I write this letter in the holy month of Ramadan when I am one hundred percent focused on my devotion to God, developing and refining my conscience, character and relationships. I am not the only one who is doing this—there are 1.8 billion Muslims in the world who are engaged in the deep devotion of fasting. I have hardly watched any news or read any newspapers for the past month, but the plight of Palestinians has been brought to my attention while I am in the depth of my devotion. Ramadan teaches me to be honest and truthful, just and fair, and most importantly, to live a life of integrity and compassion. I would betray my own conscience if I ignored what is happening in the ground of one of Islam’s holiest sites, al-Aqsa mosque right now. It would go against my God-consciousness if I did not express my feelings of total disgust and dismay at the silence of the world leaders, and the failure of the international community to do anything about Israel’s aggressive and thuggish behaviour towards the Palestinians in this blessed month of Ramadan. They have attacked the holy site with hand grenades, smoke canisters, tear gas, batons and bullets. How would you feel if your most sacred place of worship in the most blessed date of your religious calendar was violated by someone?
The global Muslim community is feeling outraged by yet another Israeli act of aggression against the Palestinian people. It seems as if every Ramadan Israel fires rockets, bombs and bullets at its Muslim neighbours. This is how Israel welcomes Ramadan every year. While the global leaders witness Israeli government’s illegal and brutal acts of dehumanisation and dispossession of the Palestinian people silently, I have chosen to break my devotion to speak out against this brutality.
Let me begin by asking:
where is the conscience of the world’s civilised community today? Do the Palestinians not deserve your support? Why are you so silent? Or are you scared of Israel and Israel political activists labelling you anti-Semitic?
I do not hate anyone, but I hate injustice. I will not be silenced by anyone when they perpetrate violations of human rights, and I will not cower down to anyone who threatens me with labels they often abuse! I am not anti-Semitic, never have been and never will be. I am anti-injustice. I believe the state of Israel is an unjust state and does not deserve anyone’s support. I write this piece against the actions of the state of Israel and anyone who supports it.
Silence is not a solution
Let me state the obvious—I expect nothing from the illegitimate rulers, despots, kings and president from the Muslim countries neighbouring Palestine or around the world. Most of these leaders are worthless and an insult to the human race. However, I expect better from my own Prime Minister and the United Kingdom’s democratically elected politicians. I expect better from European nations and their leaders as they claim to be democratic and to operate using the highest standard of human rights and ethics. I expect better from the new leadership of the USA as it claims to champion freedom and rule of law. I am feeling deeply ashamed of these leaders and people because of their silence. What are they afraid of? Has the cat got their tongue? They are not usually silent when it comes to the rights of other people around the world, why are they silent on this issue?
I wonder if you are also watching with horror and a feeling of utter helplessness as you witness the expansionist programmes of the Israeli government through its illegal occupation, confiscation of Palestinian land and property, and in the way it uses and abuses its judiciary to further inflict pain and misery on the Palestinian people. I wonder if you are as upset and angry as I am at what is happening in Jerusalem right now. I wonder if you are going to do anything about it.
Forgery and theft
Did you know that the Israeli government and their extremist supporters use the Israeli courts to rubber stamp their apartheid policies and often use their corrupt legal process to cover their racist actions? I call it judicial thuggery and grand theft. I wonder if you think the same? What else do you call stealing people’s homes using court papers? Did you see the recent Israeli court’s comical and ridiculous judgment against four Palestinian families who have been living in their homes in the Sheikh Jarrah neighbourhood since 1956?
It ordered that the Palestinian families must hand over the legal ownership of their houses to the Jewish settlers, and then they were given two choices but only after accepting this ridiculous judgment—vacate the houses immediately or live in the houses and pay rent to the settlers who have now become landlords through a court-sanctioned daylight robbery!
According to the court, these settler thugs are the new landlords. I have not heard of anything more pathetic and lowlier than this in my life. How can any judge make such a wretched and deplorable judgement? Am I alone in feeling like this? Where are the voices of reason and sanity? Where are the moderate voices of my Jewish friends, neighbours, rabbis, faith and community leaders?
