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Islam and Politics ( 12 May 2021, NewAgeIslam.Com)

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Israel-Palestine: What Is Behind The Siege Of Al-Aqsa?

By Arshad Alam, New Age Islam

12 May 2021

It Is To Deflect Attention From The Ongoing Israeli Land-Grab In Sheikh Jarrah

Main Points:

1.    What we are witnessing is unilateral excess committed by the Israeli state.

2.    Any talk of a ‘conflict’ or a ‘clash’ is a devious attempt to create a false equivalence.

3.    Hamas hasn’t helped but at the same time Palestinians have a right to defend themselves.

4.    Netanyahu is using this opportunity to prolong his power.  


An Israeli activist tries to hang a poster on a steel gate protecting the demolished site of the Shepherd Hotel in occupied East Jerusalem's Sheikh Jarrah on 14 January 2011 (AFP/File photo)


A video showing a Jewish settler in the process of occupying a Palestinian home in Sheikh Jarrah has gone viral. This short video bares the everyday violence of Israel’s illegitimate grabbing of Palestinian land. The video confirms that in that part of the world, Jews can literally walk into Palestinian homes and usurp them as a matter of birth right. This is what the orthodox Jew is shown doing in the video: he is inspecting a Palestinian home which he is going to occupy. When confronted by a Palestinian woman, the man nonchalantly declares that if he won’t occupy it, then someone else will. In fact, the burly Jewish man seems a bit surprised as to why the Palestinian woman is objecting at all. It is as if the Palestinians are the classic ‘unpeople’: you can simply rummage them without even a prick on your conscience. In essence, the Jewish man is saying that Palestinians do not have a choice: they have to give up their lands to the settler colonial depravity of Jewish state. At the pain of being politically incorrect, let me also say that the video captures another depravity: the settler is an overfed man, bulging at the seams, and despite this it is he who is stealing the lands of people who are struggling to make ends meet.

This obscenity is only compounded by the invisibility of the Palestinian woman whose face we do not see in the video. It is as if the larger Palestinian cause has been invisibilised by the hubris and terror unleashed by Israel. This small video reinstates the asymmetry of power which characterizes the Israel-Palestine relationship but this very simple fact eludes the dominant media narrative on the issue. In calling it a ‘clash’ or a ‘conflict’, the spin doctors peddle a false equivalence between Israeli state and Palestinians. Even a cursory look at the number of killed and injured makes it very clear that this is largely a one-sided excess committed by Israel. So far, nearly 36 Palestinians, including 9 children have been killed and scores injured whereas there are reports of five deaths on the other side. Each such death is irreparable but to argue that this is a result of some ‘conflict’ between the two is simply preposterous.

But it doesn’t even stop at this false equivalence. Rather, the Palestinians are blamed for the violence by pointing out that it was Hamas that fired those rockets in first place. Such devilish, sinister and patently false reportage assumes that Israel has the right to defend itself but at the same time does not grant the same right to Palestinians. It is true that Hamas fired those rockets which saw retaliatory firing from Israel and it needs to be called out for that. Hamas should have thought about a better alternative of resistance rather than opting for a strategy which surely would invite the wrath of Israel on Palestinian people. However, it is not true that Hamas ‘provoked’ Israel as it is being made out. In fact, it was Israel which made the first provocation by storming the al-Aqsa mosque, hurling grenades and injuring 300 worshippers who were simply praying there in the holy month of Ramzan.


Also Read:  Baitul Muqaddas-Masjid-e-Aqsa complex: Why are we Muslims so obsessed with it as our Qiibla-e-Awwal contrary to Qur’anic teachings?


But why did Israeli troops attack the third holiest mosque in Islam? The root of this lies in the Sheikh Jarrah area where through its courts, Israel has been evicting Palestinian families and giving their lands and homes to Jewish settlers after annexing it illegally in 1967. Palestinians have been resisting this encroachment and the above-mentioned video is a stark testimony to what is happening there. In order to break this resistance, Israel launched a pre-mediated attack on al-Aqsa. This was done not just to divert attention but also to give out a threat that they will take this mosque, which is dear to the Palestinians, if they do not give up their land in Sheikh Jarrah. But rather than diffusing the struggle of Palestinian people, the attack seems to have galvanized them further. Instead of just Jerusalem and Gaza, protests are happening all over Palestine. Whatever is happening in Gaza right now is the direct result of Israeli aggression and it alone is responsible for all the deaths that have occurred. There are no two sides to this story; there is only side. And that is the story of Israel’s fascination with death and destruction.

Israeli crimes against the Palestinians have been foundational: the first act of the state was to expel scores of Arabs from its territories. Today we are told that the Arabs in city of Lod are ‘rioting’ but then what we are not being told is that many decades ago this was an Arab city called Lydda which saw Muslims being sent on their ‘death marches’ when Israel occupied it in 1948. This systematic cleansing of Muslims is now being done by an increasingly insecure prime minister who wants to retain power at all costs. We must remember that Netanyahu is on trial in Israel on charges of corruption, including fraud and bribery. If he loses the case, he is certain to go to jail like his predecessor. In order to cling to power, he has empowered the most fanatic section of Jewish population by propping up the Religious Zionist Party whose members have intimidated, looted and destroyed Palestinian properties. Despite this, he has been unable to cobble together a stable coalition. It seems very likely that the present crisis will serve him well. If there is a national emergency government in making, then Netanyahu is sure to head it, thereby prolonging his grip on power.

Netanyahu will not be the first Israeli politician to profit from death and devastation. And he will certainly not be the last. Not until the world community wakes up and calls out the murderous regime of Israel for what it is. But it seems highly unlikely especially when we see even Arab states making a scramble to get into the good books of Israel.


Arshad Alam is a columnist with  


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