what AllahY said:

وَأَطِيعُواْ اللّهَ وَرَسُولَهُ وَلاَ تَنَازَعُواْ فَتَفْشَلُواْ وَتَذْهَبَ رِيحُكُمْ وَاصْبِرُواْ إِنَّ اللّهَ مَعَ الصَّابِرِينَ 

Anfal 8: 46. And obey Allah and His Messenger, and do not dispute (with one another) lest you lose courage and your strength depart, and be patient. Surely, Allah is with those who are As-Sabireen (those with staying power).

The first part of the equation deals with the importance of personal piety and I have dealt with that in another article – without it there is no connection with AllahY and therefore no success.

Talking about the second part of the equation – Unified Strategy – there is probably no better example of what lack of unity can do than in the 13th century (1200-1260) when Genghiz Khan (in 1220) annihilated the Khwarazm Sultanate with its iconic cities of Samarkhand, Bukhara among many others which were iconic names in Islamic civilization and history. Entire populations were slaughtered, libraries burned, masaajid demolished, fields turned into grazing land for Mongol horses and cities razed to the ground. Khalifa An Nasir of Baghdad, the rival of Sultan Alauddin of Khwarazm, watched in delight as all this happened, not knowing of course what was to happen to his family and people in Baghdad.
In 1258 Hulegu Khan besieged Baghdad, the capital of the Abbasid Khilafa and upon its capture, executed Khalifa Al Musta’asim and burned the city to the ground. When Hulegu saw Musta’asim’s treasures he was so enraged that Musta’asim hadn’t used them to raise an army to defend his kingdom that he locked him up with the treasure and said, ‘Eat it as you are so fond of it.’ Musta’asim died there. The famous libraries of Baghdad and House of Wisdom were burned to the ground and the population decimated. This is considered the end of the Golden Age of Islamic Civilization.

But leaving all this history aside, if one were to ask, ‘What did we Muslims learn about the dangers of internal conflict and how is this learning reflected in our lives,’ we would be hard put to find an answer. It is almost as if we learnt nothing because if there is one thing that characterizes us as people, it is our internal conflicts, our intolerance for difference of opinion, our unwillingness to accept diversity and our impatience and anger with anyone who doesn’t agree with us. Our societies are rife with one group of Muslims calling another apostate (Kafir and Murtad) and on that pretext attacking and seeking to destroy them.

There is no unity even among the Palestinians themselves – the Fatah and Hamas conflict being clear all along. Israel has utilized this conflict to its own advantage for decades but Fatah and Hamas are unable to see through this. Palestinian politics is rife with corrupt leaders ever ready to sell their own people down the drain for their own interests. Their internal conflicts enable Israeli intelligence to know everything that happens there. The list of what is wrong in Palestine itself is long. But nothing different or particularly worse than the list for the rest of the Ummah. We can point a finger at Palestinians but three relentlessly point back at us.

As for the lack of unity among Muslim rulers – the only thing that they can agree on is that they can’t agree on anything. And by the look of it – not even a single statement against what is happening in Palestine/Gaza just now – it doesn’t seem that we are going to see any unity in a hurry. Muslim rulers are terrified of democracy in any form or shape and they will do anything in their power to stop anything that remotely looks like a democracy arising anywhere near them. Their sponsors and supporters, thanks to whom they retain their thrones, love to talk about democracy and posture as its protectors and promoters – but in reality democracy is the last thing they want in their client regimes. They would rather install or support dictators and deal with one man, no matter how corrupt or oppressive, than dealing with a democratically elected government of the people. Nothing is more clearly evidence of this than the reinstallation of dictatorship in Egypt.

Meanwhile Israel, the genesis of which was hatred and fear and which survives on this ideology and this image is what sustains it and ensures that it gets both an unlimited expense account and a James Bond License to Kill – will continue to do what it always did – keep that image of being the bastion of protection for the West alive. Israel has sold to the West the key message – WiiFM – What’s in it for Me? As somebody said, ‘Israel says that it is our only friend in the Middle East. But before Israel, we had no enemies in the Middle East.’ Western leaders are not willing to look at this fact at all. The West considers Israel essential for its own safety. Israel will never do anything to debug this myth. It is not in the interest of Israel to do so. Its entire communication and propaganda machine is geared to ensuring that the Free Press is free to report only what is beneficial to keeping this myth alive and that all real information that may threaten to lift the curtain is instantly suppressed and killed. One can hardly blame Israel for not wanting to kill the goose that lays golden eggs.

