by Ibrahim Kalin
July 15, 2014 (TSR) – On Sunday night, millions of people watched the final match of the World Cup in Rio De Janerio where the Germans won a well-deserved victory against Argentina. Both teams came to the finals after beating their opponents by playing according to the international rules of football set by FIFA. The contest was based on the principle of fair play.
In the occupied territories of Palestine, people did not have the luxury to watch the World Cup final. Instead, the 1.7 million people of Gaza were trying to escape Israel’s nightly bombings that have been happening over the last seven days. More than 170 people, mostly women and children, have already died and hundreds have been injured. Believe it or not, Israel bombed a charitable association for the disabled, killing patients.
Set against the joy and excitement of the World Cup, there was no joy or celebration in Palestine. Instead, there was the brutal force of the Israeli army against defenseless people. There were shameless politicians and commentators calling on Israel to kill more Palestinians. There was only death, destruction and tears.
There is no fair play in Palestine.
The power disparity between Israel and Palestine is beyond comparison. There is no conflict in the world in which the power balance between the sides is so disproportionate. Israel spends close to $20 billion (TL 42.4 billion)on defense, which includes the $3 billion annual aid from the U.S. Government.
Israel is equipped with one of the most advanced armies and air forces in the region. The per capita income in Israel is over $36,000 whereas the per capita income for Palestinians in the West Bank is about $1,900 and $850 in Gaza. Under international law, Israel is responsible for the protection and well being of people under its occupation, but it is instead trying to destroy an already impoverished nation.
This is no fair play.
All the regional and international efforts to stop the Israeli assault on Gaza have failed so far. The proposal by the Obama administration to go back to the 2012 November ceasefire agreement that was backed by Turkey, Arab countries and Europeans, has been rejected by the Netanyahu. Acting with a sense of heroism and arrogance, Netanyahu is seeking to destroy the Palestinian national unity government and is foolishly expecting the world to support him.
Some fail to see the symbolic meaning of the Israeli occupation and the plight of Palestinians. The poisoning impact of the Palestinian question extends from Islam-West relations to Muslim-Jewish relations as well as the relations between the U.S. and the Muslim world. Already in 2006, the International Crisis Group Report had noted that the “perpetuation of the Arab-Israeli conflict, with all the anger it generates, fuels extremist, jihadi movements in the Muslim world; intensifies animosity toward the West and the U.S. in particular; radicalizes Muslim populations in Western Europe; discredits pro-Western governments; deepens the damaging divide between the Islamic and Western worlds.”
In his 2009 Cairo speech, President Obama acknowledged the plight of the Palestinians and its heavy toll on the Arab and Muslim world: “… it is also undeniable that the Palestinian people, Muslims and Christians, have suffered in pursuit of a homeland. For more than 60 years they have endured the pain of dislocation … They endure the daily humiliations large and small that come with occupation. So let there be no doubt: the situation for the Palestinian people is intolerable. America will not turn our backs on the legitimate Palestinian aspiration for dignity, opportunity, and a state of their own.”
Since then, however, the intolerable situation of the Palestinians has gotten worse. The American promise to be an honest broker and support Palestinians “for dignity, opportunity and a state of their own” has fallen on the deaf ears of Israeli and American politicians.
However, the unconditional U.S. support for Israel has neither brought peace nor security for Israelis or Palestinians, nor has it helped Israel develop good relations with its Arab neighbors.
Worldwide Muslim public opinion, from the Islamist and conservative to the liberal and leftist, is opposed to the Israeli policies of occupation, dispossession, intimidation and humiliation, not because they share a pan-Arab or pan-Islamist ideology, but because they see it as a matter of great injustice. Many people of conscience in Europe, the U.S., Latin America, Africa and Asia also oppose the plight of the Palestinians as a matter of justice, not ethnicity or religion.
A just and viable solution to the Palestinian conflict is the only way to end decades of occupation, killing, suffering and dispossession that has shaped the destiny of the Holy Land and its Jewish, Christian and Muslim inhabitants. Killing more Palestinians and deepening the occupation will not make Israel safer. It will only create more enemies.
No unfair play continues forever.
First published in Daily Sabah.