There was a huge protest in London over Israeli atrocities in Gaza. There have also been demonstrations in 13 other British and European cities, including Galway in Ireland. But there hasn’t been even a whimper of official dissent in the oil-soaked kingdoms of the UAE and Saudi Arabia. In fact, while the conflict was raging in Gaza, Dubai announced with undisguised pride that by 2020 the UAE would be sending a space mission to Mars! The Congress-led opposition in India, where a huge demonstration took place in Kashmir, is pressing the government to hold a debate in the Rajha Sabha on the future of Israeli-Indian relations. It is a futile mission because the BJP government of Narendra Modi is most reluctant to break relations with Israel.
It now appears that except for Iran, Turkey and Qatar, the Muslim world has been largely silent on the totally one-sided massacre in Gaza. In Pakistan, there has been the odd protest, like the one orchestrated by the Sunni Tehreek in Karachi, and Nawaz Sharif has made the gesture of donating a million dollars to the victims of Israeli aggression. But there has been no concerted revolt like the uprising organised by the Ali Brothers in India — supported by Mahatma Gandhi — to protect the Ottoman Empire after the fallout of the First World War. Ayesha Siddiqa in her article “Sorry Gaza, can’t help” published on July 24 in this newspaper enumerated three cogent reasons why Pakistan, while it sympathises deeply with the plight of the Palestinians, cannot really get involved politically or militarily, especially after the war on terror changed the dynamics of protest. She probably saw the videos on the net where desperate Palestinians were crying “Where is Pakistan? Why are they not coming to our aid?”
The genesis of modern Israel can be traced to a letter written on November 2, 1917, by the British foreign secretary Arthur James Balfour to Baron Rothschild, a leader of the British Jewish community, for onward transmission to the Zionist Federation of Great Britain and Ireland. Known as The Balfour Declaration, it stated “His Majesty’s government view with favour the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people, and will use their best endeavours to facilitate the achievement of this object, it being clearly understood that nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine, or the rights and political status enjoyed by Jews in any other country.” Subsequently, successive US presidents have pledged to protect the country, which they regard as their only true ally in the Middle East.
Some of the statements of world leaders are most illuminating. US President Barrack Obama repeatedly states that every country has a right to defend itself; and… what is a country expected to do if rockets are raining on them? But at the same time the Americans are also talking about forcing a ceasefire between the two adversaries. According to Press TV of Iran, the UN Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon, said to Benjamin Netanyahu in a joint press conference, “I extend my deep condolences to the prime minister and to the people of Israel on the fatalities from the recent escalation.” At the time of writing, the death toll was for Israel 33 — all soldiers — and Palestine 650 — mostly unarmed civilians. The Hamas stand, as indeed that of all Palestinians, is that the Zionist occupation is illegal. And no power on earth will be able to get Hamas or Hezbollah to drop the charge. The tragedy is that the struggle is likely to continue.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 27th, 2014.
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