No matter how much one may wish for the natural cooperation that should be the logical outcome of population, skill and technology demographics of Israel-Palestine – where Jewish technology and Palestinian work could make the desert flower – the desert flowers on usurped land, stolen water and the blood of innocents. All because if Palestinians and Israelis cooperated, Western (American) Military aid would lose its meaning and the carte blanche in global morality would cease to exist. That would be a very expensive bargain, especially given the history of sixty years of brutal oppression that Israel has written into its story.

Also at stake is the largest fresh water aquifer on which Gaza and a lot of inconvenient Palestinians are sitting. That water is wealth beyond belief for water starved Israel and the lives of a few Palestinians which may be the cost that Israel has to pay is very easy to do. Killing is always easier than dying. Another carrot is the gas reserves on the Palestinian coast which have recently come to light which Israel has no intention of allowing Palestinians to benefit from.

To come to the aid of Israel is sixty years of planning, investment, intelligent use of natural and human resources to ensure that no decision is ever taken in any forum which can be remotely inimical to Israel’s interests. Israelis may have internal conflicts among themselves and Israeli politics is as dog eat dog as any other, but they are a unified force when it comes to Israel’s collective interests. I wish one could say that about Muslims – that they also unite when it comes to the interests of Islam. But we know the sad truth.

Hamas’s strategy of armed resistance is obviously not working and is instead being used as an excuse for Israel’s expansion plans, legitimizing (at least in the minds of their sponsors) genocide of civilian populations and massive destruction of humanity. Hamas’s ineffective toy rockets are answered by highly effective F16 and Apache helicopter bombing with catastrophic results. Why Hamas doesn’t rethink its strategy is something that I have no answer for. But obviously they need to do that urgently.

The comparison made with the armed struggle of South African people against its own apartheid regime doesn’t really fit because apartheid on the basis of color and race has lost all credibility and support and though it still remains in the hearts of many, it is simply untenable in public. No political leader can call for it and expect to remain in power. However, the same is not the case with religious and ethnic (Semitic only) prejudice. It is possible for Israeli leaders to call for ‘Death to all Arabs’, ‘Kill Muslim children’, ‘create concentration camps in Gaza’ and such things and still survive and thrive. The world doesn’t find this as reprehensible as it found white supremacy ideology of the South African apartheid regime. So whereas it sanctioned South Africa until the apartheid regime came to its knees, it doesn’t lift a finger against Israel, who despite being the killer plays victim very successfully.

Secondly, what is different in this freedom struggle from that of South Africa is the attitude of neighboring countries. In the case of South Africa, neighboring countries opened their borders to freedom fighters to cross over into safe territory, permitted them to have training camps for their fighters, allowed equipment and supplies to come through their countries – all to support a cause they considered just. They also used all their diplomatic power to lobby for the freedom of Black people from the apartheid regime in all international fora. Countries in Europe, UK being at the forefront, stood firmly behind the freedom struggle and the leaders of the struggle operated from UK for years.

However in the case of the Palestinian struggle, their neighboring countries are doing the opposite. They are, if anything, more hostile to them than Israel. They have sealed their borders and are not even allowing medicines to go through. Their military personnel are infiltrating into Palestine to gather intelligence on behalf of Israel in order to destroy Hamas. The fact that Hamas is the duly elected government of Palestine means nothing to them or to their masters, who harp about democracy from the rooftops but strongly support dictatorships – all without batting an eyelid. As mentioned earlier, this is the same logic that prevailed in Egypt where the duly elected government was declared ‘terrorist’ and a dictator was installed and called the ‘elected President’. The Arab Spring – sprang into the lap of dictatorship once again. Palestinian freedom fighters therefore are completely alone without a single friend in any government, with the exception of the Government of South Africa and now several Latin American countries which still support the anti-apartheid freedom struggle.

