Palestinian youths clash with Israeli security forces on November 26, 2019 near the West Bank city of Nablus during a Palestinian “day of rage” against a recent US decision to no longer consider settlements in the West Bank illegal. AFP
Today, November 29, is the International Day of solidarity with the Palestinian people. Why such a day and why only for the Palestinians? This is because the international conscience, whatever little is left of it, recognises that the Palestinian people remain oppressed while the rest of the world is helpless to deliver them from oppression. The morally conscious mark this day to highlight the Palestinian suffering, with the United Nations Secretary General and some world leaders declaring their support for the Palestinian people’s freedom struggle. Often these statements are perfunctory and weak. They are not declarations of war against injustice or a call for the world community to rise in defence of the Palestinian people’s campaign to free themselves from land-robbing Israel’s colonial yoke, oppression and apartheid rule.
What has happened to the conscience of the world’s righteous people, for their voice is not heard as it should have been in support of the Palestinian people’s freedom struggle? In their silence, evil and injustice thrive. The Palestinians’ fight is our fight. South Africa’s visionary freedom fighter Nelson Mandela famously said, “Our freedom is incomplete without the freedom of the Palestinians.” We must not see that Mandela’s powerful message is addressed to South Africans. It is for all of us -- every human being with a conscience to understand that right is right even if no one is doing it and wrong is wrong even if everyone is doing it. As people of nations that have freed themselves from the shame of being colonized by European imperialists, we must feel for the Palestinians. We should be raising our fists in the air and declaring loud as possible that our freedom is incomplete until the Palestinian people get their freedom.
We must not restrict our solidarity with the Palestinian people only to Nov. 29. Our solidarity with oppressed people should be etched in our conscience. This will give a real meaning to the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People.
This day was included in the international calendar following a United Nations General Assembly resolution in 1977. The resolution chose November 29, because it was the day on which the General Assembly in 1947 adopted resolution 181 permitting the partition of Palestine in what is now decried as one of the biggest mistakes of the UN. It was passed at a time when the UN was dominated by imperial powers.
There were not many Third World countries in the UN to oppose the injustice being imposed on the Palestinian people through this iniquitous resolution. Palestine was disproportionately partitioned without the consent of its people. In terms of this partition plan, the Arab Palestinians who were 67 percent of the population got 45 percent of the land, while 55 percent of the land was given to the Jews, who were a little more than 30 percent with a majority of them being those who migrated from Europe under the Zionist plan to gobble up the Ottoman province of Palestine.
Today the Palestinians hold only less than 17 percent of the land that was given to them by the partition plan. This was because Israel has annexed large swathes of Palestinian lands after its war victories in 1948, 1967 and 1973 and also through continuous settlement building activities in violation of international laws.
While the UN urges member states to continue to give their widest support and publicity to the observance of the Day of Solidarity, the villain of the peace is the United States. For political and religious reasons, the US, which portrays itself as the greatest champion of democracy, upholds injustice to the Palestinian people. This is largely due to the power of the Israeli lobby and white evangelical groups’ unwavering support to Israel in the belief that Jesus Christ’s second coming will be only possible when Israel establishes itself as a world power.
Some of them call themselves Christian Zionists. Christian Zionism is a belief based on a fundamentalist interpretation of the Bible. They believe that Israel must gather all the Jews of the world, enlarge its territory, destroy Muslim holy places, and ethnically cleanse “the holy land” of all non-Jews, including Christians.
White Evangelical Christians, who number one quarter of the US Christian population, are a key segment of President Donald Trump’s support base. They believe Trump is chosen by God to expedite the second coming of Jesus. Trump is obsessed with Israel and no US president has ever been as pro-Israeli as Trump is.
In December 2016, when outgoing President Obama allowed the passage of a UN resolution condemning Israel’s settlement building activities in occupied Palestinian territories, Trump, then the president-elect, said, “Wait till January” – meaning he would reverse Obama’s move. Reverse he did. In contravention of international laws, he recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, withdrew funds to the UN relief operations in Palestine and declared Syria’s Golan Heights as Israel’s sovereign territory.
Recently, in preposterous statements, the Trump administration shocked the world when it declared that Israel’s illegal settlements in the Palestinian territory of West Bank were legal. If illegal can become legal on Trump’s declarations, killings will be seen as life-giving, robberies as charity and injustice as justice. Such devilish paradox seems to characterize the presidency of Trump, who is being glorified by his white evangelical supporters as being the Chosen One.
Not only the ordinary folks, but also big names such as Energy Secretary Rick Perry and the United States’ former UN envoy Nikki Haley believe Trump is the ‘Chosen One’. Comparing Trump with King David and other Biblical kings, Perry told Fox News this week, “God uses imperfect people to execute His plan, and, of course, Trump is not perfect.”
During an interview this week with the Christian Broadcasting Network, Haley was asked about God and President Trump. She said she believed everything happened for a reason. “Look at the results of Donald Trump as president,” … and his “courage” to move the US embassy in Israel to Jerusalem,” Haley said, pointing at Trump’s economic and foreign policy achievements. “There’s been a lot of courage coming from this president to change what was the status quo,” she said, adding that the American people “wanted a disrupter-in-chief” and were looking for “change.” “I think God sometimes places people for lessons and sometimes places people for change...”
This is new political reality in US democracy. Intellectualism is seduced as people are urged to embrace a wrongdoing leader as the Chosen One or their saviour. On this basis, democracy may even produce more Hitlers. Neo-Nazis and alt-right racist supporters of such a democracy-produced dictator may say their leader is the chosen one placed by God. So every sin of their leader, every killing, every massacre and every corrupt act, will be sanctified as God’s will.
For demagogues like Trump, evangelical religio-political movements’ support is manna from heaven. To sustain this support base, which is also a massive source of campaign funds, presidents and congresspersons do their bidding with no questions asked. Trump walks the extra mile, by doing what is required of him even before he is asked to do so, as his anti-Palestinian, anti-justice and pro-Israeli or pro-injustice moves show.
Road to Palestinian peace is through democratic reforms in US politics.