Dear people of the world, if this happened to you what would you do? I believe you would demonstrate for your rights too. You would stand up to protect your families. Palestinians have been doing exactly that—holding vigil and protest ever since the judgment in support of the four families and uniting to save their neighbourhood from ethnic cleansing, known as#SaveSheikhJarrah. The Jewish settlers have been provoking and taunting the Palestinians by hurling abuse at them and spraying pepper spray on them. And this is nothing new. They often do this and are supported by the gun-wielding security apparatuses in Israel. The Israeli police and security apparatus have joined in the affray, using rubber and metal bullets, skunk water and horses, crashing the protestors, firing at their faces and brutalising a community who have been occupied by Israeli forces for decades. They have fired bullets on the faces of the protestors, blinding them and permanently disfiguring their faces. Where is the humanity in this kind of behaviour? I do not think even animals would behave to their own kind like this!
Where are the smart politicians when the Palestinians are being attacked, their properties stolen and their land occupied? Where are they when the Palestinians’ basic human rights are being violated systematically and institutionally? Why are they observing a deafening silence?
Am I alone in thinking this? The shameless silence of our political leaders tells a very disturbing story. It seems that the Palestinian people do not have the right to freedom, that they do not have the right to live in their homes, that they do not have the right to safety and security. I will not blame you if you, like me, conclude that the world leaders are not concerned about the Palestinian people at all—they probably secretly wish that these people never existed so they would not have to deal with them. Otherwise, why such a deadly silence and wholesale hypocrisy? The Western leaders are quick to stand in support of Israel, but become deaf, dumb and blind to the atrocities perpetrated by Israel against the Palestinians. I don’t know about you but that makes me feel like throwing up—I feel sick to the core. This is naked hypocrisy and it is so disgusting that I do not have enough words to describe it. It makes my blood boil, but being angry is not the solution to this problem, just like being silent is not the solution either.
Hiding in plain sight
Did you know that the far-right Israeli politicians and their followers regularly call for the death and destruction of the Palestinians and Arabs from their pulpits, parliaments and pavements? But these hatred-filled slogans and incitement to violence hardly get reported by the Western media. The dishonest journalists are desperate to cover up or remain silent! You are absolutely right that you never hear of these, because these are the ugliest sides of Israel, that the Israeli government, its financiers and blind supporters do not want the world to ever see. The fact is that the extremists in Israel use their cultural, leisure, creative and political spaces and even their religious spaces to regularly wish death on the Arabs and Palestinians, incite and inflict brutal violence against the occupied people and then twist the truth by mounting organised and strategic PR campaigns including spreading false information, shifting the blame and pinning it on Hamas, using intimidation and even threats to malign people’s character by calling them anti-Semitic. In response, the global media remains silent. The media’s spineless and shameless silence does not mean the world is blind and people will not talk about it. We know what is going on, we have a conscience, but some of the journalists have none!
In the last few days there has been a substantial mainstream media blackout in the Western countries, as if nothing is happening in Jerusalem. The leaders of political parties and heads of state in the West have all stayed tight-lipped. Don’t be surprised at all. I have now come to expect this from some of my fellow country men and women in the West. It was the West that created Israel in the first place and it is the West that has sustained it ever since. It is perfectly okay for the Jewish extremist mobs to chant death to the Arabs, and it is perfectly okay for Israeli security apparatuses to regularly shoot to kill the Palestinians, drop missiles on residential neighbourhoods, blockade Palestinian towns and cities and starve them to death. As soon as anyone calls Israeli policies racist or labels the state of Israel an apartheid state, all hell breaks loose. Every media outlet screams anti-Semitism. Try calling for boycott of Israel and its products that come from the occupied territories, and you will be immediately labelled anti-Semitic.
Whenever a principled politician in the West speaks out against Israel, they get expelled from their parties and blacklisted by the media; their spineless and shameless leaders either remain silent or support the Jewish extremists’ actions.
How long will these woeful collusions go on for? I will tell the media and the politicians one thing bluntly and clearly—people are not deaf, dumb or blind. There will come a day when the truth will be known and justice will prevail; then these media outlets, journalists and politicians will be remembered with disgust and disdain.
