Middle East Monitor / August 10, 2022
Injustice, oppression, arbitrary decision-making, persecution and coercion can all be used to describe what the Palestinian people have been experiencing for a century since the League of Nations imposed the British Mandate — colonialism in all but name — on Palestine. The League of Nations Mandate for Palestine was approved and implemented in 1922. It was a project to seize and take control of Palestine in order to implement the infamous 1917 Balfour Declaration on behalf of the Zionist Movement for the purpose of establishing a “national home for the Jewish people”. Article 2 of the Mandate for Palestine stated: “The Mandatory [Britain] shall be responsible for placing the country under such political, administrative and economic conditions as will secure the establishment of the Jewish national home, as laid down in the preamble, and the development of self-governing institutions, and also for safeguarding the civil and religious rights of all the inhabitants of Palestine, irrespective of race and religion.” Article 7 of the same document stated: “The Administration of Palestine shall be responsible for enacting a nationality law. There shall be included in this law provisions framed so as to facilitate the acquisition of Palestinian citizenship by Jews who take up their permanent residence in Palestine.”
Since that time, the Palestinian people have fallen victim to all types of crimes, including war crimes, committed first by Zionist terror gangs, and then by the Israel “Defence” Forces and Jewish settlers, including massacres, such as those in Deir Yassin, Kafr Qassem and Al-Tantura. The ethnic cleansing turned 70 per cent of the Palestinian population into refugees, whose numbers now stand at seven million; they are victims of the crimes of occupation and racial discrimination — apartheid — and all kinds of human rights violations. The number of Palestinian martyrs since 1948 is at least 100,000, while more than a million Palestinians have been detained.
According to the description of the well-known anti-Zionist Israeli historian Ilan Pappe, part of Palestine has been turned into the largest prison in human history, wherein more than two million Palestinians have been besieged in the Gaza Strip by land, sea and air since 2006. They are deprived of water, electricity and all means of a decent living, and 80 per cent of graduates are unemployed.
With each passing day, the occupation spreads poverty, disease, depression and disasters among the Palestinians. There are 642 Israeli military checkpoints in the occupied West Bank, which has been divided and fragmented by illegal settlements and the apartheid wall, into 224 islands or Bantustans; or, more accurately, “Ghettostans”. As a result of these checkpoints, Palestinians lose 60 million work hours every year, at an estimated cost of $234 million, as well as $135 million lost in additional fuel expenses as a result of waiting to get through.
Millions of Palestinians are not allowed to move between Gaza and the West Bank or visit the rest of Palestine, including Jerusalem, and millions are banned from travelling, even for the treatment of deadly diseases. Hundreds of thousands are deprived of seeing their loved ones and families on a daily basis, while there are mothers who have not seen their children for decades. There are husbands who are deprived of living with their wives; children separated from their families; and children who have never met their grandparents, uncles, aunts and sometimes even siblings. The occupation and Palestinian Authority apartheid regimes oppress the Palestinian in their work, food, clothing, medical treatment, transportation and imprisonment every day until they die.
There is no place in the world like occupied Palestine, where the killing of Palestinians, including journalists, doctors, nurses and children is an almost daily event but the killers are neither held accountable nor blamed. There is no place in the world like occupied Palestine, where the victims are considered criminals; their legitimate resistance is called “terrorism”; and their sacrifices are necessarily violent. Is there an uglier form of oppression than one whereby those who fight to defend their land and children are called “terrorists”, and if they are killed or arrested their families are punished by having their homes demolished?
I recall the days when there was uproar in the US and the West if a Russian Jew such as the Zionist Natan Sharansky was banned from travelling. In stark contrast, millions of Palestinians imprisoned in their villages and cities, and threatened with expulsion from them, do not hear a word of protest in this regard. Moreover, if a noble individual does protest against their oppression, he or she is accused of being anti-Semitic. If that person happens to be Jewish, then they are seen as rebelling against Zionism, and described as “self-hating” or even mentally ill.
Not only was their personal land and greater part of their homeland stolen from the Palestinians, but the Israelis also steal their antiquities, heritage, clothing, traditional food and the names of their cities and villages every day. Nowhere in the world but occupied Palestine do we find racism in the streets used exclusively by Israeli Jews, while Palestinians are punished for walking or driving on them by being jailed for six months or longer.
There are types of injustices imposed by colonialism, colonial oppression, brutal capitalist exploitation and nationalist fanaticism, in many parts of the world, but there is nothing like the systematic, planned, organized and continuous injustice that the Israelis impose against the Palestinians. I am not able to describe the unprecedented steadfastness shown by the Palestinians in the face of this injustice, but it is useful to recall that the fiercest and most extreme founder of Zionism, Ze’ev Jabotinsky, said that the Palestinians are a determined nation committed to their homeland, and can only be broken and defeated by spreading despair and frustration in their ranks.
Today, the Israelis are trying to promote despair and frustration by besieging the Palestinian people through the humiliating normalization of relations with Arab governments, and they are striving to spread their propaganda that the Palestinians are isolated and ostracized. They remind me of the well-known saying, “Injustice from those who are closest to us is the harshest.” However, the Palestinians have surprised Israel and the world with their determination to persevere and resist. They remind the West of their double standards every day, as well as the level of hypocrisy in their talk about human rights, although they are unwilling to put any pressure on Israel, which has violated human rights on every level. They are reminding the world of what Syrian author Abd al-Rahman al-Kawakibi said: “If the oppressor saw a sword in the hands of the oppressed, they would not dare to oppress them.” And the eloquent words of Dr Martin Luther King Jr, at the height of his struggle against racism: “The ultimate tragedy is not the oppression and cruelty by the bad people but the silence over that by the good people.”
Contrary to what the leaders of the Zionist movement thought and planned, the younger Palestinian generations are not frustrated or hopeless; they are more aware of and reject the illusions and deceptions that have been presented to mislead the world and distort the Palestinians’ awareness in the form of so-called “peace agreements”, “normalization” and “economic peace”. The faith that the younger generations have has become deeper and more profound because, in the words of Ali Bin Abi Talib: “The reign of oppression lasts an hour, but the reign of the truth lasts until the end of time.”
Mustafa Barghouti is a Palestinian physician and politician