Deir Yassin (1948)… Sabra and Shatilla (1982)… Qana (1996)… Jenin (2002) is only the latest in a long list of Israeli crimes against humanity during the zionist state’s short but bloody history. Whether or not a UN fact-finding mission is sent to the camp is irrelevant; everyone who watched events there unfolding, and has seen the devastation – in terms of both the camp and the lives of its people – left after the Israeli withdrawal, knows exactly what happened there, without a report that will inevitably be written with political objectives in mind. It should also be remembered that while Jenin was undoubtedly the greatest atrocity of the Israelis’ latest offensive, it was by no means the only one. Palestinians in Ramallah, Bethlehem and many others towns, villages and refugee camps have also suffered enormous damage and terrible losses. Indeed, every Palestinian in Palestine is suffering as a result of the Israelis’ determination to destroy the infrastructure of Palestinian society and the spirit of the Palestinian people.
Such has been international outrage at the Israelis’ actions that even the US has had to speak out against them, although no one takes George W. Bush’s criticism of Ariel Sharon very seriously. It is inconceivable that Israel was acting without a prior green light from Washington, or that it will face any meaningful sanction for its actions. When we hear US and Israeli statements, and see their actions, we should understand them as two arms of the same entity, working together to pursue the same objective: the maximization of Israel’s size and power, and the legitimization of its control over as much Muslim land as possible.
The talk in recent weeks has been of a return to the negotiating table and the resumption of peace talks aimed first at a ceasefire and then at a comprehensive settlement. However, all the arguments against the peace process, which sceptics have been making since the earliest days of the Oslo process a decade ago, have been validated by the events of the last decade in general, and of the last few months in particular. They can be summed up very simply: that Israel is insincere and untrustworthy in everything it says and does, and cannot be worked with. Many Palestinians have felt this from the start. Very few now have any doubts.
There is, however, a more fundamental reality that we must not forget: that Israel itself is wholly illegitimate and has no right to exist. The pragmatic acceptance of a two-state solution by some Palestinians was based not on recognising Israel’s right to exist, but on accepting the reality of its existence. If Israel were willing to co-exist with a Palestinian state, some argued, then the question of its illegitimacy should be put aside for the sake of a settlement. Now that Israel has proved that it is not willing to make an even vaguely equitable agreement, the question of its illegitimacy comes to the fore. The fact that Israeli settlements in the West Bank are illegitimate, occupying entities, created by aggression and dispossession, and are obstacles to a peace is widely recognised; the same is true of the whole of Israel. It is one huge settlement, established by Jews invading Palestine from Europe and elsewhere, and forcing Palestinians out of their lands and properties. No number of UN resolutions, and no degree of international recognition, can change that fact. Even many Israelis now accept that the settlements in the West Bank and Ghazzah will have to be abandoned. The truth is bigger than that: such is the nature of Israel and of the Israeli mindset that peace will only be possible when the settlement that is Israel is itself dismantled. That is the inescapable conclusion of the experiences of the last decade.
Israel is a creature born of zionism, a racist ideology based on a belief in the God-given superiority of the Jews as a race over all other peoples. The parallels between zionist Israel and apartheid South Africa are clear, and zionism will have to go the way that apartheid went. The Jews in Palestine will have to make the same choice as the whites did in South Africa: to remain as equal citizens of a fair, open Palestinian state shaped by the wishes of the majority of its people, or to leave for greener pastures elsewhere. Less than a decade after the end of apartheid, most white South Africans recognize it as an abhorrent phase in their history that should never have happened; some Jews already feel the same about zionism. The problem is that the zionists (not all of whom are Jews) are going to create great deal more conflict and bloodshed before allowing the inevitable to come about.
Mr. Iqbal Siddiqui is Editor of Crescent International and Research Fellow at the Institute of Islamic Contemporary Thought.