Mohammed Azhar Ali Khan
The overwhelming support the Palestinians received for the upgrading of their status in the United Nations underlines the yearning of people around the world for justice, freedom and the right of all people to live in their own country in peace.
But though a big step in their long struggle for freedom, this development will not produce independence soon. They won’t even be admitted to the United Nations. The United States, which criticized Soviet vetoes in the Security Council, also uses them to block recommendations it doesn’t like.
Even if the Palestinians were to become full UN members, there would be no immediate change in their daily lives which are tragically marked by festering refugee camps, the world’s biggest open air prison, tight control over the movement of people and of goods, omnipresent roadblocks, detention without trial, an ongoing harsh occupation and the use of lethal American weapons against civilians.
The United States called the Palestinians getting a foothold in the UN an “obstacle to peace.” This action took place in the dying days of 2012. If this is an obstacle now, how much progress has been made since 1967 to achieve peace?
Apparently, continuous violations of United Nations resolutions, ethnic cleansing of Palestinians (documented by Israeli historians, academics and journalists), blockading of Gaza and turning it into an open air prison, settling more than a half million settlers on occupied land, roadblocks that prevent freedom of movement for the Palestinians, targeted killing of Palestinians, detention without trial of Palestinians for years and controlling their exit and departure are not obstacles to peace.
These are made possible by the billions of dollars in economic and military aid, and full diplomatic support, by the United States. The US has also turned a blind eye to Israel’s building nuclear weapons.
It also provides the military hardware that enables Israel to maintain its occupation and thwart efforts to promote a just peace agreement.
The two-state solution that the US theoretically favors is becoming a dream and an independent Palestinian state seems less and less viable. Israel would then have to expel the Palestinians from the tiny piece of the land that they still hold. Or it would deny them civic rights and establish an apartheid-type system, which already exists to some extent in Israel with citizens enjoying, or not enjoying, rights on the basis of their religion.
While it is mostly US actions that have produced this ugly situation, now the Canadian government is screaming and hollering at the top of its voice.
The Canadian people back the right of Israelis to peace and security, but they want the Palestinians to have that same right.
Thoughtful Canadians, including Canadian Jews who have a tradition of supporting those seeking dignity and justice, are speaking out against Israeli policies. So are American Jews, including rabbis. Respected academic Professor Norman Finkelstein has produced studies that show that American Jews, particularly youth, are appalled at the violation of Jewish values by Israel and are reducing their support for Israel.
In Canada respected people have spoken out against Foreign Minister John Baird’s one-sided tirades.
Wrote Janice Kennedy in the Ottawa Citizen:
“What complicates everything is the vile overlay this government gives to criticism of its willfully blind Israelophilia. They call it anti-Semitic, suggesting darkly that those not in lockstep with them on Israel — people who might see the region’s problems as nuanced, difficult and needing more than platitudinous endorsements — are the kind of people who facilitated the Holocaust. Their hatred, said Baird on Tuesday, ‘has cast itself in a new form …(and) it targets the Jewish state.’ It is, he continued, ‘the new anti-Semitism,’ targeting ‘the Jewish people by targeting the Jewish homeland.’
“Right, then. Criticize Israel (as its own thinkers, statesmen and politicians do every day in that healthy democracy), and you’re anti-Semitic? The charge is vile, made by political cynics. It is deeply offensive. And it is utter nonsense.”
In a letter in the Citizen, David Lorge Parnas, who recently visited Israel, wrote in part:
“Even without the recent hostilities, crossing the heavily armed border was a shock. The modern, clean, and prosperous streets of Jerusalem were a sharp contrast with the poverty I saw just 20 minutes away. My companion belonged to a small privileged class of Arabs who could live in Israeli-held Jerusalem, but the majority of his colleagues and students could not cross the dividing line. They are imprisoned and subject to arbitrary actions by the heavily armed Israeli forces.”
Respected Canadian diplomat Gar Pardy wrote: “The creation of a state for the Palestinian people with full sovereignty is a necessary starting point to peace and prosperity.”
The world knows that. Unfortunately, some North American politicians don’t.
– Mohammed Azhar Ali Khan is a retired Canadian journalist, civil servant and refugee judge. He has received the Order of Canada, the Order of Ontario and the Queen’s Diamond and Golden Jubilee awards