What has changed in the intervening years, from my ardent support for Israel which I think was pretty prevalent among most people at the time, to the widespread condemnation of the recent vicious warfare in Gaza, is the fact that people now have access to far more information about what’s going on in the world.
If we relied on conventional media, we would have had no idea of what was happening in Gaza – only what was allowed by Israel and supine media outlets too much intertwined with Zionist interests to publish the truth.
But nowadays we have social media – mobile phones, tablets, Twitter, Google, Facebook and other independent news outlets who are showing the carnage as it is – doctors, nurses and medical staff killed when hospitals are bombed; paramedics killed when ambulances are fired on; dead babies and children carried out of the rubble of smashed homes; elderly men and women grief-stricken as they see their homes destroyed; medical staff like Dr Mads Gilbert pleading for an end to the insanity because hospitals are overwhelmed with the dead, the dying, the injured; people praying under the ruins of a mosque bombed to smithereens.
And in the face of silence from leaders in Europe, the UK and the US, I would ask how loud their howls would be if synagogues were bombed by Palestinian resistance fighters at the same levels mosques, religious buildings for Islamic people, have been flattened in Gaza. And how loud would the US, British, Israeli and European howls have been if Palestinians had bombed Israel on Holocaust Remembrance Day or another other religious observance day in that country, whereas it’s okay to bomb Gaza during Ramadan, the holiest month of the year for Muslims, and during Eid-Al-Fitr, an important religious festival for Islamic people following on from Ramadan?
In the past few weeks we’ve seen huge support building up for the people of Gaza. Tens of thousands have marched around the world to support Palestinian people and condemn the slaughter by the Israeli Armed Forces. It is people on the street who have come out against the injustice perpetrated by Israel, the US, UK and European leaders.
What to do in your daily life? I fully support the Boycott, Divest, Sanctions grassroots movement which is growing rapidly. You can support calls for an arms embargo on Israel. You can join Palestinian support movements. You can donate to support the rebuilding of Gaza and the support of its people.
What can happen in the future? Whenever political leaders talk about the situation, they start with “I acknowledge Israel’s right to exist.” But why does it have the right to exist? It was founded on terrorism and is maintained by state terrorism. The United Nations passes resolutions critical of Israel, describes its settlements in Palestinian territories as illegal and thumbs its nose at the UN because the US backs Israel to the hilt and has turned the UN into an impotent organisation.
So no, I don’t happen to think Israel has the right to exist although that will probably send some people off into paroxysms of incoherent range. I don’t think it should be demolished by violence either. Violence just begets more violence. My own view is that work needs to begin – perhaps under the aegis of community elders respected around the world (which excludes the despised Tony Blair) – of moving towards a one-nation state of current Israeli residents and Palestinian people. Such a state would need to be secular and with a constitution which includes equal rights for all. Do I believe such a thing could happen overnight? Well, no. But it’s the logical, long-term solution to achieving peace in the Middle East.
Whatever – just don’t be silent. Speak up for justice for the Palestinian people, and also for Israeli people, because when you are consumed by hate, you do yourself an injustice. When Israelis sit on chairs, watch the bombing of Gaza and toast to the deaths of Palestinian people, they are to be pitied because they’ve lost their humanity. The task in the Middle East is to restore humanity to all the people who live there, however hard that task might be.