Palestine Statehood: Cause of Humanity

Wahidul Islam

Who hasn’t heard of cerebral celebrity Noam Chomsky, orientalist Edward Said or Arabic pop singer Latifa and Tony Blair’s sister in law Lauren Booth? They are none but a handful few who were deprived of the Western privileges they could have enjoyed. It happened not because all of them were Muslims but because they voiced concern on the oppression of the Palestinians. Noam Chomsky, an American activist writer and an icon for the journalists, is a Jew by religion, Edward Said a Palestinian-American Christian, Lauren Booth, a British Christian turned Muslim and Latifa Bint Alayah Al Arfaoui is a Tunisian-Egyptian singer Muslim. Geniuses of their stature undoubtedly could have enjoyed more than that what these guys have. But they didn’t. Supporting the cause of the Palestinians they were either vilified and denied of entry into Palestine or deprived of medals. As far as we know no pro-Palestinian on the earth got Nobel Prize but Swedish Nobel Committee has awarded dozens of pro-Israelis the prestigious prize. All through life they voiced concern over the torture and oppression of the Palestinians and more importantly advocated for their statehood, supporting two-state solution to Israel-Palestine conflict. Hoping for an end to pangs of the Palestinians and dreaming their homeland what was reality in the last century, grandma and grandpas are telling children about the full state where there will be no scarcity of food, construction materials, water and medicines. Nor will be any constant threat of war on the people living in tents. An independent state, a free nation like 193 other nations, an identity with honour, a territory with pre-1967 border and nothing else.

A champion of the Palestine cause Avram Noam Chomsky, born December 7, 1928, is an American linguist, philosopher, cognitive scientist, and activist. He is a Professor (Emeritus) in the Department of Linguistics & Philosophy at MIT, where he has worked for over 50 years. Chomsky has been described as the “father of modern linguistics” and a major figure of analytic philosophy. His work has influenced fields such as computer science, mathematics, and psychology.

Chomsky is credited as the creator or co-creator of the Chomsky hierarchy theorem, the universal grammar theory, and the Chomsky–Schützenberger theorem. Chomsky is known for his critiques of US foreign policy, and he has been described as a prominent cultural figure. His social criticism has included Manufacturing Consent: The Political Economy of the Mass Media (1988), co-written with Edward S. Herman, an analysis articulating the propaganda model theory for examining the media.

According to 1992 Arts and Humanities Citation Index, Chomsky was cited as a source more often than any other living scholar from 1980 to 1992. He is also the eighth most cited source of all time, and is considered the “most cited living author”. Chomsky is the author of over 100 books.

If Palestinians’ UN bid for statehood succeeds in September or  November to push for statehood, it will coincide with death or birth months of Edward Said. Said, a Palestinian-American literary theorist and advocate for Palestinian rights was a Professor of English and Comparative Literature at Columbia University and a founding figure in post-colonialism. Robert Fisk described him as the Palestinians’ “most powerful political voice.”

Said is best known for his book Orientalism (1978), which catapulted him into international academic fame. Said contended that Orientalist scholarship was and continues to be inextricably tied to the imperialist societies that produced it, making much of the work inherently politicized, servile to power, and therefore suspect.

Drawing on his own experience as a Palestinian growing up in a Palestinian Christian family in the Middle East at the time of the creation of Israel, Said argued for the creation of a Palestinian state, equal rights for Palestinians in Israel, including the right of return, and for increased pressure on Israel, especially by the United States. He also criticized several Arab and Muslim regimes. Said made a documentary film about Palestine for BBC named In Search of Palestine. BBC was unsuccessful in getting it on US television. Greatly contributing to the movement for a Palestinian state he has turned into an icon.

In his Culture and Resistance (2003), Said likened his situation to that of Noam Chomsky: “It’s very similar to him. He’s a well known, great linguist. He’s been celebrated and honored for that. But he’s also vilified as an anti-Semite and a Hitler worshiper.” Said went on to explain:

For anyone to deny the horrendous experience of anti-Semitism and the Holocaust is unacceptable. We don’t want anybody’s history of suffering to go unrecorded and unacknowledged. On the other hand, there’s a great difference between acknowledging Jewish oppression and using that as a cover for the oppression of another people.

In a 1997 revised edition of his book Covering Islam, Said criticized what he viewed as the biased reporting of the Western press and, in particular, media “speculations about the latest conspiracy to blow up buildings, sabotage commercial airliners, and poison water supplies.”

Another champion of the Palestinian cause Latifa Bint Alayah Al Arfaoui began her career at a very young age as a prodigy at the age of six. In 1983, shortly after her father died, Latifa and her family took a trip to Egypt to rest and mourn. During that time, she met composer Baleegh Hamdi, who advised her that she ought to move to Egypt for the sake of her career. So she quit college in Tunisia and joined the Arab Academy of Music in Egypt, from which she earned her bachelor degree. She is preparing for her master’s degree. She has lots of popular album of Arabic and French songs.

You might have already known 43-year-old broadcaster and journalist Lauren Booth — former British first lady Cherie Blair’s half-sister — travelled to Gaza by ship from Cyprus, along with 46 other activists, to highlight Israel’s blockade of the territory. She is another champion of Palestine cause. She was subsequently refused entry into Israel and even into Egypt. In 2006 she was a contestant on the ITV reality show I’m A Celebrity .  .  . Get Me Out Of Here! donating her fee to the Palestinian relief charity Interpal. Recently she reverted to Islam and started wearing hijab and avoiding wine.

