There was a time when Yasser Arafat was as popular in India as any of its own leaders. The Palestine cause was the Indian cause. The Indian passport prevented its citizens from going to Israel (and South Africa). India didn’t consider Israel a legitimate state. Israel is probably the only country in the world that refuses to define its boundaries even today. It has adventured into territories, and still captures some of it, of all its neighbors at some point or the other – Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon – and has devoured Palestine. From a majority Arab population in 1947 when Israel was created today the Jews dominate this area. More than half the Palestinians are living as refugees in different countries.
Ever since the state of Israel was forced upon the Palestinians by the British with their Balfour declaration in 1947, the region has witnessed continuous violence. It goes on in a low profile manner all the time and at times the situation becomes heated up like it is at present. The nature of violence is one-sided is clear from the fact that over the last decade of the total number of people killed in the Israel-Palestine conflict about 95% have been Palestinians.
Atal Behari Vajpayee’s government recognized Israel as a partner and since then the pace of development has been so fast Israel is the second biggest importer of arms to India today and India is its biggest buyer. India is not in a position to support Palestine in the same manner as it used to do earlier. But humanity demands that India denounce the barbaric attacks by Israel on Palestine and take a clear stand on the issue. The Indian leaders of NAM era had no doubt in their minds about which side to support. This is the reason why Nehru besides Mahatma Gandhi among the Indian leaders continues to be a popular figure in the memory of Palestinians.
Palestinians are one of the most talented people in the world. Gaza has the highest Ph.D. density in the Arab world. A nation fighting every day for its survival expresses its sentiments in the form of Graffiti on the walls of Gaza. Every house has photographs of martyrs on the walls and more members are ready to offer sacrifice.
It is unfortunate that Yasser Arafat’s departure reduced the support for the Palestinian cause in the world. The movement for the liberation of Palestine broke up in two parts. Al-Fatah dominated the West Bank while Hamas controlled Gaza. The two groups have had a love-hate relationship and are not able to put up a strong united front which could give Israel a hard time.
But Palestinians are brave people. They will never give up. Until the last one of them is alive they’ll continue fighting. It is a pity the world is silent as Israel massacres the civilians in Gaza. Were it some other place in the world the US would have launched its offensive against the aggressors? Nations like the US and India which choose to ignore the butchering of Palestinians would be an equal partner in crime. No civilized people would tolerate what is going on in Gaza.
Over one lakh people have come out on streets in England to oppose the Israeli offensive. France tried to ban pro-Palestinian demonstrations but the people didn’t care. They happily violated the ban.
1100 academics from all over the world have condemned the brutal Israeli attack on Gaza in a signature campaign of which 65 are Jews from Israel. The Jews who oppose the Israeli government’s position have to face the wrath of right-wing elements of their society. How dominant the right-wing thinking is can be ascertained from the fact that 95% Jews support the Israeli attacks on Gaza.
Leading US intellectual Noam Chomsky has said, ‘Israel uses sophisticated attack jets and naval vessels to bomb densely crowded refugee camps, schools, apartments blocks, mosques and slums to attack a population that has no air force, no air defense, no navy, no heavy weapons, no artillery units, no mechanized armour, no command in control, no army and calls it a war. It is not war, it is murder.’
Israel says it is defending itself. But the question is against whom? Against a people who have not been able to free themselves after fighting for 67 years and having paid a very heavy price for it?
Israel has stooped so low that it has asked Palestinians to vacate the Wafa hospital because it wants to bombard it. Is it bravery to bomb a hospital? On the other hand brave Norwegian doctor, Mads Gilbert is serving the people of Palestine in Gaza and using himself as a human shield in the hope that Israel would not attack him and hence some lives around him will be saved.
Israel must be restrained. Palestine must be given statehood and its citizens must be given an opportunity to live with dignity and in peace. The UN has just given it a non-member observer status in 2012 November. It could be the beginning of a process of recognizing it as a full state. But Israel would oppose it tooth and nail and because of its influence over the US and the European countries, it will be very difficult for Palestine to get recognized as an independent nation at the UN.
After all, what is the crime of the Palestinians? Why should they not be allowed to live in their own home? It is the Jews who have come from all over the world to displace them from their homes. The persecution that the Jews faced at the hands of Germans cannot justify what they are doing to Arabs today.