Understanding the Palestinian question

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PALESTINIAN KID TO LIFELESS MOTHER:: Mummy ….So sorry that I couldn’t protect you from Israel.

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By Dr. H. K. A. KALEJAIYE

The Second World War ended in 1945 following the defeat of Nazi Germany by the allied forces. Germany’s surrender was as a result of the dropping of atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in Japan by the USA. At the end of the war, there were agitations for the settlement of Jews holocaust survivors on a land that they could hold as theirs. There were several consultations between Britain who were controlling Palestine then via the League of Nations mandate and the USA who wanted a permanent homeland for the Jews,

On November 29, 1947, the General Assembly of the United Nations adopted a Resolution for the establishment of an independent Jewish State in Palestine. The then US President, Harry Truman was sympathetic to the cause of Zionism because of his evangelical Christian upbringing. He therefore endorsed the 1947 U.N. partition Plan for Palestine to create an Arab state and a Jewish state and, despite opposition from within the administration, he recognized the State of Israel on May 14, 1948. In essence, the war in Palestine and by extension in Gaza, West Bank and other Palestinian territories is due to the illegal occupation of Palestinian lands by the Jews.

Meanwhile, prior to the creation of the State of Israel in 1948, Palestinians own 90% of the land in Palestine and the Jews 6%. Other ethnic groups own the remaining 4% in Palestine.

Coming to the ongoing genocide in Gaza, no one can tolerate, live with apartheid restrictions and humiliation without a necessary fight back no matter how weak that person is. The problem is that Israel has through Western support, especially the United States, succeeded in creating a state of hopelessness for people living in Gaza and the West bank. So, in all honesty, what are Palestinians supposed to do? Israel frustrated the two states solution canvassed by former Presidents George Bush and Barrack Obama. And if we remember, it was Bob Marley who once said that “it’s better to die fighting than being a prisoner all your life”. Also, Franklin D Roosevelt, former American President also said that “It’s better to die on your feet than live on your knees”. This is what HAMAS is doing. If Westerners believe this, what are Palestinians supposed to do in this situation? Western hypocrisy is really choking. As it has been said, the main issue between Israel and Palestine is illegal occupation of Palestinian lands by Israel following the creation of the State of Israel in 1948.

Let the reader take an excursion down memory lane to know what happened in apartheid South Africa and in Zimbabwe, and relate it to what the Jews are doing to the Palestinians on Palestinian lands. In Zimbabwe for example, some white farmers were allowing their dogs to swim in the pond that served as the water reservoir for their black labourers. How would the Black majority in Zimbabwe feel about that? Of course, they would have to react. We should all remember Isaac Newton’s third law of motion. Actions and reactions are equal and opposite.

In pre-independence Republic of South Africa, Black people were forbidden from walking on the same walkway with White people, so, whenever a Black and a White person had to use the same walkway, a black person must “yield“, get out of the way, cow in one small area of the way or else the white guy had every right to slap or assault him, whichever way he deemed fit. In addition, Pass law was introduced in South Africa. And the pass law stated which areas a person was allowed to move through or be in and if a person was found outside of these areas, they would be arrested.

The essence of apartheid restrictions is therefore a denial of the humanity of the oppressed (the Palestinians) by the oppressor (Israel) such as is happening in Gaza and other Palestinian cities. Who can tolerate that without a plan to cause harm to the oppressor?

While the Jews all over the world have just one type of ID card that guarantees them freedom of movement, work, good healthcare etc, Palestinians have four different ID cards depending on where they find themselves if they had any ID card at all.

1. A Green ID card means that Palestinian is subjected to military rule. If that Green ID card has a Gaza address, it means that Palestinian is subjected to military rule and confined to a 365km radius of open-air prison with several army restrictions. Israel controls what goes into Gaza and comes out of it including medicines and children’s toys. 90% of people in Gaza have no access to safe drinking water and 47% are unemployed while 56% are living in poverty. They are forbidden from going to Jerusalem and the West Bank even if they have families there. Palestinians have to sign in and out of their community, Palestinians are denied the privilege of using certain roads, giving them time restrictions of when to be in their houses at a particular time, else, they will infringe on curfew restrictions and get arrested.

2. If a Palestinian lives in the West Bank with a Green ID, he can live in the West Bank separated by illegal Israeli settlements with walls and fences, 8 meters high (twice the height of the Berlin Wall) and 700 kilometers long (more than four times the length of the Berlin Wall). 80% of these walls are built on Palestinian lands and in the process reducing Palestinian lands further. The Palestinians refer to it as the apartheid wall. There are separate roads for Jews and Palestinians with hundreds of check points for the Palestinians. Some people in the West Bank can be accused of living there illegally even if they have been living there for decades. They can be deported to Gaza where starting a new life becomes an uphill battle.

3. If a Palestinian has a Blue ID card, then, that Palestinian is a resident of East Jerusalem with residency status ONLY. Such Palestinians cannot vote in an election and if they leave East Jerusalem for some years for instance due to studying or working in a foreign country, their residency status can be revoked. More than 15,000 residents have had their residency revoked. Blue ID card holders can travel to the West Bank and Gaza only with permits issued by the Israeli military.

4. The fourth and last group are the Palestinian citizens of Israel who remained in Israel despite the ethnic cleansing that followed the creation of the State of Israel in 1948. They were under military rule until 1960. They can vote in elections and be voted for but can never become Israeli citizens because the law forbids it. They also face several daily inhibitions that ordinary Jews are not subjected to.

Of recent, the Israeli Government passed a law against Family reunification. What this means is that Palestinians who are members of the same family but with different ID cards and therefore living in different parts of Palestine cannot move and live together. Furthermore, the Israeli Government has to approve building constructions before Palestinians can put up a building. Building permits are rarely given to Palestinians. And the consequence is that many Palestinian buildings are pulled down due to absence of building permits.

In summary, the war in Gaza and West Bank (Palestine) is due to the illegal occupation of Palestinian lands by Jews. It is not a religious war between Jews and Christians on one side and Muslims and Arabs on the other. It is about ‘self-determination’! There are Palestinian Jews living in Israel. There are also Palestinian Christians living in Palestine. Palestinians should be allowed to live as human beings.

Dr. H. K. A. Kalejaiye
National Coordinator,
Islamic Welfare Foundation (IWF)


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