A non-partisan journal of the left.

Who Needs an Unstable Middle East?

Mon 12th Nov 2012


Being a supporter of Palestinian statehood used to be a more lonely road than it is now. It was difficult to mention Palestine in public because it was such a 'dirty' word. Being a supporter of peace in the Middle East was, and still is, an uphill struggle. Anti-Semitic slurs were, and are still, bandied about to try to discredit anyone who sought or seeks to swim against the torrent of pro-Israeli propaganda.

The West appears to have a vested interest in an unstable Middle East. This allows Israel to capitalise on its position and its policies toward Palestinians in Gaza and the Occupied Territories. Elsewhere in the world, oppressed people find the West either literally coming to their aid or at the very least, voicing strongly worded condemnation of the oppressor's actions. Palestinians appear to be in a special group of their own where western governments, and often, Arab ones are blinded to their right to exist, to their right of return and in fact, to their right to each and every one of the so-called basic Human Rights accorded to the rest of us.

Does it mean 'we' don't care about them? The 'we' I refer to here is the group of people that do not form part of these elected governments. If you like, it is the 'person in the street'. Do 'we' not care about Palestinians? Yes. We care. We care a lot in fact. Over the years since Israel was created we have been bombarded with negative media about Palestinians which appears to have been designed to justify Israel's actions in appropriating Palestinian lands to themselves.

In more recent times we have seen a shift from continuous negative media representations of Palestinians. Not enough perhaps but with the rise of the Internet, the spread of mobile phone technology and social networking sites such as Twitter, Facebook and YouTube, more and more of us are able to bypass the traditional media and see for ourselves what is really happening. It is the immediacy of this access which is assisting in the spread of a more open view of the situations encountered by Palestinians on a daily basis. A quick trawl of YouTube for example will bring a huge number of hits for the search Israel or Palestine.

Many of the videos posted online show actions that break your heart when you see the lack of compassion and the level of aggression shown by IDF soldiers using guns against unarmed civilians. Others will make you angry that the actions captured go largely unchallenged by the International community.

Of course, the UN makes lots of statements, holds numerous investigations and issues judgements or Resolutions. All very nice but not a single one of these is actually acted upon or enforced. It is this that makes Palestinians of all denominations feel abandoned by the West and the UN. How is it possible for a UN member state to take unilaterally aggressive action time after time and over decades and to get away with it?

Why is it possible for the same member state to be in receipt of billions in military aid from other members, to use this aid to carry out a deliberate policy of ethnic cleansing of historical Palestinian villages in Occupied Palestine? Why does the UN and Western Governments tolerate an apartheid member state like Israel when it would not tolerate South Africa? When our own Prime Minister, David Cameron, tells an Israeli organisation in London that he will not allow anyone in this country to succeed in a boycott of Israel we do have to question which country he thinks he works for.

The BDS movement and other Palestinian support groups are not seeking the destruction of Israel. What we are seeking is an end to apartheid, an end to Occupation, an end to the ethnic cleansing being perpetrated by Israel and, an end to the unethical profiteering from Palestinian oppression.

Settlements are illegal, the theft of Palestinian natural resources is unethical, the continued theft of land in the Occupied Territories is unlawful. The wide-spread acceptance of these combined actions is unforgivable. It is time to halt the policy of an 'Unstable Middle East.' It is time to stop Israel holding the rest of us to ransom. It is time for Zionism, declared a terrorist movement by a majority UN vote before a Jewish lobby had it overturned, to be dismantled.

It is time for Palestinians of all denominations and Israelis of all denominations to put aside their differences and, with or without the help of the world, to establish a true and lasting peace where each is equal to the other in law, in practice and above all, in the individual heart. Whether this peace is in a country called Israel or Palestine or Israstine or Palesrael or whatever they choose to name their country, it is a PEACE which should be celebrated and nurtured by all.
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