Some of the greatest freedom fighters of modern times whole heartedly supported Palestinian freedom movement. India had always been a strong supporter of Palestinian liberation. When the concept of planting an illegal Jewish state on stolen Palestinian land was still being orchestrated, India’s founding father M.K. Gandhi boldly declared on 25 November 1938:
“Palestine belongs to the Arabs in the same sense that England belongs to the English or France to the French. It is wrong and inhuman to impose the Jews on the Arabs… Surely it would be a crime against humanity to reduce the proud Arabs so that Palestine can be restored to the Jews partly or wholly as their national home.”
Till early 1990s, India pursued a pro-justice and pro-freedom policy of standing up for the legitimate rights of Palestinians. But this began to change when a wolf in sheep’s clothing, P.V. Narasimha Rao, became the Prime Minister of India. He not only presided over the demolition of Babri Masjid on 6th December 1992, but also established formal diplomatic relations with Israel.
Since then, Indian official stand on Palestinian issue has, practically, taken a complete U-turn. The new Indian government led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi did not initially allow even a debate in the parliament (no question of condemning Israel) over the mass killings of innocent civilians in Gaza. On the contrary, India has now become Israel’s best and most reliable friend in Asia. For Gandhi’s followers, this is both a painful and shameful moment in the history of modern India!
Like all globally respected statesmen, Nelson Mandela was also an ardent supporter of Palestinian freedom struggle. In a March 2001 memo to three times Pulitzer Prize winner Jewish-American journalist Thomas Friedman, Mandela wrote:
“Apartheid is a crime against humanity. Israel has deprived millions of Palestinians of their liberty and property. It has perpetuated a system of gross racial discrimination and inequality. It has systematically incarcerated and tortured thousands of Palestinians, contrary to the rules of international law. It has, in particular, waged a war against a civilian population, in particular children.”
Loss of precious human lives is invariably regrettable. But enduring hardship and fatalities for preserving freedom and dignity is considered, universally, prized and sacred. If we accept the fact that the loss of life is loss of life regardless of how it occurs, then at times, many more lives are lost in natural disasters compared to the casualties in Gaza. The concept of life/death and gain/loss is crystal clear in Islam. According to Qur’an, the time and venue of our death is preordained [11:6]. This is why, Muslims are expected to place “principles” above everything else.
So even if Gaza was indeed a Monaco (as Israelis wish) and not an Islamic enclave, Gazans would still lose the same number of people either through earthquake or some other calamity. In that case, Palestinians would have still lost what they were destined to i.e. a couple of thousand precious lives and complete devastation of their infrastructure. However, they would never stand holding their heads high for setting an example of incredible determination, courage, perseverance and patience.
Acceptance of fate as a matter of faith does provide a degree of comfort and solace. However, it never absolves murderers of their crime, which they must pay for sooner or later. The earthquake example is not to “trivialize” the Gaza massacres or “celebrate” the innocent lives lost or massive destruction caused by Israeli navy, air force and army. It is also not to imply that human lives can be allowed to be sucked recklessly.
These examples are only meant to shake the conscience of those who are blaming (or even cursing) the citizens of Gaza for standing up to Israel’s military might. They are holding Gazans “responsible” for miseries and devastation caused by Israel. This is a bizarre and cowardly interpretation of the situation which has no takers among the people of conscience and dignity!
We must not forget 1000 times more deaths and destruction in Iraq compared to what Gaza has experienced. Iraqis did not dig tunnels to “kidnap” Americans. Nor were Iraqis firing rockets (or WMDs) at the civilian population of “the coalition of the willing”! Still Iraq, the birth place of Prophet Ibrahim (equally revered by Christians, Jews and Muslims), was completely ravaged by crusaders.
With the exception of India, freedom struggles are seldom peaceful anywhere in the world. Occupation forces do not tend to leave the land that they have illegally grabbed without a fight. Any physical confrontation has to entail, unfortunately, loss of precious human lives. The only alternate to “saving Palestinian lives” was “surrendering Palestinian souls” perpetually to the occupation forces. But brave and dignified nations never prefer slavery to life. And Gaza is not an exception in this respect. This Israeli invasion has allowed Gazans to prove to the world, once again, that might is NOT always right.
The other important takeaway of this showdown is the huge (by Israeli standards) casualties taken by the aggressor. Israelis value one of their soldiers not less than 1000 Palestinians. In 2011, one Israeli soldier (Gilad Shalit) was exchanged with over 1000 Palestinian prisoners. So 1:1000 ratio of Israeli life versus a Palestinian life is strange, but it is now an established fact. In this backdrop, losing 70 Israelis (almost all of them soldiers) is a hefty price for Israel to pay for this brutal invasion. By comparison, virtually defenseless Gazans lost close to 2000 – about 80% of them civilians and over 400 children – according to the United Nations.
When Israel invaded Gaza in 2012, it killed 1300 Palestinians and lost only 13 Israelis. This time, Israel suffered FIVE TIMES MORE CASUALTIES compared to its invasion just 2 years back. As these deaths are more than the combined Israelis casualties from its previous two attacks on Gaza, Israel will now think ten times before invading Gaza again. In the absence of air force, navy and regular army, unprecedented Palestinian resistance is another silver lining; and is likely to act as a deterrent against future Israeli aggressions.
Not just militarily, even on political and PR front Israel stands humiliated. Mark Perry is an American Military and Foreign Affairs Analyst. On 5th August, i.e. Day 29th of Israeli massacres in Gaza, he declared that this invasion is a “significant political defeat for Israel” and “international public opinion is decidedly in favor of Gaza”. Perry backed his claim of Israeli setback by noticing that “no one in the room of Netanyahu is smiling”.
Despite crippling 8 years long siege, the performance of This painful (in short term) but fruitful (in long term) invasion bodes well for the future of Palestine. Gazans have demonstrated that it is just a matter of time when the dream of an independent Palestine, with Jerusalem as its capital, will become a reality. And whether Israelis are smiling or not, the souls of Gandhi and Mandela will surely be smiling soon!
Read More By Dr. Mansoor Durrani
Related articles across the web