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Palestinians deserve a just and lasting peace

Obama in Israel

Friend … Obama in Israel
Published: 24th March 2013

BARACK OBAMA, in Israel this week, described it as a good friend, claiming he wanted to get the peace process back on track.

When the State of Israel was created in 1948, its founding fathers claimed that Palestine was “a land without a people for a people without land”.

The only problem was that the land did have a people. In partitioning Palestine the UN gave over half the land to newly arrived Jewish European settlers despite the fact that they numbered only a third of the population and owned only six per cent of the land. Since its birth Israel has taken land off all of its neighbours, taking over 80 per cent of historic Palestine. The peace process means giving the Palestinians a state in only 17 per cent of the West Bank and 60 per cent of the Gaza Strip, whilst Israel would retain 80 per cent of the land seized and divide any Palestinian state in two.

One million Palestinians are estimated to have been killed since 1948; nine million live in refugee camps in Jordan, Lebanon and Syria. Israel’s “law of return” allows anyone of Jewish descent to emigrate to Israel whilst Palestinian refugees are denied the right to go home. Of the 800,000 Palestinian children who live in Gaza many are sucked into a vicious cycle of hate that celebrates the death of suicide bombers rather than lives of young people.

Obama talks “reasonably” of a two state solution but just imagine if Apartheid South Africa had proposed that 90 per cent of the country should be handed over to the whites and that the blacks would get the remaining shrivelled up Bantustans, with the borders, air, sea, power supply, food and water controlled by the Apartheid regime. Yet these are the scraps thrown to “ungrateful” Palestinians. In 2013 Israel is the region’s only superpower. Palestinians are denied the moral and legal right to defend themselves — and before some of the usual idiots claim I justify attacks on civilians, I do not. Hamas can never justify the murder of innocents by firing rockets at civilians.

For those in the West who are uncompromisingly critical of Israel it is easy enough in the comfort that they’ll never experience the fear of daily air raid sirens or worry their loved ones were on the blown-up bus they see on news reports.

Yet Israel has annexed 21,000 square kilometres of land, received 300 billion military dollars from the US, built over 100 weapons of mass destruction and ignored 128 UN resolutions. The Israelis’ continued description of “pioneering” settlers building on land grabbed from Palestinians is similar to the description of cowboys civilising the Wild West — as though prior to their arrival it never had a history, a people or a culture.

In 1948 there was no denying the spirit of a people who, surviving the Holocaust, fought for the creation of a homeland. Six million Jews were exterminated. As they met their fate in the gas chambers, bombing the train lines to Auschwitz was not a priority for the Allies. So when a desperate people arrived in Palestine there was nowhere else for them to go.

Land was stolen, empty homes occupied, cleansed of previous owners, and no one cared to ask too many questions. But in 2013 the brutal incarceration of the Palestinian people behind barbed wire, walls, checkpoints and gun towers can no longer be excused.

Despite the hatred, there is a new generation of Israelis and Palestinians full of spirit and hope who are tired of war.

Maybe it is them Obama should be talking to if there is ever to be a just peace.

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