I’ve seen all sorts of mass atrocities and each time have thought to myself: nothing else in this world can be more heart-breaking. But as always, the amoral reality has kept me alive (enough) to witness another incident of having to stand corrected.
As my adolescent idealism diminished, I came to believe that the battle of ‘Good versus Evil’ is considerably more nuanced than is portrayed. Not all heroes wear capes and not all devils have horns. However, as martyrdom ensued in Gaza and the US embassy consecrated Jerusalem as Israel’s sceptre, both at the same time, I realized how apparently stark the irony had become.
I will not tire you with the details of recent events which have more than aptly been described by mainstream media. What I would instead prefer to delve into is the historically unequivocal discrimination of the Palestinians and the equally obdurate justifications presented by the aggressors.
Every year, on May 15, the Palestinians observe what they term “Yawm an-Nakba” whose literal translation is ‘The Day of the Catastrophe’. It was on this day, 70 years ago, that around 700,000 Palestinians had to leave their homes and flee. No one would’ve imagined, however, that they would not be able to return even seven decades after. The Jews came and started living in the forcefully abandoned houses. Over the years, these Jewish settlements expanded leaving no place (or mercy) for the Palestinians. It is important to note that the Jews not only claim a right to this land but define its purpose as the protection of all Jews from anti-Semitism (the context being the then recent Holocaust). Thenceforth, Israel expanded its settlements violating the UN treaty signed in 1967 and continues to do so.
There are numerous justifications that proponents of Israel provide in defence. The most intriguing to me though is the “There is no place as Palestine” justification. It’s as simple as it sounds. Many simply claim that there is no such place as Palestine. “Where is it? Do you see it? Was it before the Nakba? But that couldn’t be possible since the region was under the British.”
The reply to this pitiable excuse for a justification cannot be more direct than that given by the British Pakistani intellectual Tariq Ali: “If every single Jew born anywhere in the world has the right to become an Israeli citizen, then all the Palestinians who were chucked out of Palestine by the Zionist Government should have the same right, very simple.”
What I would like to draw your attention towards more than this reply, however, are the inherently subjugating implications such a ‘justification’ has. This is discrimination in its most abject form for even the marginalized have their existence acknowledged. But in this case, even that seems too much of a compromise for the Israelis.
One has to say- it is a devilishly smart strategy. Make the victims question their own existence and bludgeon the revolt before it initiates. Even though hardly any Palestinian buys this load of you-know-what and this plan doesn’t go as expected, we certainly have the outside world getting enmeshed in it. This ensures that whenever a Palestinian revolt occurs, it is delegitimized by the outside world which then has a simple syllogism to follow: “The Palestinians didn’t have a land to begin with. They are violent. Hence, they don’t deserve any legitimacy.”
Of course, this outside world is the United States who has always been in on it to justify support for Israel to its own people. Trump’s statement of Jerusalem being the ‘true capital of Israel’ strongly implies anyone else’s claims to the city as false. Declaring this recognition as a ‘fact’ automatically dispels the existence of an unmentioned party to the conflict which has contested the nature of this claim for more than 70 years.
Irony utterly compels me to also state that this barbarity against the Palestinians is being carried out by a group which itself fell victim to the same treatment. The Jews went through exodus and immense persecution at the hands of the Nazis and today the Palestinians go through it at the hands of the Jews. This scenario reminds me of Nietzsche’s almost freakishly prescient words: “Whoever battles with monsters better see that it does not turn him into a monster.” Not only has this monstrosity become a reality but has also aggravated to a point where even Satan is ready to denounce himself.
When will it end? How will it end? Will it end? I don’t know and neither does anyone else seem to. The situation debilitates and the future looks bleak. Despite the despondency, however, resistance exists even if it is as small as a handful of ships daring to escape tyranny which we hope they someday do without getting caught. But until that day words are our only haven of optimism. And what better words to seek refuge in than those of the Kenyan writer Ngugi wa Thiong’o:
“Sooner or later they will leave our country…Once again we shall be as we were-ordinary people- and if we are lies we shall be lies of our own making.”