Occupation is the problem | by Ibrahim Kalin

May 19, 2018

Washington’s decision to move its embassy to Jerusalem continues to cause harm and suffering. On May 14, 62 Palestinians were killed by Israeli soldiers and hundreds were injured. This is pretty much the end of the Donald Trump administration’s role in the Middle East peace process.

The move has also undermined any remaining hope for a two-state solution. The Trump administration is giving full support to Israel’s long-standing policy of “creating facts on the ground” and then grabbing more Palestinian land for reasons of security and the Israel’s so-called “natural growth” needs. This mindset has never taken into account the security, freedom and prosperity of the Palestinian people. They are expected to accept the 70-year occupation without putting up any resistance or objections. No other modern political story has been as tragic and hypocritical as the story of Palestine under occupation.

Not many believed that the U.S. was an honest broker in the Middle East peace process in the first place. Trump’s Jerusalem decision is the last nail in the coffin. The Palestinians do not want to deal with the U.S. administration and they are right. The Trump administration has given them no hope, no encouragement, no support and nothing to keep them in the negotiations. Trump’s officials have said for months – without sharing any details – that they have been working on a new road map for peace. As it turns out, the only road map that has emerged so far is one destined to end in a crash – a crash that has the potential to set fire to the entire region. The Jerusalem move may have fulfilled the weird theological beliefs of some evangelical Americans and Zionists, but it has done immense damage already. The so-called Western liberal world order and its governments are either silent or utterly helpless when it comes to the Israeli occupation. They accept every Israeli claim at face value and design their policies according to the dictates of the Israeli lobbies in their respective countries. They have no desire or courage to confront the U.S. and Israeli governments to hold them accountable for their irresponsible, provocative and criminal actions. They just want the problem to go away. Countless U.N. resolutions condemning the Israeli occupation have been brushed aside. No other country or occupying force in the world has violated as many U.N. resolutions as Israel.

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Given the political realities on the ground, Israel will continue its “piece-by-piece” policy of perennial occupation. It will continue its strategy of erasing the Palestinian people from the face of the earth with impunity. While Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu plays the “Israel on the brink of destruction” card, it is the Palestinians who are facing the threat of annihilation by a military machine and apartheid state with its shameless racism and brutality. In fact, many Israelis do not even use the word “Palestinian” because they don’t recognize them as an official group of people.

Netanyahu cannot cover up his crimes and domestic troubles by attacking President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. He may enjoy the relative silence of the international community and the disunity and lethargy of the Arab world, but he can never break the will of the Palestinian people and our support for them. He attacks Erdoğan because Erdoğan is the only leader who has the humanity and courage to call out the Israeli violence for what it is: Systematic massacring of a people living under occupation. He is a democratically elected leader forcefully criticizing Israel for its crimes against the Palestinian people.

As it often happens, the truth is the first casualty of war. Much of the European and American media once again failed to tell the truth in regard to the ongoing violence. The headlines read “Dozens killed in Gaza” and none of them referred to the Israeli brutality and willful killing, as if the Palestinians died of some sort of natural disaster or epidemic. They equate the killer and the killed to tell a story of “clash and confrontation” that does nothing but help Israeli officials in their shameless promotion of violence against a defenseless people. But this is nothing new. This is a story that keeps popping up in every Israeli attack on the Palestinian people. Palestinians never get a voice and are thus victimized twice. They are killed by an apartheid state but accused of violent extremism and terrorism. They are forced to live under occupation in their own land but never seen as having a right to claim their homes. They are subjected to discrimination, humiliation and dispossession on a daily basis but are accused of anti-Semitism. Much of the Western media coverage of the Israeli occupation of Palestinian lands seeks to justify the greatest story of injustice and brutality in modern history.

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Just imagine how the world would have reacted if the 62 people killed on May 14 were Israelis rather than Palestinians. It would not have been a news story but a bombshell. It would have changed the parameters of regional and international politics. Western governments would have done everything in their capacity to punish those responsible. Even armies would have been mobilized. But none of that happened because the victims were Palestinian and the culprit was Israel which, with the deadliest army in the Middle East and unconditional U.S. support behind it, claims to fear for its existence in the face of rock throwing kids and women. In reality, Palestinians have nothing else to defend themselves, their families, their elderly, their homes, their olive fields, their lives and dignity with.

It is with these considerations in mind that Turkey called for an extraordinary summit of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) to mobilize Muslim countries to defend Palestinians against Israeli aggression. Turkey took a number of other measures in response. It declared three days of mourning, called its ambassadors in Washington and Tel Aviv back and held an emergency session at the Turkish National Assembly.

Thanks to the irresponsible and populist policies of the Trump and Netanyahu administrations, peace has never been as far away as it is today. Muslim countries, Europeans, Africans, Asian nations and Latin American countries must come together to stop the downward spiral of blatant violations of international law by Israel and the unjust punishment of the Palestinians.

The problem is the occupation and without ending it, there will be no peace, no security, no prosperity for anyone.

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Published at https://www.dailysabah.com/columns/ibrahim-kalin/2018/05/19/occupation-is-the-problem