By Mass L. Usuf –
The heading reflects how the hypocritical West and its incredibly biased media would like to portray the present clash in Palestine. Even for us Sri Lankans, the only information that is available is from the biased news media which has the power to dominate the air. This column will look at some quick facts. Fact: This is not a Muslim fight against the Jews. There are also Palestinian Christians both Catholic and Protestants, Samaritans etc. facing this problem. (World Directory of Minorities).
Ukraine is a good analogy of double standards. Russia recently occupied certain Ukrainian territories. The USA, Europe and U.K. immediately defended Ukraine against the occupation calling it illegal, violation of international law and an act of genocide. Fact: How many know that Israel has been occupying Palestine since 1967 that is, for 56 years. Have the Western powers ever showed concern about this occupation? On the contrary, all of them support the Occupier–the Israelis. Where are the accusations which were made against Russia?
This is not a situation of supporting the Palestinians or Israelis but, certainly, an instance where humanity on both sides have to be honoured, respected and dignified. Unfortunately, this is not the case and the words in a poster below explains the irony.
“If you are silent when ISRAEL kills Palestinians
Remain silent when PALESTINIANS defend themselves”
Here are some snippets to show the extent of bias. The US media, CNN anchor Christiane Amanpour interviewing Hussam Zomlot, Palestinian Head of Mission in UK, asks the accusatory question, “First and foremost do you condemn the attack by Hamas on civilians?”. The BBC anchor repeatedly asks Hussam Zomlot, “Do you condemn the attack by Hamas?”. The Australian Sky News asks, “Do you unreservedly condemn the attack by Hamas?”. See who are asking this question about ‘civilians’? Fact: In 2008, UK based ORB International, an independent polling agency, estimated the total deaths in Iraq at 1,120,000 people since the US-led invasion of Iraq in 2003. Remember UK and Australia were part of this killing coalition. The United States of America obliterated Hiroshima and Nagasaki killing over 450,000 Japanese people.
The Audacity To Question
This repeatedly pointed question illustrates two things. First, to accuse and disrepute Hamas and the Palestinian cause secondly, to make the Israelis look like the peace-loving innocent victims. We must understand that this is not about Hamas or some others but the basic question of usurpation and occupation of others’ land and throwing out its owner. The media and the Israelis are masters in dodging the core issue. They shrewdly manipulate discussions always creating confusion and ably stray away from facts and reality. Fact: (UN Resolution 35/35). “Condemns the expansionist activities of Israel in the Middle East, as well as the continuous bombing of civilian Arab and in particular, Palestinian populations and the destruction of their villages and encampments, which constitute a serious obstacle to the realization of self-determination and independence of the Palestinian people.” (UN General Assembly).
Is that all for bias? US President Joe Biden promised ‘rock-solid and unwavering’ support to Israel. Fact: “the USA provides 3 billion US dollars annually. Soon after the attack, Joe Biden approved 8 billion US dollars as emergency military aid. He has ordered the movement of military ships and aircraft closer to Israel. No. 10 Downing Street in U.K. displays the flag of Israel and the Prime Minister says that his government is with the Israelis. In Australia, the Sydney Opera House was lit with the colours of the Israeli flag to express solidarity.” Are these leaders sanctioning the violation of international laws, war crimes and genocide? Are these leaders violating the laws that they themselves had passed? The Australian Prime Minister said, “We recognise Israel’s right to defend itself.” Sadly, the Prime Minister does not recognise the right of the Palestinians to defend themselves.
Defend against whom?
Speaking to Fareed Zakariya of CNN recently, former Information Minister of Palestine Dr. Mustafa Barghouti said Israel’s Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich denied the existence of a Palestinian people. Smotrich had said that the Palestinians have one of three options. To emigrate or accept life of subjugation under Israel or die. Imagine the duplicity of the Western world.
Look at the asymmetry between Israel as a nuclear power State and the desperate Palestinian refugees who have been given the above choices. These are people living as refugees in their own land for 56 years. Fact: “Gaza is dubbed as an open prison housing 2.3 million people who are controlled, under surveillance and oppressed for decades. In 2010, BBC reported that the former UK Prime Minister David Cameron had condemned the blockade of the Gaza Strip, describing it as a “prison camp”. One may still ask, “What is the proof that this is an open prison?” Here is the answer from the horse’s mouth. Fact: “On 9th October, the Israeli Defence Minister Yoav Gallant announced a “complete siege” on Gaza.” He went on say, “there will be no electricity, no food, no water, no fuel. Everything will be closed.” A clear indication as to who controls and dominates the helpless Palestinian civilians. Fact: 1.3 million out of 2.3 million Palestinians in Gaza (62%) require food assistance. (UNICEF).
