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World Human Rights Day – Zionist oppression of Palestinians still continues

The world celebrated Human Rights Day on 10 December. On that day in 1948, the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), which proclaims the inalienable rights which everyone is entitled to as a human being.

The Declaration, in its preamble, eloquently proclaims: “[D]isregard and contempt for human rights have resulted in barbarous acts which have outraged the conscience of mankind, and the advent of a world in which human beings shall enjoy freedom of speech and belief and freedom from fear and want has been proclaimed as the highest aspiration of the common people.”

Yet, the United Nations, largely a white man’s club then, dominated by the United States, disregarded the “barbarous acts” of ethnic cleansing being committed by the European Zionist settler-colonialists in Palestine around the time the UN General Assembly adopted the UDHR. The conscience of most of the representatives of the member-states, and members of the UN Commission on Human Rights, was not outraged by the barbarous acts of the Zionists.

They were deaf to the cries of 12-year-old Fahim Zaydan and his family from Deir Yassin when Zionist terrorists attacked their village and massacred the villagers. It took place on 9 April 1948, while the UDHR was being drafted. He managed to survive to tell how his family were murdered right in front of his eyes:

“They took us one after the other, shot an old man and when one of his daughters cried, she was shot too. Then they called my brother Muhammad, and shot him in front of us, and when my mother yelled, bending over him – carrying my little sister Hudra in her hands, still breastfeeding her – they shot her too.” [Ilan Pappe, The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine]
Zionism has corrupted the souls of many Jews. Imagine, the former Israeli Minister of Justice Ayelet Shaked, a woman, condemning all Palestinians as terrorists and calling for the killing of Palestinian children and their mothers. How low can one sink! Not surprising, the master music conductor Daniel Barenboim commented that the occupation “has eroded all sense of decency and humanity and morality from people like me [Jews], who had been persecuted for over 20 centuries.”

On 29 November 1947, the UN General Assembly adopted the plan to partition Palestine into two states – one Arab and the other Jewish. It was done without consulting the Palestinians, who constituted two-thirds of the population then, a gross violation of the UN Charter. The US State Department, responsible for foreign policy, was against partitioning Palestine. The Jewish lobby had pressured President Truman to disregard its advice and go for partition. The US bribed, and used threats against, poor member-states to get the Partition Plan adopted. Because of the power of the lobby, the US government, to this day, has remained a hostage to Israel in its foreign policy on West Asia.

Not long after the Partition Plan was adopted, the Zionists embarked on a terror campaign to expel Palestinians from their homes. They destroyed houses, mosques, churches, olive groves; raped and murdered women; shot and killed children and men; and expelled the survivors, without their belongings, to neighbouring countries. From December 1947 to the end of 1948, in about 13 months, Zionist terrorist groups killed 13,000 Palestinians, forced 750,000 – more than half the Palestinian population – into exile, and depopulated and destroyed more than 500 villages.

The ethnic cleansing in Palestine was witnessed by representatives from the United Nations, United States and Britain and reported in the media, and yet the major powers did nothing to stop this horrible crime. On the failure of the United Nations to act, the Israeli historian Ilan Pappe writes:

“Whether from the sky or on the ground, no one could fail to spot the hordes of men, women and children streaming north every day. Ragged women and children were conspicuously dominant in these human convoys; the young men were gone – executed, arrested or missing. By this time UN observers from above and Jewish witnesses on the ground must have become desensitized towards the plight of the people passing by in front of them; how else to explain the silent acquiescence in the face of the massive deportation unfolding before their eyes.”

UN observers submitted a report stating that Israeli policy was that of “uprooting Arabs from their native villages in Palestine by force or threat” but the Secretary-General killed it by not publishing.

Seventy-two years after the adoption of the UDHR, the Zionist regime’s terrorism, ethnic cleansing and gross violation of human rights against the Palestinians still continue. Palestinians are being expelled from Jerusalem and their homes demolished to “Judaise” the city.

The West Bank has been colonized by building Jewish settlements in violation of international law. Gaza has been turned into the largest open-air prison by the Israeli embargo imposed since 2007. Its economy and infrastructure for basic needs have been destroyed. People are living in abject poverty without adequate food, healthcare, housing and education. The UN is powerless to act against Israel and bring relief to the suffering Palestinians because of the veto power of the US.

