In all the years, spanning more than two decades, that I have commented on, addressed public rallies and written about QUDS Day, this Ramadaan é which marks its 23rd anniversary since Imam Khomeini’s visionary declaration that the last Friday of each Ramadaan be observed by the Muslim Ummah as QUDS Day é is poised to be remembered as perhaps the most crucial.
Not only has the last 26 months of the Intifada demonstrated Palestinian resolve not to be cowed or overawed by the “jackboot of the Israeli state”, as Ronnie Kasrils would say; but also the shocking realization by the Zionist regime of their failure to defeat an unarmed population and silence their cries of justice!
This inability to defeat the Intifada despite barbaric military operations which include deploying hundreds of armoured vehicles and tankers across every inch of Occupied Palestine; helicopter gunships firing missiles into densely populated residential areas; bulldozers rampaging and destroying homes regardless of the occupants; curfews and roadblocks; olive orchards razed to the ground, has revived an internal revolution pitting Israeli against Israeli.
This remarkable phenomenon, though not surprising, underlines my earlier observation about the decisiveness of this year’s QUDS Day.
One of the more serious internal challenges facing the self proclaimed Jewish state has emanated from the underbelly of the pride of the international Zionist movement: the IDF (Israeli Defence Force).
Israeli soldiers have committed the ultimate act of treason, viewed as blasphemous by ardent pro-Israeli propagandists: they have asked Israel’s Supreme Court to declare the 35-year occupation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip illegal and have refused to serve in these areas. They argue that their rejection of call-up orders is legal because the occupation itself is not.
Unlike the “unequivocal support for the State of Israel” by Chief Rabbi Cyril Harris; unlike his endorsement of Sharon’s military action against Palestinians é “Sharon is perfectly justified in his actions”, Lieutenant David Zonshein and seven other officers listed military blockades of Palestinian towns and cities, mass curfews and killings of militants and Palestinian civilians as war crimes, banned by the Geneva Conventions.
Its left to be seen what new slanderous term will be applied to these brave individuals prepared to challenge the soul of the Zionist regime. After all, Ronnie Kasrils came under scathing attack by the rabbi.
Following hard on the heels of the Israeli soldiers petition, Amnesty International released a damning report providing clear evidence that Israeli troops and their commanders have committed war crimes.
In a study of the Israeli Army’s operations in the West Bank cities of Jenin and Nablus from April to June this year, Amnesty cites the killing of Palestinian women and children, the “wanton” destruction of houses, torture of Palestinian prisoners, and the use of Palestinian civilians by Israeli soldiers as “human shields” during military operations.
Another of the more serious internal challenges that has forced Israel to examine its soul, are the illegal outposts known as Jewish settlements é even though the chief rabbi and pro-Israeli lobby groups in South Africa would be loathe to admit it.
On the death anniversary of Rabin, Israeli papers were filled with agonizing commentaries about a nation racked by division and unable to confront its demons. Referring to violent clashes between settler mobs and soldiers, the Ma’ariv’s editor-in-chief Amnon Dankner said “it seems nothing in Israeli society has been healed, no lessons learnt, and it looks like the infected areas continue to produce dangerous pus.”
There can be no dispute that at this crucial juncture of the Intifada, the Zionist military machine coupled to the unlimited resources of weapons of mass destruction, courtesy of the American government, has never felt so emasculated. This sign of weakness is reflective of an immoral political ideology, which cannot be sustained in the face of growing internal dissent.
The paradox is that Israeli politics has turned full circle, with a rabid right wing alliance é uncaring of world opinion and defiant of international laws é willing and ready to seek the mass expulsions of Palestinians in the Occupied Territories. The Mofaz-Netanyahu-Sharon axis of evil is the most repressive any Zionist cabal could venture and thus likely to revisit the horrors of Deir Yassin, Qana, Sabra & Shatilla é repeating and excelling in their pursuit of mass killings, defiantly opposed to any notion of Palestinian sovereignty.
This QUDS Day therefore presents profound challenges. It requires each person to act now to defend Palestinians who are victimized by the Israeli occupation and threatened with renewed massacres and ethnic cleansing. The war on Iraq will provide Sharon’s illegitimate government the ideal cover to unleash its brute force.
Will we wait till then?
(Mr. Iqbal Jasarat is Chairman of the Media Review Network, which is an advocacy group based in Pretoria, South Africa.)