Victories and Democracies in the Eyes of Their Beholders

Tuesday 25 May 202112:26 pm

The latest war between Palestine and Israel has been ignited by systemic ethnic cleansing in East Jerusalem, with the uprooting of Palestinians from their homes in Sheikh Jarrah. However, the root cause of the problem lies in years of blockade around Gaza and decades of oppression imposed by Israel and even Arab states such as Egypt. Shortly after a ceasefire was announced and following an 11-day war, Israel claimed victory, as did Hamas; Crowds in countries hosting Palestinian refugees across the world chanted victory slogans.

With a death toll of 260, of which 248 are Palestinians, including 66 children, and 39 women. Hamas might have won three things:

1. It has emerged, to the ire of its enemies and opponents alike, as a custodian of Palestinians’ right to Jerusalem and as a staunch defender of the capital of their state;

2. It propped up its position as an active player that needs to be reckoned with at the negotiating table despite being designated as a foreign terrorist organization by western states including the US and the EU; and

3. It exposed the weakness in Israel's most advanced defense system, the Iron Dome, whose concept became a necessity following Israel’s war with Hezbollah and the need to step up its defense system to face up to one of the most serious threats it faces to date.

The ceasefire reached between Hamas and Israel won’t stand as long as there’s an oppressive state that practices systemic oppression against Palestinians. The wave of support in solidarity with Palestinians is unprecedented.

However, despite the propaganda and pride Israel takes in its defense capabilities, during these 11 days, the system showed several gaps especially when missiles are fired consecutively. Despite intercepting most of the missiles fired from Gaza, some were able to reach Israel, sending thousands into shelters and inflicting harm on the Israeli population.

Wars can only intensify hatred, heighten anti-Semitic rhetoric and fuel future wars. The ceasefire reached between Hamas and Israel won’t stand as long as there’s an oppressive state that practices systemic oppression against Palestinians on a day to day basis. The wave of support we’ve seen across the world in solidarity with Palestinians, while not unprecedented, is somewhat unique in style and scale. It revitalized the Palestinian issue, putting it back at center stage after being left dormant for some years now. The Palestine issue has lacked a real breakthrough that would establish a state of dignity, not apartheid, a state of equal rights not discrimination. Peace will never stand unless there's a real intention to solve the underlying causes of the longest running humanitarian and, above all, human crisis in the world. 

Decades of negotiations had failed in fomenting a united force between the official Palestinian representative, the Palestine Authority, and Hamas. There are emerging currents and parties with a more contemporary vision that can revitalize the political system. Traditional differences must not stand in the way of a younger generation that is increasingly proactive and taking charge of formulating a new narrative; traditional clichés are no longer applicable and must give way to a new generation that could present progressive ideas and offer a fresh set of eyes into the conflict.

If Israel reins in its false illusion of invincibility, end its systemic oppression and illegal settlements and accept East Jerusalem as the capital of Palestine, then it would’ve laid the seeds of a workable diplomacy and some kind of peace, for all

Free and fair elections are needed and the international community must respect the results regardless of their expectations. Just a reminder of the international communitys reluctance to recognize Hamas legislative victory in 2006  viewing Hamas as a destructive force that wants to eliminate the Jewish state; that’s the irony of western democracy: “Democracy is in the eyes of its beholder”. Democracy is only welcome when it comes to reaffirm the political agendas and only if it befits the democratic norms for other nations, irrespective of what the people actually vote for.

Traditional brokers must also give way for a new wave of youth and a progressive approach to the Palestine issue. The United States unrelenting support to Israel, despite its blatant breach of international laws, must be reined in. Moreover, Hamas and Israel are to be held to the same international standards; bringing down buildings and killing children and attacking media offices have been justified, through Israeli propaganda machine, under the excuse that Hamas leaders were taking refuge in these buildings in a blatant disregard for the proportionality principle in times of war. This makes Israel liable under international law and stands accused of war crimes. International laws are only observed, and inextricably scrutinized, when Hamas is firing at Israel; No innocent soul must pay the price, not when they haven’t had a say in whether this war ought to happen in the first place or whether they are willing to pay the hefty price in properties, land and human lives. The role of the EU and Arab states needs to be reinvigorated, not despite of, but because of the normalization with Israel. 

Free and fair elections are needed in Palestine, and the international community must respect the results even if Hamas is the winner. So far, democracy was only welcome by the West when it reaffirmed the political agendas of others

How should reconstruction efforts get underway in a manner that rebuilds Gaza but does not empower Hamas’ military capabilities is the main question now. Intifada after another Israel has failed to quell the Palestine resistance in all its forms. Seventy-four years were not enough to crush the will of the people and there’s much doubt that will happen in the next 74 years. Perhaps if Israel reins in its false illusion of invincibility, end its systemic oppression and illegal settlements under international law –– a law it breaches with impunity –– accept East Jerusalem as the future Palestine capital, then it would’ve laid the seeds of its true intentions for a workable diplomacy of some sort for some kind of peace after all, and for all.

*The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect Raseef22

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