As expected, Israel’s Operation Protective Edge, essentially a component of defensive strategy, has evoked vigorous protest rallies in some of the western countries with sizeable Muslim emigrants from Semitic and non-Semitic world.
Sections of the western media empathetic to Muslim community cause have given Israel’s retaliation in Gaza more than expected hype when compared with atrocities perpetrated by players in different parts of the world. BBC, with its unquestioned worldwide reach, does not fail to give a touch of victimization to events like these on global level. After all, oil diplomacy works in somewhat puzzling manner.
In a bid to demonize Israel, some of the Arab countries, especially Saudi Arabia, are known for a dichotomy that serves their political interests. Anti-Israel demonstrators, mostly Muslim emigrants, jam streets in western and eastern capitals, refuse to analyze and evaluate circumstances leading to outbreak of hostilities in the region. They are led more by emotions than care for human lives.
No sooner had Israel launched Operation Protective Edge to prevent sustained rocket and missile attacks on its civilian population by the Gaza-based Hamas than it came under a barrage of international criticism, with tens of thousands of violent demonstrators flocking into the streets of London, Paris, Berlin, Oslo, Sydney, Buenos Aires and New York, among other places, to demand an end to the “Gaza slaughter.” This section of lop-sided press was effusive in demonizing Israel.
In the Indian part of predominantly Sunni Muslim Kashmir, as elsewhere, anti-Israel public demonstrations, outbursts by ambivalent political leaders and local media blitz compounded with anger and choler of civil society reverberated with full-throated resentment of the Muslim ummah.
It is unfair to overlook that Hamas refused Israel’s offer of “calm for calm” and Egypt’s cease fire proposal. Biased media forgets that it refused a humanitarian cease fire initiated by the United Nations; it forgets that Hamas continually fired more than 1500 missiles over 10 days towards Israeli cities with tacit purpose of killing civilians. It also forgets that Hamas dug secret tunnels to facilitate their lethal squads acting against Israel.
Hamas began the current round of violence by firing hundreds of rockets at Israel, expanding the range of fire, introducing terrorists and aerial drones and attempting to launch multiple tunnel attacks. 30 Israeli soldiers were killed in these clashes.
Why didn’t the media raise alarms on dire consequences likely to engulf the entire region when ceasefire initiatives were spurned and rockets and missiles fired? For certain, a section of international media has done disservice to the contesting parties and the humanity at large.
Israel’s compulsions are underestimated. Better understanding would have helped cool down surcharged emotions. Even at the height of surcharged emotions and contentious discourse, it has to be understood that Israel should not and does not count its counteraction a political solution of the long-standing conflict. As a matter of fact, hostile ‘non-state groups’ are far less bound by state policy paradigms because “to Hamas, Islamic jihadists and Salafis, Israel is “theological aberration”. Well, if Palestine is convinced it will rectify the “aberration” through force of arms, then there is no justification for the sympathizers of Palestine to bring out large scale protest rallies in some world capitals and project Palestinians as victims.
Whenever fighting flares up, political punditry gives expression to clichés like “restraint on both sides” and “vandalizing of human lives and human rights”, etc. Their argument is that destruction and demise of Hamas rule in Gaza is not attainable. But this is not something Israel refuses to recognize. An estimated 35 per cent of Palestinians look at Hamas in a positive way and the level of support for them is considerable. It is why, while they may accept a temporary cease fire, they are not reconcilable to any diplomatic course leading to the solution of the conflict.
Destruction of human lives is abominable. But that has to be viewed as universal and not by selective application. What the protesting crowds need to know is the treatment meted out by the Arabs to the Palestinians at various places and at various times. What is the condition of 500.000 Palestinian population in Lebanon where Shia dominated Hezbollah rules the roost? They are deprived of basic human rights, right to property ownership, right to employment, and even the right to freedom of movement.
What was the Kuwait slaughter of 1991 about, and why did the expulsion of most of the 400,000 Palestinians from Emirates go unnoticed by Islamists? About the peril of Palestinians in ongoing Syrian civil war, the less said the better.
No religion permits killing of human beings. But we did not find an eyelid batting among Muslim population when Pakistani army massacred a million people, most of them their co-religionists, in the Bangladesh war of 1971, and an equal number of women, again mostly Muslim, raped, a la Humudu’r-Rahman Report. We did not find a single eyelid batting in wider Muslim communities when hundreds and thousands of Palestinian Muslims were killed, segregated, expelled or illegally debilitated by Muslim States in the Gulf or in the Middle East. Why did not any one of the 53 member-strong OIC, the self-proclaimed watchdog of Muslim interests, talk about atrocities on Palestinians or Bangladeshis? Human rights have to be universal and the voice against their abuse has to be universal.
In any case, cease fire in Gaza will come into operation sooner than later. But like all previous cease fires, it will be a temporary measure. Only when Arab world ceases to hang on to advertent dichotomy, Palestinian juggernaut will be unlocked. As long as Hamas builds secret tunnels across the border with Israel for subversive activities, and as long as anti-Israel jihadists reach as far as Argentine to attack and kill the Jews, guns will boom and bombs will rain. Building tunnels is the new war tactics taught by late Osama to the jihadis wherever they are. Muslims are fighting their internecine war by proxy, and to what end, one cannot predict. We would only tell them, friends! look at the other side of the coin also.
The writer is the former Director of the Centre of Central Asian Studies, Kashmir University, India.
The views expressed in this article are the author's own. IA Forum is an non-partisan publication that publishes across the spectrum of mainstream views while supporting none.