Queues in Sri Lanka
Remember how we were suffering without gas, fuel and electricity. Add to that the denial of food and water to a population of 2.3 million people. There are certainly women, children, infants, sick, elderly, disabled men and women amongst them. Are they not civilians? How would a mother feed her crying baby when there is no milk food? How would a kidney patient who needs dialysis cope up or a cancer patient needing chemotherapy be treated or a terminally ill person’s vital signs be monitored under this siege. Fact: “78% of piped water in Gaza is unfit for human consumption.” (UNICEF).
Looking at it differently, one can say, “all this is because of the Hamas attack.” Even then, does this justify collectively punishing 2.3 million civilians in this inhumane manner? Fact: “There are six million Palestinians registered as refugees around the world.” (UNRWA). Why is a different standard adopted on morality, civilised conduct, international laws and basic humaneness when it is the Palestinian civilians? Fact: Have the Israelis forgotten how tens of thousands of Jews were inhumanely horded into train carriages and taken to Auschwitz and other extermination centres by Hitler.
Indiscriminate Bombings and international law
Fact: (UN Resolution 35/35/2). “Reaffirms the legitimacy of the struggle of peoples for independence, territorial integrity, national unity and liberation from colonial and foreign domination and foreign occupation by all available means, including armed struggle;” (UN General Assembly).
Two thousand bombing raids have taken place in two days by the Israeli air force targeting civilian buildings, apartment blocks, houses etc. Does anyone believe that there are no civilians in these places? However, the western media is obsessed with the primary question whether the attack by Hamas is condemned or not. This stinking arrogance, self-righteousness and abhorrent hypocrisy without regard to the decades of blockades, sieges, bombing raids, deprivation of basic facilities, denial of freedom of movement and everything that people in a civilised society enjoy as their basics.
Under international humanitarian law no person may be punished for an act that he/she did not commit. From this comes the assurance that to collectively punish a people in general or a group of persons is strictly forbidden. Fact: “This is one of the fundamental guarantees established by the 1949 Geneva Conventions and their 1977 Additional Protocols.”
Our PTA And Detention Orders
We protest against the Prevention of Terrorism Act and the Anti-Terrorism Bill and rally against the abuse of power and arbitrary detention orders. Fact: The number of Palestinians behind Israeli bars is 5,200, including 33 women and 170 children. More than 1,200 men, women, youth and children are being held by the Israelis under administrative detention orders for several years. (Al Jazeera). Many even do not know why they are being jailed. Not different from our Sri Lankan detention order under the PTA. Does this ring a bell? With the engagement by the Sri Lankan governments with the Israelis, our politicians are also learning the ways and means of repression and suppression of dissent. Fact: UN Special Rapporteur, “Israel’s Unlawful Carceral Practices in the Occupied Palestinian Territory Are Tantamount to International Crimes and Have Turned it into an Open-Air Prison.” (10 July 2023).
Dr. Barghouti said that Hamas is called a terrorist organisation but it was not there before thirty years. Then, there was the Palestinian Liberation Organisation (PLO), it was also called terrorist. Fact: “A Military order No. (378) issued by the Israeli government established military courts, and basically outlawed all forms of Palestinian resistance to the Israeli occupation as “terrorism”. Any Palestinian organisation that calls for freedom is labelled as terrorist. If we struggle militarily, we are terrorists. If we struggle in a non-violent way, we are described as violent. If we resist with words, we are described as provocateurs. If you are a foreigner and support the Palestinians, you are described as an anti-Semite. If you are a Jew supporting the Palestinian, such are called self-hating Jews. The only way to end this is by ending the occupation of Palestine by the Israelis, commented Dr. Barghouti.
We know that Israel is the Occupier and Palestinians the Oppressed. There is a difference between Truth and Lies; Terrorism and Resistance; Democracy and Apartheid. Sadly, justice, equity and fairness are being substituted with hate, prejudice, discrimination and double standards.
*Mass L. Usuf, LL.B (Hons) U.K., Attorney at Law – (Ex-Advisor to former Presidential Private Department of UAE). Can be reached via email at: email@example.com