The orgy of inhumanity heaped upon Palestinians by Israeli security forces and civilians alike makes it difficult to believe that recent events are taking place in 2021. The suffering of Palestinians over the last few weeks has been harrowing to witness.
As video footage streams into social media each new clip is more shocking than the previous one. This after all is the modern state of Israel, home of great intellectuals, prized scientists, and artists that western powers acclaim as the only true democracy in the Middle East.
In a country meant to epitomize the best of western values, a simple act of resistance by Palestinian families to arbitrary expulsion from their homes in the small Jerusalem enclave of Sheikh Jarrah sparked the latest round of Israeli violence.
Palestinian attempts to challenge illegal expropriation, in direct contravention of international law and United Nations resolutions, of their property, has met with unbridled Israeli brutality and violence.
The ongoing crisis
To drive home the point of their entitlement to apply brute force, a full-scale Israeli military operation was launched against peaceful worshippers congregating during Ramadan at Al-Aqsa Mosque. At one of the most sacred Islamic sites, rubber bullets were fired at those gathered there.
When Palestinians tried to protest against the unfolding events, Israeli forces terrorized and beat them. Rampaging mobs of Zionist zealots attacked Arabs on the streets and in their homes while police looked on.
In an ironic replay of Kristallnacht, when Jewish businesses and Synagogues were ransacked in Nazi Germany, in the town of Lod Arab shops and mosques were attacked by marauding Israeli ultra-nationalists.
In another town, a Palestinian man was dragged from his car and assaulted in what can only be described as a lynch mob befitting the Jim Crow era in the Southern United States. In raids across the West Bank, the Israeli military shot and killed Palestinians randomly.
The upsurge of unremitting violence was further turned up a notch as the holy month of Ramadan ended. On the pretext of Hamas firing an ineffectual battery of primitive missiles towards Tel Aviv, the Israeli Defense force (IDF) launched a savage bombardment of Gaza City.
Children found themselves celebrating Eid not with the exchange of candy and traditional presents, but the gift of Israeli warplanes raining bombs to level apartment buildings and killing entire families.
Israel’s latest air bombardment of Gaza was “heavier, on a wider area and lasting longer” than the raids 24 hours earlier that killed at least 42 Palestinians.
— Al Jazeera English (@AJEnglish) May 17, 2021
In its avatar as one of the most empowered states in the comity of nations, Israel and its purportedly ‘most moral army in the world’ have decided to destroy whatever the Palestinian people may have to resist the relentless process of dispossessing them of their land, and more importantly, of any residual hope for a better future.
What started with the creation of Israel and the stealing of Palestinian property and dignity, is now being accelerated to its harsh finality. The attempt to forcefully, and in violation of international law, reengineer the demography of the city of Jerusalem has become an urgent imperative for a regime unwilling to heed moral or legal restraints.
Through shock and awe of lethal force that will kill as many as it can possibly rationalize while displacing many thousands more, Israel is now unveiling its plan to maintain perpetual control over whatever once may have belonged to the Palestinians. The ultimate prize in this unrelenting pursuit is the city of Jerusalem.
The building of illegal settlements around the city to cut it off from the rest of the Palestinian population in the West Bank is already in place as is the restriction of movement to deny Palestinians access to and within the municipality itself.
With the arbitrary right to revoke Palestinians of their residency status, they can be expelled without much legal recourse. The expelling of Palestinians from their homes in Sheikh Jarrah and ensconcing Israeli settlers in Jerusalem is the denouement of a strategy that has been long in the making, and until now, unquestioned by the world.
The light following the dark
However, the Israelis did not anticipate the changing dynamics of social media and how it can influence the sentiment of ordinary citizens globally. Amidst the debris of a Gaza bombed-out ruined building the voice of a young girl moved even the most stone-cold of hearts.
Hardened politicians and otherwise cynical observers of the repeated cycle of violence in the Middle East found themselves struggling to hold back tears as they heard the despair of a teenager, who despite all that had befallen her, exhibited the courage to express the desire to become a doctor and serve her people.
There were many other such clips that have permeated the collective consciousness of ordinary people across the globe and its impact seems to be making a difference.
While western leaders continue to equivocate and make statements that are devoid of moral compunction in the face of most obvious injustice, the streets across world cities, ranging from Sydney, London, Cape Town, Chicago, Toronto etc., have exploded with spontaneous support for Palestinians. At first hesitantly, the tide of global opinion appears to be increasingly turning against Israel, and loudly in favor of Palestinians.
A large number of celebrities, who previously avoided commenting on this ‘complex’ issue have come out unequivocally against unrestrained Israeli barbarism against Palestinians. Led by the Bella and Gigi Hadid, other celebrities coming out openly to criticize Israel include Mark Ruffalo, Natalie Portman, Dua Lipa, Zayn Malik, and several star footballers.
And finally, in the United States, where until recently, almost all politicians of whatever hue, sheepishly toed the line of supporting Israel, a new crop of progressive Democrats is having an impact.
The New York mayoral candidate, Andrew Yang, had to backtrack the pro-Israel tweet that he had posted in the wake of the Israeli attack on the Gaza Strip, as it outraged many on the left, including a member of the US House of Representatives, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (AOC), for failing to express any solidarity with the Palestinian people or to recognize the victims of Israeli airstrikes.
"This is our businesses. The United States must acknowledge its role in the injustice and human rights violations of Palestinians. This is not about both sides. This is about an imbalance of power." @AOC tonight on the House floor pic.twitter.com/EruMXgNLvK
— People for Bernie (@People4Bernie) May 13, 2021
Having earlier been silent on the Palestinian plight, Yang’s later statement read, “I mourn for every Palestinian life taken before its time as I do for every Israeli….”. AOC went further and called Israel an “apartheid state”. For a New York elected representative, with a keen sense of the pulse of the people to openly state that indicates ‘the times they are a-changin’ indeed!
Javed Hassan is a graduate of Imperial College London and an MBA from London Business School. He is an investment banker who has worked in London, Hong Kong, and Karachi. He tweets as @javedhassan. The views expressed in this article are author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Global Village Space.