Another question that is often asked is why Gandhian non-violent civil disobedience didn’t work in the South African freedom struggle even though Gandhiji started propagating it in South Africa. Gandhiji’s philosophy was eventually tried and tested in India and it worked very well in getting rid of British Colonial Rule. But in South Africa it was tried and failed and so was abandoned and armed resistance was adopted and eventually succeeded in gaining freedom for the black people from white apartheid rule. I asked one of my friends, a famous senior freedom fighter in the South African freedom struggle who spent over two decades in prison, this question. His answer, ‘The Apartheid Regime didn’t play by the rules like the British in India did.’ And that is precisely the reason why a non-violent movement will probably not work in Palestine either – the Zionists don’t play by the rules. Rachel Corrie was murdered by an Israeli bulldozer driver while she was attempting to protest peacefully against the illegal demolition of a Palestinian home.

The bigger tragedy is that nobody, including her own government, supported her non-violent action, nor did they criticize or punish the bulldozer driver who murdered her. The message to the Palestinian people was clear – non-violence doesn’t work.

The final, unusual feature in this whole game is the situation of massive civilian support for Palestine and against Israeli aggression. What is amazing however is the extent of civilian support for Palestine yet its apparent ineffectiveness in changing the situation on the ground. Social Media has played a vital role in exposing the truth to the general public so that despite state control of so-called mainstream media and Israeli influence on major media channels like CNN, Fox, BBC and others which enables them to use these channels as their propaganda machine, common people are able to get real information directly from the frontline from people who are directly affected.

Another tactic which seems to be working very well and the success of which must be attributed to Social Media – especially Twitter and Facebook – is the movement to boycott products made in Israel and Occupied Palestine. YouTube brought images to the public that mainstream television was trying to hide. Boycotting products gave the public a way to take action that is legal and in their power to do. Social Media made it possible to connect across international boundaries. We hope that all this will bring about change on the ground before it is too late.

Problem definitions are always easy for someone who has the benefit of perspective, a function of distance. The solution is also very simple to envisage in this case All people of conscience must learn to unite on justice; understand that injustice to one is injustice to all. For Muslims, follow the Book of AllahY and the Sunnah of His Messengerr and show the rest of the world how Arabs and Palestinians are not only not a threat but a big asset to the world. How to make it happen? Implementation is always the key. And only action can get results.

Notwithstanding all of the above, it is entirely possible that we may all be in for a huge surprise – and I for one am praying for it – where the huge involvement of civil society in upholding human rights and speaking out against murder and genocide may bear fruit and give justice to the Palestinians.

The reality is that when the bombs stop falling the Palestinians will have the freedom to live in their land, minus their homes, without electricity, water, schools, hospitals and all the conveniences and security that we take for granted in even the poorer countries. And Israel will still have the wall, the check points, the right and power to humiliate, violate, imprison and kill Palestinians without question. So really what kind of life is that? And of course I am not even talking about dealing with the psychological trauma of bereavement and desolation in their lives for no fault other than being in the wrong place – so to speak.

It is essential for the world to remember that the challenge for all people of conscience is not merely to stop the bombing but to ensure that this never happens again. The only way to achieve that is to ensure that justice is done, murder is punished and its perpetrators are brought to book. Its supporters must be taught a lesson that they won’t forget in a hurry. Only then will a soldier think twice before pulling the trigger, when he has a child’s face in the cross hairs of his telescopic sight.

Only then will we once again dare to call ourselves human.

—–
References:
“Balfour Declaration.” Wikipedia: The Free Encyclopedia. Wikipedia Foundation, Inc. 25 July 2014. Web. 3 August 2014. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Balfour_Declaration>

Chossudovsky, Michel. “War and Natural Gas: The Israeli Invasion and Gaza’s Offshore Gas Fields.” Global Research. Global Research, 08 Jan. 2009. Web. 05 Aug. 2014.

Fadhel, Mohammad. “Israel Wants Palestine’s Water and Gas.” Newsletter. Gulfnews.com, 27 July 2014. Web. 05 Aug. 2014.
Parry, Nigel. “Photostory: Israeli Bulldozer Driver Murders American Peace Activist.” The Electronic Intifada. The Electronic Intifada, 16 Mar. 2003. Web. 06 Aug. 2014.