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Why Palestinians have won the battle of hearts and minds?

Hassan Aslam Shad, an international law expert, believes Palestinian sacrifices on streets of Gaza have exposed the hypocrisy of western governments and have turned around the narrative on American street at an important moment in US history!

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In today’s time and age, conflicts can awkwardly awaken our conscience. Fallen bodies, bomb-shattered buildings, jarring noise of jets hovering overhead, the mixed stench of concrete and blood can all be ‘felt’ and ‘lived’ thousands of miles away from the war zone. The Israel – Hamas 11 days conflict – now in a state of a fragile ceasefire – has also reverberated across the time-space continuum. People around the world have witnessed on social media Israel’s brutal aggression against civilians in occupied Gaza.

With more than 250 civilian Palestinian casualties, among whom many are children, Palestinians have been able to showcase the sheer helplessness of their people, the hypocrisy of the world towards their just cause, but above all, their sheer grit and that of their supporters who have dared to look Israel the Goliath in the eye. 

The conflict has also exposed some geopolitical fissures that can concretize into more robust structural positions in days to come. New battle lines are now becoming visible. US President Biden’s promise to restore the “rules-based international order” has fallen flat on its face after his administration’s open support for Israel. This time around, it was Israel’s “right of self defence” that was invoked to deodorize Israel’s sins.

Death of Abraham Accords at hands of western hypocrisy

The Abraham Accords have died an infantile death one undeserving of a funeral. China has openly spoken for Palestine and “filled the void” left by the US in the wake of its disengagement from the Middle East. European exceptionalism has come to the fore with some European countries vehemently supporting Israel’s right of self-defence as the new grundnorm designed to whitewash Israel’s crimes.

The Muslim World would have closely watched Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi’s interview with CNN in which his reference to Israel’s “deep pockets” was labeled anti-Semitism by the news anchor whilst the blasphemous cartoons against Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) continue to be justified as “freedom of speech”. These hypocrisies don’t go unnoticed, fancy word jugglery notwithstanding. They have consequences. 

Read more: Pakistan demands international protection force for Palestinians at UNGA session

Despite mainstream Western media’s consistent bias in Israel’s favor, the world is slowly but surely waking up to the fudge and fakery of the reality that is Israel. When the last pretext used by an occupying power to legitimize its crimes is “self defence of the civilian population”, it shows that the protagonists of war have run out of arrows in their quiver and desperation is creeping in. The sub-text left for Israel to ponder today is: while it can justify killing Palestinian civilians today on the basis of “self-defence”, can it do so indefinitely? Hard questions are being asked by the world. Regurgitated stories shoved down the world’s throat by spin doctors are no longer cutting it. Times are changing. 

Now onto the star performers who have pulled the Palestine struggle out of rubble and detritus and positioned it prominently at the world stage. These are Pakistan and Turkey. Both countries have come out vocally in support of Palestinians. Pakistan in particular has stood out as the diamond in the coal mine known as the Muslim World. It has shone brightly.

The country’s leadership has shown that their moral compass is intact and US muscular preening notwithstanding, they will take a stand for their Palestinian brothers and sisters. The proceedings in the United Nations attended by Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi may seem hyperbole to those dismayed by the lackadaisical and indifferent attitude of Western countries, but they reveal a constellation of newer voices in support of Palestinians emerging on the international horizon. The blistering polemic against Israel that reverberated through UN corridors is pregnant with nuances for the discerning eye

Israel’s gravitational pull for the world today is its “clout” in global media and US policy-making circles – something that is termed “anti-Semitic” by default. The road to the US’s heart, proverbially speaking, goes through Israel. No surprise, therefore, that by piggybacking the US which acts as Israel’s financial grid, it up until now has been able to get away with murder. But despair must be coursing through US and Israeli policy circles in light of recent events. 

Read more: Are Russia & Turkey really sending troops to save Palestinians?

Israel losing support on American street

The Israeli aggression has occurred at a dangerous moment in American history for Israel. The protagonists of the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement who have stood against the historic injustices against African Americans see parallels with Palestinians – a people subjected to racial discrimination at the hands of an apartheid regime, Israel. US legislators who been at the forefront in the BLM movement like Ilhan Omar, Alexandria Cortez and Rashida Tlaib have coalesced a robust voice for Palestinian rights within the US. Much to the chagrin of Israel, questions are beginning to be asked as to whether the US is justified in unconditionally underwriting Israeli crimes against Palestinians through the yearly aid of $4 billion to Israel. 

Lastly, a few words on the emotional toll of Hamas’ rocket attack on Israel. Even if 4 out of 4000 rockets fired by Hamas hit their target – leaving Hamas with an abysmal kill ratio of 0.001 – what matters, in the end, is the horror unfurling before Israelis’ of not knowing which of those 4000 rockets would end up getting soaked in their blood.

This has left Israelis emotionally bruised and uncertain about the country’s future. If Palestinians have suffered majority human casualties, it is the Israelis who have been left with lingering fear and uncertainty. That the man on the street in the Muslim world – 52 countries no less – is deeply aggrieved by Israel even if all Muslim leaders aren’t isn’t something that well-meaning Israelis would be conveniently brushing under the rug. 

In the end, let me say this: the Palestinians furling rocks with no roof above their heads and no certainty about their future have come out as the winners. Don’t expect a separate Palestinian state in the near future. Don’t expect this Israeli aggression to go away anytime soon. But do expect a newer struggle on the streets that is catapulted into the realm of actionable momentum in the days to come.

Read more: Signs of hope for Palestinians as global support pours in

By bombarding Gaza and killing innocent Palestinians, Israel has not exactly elicited any sympathy from the world. Instead, the vanities that animated Israel’s military might have been decimated to pieces by a much weaker foe. Palestinians celebrating in Gaza after the ceasefire are able to see a paved road to a viable future despite the carnage precipitated by the implacably malevolent Israel. They have the reason to celebrate today for a better tomorrow. 

Hassan Aslam Shad is an international lawyer based in the Middle East and a graduate of Harvard Law School. He can be reached at: vertitas@post.harvard.edu. The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Global Village Space.

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