By K.N. Pandita
As usual, Israel’s Operation Protective Edge, essentially a component of self defence strategy, has evoked big and small protest rallies in some of the western countries with sizeable Muslim emigrants from Semitic and non-Semitic world.
Sections of western media known for empathy with Muslim community cause, have given Israel’s counteraction in Gaza more than expected hype when compared with various inhumanities perpetrated by actors on global level. BBC, with its unquestioned worldwide reach, does not fail to give a touch of victimization to events like these on global level. After all, oil diplomacy works in somewhat puzzling manner.
In a bid to demonize Israel, some of the Arab countries, especially Saudi Arabia, are known for dichotomy that serves their political interests. Anti-Israel demonstrators, mostly Muslim emigrants, jam packing streets in western and eastern capitals, refuse to analyze and evaluate circumstances leading to outbreak of hostilities in the region. They are led by emotions more than care for human lives.
It is deliberately overlooked that Hamas refused Israel’s offer of “calm for calm” as also Egypt’s cease fire proposal. They forget that it refused humanitarian cease fire initiated by the United Nations; they forget that Hamas continually fired for ten days more than 1500 missiles towards Israeli cities with tacit purpose of killing civilians, and they forget that Hamas dugs secret tunnels to facilitate their perfidious squads act against Israel.
Hamas began current round of violence by firing hundreds of rockets at Israel, expanding the range of fire, introducing terrorists and aerial drones and attempting to launch multiple tunnel attacks. 30 Israeli soldiers were killed in these clashes.
Why did not partisan media raise alarm on dire consequences likely to engulf the entire region when cease fire initiatives were spurned and rockets and missiles dropped?
No sooner had Israel launched Operation Protective Edge to stop the sustained rocket and missile attacks on its civilian population by the Gaza-based Hamas terror organization than it came under a barrage of international criticism, with tens of thousands of violent demonstrators flocking into the streets of London, Paris, Berlin, Oslo, Sydney, Buenos Aires and New York, among other places, to demand an end to the “Gaza slaughter.” In contrast, this section of lop-sided press was effusive in demonizing Israel?
Israel’s compulsions needed to be understood. That would have helped in cooling down surcharged atmosphere. For certain, this particular section of international media has done disservice to the parties and the humanity at large.
Even at the height of surcharged emotions and contentious discourse, it has to be understood that Israel should not and does not count its counteraction a political solution of the conflict. As a matter of fact hostile non-state groups are far less bound by state policy obligations because “to Hamas, Islamic jihadists and Salafis, Israel is theological aberration”. Well, if Palestine is convinced it will rectify the aberration through force of arms, then it has no justification to protest the consequences.
Whenever fighting flares up, political punditry gives expression to cliché like “restraint on both sides” and “vandalizing of human lives and human rights” etc. Their argument is that destruction and demise of Hamas rule in Gaza is not attainable. It is not something that Israel refuses to recognize. According to an estimate 35 per cent of Palestinians look at Hamas in a positive way and certainly level of support for them is considerable. It is why, while they may accept temporary cease fire, they are not reconcilable to any diplomatic course leading to the solution of the conflict.
Destruction of human lives is abominable. But that has to have universal and not selective application. What the protesting crowds need to know is the treatment meted out by the Arabs to the Palestinians at various places and at various times. What is the condition of 500.000 Palestinian population in Lebanon where Shia dominated Hezbollah rules the roost? They are deprived of basic human rights, right to property ownership and right to employment or even the right to free movement.
Reports made by dependable sources say that in Jordan more Palestinians were killed in one month than those killed in Gaza fighting despite King Husain’s peacenik claim. What was the Kuwait slaughter of 1991 about, and why did the expulsion of most of the 400,000 Palestinians from Emirates go unnoticed by the Muslim countries especially the OIC that claims to be the watchdog of Muslim interests? About the peril of Palestinians in the ongoing Syrian civil war, the less said the better.
Nearer home in Kashmir valley, as elsewhere, anti-Israel public demonstrations, outbursts by ambivalent political leaders and local media hype and anger and choler of civil society reverberated resentment of the Muslim ummah.
No religion permits killing of human beings. But we did not find an eyelid batting among Kashmiri population when a million people, most of them their co-religionists, were massacred in cold blood by Pakistani army in Bangladesh war, and an equal number of women, again mostly Muslim, raped, a la Humudu’r-Rahman Report. We did not find a single eyelid batting in Kashmir when these hundreds and thousands of Palestinian Muslims were killed, segregated, expelled or illegally debilitated by Muslim States in the Gulf or in the Middle East. Why did not any one of the 53 member-strong OIC, the self-proclaimed watchdog of Muslim interests, talk about the atrocities on Palestinians or Bangladeshis? Human rights have to be universal and the voice against their abuse has to be universal.
In any case, cease fire in Gaza will come into operation sooner than later. But like all previous cease fires, it will be a temporary measure. When Arab world ceases to hang on to dichotomy, Palestinian juggernaut will be unlocked. As long as Hamas builds secret tunnels across the border with Israel for subversive activities, guns will boom and bombs will rain. Building tunnels is the new war tactics taught by late Osama to the jihadis wherever they are. Muslims are fighting their internecine war by proxy, to what end, one cannot predict. We would only say friends look at the other side of the coin also.
(The writer is the former Director of the Centre of Central Asian Studies, Kashmir University, India).