Sunday, 19 December 2010

The Tide Is Turning

Zachariah Sammour

For over 60 years the average European was entirely oblivious to the fact that during a period in which Colonial interference in the non-western world was beginning to decline, Israel embodied the most intrusive and repressive colonial project imposed upon the Middle East. A state which was ethnically defined, shaped at the behest of European powers for the benefit of an overwhelmingly European population and created without any consultation with the indigenous population, the creation of Israel inevitably faced fierce resistance from the Palestinians upon whom it was imposed and the wider Arab world.

For a long time the average British student viewed the conflict within a false paradigm, believing Israel to be an ancient, biblical state what Arabs wished to ‘annihilate’ for no reason other than anti-Semitism. That paradigm has now begun to shift, more and more people are beginning to see through the countless layers of deceit and to view Israel for what is; a colonial legacy- a creation of Europeans, made in consultation with Europeans, against the wishes and without consideration of the non-European indigenous inhabitants of the land that was to be given away.

For over 60 years the Palestinian was viewed as the archetypal terrorist; an enemy of the free world intent on the destruction of ‘the only democracy in the Middle East’. They hijacked planes, they killed Olympic athletes- this was a group of violent people. For too long the misery, suffering and oppression of the Palestinian was hidden from view; the ethnic cleansing they endured in 1948 in which around 75% of Palestinians inside the newly created state of Israel fled their homes, the illegal occupation of the land that many had fled to in 1967 and the inhumane repression that accompanied it. The denial of self-determination, the denial of equality, the denial of basic decency and self respect- the Palestinian was forced to live a life as a sub-human, a second class citizen not worthy of the same rights and pleasures as a Jew. Whilst the world looked on at Israel as a weary victim of Palestinian aggression, the true Palestinian trapped in misery and poverty went on unacknowledged.

But recently the eyes of the world have begun to open; the average European has begun to witness the atrocities being carried out against the Palestinian people. They saw with their own eyes the bombs being dropped on schools, hospitals, ambulances, markets and mosques. They saw mothers weeping over their dead children, they saw families reduced to living in tents, and they saw the skies of Gaza light up with the sparks of death and misery. Whilst Israel desperately attempts to maintain the perception of the Palestinian that it has worked so hard over the past six decades to cultivate, it has become increasingly difficult.

For all the loaded words and dismissive terminology they can muster, it has become difficult for Israel to continue to persuade the world that it is justified in reducing over a million people in Gaza to abject poverty and destitution, to then carry out a whole scale invasion of the besieged territory and to then refuse to allow building supplies to re-enter the territory. It has become increasingly difficult to argue that it is necessary for the peace and security of Israel to subject Palestinians in the West Bank to a labyrinth of checkpoints and walls, which make their daily, lives almost unlivable. It has become increasingly difficult to defend the occupation of Palestine, particularly in light of the International Court of Justices’ damning report on the illegality of it.

Whilst the standard position adopted by an individual in this country is still Zionist, it has undoubtedly become less malleable to the deceit of the Israeli propaganda machine. It no longer views the Palestinian in the cold, racist and dehumanising manner that is urged to do so by Mark Regev and co. This is by far the greatest achievement that could have been won for the Palestinians, so long as they can be viewed as sub-human, as a ‘terrorist’, then it was possible to justify almost any atrocity or abuse against them. Now they are increasingly being viewed as human beings, worthy of the same respect and rights as any other human being, and Israel comes under increased criticism and hostility.

Now the Palestinian is viewed as a human being, the work of people who support equality, freedom and human rights becomes easier.

Long Live Palestine.

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