The quartet is representative of the people all over the world who tried to champion the cause of the Palestinians. Hats off to the truth diggers. Irrespective of their cast creed and society they have fought against the oppression on the Muslim children, women and even the Christians. When nations after nations got independence in the last century from British, French and Portuguese colonies, Palestinians are the only nation which failed to gain independence. Israel unilaterally declared independence the day before the handover of power by the British colony. The Israel rose from the Palestinian ashes after 1948 war. Palestine died when Israel was implanted on its land. In the peak season of liberty when dozens of countries including India became independent, the tiny Arab nation became dependent. They lost Jerusalem with right to pray in Al Aqsa mosque. Gaza turned out to be the greatest prison on earth with 1.5 million people, particularly the women, and children, languishing under open sky. Probably there’s no place on the planet but Gaza where humanitarian activities are prohibited. No aid worker, be a doctor or a philanthropist, can send food, medicine and other essential and life-saving materials.

Palestinians are seeking UN recognition of their state from the UN. Deluded by the discussion between Israel and Palestinian Authority, people want recognition for them as full member of the UN General Assembly replacing the observer position. Not long ago East Timor got independent from predominantly Muslim Indonesia, South Sudan had no problem in winning the heart of the powerful nations to secede from the predominantly Muslim North to become the 193rd nation of the world. But Palestine has been struggling for over 60 years to get independent. Israel, and India, born in a space of few months, failed to give independence to Palestine and Kashmir respectively. Israel wants to come up from the hoaxes of negotiations brokered by the US. Frustrated by the Middle East Peace Process, which is initiated by the Pro-Israelis, of the pro-Israelis, for the Israelis, secular Mahmud Abbas initiated the process to gain support from 132 states for nationhood. The Palestinian issue is no more a bilateral issue. It is not only the issue of the Arab world and of the 150 crore Muslims of the world but of the downtrodden people of the planet. It is a cause of humanity.

Turkey and Egypt were two prime patrons of Israel having diplomatic and other relations with friendly governments in these countries. In the wake of AKP being in Turkey’s power and fall of Hosni Mubarak regime in Egypt, Ben Ali in Tunisia, thanks to Arab Spring, the scenario has changed tremendously. Situation became favourable for the whole humanity particularly for the Arabs to voice concern over Israeli oppression on the peoples of Palestine, Syria, Lebanon and more recently on Turks and Egyptians. Israel killed some border guards of Egypt and eight Turkish aid workers one US citizen on Gaza Flotilla. Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan threw his weight in September 13 behind a Palestinian bid to win recognition of their state at the United Nations. “Recognizing the Palestinian state is not an option, it is an obligation,” Erdogan told a meeting of the Arab foreign ministers at the Cairo-based headquarters of the Arab League. “Before the end of this year, we will see Palestine at the United Nations in a very different situation,” he said.

Erdogan went to Egypt, Libya, Tunisia, visits seen as part of Ankara’s effort to assert its growing role in the Middle East and pile pressures to isolate Israel. Arab foreign ministers met in Egypt to marshal support for the Palestinian bid for a fully-fledged Palestinian state despite the US veto threat.

Recently a protest march towards Israeli embassy in Cairo led to diplomatic tension between these countries. As people in Egypt have observed the state terrorism inflicted on Palestinians by Israel, so they have become angry with the Zionist and anti-Islamic policy.

The United States has threatened to veto the Palestinian bid at the UN Security Council. If so, the Palestinians can ask the General Assembly to elevate their UN status from an observer to a “non-state member.” Washington has no enough support to block a vote by the General Assembly, which is expected to overwhelmingly support the Palestinian bid. The change would pave the way for the Palestinians to join dozens of United Nations bodies and conventions. It could also strengthen the Palestinian ability to pursue cases against Israel at the International Criminal Court.

Opinion polls all over the world show that common people want recognition for the Palestinians. The majority of citizens in Germany, France, and the UK support the planned Palestinian statehood bid in the United Nations, a new poll indicated recently. The opinion poll published in September shows that a majority of people in Germany, France and Britain – three countries that are critical votes in the battle over the Palestinian bid for statehood – all want their leaders to vote in favor of a UN resolution to support recognition of a Palestinian state when it’s discussed in New York.

The survey, which was carried out online by YouGov in Britain and Germany, and Ifop in France, on behalf of the global political web movement Avaaz – which is conducting an online petition in support of a Palestinian state – shows that in Germany 84% supported Palestinian statehood and 76% believed Germany should act now to recognize; in the U.K. the figures were 71% and 59%; and in France the figures were 82% and 69% respectively.

Ricken Patel, Executive Director of Avaaz, said in a statement: “The overwhelming majority of the British public have spoken – now David Cameron must listen.”

“The Prime Minister has a clear choice: stand with the British public, and 132 other nations to support a Palestinian state and a new path to peace, or side with the US government which continues to push a failed status quo,” Patel added. Avaaz says it is planning to deliver more than 913,000 signatories backing what it describes as “this new opportunity for freedom” to the European parliament.

Spain is openly backing the recognition, with Sweden, Portugal, Norway, Malta, Belgium and Luxembourg seemingly leaning in that direction. France and Britain in turn have both said they would prefer to see meaningful negotiations on the basis of the pre-1967 borders with agreed land swaps, but have hinted they may vote for enhanced status for the Palestinians without such a prospect.

Germany, like Italy, Holland, the Czech Republic and Bulgaria has said they oppose the move.

Last but not the least statehood is a birthright of the Palestinian Muslim and Christians. No one can deny this. Injustice to the Palestinians is one of the major root causes of ‘terrorism’ worldwide. Justice must be meted out or there will be anarchy. Stateless Palestinians are helpless, oppressed, tortured, evicted from their ancestral property, living on the relief and in need of a state to call their own. Let not the deafening call fall on the deaf ears of the US and Israel.

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