By Gurnam Singh | Opinion |
In the midst of the ongoing conflict between Israel and Hamas, other than sharing the above picture showing two Jewish and Palestinian children in a loving embrace, I’ve found myself hesitating to share my thoughts publicly. The reason for this reluctance is quite simple: the situation is undeniably complex, and I’ve been grappling with the question of what the most appropriate response should be.
Looking back, my support has consistently leaned towards the Palestinian liberation struggle, and I’ve held a critical view of Zionism. In my view, a two-state solution remains the ultimate and most viable path to resolving this enduring conflict. Moreover, the status quo, which has essentially turned Gaza into the world’s largest open prison, is a reality that we can’t simply accept.
It’s crucial to recognize that the Palestinian population has, over the years, borne the brunt of Israeli violence. However, the recent and deeply troubling acts of Hamas, involving the kidnapping and murder of hundreds of innocent Israeli men, women, and children, are utterly unacceptable. In this context, it’s hard to argue against Israel’s right to self-defense.
Nevertheless, the principle of self-defense must not be a blanket justification for Israel to unleash indiscriminate bombings on the people of Gaza. The majority of Gaza’s residents have no connection to the actions of Hamas, and it’s disheartening to witness what appears to be a pursuit of revenge and rage by some within the Israeli government, particularly figures like Prime Minister Netanyahu, rather than a rational strategy to ensure the release of hostages and secure the safety of both Israelis and Palestinians.
While we must hold Hamas accountable for the current crisis, we cannot ignore the broader Israeli policies, including what some view as ethnic cleansing of Palestinians. Of utmost concern is the apparent impunity with which Israeli settlers in the West Bank and other areas have dispossessed Palestinians of their land.
To avoid further bloodshed and the ominous prospect of this conflict spreading globally, it’s imperative to establish conditions for a ceasefire on both sides. Admittedly, this won’t be a straightforward endeavor given the deep-seated animosity between Israel and Hamas.
In the immediate term, the involvement of influential third-party countries like Qatar and Saudi Arabia is crucial to extract substantial concessions from Hamas, such as the unconditional release of all hostages. In a gesture of goodwill, Israel should also commit to releasing political prisoners and creating a secure environment in Gaza that safeguards civilians. This involves suspending ground offensives, allowing aid to flow into Gaza and establishing safe zones for displaced individuals.
In the long term, an urgent UN-led agreement should address security and justice for all. Considering the history of violence, there is an indispensable need for both sides to acknowledge their culpability and express remorse, particularly concerning the loss of innocent lives. Here, religious leaders could play a pivotal role in initiating a process of peace and reconciliation.
Realistically, there is no military solution to this protracted conflict. Even if the situation deteriorates into a prolonged conflict with significant casualties, it’s only a matter of time before a peace and reconciliation process becomes imperative. It’s undoubtedly better to embark on this journey sooner rather than later, as the consequences of further bloodshed could be dire, not just for the people of Israel and Gaza but for the entire world.
Gurnam Singh is an academic activist dedicated to human rights, liberty, equality, social and environmental justice. He is an Associate Professor of Sociology at University of Warwick, UK. He can be contacted at Gurnam.firstname.lastname@example.org
* This is the opinion of the writer and does not necessarily represent the views of Asia Samachar.
Miracles and Godmen (Asia Samachar, 31 July 2020)
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