In general, religions have only wrought destruction over centuries and facilitated extremism in their name.
The first written records referring to Palestine emerged in the 12th century BCE, (20th dynasty of ancient Egypt) which used the term Peleset for the neighboring people or land. In the 8th century BCE, the Assyrians referred to the region as Palashtu or Pilistu. Since we know that Judea and Samaria (Jewish states) existed in the region much before the last two millennia, how is it that the Jews are not included as Palestinians?
The narrative of Palestine has to change. It can’t be one of pity and convenience. For centuries, there were two sections of people – Jews and Arabs – in this area now under dispute. Both were hounding each other. Arabs supported the Palestinians and the West supported the Jews. The Arabs and the West had equal monetary resources. The Jews settled down to become an industrious nation, with the help of the USA, and is now the third richest nation in Asia. The Palestinians were armed by a section of Arab nations etc. to fight Israel as a proxy against the West by fighting against the much-despised “Zionists”. The hatred did not abate.
Extremists allowed to take control
Events in the history of the last half a century have created a situation where Israel has been uncannily allowed to become an occupying force, so to speak. During all this, nobody took real ownership of the Palestinians, except to provide lip service. There never was an earnest effort by the Arab nations or anybody else to find a middle ground, which can’t be done by promoting hatred either way. Arab nations in the area who really want and directly or indirectly nurture a hope for a prosperous Palestine, easily let themselves be thwarted by extremists and their supporters – suspiciously in the name of Islam.
It is in this wake that the Hamas attack on 7 Oct 2023 came as a surprise to a lulled and Sabbath-complacent state of Israel. Moreover, the barbaric and deliberate attack on unsuspecting civilians on Israeli territory was in the least very unsettling, leaving a vulnerable Israel in an agitated cauldron with few choices. In this circumstance, it is a matter of opinion in regard to the options with Israel to counter and prevent a repeat of such acts in the future. Commentaries and expert intonations will probably follow preconceived views and how far in history one goes to suit the narrative including the suffering of innocent victims and hostages and their families on one side and the sufferings of the common people in Gaza on the other.
Israel sledgehammering Gaza, they say, will increase the resentment among Palestinians and create a generation of hate. Not helpful as a solution. There will also be views such as, what is happening in Gaza today is exactly what happened with the Jewish race for centuries. A race (Jews) that was hounded out of everywhere, pilloried, massacred, etc. for generations. Definitely these cyclic actions, for sure, will never ever bring peace.
Who is interested in Palestinian welfare?
The atrocities on either side will never cease if judgments are made where perceived loyalties 'lie'. Hamas is lying about the welfare of Palestinians; and so are her handlers and the Arab nations who are more interested in their own economies. No neighboring nation wants the Palestinians in their country, even on humanitarian considerations. Hamas, Hezbollah etc. are not fighting for Palestinians as much as they are fighting for the annihilation of Israel at the behest of their well-known handlers. Both aims are different. The oppressed and suffering Palestinians are also oblivious to this intrigue playing out against them. Yet, pitying the Palestinians now will only absolve these supposed benefactors of their ignored responsibilities.
How far back in history do we want to go? The further we go back the future suffers; our children suffer. Instead, the Arabs and the world can create another “Israel” with the other “Palestinians”. It is pertinent to note that Israel, formed in 1948 is the third richest nation in Asia. It is best to leave history behind and focus on a solution in the Middle East, considering the present.
Two-state solution is only solution
The first action is for the Arab nations and others who have directly and indirectly taken sides to call the terrorists and militants as such unequivocally, loudly, clearly and repeatedly, paving the way for the release of all hostages and lifting Israel’s blockade of Gaza.
Secondly, Israel should call back its troops. Thirdly, all Arab nations and others should withdraw the direct support afforded to the militants/terrorists.
Fourthly a UN-led delegation, consisting of stakeholders and neutrals, should start negotiations for an independent sovereign Palestinian state with defined borders. Maybe the status of 1948 could be a starting point. Left to the present condition, vested interests will continue to exploit Israel and the Palestinians. Every nation in the world, yes, every nation, will only act in its own interest, may it be India, Iran, USA, Arab states, China, Russia, etc. You can’t expect much else. The negotiations here will be between more than just two nations. Therein lies the paradox. Yet, this is the only path to peace. All else is just drama.
Tailpiece: If it is about religion; no religion has brought peace to the world. Some individuals may have benefitted from some religions. In general, religions have only wrought destruction over centuries and facilitated extremism in their name. The media and the world should try calling out terrorists and their handlers - unafraid and vehemently - despite the lie of perceived loyalties. Else, it will be mayhem.
(The author is an Indian Army veteran. Views are personal. He can be reached at email@example.com)