A tale bigger than two states

Opinion writer Mohamed Jalaal Naseem journeys through a brief history of the conflict between Palestine and Israel; and what future, and current, generations should do in the face of the Palestinian plight.

Hazeem Badar - AFP Getty Images

Hazeem Badar - AFP Getty Images

As a tenuous ceasefire comes into effect between Palestine and Israel, ending 11 of the bloodiest days in the recent history of this long-enduring conflict, we see Palestinians pour out into the streets of shattered communities, surprisingly claiming victory. Instead of being battered down by the might of one of the most powerful and ruthless military establishments in the world today, they claim victory. After eight decades of direct hostilities, merely surviving is victory for Palestinians.

While survival for Palestinians has been deconstructed to its most fundamental component in the right to draw breath, for Israelis survival relates to all aspects of life, including the ability to live in peace, free from fear. The dichotomy between these realities explain why the vast majority of nations have labeled Israel’s actions in the Occupied Palestinian Territories as illegal and in violation of international humanitarian law.

The roots of this conflict illustrate a cold calculus employed by those far beyond the borders of these two nations and stem from Zionism; an ideology dedicated to establishing a Jewish homeland as a nation state. The first phase of this philosophy could very well be traced to 1799 when Napoleon offered Palestine as a homeland for the Jews. However, the first major Zionist settlement was established in Palestine years later in 1882. In 1896 the writer and political activist, Theodor Herzl, published a book, Der Judenstaat, calling for the creation of an independent Jewish State, and was considered to be one of the most important texts of early Zionism. The Zionist Organization was founded a year later, in 1897. A few years later, while the Zionist movement was building momentum, a Palestinian journalist by the name of Najib Nassar published the Al-Karmel Newspaper opposing Zionist colonisation. However, at this point the wheels already set in motion would not be undone. 

In 1915, a Zionist British Cabinet member, Herbert Samuel, wrote “the Future of Palestine”, a secret memorandum calling on his cabinet colleagues to support Zionist settlement in Palestine. The following year, in 1916, the infamous Sykes-Picot secret agreement was signed dividing the Middle-East between the French and British. In 1917, during WWI the Balfour declaration was made, where the British promised to establish a ‘Jewish National Home’ on Arab land. More specifically in Palestine, an Ottoman region at the time, with a small Jewish population. Years later, in 1922, The League of Nations approved the British mandate for Palestine and its purpose for establishing a Jewish Homeland in it. 

During this time, all actions to subvert these efforts failed. It wasn’t until 1929, that the first mass protest against Jewish settlement in Palestine took place; which was known as Al-Buraq. These continued with several mass protests taking place until in 1937, when the Peel Commission, a British royal commission of inquiry, formally and quite boldly known as the Palestine Royal Commission, recommended the partition of Palestine. It subsequently also called for the transfer of Palestinians from all lands “allocated” to the Jews. In the following years the British smashed the years long Arab revolt against the unjust occupation and in 1938, the armed Zionist group Irgun, launched a series of deadly attacks against the Palestinians. Ever since, there have been periods of revolt, conflict, war, ceasefires and outright massacres. On occasions, several neighbouring nations, such Jordan and Lebanon, have been drawn into the ongoing conflict.  

It is now 2021, and all efforts, until now, for a solution to the mess created by the overbearing colonial super powers of our time seem to be in vain. The recollection of events, as outlined earlier in this writing, also provides key insight as to why, for the most part, the West tries so hard to turn a blind eye to the cries of the Palestinian people. With no end in sight, every flare-up of this continuing conflict, sees an inspiring rise of a global mass, in unison, in solidarity with the people of Palestine. Each nation, each group, each individual doing as much as they can with the resources available to them, to provide aid, show support and raise awareness about the plight of Palestine. 

While these efforts deserve applause and gratitude, we must realise that there is something far greater we can all do. We can create a generation whose pens will never run dry against injustice. A generation whose voices will never tire against tyranny. A generation that will stand for what is right against any foe, force or even their ‘friends’. For the injustice and tyranny faced by the people of Palestine is bigger than a tale of two states.

Mohamed Jalaal Naseem, with an educational background in tourism management and project management, has several years of experience in business development and planning.

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