Celebration and Catastrophe in the Month of May – EDITORIAL
20 May 2023
Israel and Palestine are once again in the news, for all the wrong reasons. Seventy-five years ago, the UN without the consent of the Palestinian people decided to divide Palestine into two States Palestine and Israel.
On 14 May 1948, Israeli leader David Ben-Gurion proclaimed the establishment of the State of Israel in what was earlier undivided Palestine -a date celebrated by Israelis. For Jews, especially in the aftermath of the holocaust-where it is claimed over six million Jews were killed under Hitler’s Nazi Germany-it was a dream come true. For Palestinians, it is a commemoration of the displacement of their people that preceded and followed Israel’s establishment. Referred to as Nakba (Catastrophe), the day marks the displacement of around 70 percent of the Palestinian population, who were forcibly displaced in the aftermath of armed Jewish militia attacks on civilian Palestinians.
Hundreds of Palestinian villages were wiped off the map and large-scale massacres of Palestinian people took place.
A single day in the month of May continues to raise hugely different emotions in people living on a single land. Since it was created by a decision of the United Nations in 1948, through war and attacks on Palestinian civilians, Israel now occupies nearly two-thirds of Palestinian lands. Israel also controls the supply of life’s most basic need -water- to Palestinians under Israeli occupation as Israel is now the occupying power in the land of Palestine. In the occupied Palestine West Bank, Israel takes 80% of the water from Palestine’s mountain aquifer and permits only 20% of the water to Palestinians.
Al Jazeera reports between 1947 and 1949, three-quarters of all Palestinians living in historic Palestine were uprooted and expelled from their homes by Jewish militias.
Over 4 million acres of Palestinian lands have been appropriated by Israel. Four hundred Palestinian towns were destroyed and hundreds of Palestinians were massacred during the events, which led to the creation of Israel. Under Israeli occupation, 4.5 million Palestinians don’t have a vote. Even Palestinians, who are Israeli citizens, are subject to a qualified set of rights because they are Palestinians and are akin to the ‘Apartheid’ that was practised in South Africa during the Apartheid Era.
Sadly this has continued for over seventy-five years and continues even today. Two days ago thousands of Israeli nationalists, some of them chanting racist slogans, paraded through Jerusalem’s Old City on an annual celebratory day for Israelis.
The marchers, mostly male Orthodox teenage Jews and young men were celebrating Israel’s capture of East Jerusalem in 1967. The crowd waved blue and white Israeli flags and chanted slogans such as “Death to Arabs” and “We will burn your village”.
UN Special Rapporteur on Palestinian Territories -Francesca Albanese, an Italian lawyer and human rights academic- reported on 12 May 2023 ‘Israel maintains its occupation to get as much land as possible for the Jewish people and treats Palestinian territories as colonies. Setting out her view of the Palestinian question, Albanese said: “For me, apartheid is a symptom and a consequence of the territorial ambitions Israel has for the land of what remains of an encircled Palestine.
The cause is the colonies. Israel is a colonial power maintaining the occupation in order to get as much land as possible for Jewish-only people. And this is what leads to the numerous violations of international law. “The US claims to be a global Policeman protecting Human Rights worldwide. In this light, it joined hands with Canada, Britain and West European nations to charge Sri Lanka at the UN with War Crimes and Crimes Against Humanity during the closing stages of Lanka’s ‘War Against Terrorism’. It also refused to provide the Lankan Government with armaments during that period.
Yet, the US vetoes any and every resolution brought against Israel for atrocities committed in Palestine. It also provides Israel with a never-ending supply of military aid, arms and armament despite its continuous flagrant violations of the most basic human rights.
According to the Federation of American Scientists Project on Government Secrecy, as per the terms of the MOU, Congress appropriated $3.8 billion for Israel (FMF and missile defence) in the FY2023 Consolidated Appropriations Act, and added $98.58 million in funding for other cooperative defence and nondefense programmes.
US State Department documents meanwhile reveal that since April 2021, the United States has provided over half a billion dollars in assistance to the Palestinians.
This brings to mind the famous words of the Bard of Avon -“Something is rotten in the State of Denmark.”