Voices of Resilience

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Marium Mangi

Hyderabad: 2 Jan 2024: “You are no different from Nazis who stood in my way when I cared for Jews in the Second World War” said a volunteer who was providing first-aid to the injured Palestinian babies to the soldier who stood over her head with a gun. On the terrible night of November 1938, a cyclone of hatred swept through the streets of Austria and Germany, leaving an awful representation of shattered lives and shattered glass. The world remembers this night as the Night of Broken Glass. Jewish homes that once were symbols of familial warmth were now reduced to smoldering ruins, silencing the echoes of laughter forever. Synagogues appeared as haunting buildings with their sacred walls and scriptures scattered like ashes. The Jewish businesses woven with aspirations and dreams were torn apart. That day, the air was thick with the acrid stench of hatred as Jewish men, women, and children were hunted down like prey; arrested, stripped, beaten, humiliated, and murdered, ushering in an era where the very essence of being a Jew was a crime.  

The holocaust, set upped by the Nazi regime, resulted in the persecution of six million Jews. Concentration camps such as Auschwitz, Sobibor, and Treblinka became scenes of unimaginable horror. Jews witnessed mass extermination through shooting, gas chambers, starvation, forced heavy labor, medical experiments, and a lot more than a person can imagine. And those who survived carried not only the injuries, scars, disease, and flashbacks of abuse but also the heart-breaking trauma of witnessing the genocide of loved ones. In the wake of the devastation, Jews were left with nowhere to go; no other country was ready to take up the responsibility of 250,000 Jewish immigrants, but Palestine made this mistake.

In 1943, Jewish refugees entered Palestine carrying a banner saying: “Germans destroyed our families and homes, don’t you destroy our hopes”, and Palestinians welcomed 4000 Jews as guests. Innocent people of Palestine didn’t know that their guests came with a filthy desire to conquer this beautiful land and make it a homeland for Jews and only Jews to live happily ever after. The groundwork to make Palestine a Jewish homeland began earlier with the Balfour Declaration in 1917. In this declaration, the British Government indicated support for the establishment of a “national home for the Jewish people” in Palestine. After the fall of the Ottoman Empire in World War 1, the League of Nations granted Britain a mandate to administer Palestine. During this time, tensions increased between Arabs and Jews. By the time of World War 2, the massacre of Jews by the GERMANS intensified global sympathy to create a safe land for Jews in PALESTINE. 

In 1947, they launched a campaign across the world calling Palestine a land without people; forty generations of living were now stolen, all carried away by the notion of entitlement of another who would settle in the vacancy and proclaim it all that was left the way of architecture, orchards, wells, flowers, and charm-as the heritage of Jewish foreigners arriving from Europe, Russia, the United States, and other corners of the world. United Nation’s Partition Plan was dropped like an atomic bomb on the people of Palestine. The Arabs were not ready to divide their beautiful country into two separate countries with Jerusalem as an international city. Jews accepted this plan, but Arab leaders condemned and rejected it. In 1948, it became clear that while Arabs believed that poor Jews were simply seeking refuge, they had been amassing weapons to drive Arabs from their homes.

On May 14, 1948, the establishment of the State of Israel was declared by David Ben-Gurion, the head of the Jewish Agency. Israeli soldiers consolidated people’s homes and properties. The new slogan of the Jews was that “we will live to see the land between the Mediterranean and the Jordan River with nothing but Jews. Palestine will be ours!” While a foreign monitory went about building a new state expelling Palestinians, looting their banks and homes, the five great powers the Soviet Union, the United States, France, the Great Britain and China appointed a UN mediator to recommend a solution to the conflict.

