Revealing true intent beneath the facade
By Lawrence Nowosenetz
In his article ‘Time to establish an interfaith solidarity in wake of death of Shireen Abu Akleh’Rasheed Omar (DM 29 May 2022) writes:
“the freedom struggle of the Palestinian people is not a Muslim struggle, it is an anti-colonial struggle for justice, struggle of reclaiming land, identity and statehood.” Omar also refers to “the pernicious Zionist propaganda machine that seeks to frame the Palestinian freedom struggle as a religious war between Muslims and Jews. Quite the contrary is true.”
Koran chapter II verse 91 says:
“Drive them from where they drove you out”
Islamic teachings provide that lands which become Islamic by conquest or otherwise, stay Islamic forever and Muslims must expel any non-Muslim rule in a land once governed by Islamic law. The area that was Palestine fell under Muslim rule in 637 AD and with the exception of the Christian crusader period from 1099 to 1187 AD until the British Mandate era in 1923 was a colony under several Muslim empires.
The Palestinian Authority’s current Mufti Mohammed Hussain stated in the official PA daily publication Al-Hayat Al Jadida 13 April 2018:
“Palestine, that includes within it, Jerusalem, is waqf land, it is forbidden by Shari’ah law to relinquish it or ease the transfer of ownership of it to enemies, because it is part of the Islamic public property. Granting ownership over Islamic territory or part of it to enemies is invalid and constitutes treason.”
This sounds a lot like a religious war.
After the Camp David peace negotiations failed, Yasser Arafat was interviewed by an Israeli Muslim Arab journalist. He asked Arafat why he walked away from the negotiations. His answer was :
“Because the Israelis would not give us 100%”.
Similarly in the peace talks with Israel Prime Minister Ehud Olmert seven years later, Abbas also refused to make any land concessions or compromises.
We have all heard the slogan “from the river to the sea Palestine shall be free”. This geographic area refers to the Jordan river and the Mediterranean sea. It not only includes the West Bank and Gaza but the entire territory of the State of Israel prior to the 1967 Six Day War. The struggle to reclaim land stated by the Omar does not specify what land exactly this entails.
Does he too consider the State of Israel as waqf land?
In a survey undertaken by the Jerusalem Communications and Media Center published on 6 August 2018, the Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank were asked:
“Is religion in general an important part of your life?”
The answer was yes by 96.8 in the West Bank and by 99.2 in Gaza . Even allowing for non-Muslims (a minority) in this poll, it indicates the centrality of Islam in the Palestinian street.
Fair enough but are its extremist positions not an impediment to genuine rapprochement and peace?
Hamas which rules Gaza and has a substantial following in the West Bank is less subtle about its beliefs. Its very name is an acronym for Islamic Resistance Movement and is committed to the total annihilation of Israel. In recent months, Hamas and several groups in the Gaza Strip announced the formation of a new body, called The National Commission to Support the Palestinians in the Occupied Territories of 1948. The El Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigades is a Palestinian armed group, and its name suggests its link to the El Aqsa Mosque being the third most holy site in Islam. The Fatah slogan is:
“With spirit with blood we will redeem you Al Aqsa Mosque”.
The fact that the mosque is under the administration of the Jordanian waqf does not seem to make any difference: Israel is to blame.
WAR AGAINST THE JEWS
While a theoretical distinction can be made between Zionists and Jews this is at best tenuous. While not all, most Jews identify with Israel, and Judaism itself is infused with Zionist prayer. Jews are an ancient nation not just adherents of a religion. Lip service is paid to the idea that Palestinians have no problem with Judaism. In practice they promote intolerance and hostility. Palestinians are vociferous about their opposition to Judaisizing Jerusalem. A recent Fatah video called for Israelis to leave:
“because you have no history in our Jerusalem, and it is not your homeland.” It also called for “blood” and ended with the chant Allahu Akbar – “Allah is greatest” repeated four times.
(Facebook page of the Fatah Commission of Information and Culture, May 28, 2022)
Fatah also published a video with a song calling for Jerusalem “to be freed of the Jews”. It encouraged Arab states to unite and break down borders between them to “redeem” Jerusalem and prepare “the Jews’ graveyard” (Fatah Facebook page, Oct. 13, 2020)
Palestinian terrorists who have randomly murdered Jews inside and outside Israel do not differentiate between Zionist and non-Zionists. They do not ask their victims before carrying out their killings whether they are Zionists. The EU have recently made a finding that Palestinian school textbooks have for many years incited hatred and promoted demonization of Israel. By definition Israel is a Jewish State. Palestinian children are conditioned to consider Jews as evil.
Is this too not building a psychological wall obstructing any potential for peace?
INTOLERANCE OF FREE SPEECH
Western journalists working in Gaza in recent years have been harassed and threatened by Hamas for documenting cases of the terrorist group’s involvement of civilians in warfare against Israel. The Times of Israel has interviewed reporters in the international media revealing how they allow themselves to be intimidated and fail to report on such incidents. This is swept under the carpet. Any illusions that Palestine tolerates public criticism and debate were convincingly shattered by the death of Palestinian lawyer and activist Nizar Bayat. He was an outspoken critic of the corruption of the Palestinian Authority but was labelled as selling out the Palestinian cause for personal gain. He had a huge following on Facebook. On 24 June 2021, he was beaten and dragged from his house by 14 members of the Palestinian security forces without an arrest warrant. He subsequently died in a Hebron hospital. The official cause of death was natural causes, but a private autopsy initiated by his family revealed he had forty-two injuries sustained by metal pipes. The PA and Fatah did not respond to calls for a detailed investigation. There was no international outrage and media solidarity. The Guardian – hardly a staunch supporter of Israel – ran the headline in its international edition dated 31 August 2021:
“Nizar Bayat’s death highlights brutality of Palestinian Authority”.
A little humility and introspection may well be sorely expected from the writer and those who call for rejuvenating the Palestinian struggle from ‘Israel’s settler colonialism’. Palestine may be in need of democratic reforms to reach liberation rather than anti-Israel slogans.
Perhaps the moral equation is not so binary. In the words of Bob Dylan:
“Good and bad, I define these terms quite clear, no doubt, somehow.
Ah, but I was so much older then I’m younger than that now”
(My Back Pages 1964)
There are further risible issues in Rasheed Omar’s article such as the well-known anti-Israel trope: “Zionist Israel’s settler colonialism”. These need to be addressed fully too. Demonisation and delegitimisation of Israel will not assist in reaching a mutual understanding conducive to peace and co-existence. This raises the question whether the supporters of the Palestinian cause are committed to this goal or the destruction of the Jewish State.
About the writer:
Lawrence Nowosenetz is a retired South African advocate at the Johannesburg Bar specialising in labour law; a former senior Commissioner of the CCMA (Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration) and served as an Acting High Court Judge in Gauteng. He has served as Chairman of the Pretoria SA Jewish Board of Deputies and in 2019, he immigrated to Israel where he lives with his wife in Tel Aviv. He retains an interest in international law.
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