Last December, after a five-year inquiry, the International Criminal Court prosecutor concluded that there was a reasonable basis to believe that war crimes have been or are being committed in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip by Israel, and decided to initiate an investigation. Her decision was enthusiastically received by the victims of the crimes and human rights organizations.

The response from the US was swift. President Trump issued an executive order imposing sanctions on the ICC prosecutor and investigators. Protecting Israel from being made accountable for its crimes trumped the need for justice to its victims.

In 2017, the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for West Asia (ESCWA) published a report prepared by two eminent jurists which concluded that, on the basis of scholarly inquiry and overwhelming evidence, Israel is guilty of the crime of apartheid. The US and Israel pressured the Secretary-General to suppress it.

Zionists have had an inordinate influence on the US and British foreign policy for West Asia. Since WW1, the two powers facilitated the colonization by European Jewish settlers of Palestine, leading to the creation of apartheid Israel. The US is its chief protector, providing substantial economic, military and diplomatic support.

Thus, it is naïve for Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to believe that US President-elect Joe Biden will revive the peace process, ultimately leading to an independent sovereign Palestinian state. The Oslo “peace process” was a cover for Zionist colonization of the West Bank and East Jerusalem in violation of international law and UN Security Council resolutions.

The UN-sponsored two-state solution to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict is dead, buried by the Zionist project for an ethno-racist Jewish state in the whole of Palestine. One should have no illusions about it. The struggle is to put an end to the apartheid regime in Tel Aviv, liberate Palestine from settler-colonialism, and establish a civil, democratic state where all citizens – Jews, Christians, Muslims and others – enjoy equal rights. Resistance is the road to achieving this objective and the Palestinian masses have shown the way.

The Palestinian people have been resisting Jewish settler-colonialism for over a hundred years and their resistance continues unabated despite the international community, and Arab dictators and autocratic rulers, betraying them. The land of Palestine is scattered with the bones of martyrs who gave their lives fighting British imperialism and Zionism.

Frustrated by the failure of Arab and Muslim governments to move the international community to do justice to the Palestinians, 13 years ago, Palestinian civil society launched the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign as a weapon to dismantle the apartheid state erected on historic Palestine territory. It is modelled on the South African experience in ending apartheid there.

Civil society organizations in Europe and the United States have been very successful in the campaign. Churches have divested from companies that sustain the apartheid system, prominent scientists and artistes have refused to participate in events in Israel. The famous physicist Stephen Hawking boycotted an Israeli president’s conference in protest against Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians. Ireland criminalizing the import and trade of goods and services from Israeli settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories is another great victory.

The BDS campaign is also contributing to an increasing change in US public opinion, with support for Israel decreasing among young liberals including Jews. In October last year, the Israeli newspaper Haaretz reported that recent polls corroborate the notion of steady erosion in the number of Americans who are willing to express strong support for Israel. In 2015, 47 percent of Americans described Israel as “an ally.” In 2017, the number was down to 41 percent. In the most recent poll, the figure is even lower, at 37 percent. The election of two pro-Palestinian Muslim women to the US Congress last year confirms the poll’s finding.

The effectiveness of the BDS campaign can be seen from the Israeli government’s response to it. Israel’s Strategic Affairs Ministry has set up a public-benefit corporation, comprising generals and former diplomats, to engage in what it calls “mass awareness activities” as part of “the struggle against the delegitimization campaign” against Israel led by the BDS movement internationally. The shareholders and directors include former ministry director-general Yossi Kuperwasser and former Israeli ambassador to the UN Dore Gold. The government had allocated US$37 million to the initiative and an equal amount is to come from private donors around the world.

In response to the formalization of the apartheid regime in Tel Aviv by the Israeli Parliament enacting the Nation-State Law which declares Israel as the Nation-State of the Jewish People, fresh strategic thinking is required.

There should be a meeting of experts and civil society activists to formulate a strategic plan of action to end apartheid and ensure the right of return for the Palestinian refugees. The promotion and intensification of the BDS campaign globally is the key to dismantling the apartheid regime.

Mohideen Abdul Kader
Citizens International

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