The Swedish UN mediator, Count Folke Bernadotte was serving his commission. He stated, “it would be an offense against the principles of elemental justice if these innocent victims of the conflict were denied the right to return to their homes, while Jewish immigrants flow into Palestine, and indeed, at least offer the threat of permanent replacement of the Arab refugees who had been rooted in the land for centuries.” It was for the first time that someone spoke in the favor of the Arabs and stated the facts; it sparked the hopes in the eyes of Arabs. It was a time and place where the hope of returning home could be renewed. And then came news “the Swedish UN mediator, Count Folke Bernadotte, was assassinated by Jewish terrorists” and these hopes were perpetually dashed. In the year 1964, amidst the heavy clouds of adversity and suffering, a beacon of hope emerged on the thunderous landscape of Palestine. The birth of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) was not only a bureaucratic creation; it was a testament to the irrepressible heartbeat of the people yearning for a voice, recognition, self-determination, and restoration of their stolen homeland and dreams.

The establishment of PLO was a declaration that Palestine would not be erased from the surface of the Earth. In the hearts of the Palestinians, the PLO became a symbol of resistance and determination that, one day, a stolen homeland would be a homeland reclaimed. Then came the June of 1967, the Six-Day War tore through the fabric of the Middle East, when Israel attacked Egypt, and Arab armies started mobilizing against the Zionist aggression. Israel emerged victorious, defeating the armies of Egypt, Syria, and Jordan. As the dust of battle settled, the scale of tragedy unfolded with haunting clarity. The occupation of the West Bank and East Jerusalem, annexation of the Golan Heights, and the seizing of the Gaza Strip and the Sinai Peninsula by Israel were not merely territorial conquests; they were the shattering of dreams families were torn away from the familiar embrace of their homeland, and the loss of human lives was far beyond the imagination. “They were everywhere, in the road, the laneways, in the back yards and broken homes, beneath crumpled masonry and across the top of garbage dumps. When we had seen a hundred bodies, we stopped counting.

Down every alleyway, there were corpses-women, men, grandparents, and babies all lying together in terrible profusion where they had been knifed or machine-gunned to death. Each corridor through the rubble produced more bodies. Everywhere, we found signs of hastily dug mass graves. Even while we were there, we could see the Israelis watching us. From the top of the tower block to the West, we could see them staring at us through field glasses, scanning back and forth across the streets of corpses”, said journalists who entered the streets of Palestine and bore witness. Here we found a female volunteer trying to save the lives of two girls barely five years old, stopped by the Israeli soldier but she did not care and said, “You are no different from Nazis who stood in my way when I cared for Jews in the Second World War.” We were impressed by her courage and bravery, but before she could put water in the mouth of the girl struggling to catch a breath, the soldier shot three of them in the head. In the corridors of the United Nations, where the echoes of cries of people reverberated, the resolutions stood like fragile documents in the stormy sea of this genocide. In 1967, Resolution 242 was born, calling for the withdrawal of Israeli soldiers from the territories occupied in the Six-Day War.

In 1973, in the aftermath of the Yom Kippur War, Resolution 338 emerged, summoning for an immediate ceasefire and initiation of negotiations for a peaceful solution. Then came Resolution 3236, affirming the inalienable rights of Palestinians, including the right to self-determination, national independence, and sovereignty, in the year 1974. Resolution 3379 in 9755, Resolution 1515 in 2003, Resolution 1860 in 2009, Resolution 2334 in 2016, and Resolution for Human Rights (ongoing) all condemning the Israeli settlement in the occupied territories and the human rights violation by the Israelis. Despite the piles of resolutions, the UN failed to resolve the issue of Palestine because of its ineffective enforcement mechanism, strategic interests of major ‘international powers’ and the changing power dynamics. 

Even today, Israeli air strikes and tanks continue to hammer all areas of Palestine, offering no heaven from the violence. Isn’t it ironic that from the 1940s till today, Jews have brutally killed, raped, tortured, stripped, and humiliated Palestinians exactly the way they were treated by the Germans? But the truth is Jews fail to remember that they were mistreated by Europe, not Arabs. The world must recognize that Israel does not have any right to “defend” itself if it is occupying someone else’s homeland. It does not have the right to kill someone in occupied lands. And if victims (Palestinians) respond in violent ways-they are right in their actions, as they are oppressed and abused. Conclusively, the decades-long genocide demands a just and peaceful resolution based on the two-state solution that calls for establishing two independent states on pre-1967 borders. It seems the only option to gain peace in the Holy Land.

kmariumali@gamil.com

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