I know this article will be picked up by many and used against me, especially by Israel lovers. I have experienced it before. They have even roused some Muslims to condemn my outspoken stance against Israel in the past. I really do not care about these people. All I care about is the human rights of all people in all parts of the world. While in their eyes, Israel can never do anything wrong, I believe Israel has done a whole host of things that are wrong and clearly violate international laws and civilised norms. What is apparent is that in their eyes Palestinian people can go to hell and perhaps should not even exist. Those who hold such a despicable view should be shunned from civilised discourse. The problem is many people who have such views will never tell you the truth. I believe all people should have the right to exist peacefully. I am sure you agree with me.
In my eyes all people, whether you are a Jew, Muslim or Christian or from other faiths or none, you are born with God-given honour and dignity. You deserve to live in dignity, freedom, peace and security.
Unlike me, some of these politicians, journalists and media organisations who believe some lives are more worthy than others are too cowardly to tell their inner aspirations and share their real views. They want the Palestinian people to leave their homes and properties—that is why the state of Israel is making the lives of the Palestinian people a living hell. They are making the whole environment extremely hostile and intolerable. They hope that the Palestinians will eventually leave out of sheer desperation. Did you know that you are supposed to keep your eyes and mouth shut while Israeli carry out ethnic cleansing of the Holy Land? I will not be doing that; I beg you to never be silent against injustice too.
It is no different to what the Europeans, especially the British and the French, did when they colonised and destroyed the Arab and Middle Eastern people. They killed, looted and destroyed their homes, land and properties. I know this happened in the past, but the consequences of their past policies live on even today. Did you know that the British played a disgraceful role in the region after the First World War? They persuaded the Arabs to drive the Ottomans out of the Middle East in return for freedom, but as soon as the dirty work was done, the British and French termed the Arabs backward and told their people that they were not civilised enough to deserve freedom to rule their own people or have their own nation states. In 1919, when nations met in London and Paris to decide on the future of the Middle East, the Arabs were mainly ignored. Behind closed doors, the British and French cooked up a lethal concoction of divide and rule policies. The Arab people’s land was arbitrarily carved up by the colonisers, and French and British rule was imposed on them. It was at that time that British took Palestine under their colonial rule. They called it their protectorate. They promised to take care of Palestinians but soon after betrayed the Arabs, who sucked up to them when fighting the Ottomans. They reneged on the promises and all along colluded with to the European Zionist movements who demanded a Jewish state in Palestine. The Balfour declaration was the manifestation of this treachery and betrayal. The British handed over Palestine to the European Jews to move over and forcibly cleanse Palestine of its original inhabitants.
Today the outcome of that unethical Balfour declaration is very clear. Israel and Palestine were supposed to be two independent viable states sharing the land at a fifty-fifty division when the UN mandated it in 1947. The resolution recommended the creation of independent Arab and Jewish States and a Special International Regime for the city of Jerusalem.
The reality now is that the Palestinian control zero percent of their land, air and sea access . Their exit is 100% controlled by Israel. The Palestinians’ land has been reduced to less than 10%. Israel has stolen most of the land to establish its dominant position in the region. Slowly and systematically, successive Israeli governments and Arab- and Palestinian-hating Jewish extremists have stolen more and more of the land from the Palestinian people and pushed them into a few refugee camps in and around the region.
This has come while the European leaders and nations watched in silence—this is the outcome of the seed that was planted, while the US has provided its political, financial and military backing to Israel all along. But why? What is the moral purpose behind this deceit and injustice? How long do they think this will last? No empires, including the Roman or British Empires, lasted forever, therefore this inhuman status quo in the Middle East cannot and will not last forever either. What then?
What would it take for the British to realise that Israel is a product of their treachery, betrayal and failure? What Israel does against the Palestinian people is a direct consequence of Western nations’ unethical foreign policies in the Middle East. What would it take for the United States of America to realise that their blind support for Israel is at the root of Israel behaving so despicably? They are behaving like trigger-happy gangsters and thugs, and they have the political backing of the Western nations so they can get away with it. The truth is, nobody in the history of humanity lasted forever or got away with injustice and human rights violations. The Arab people will rise one day. They will rid their countries of illegitimate regimes, dictators and despots. They will establish the rule of law and democratic governments. They will demand justice for the Palestinians. Each and every country in the world that aided and abetted the racist policies and ethnic cleansing carried out by apartheid regimes of Israel will be brought to justice. The silence and collusion may delay this but the inevitable will happen. Take South Africa’s apartheid regime as an example—it did not last forever.
Freedom and justice
Dear people of the world, I want to conclude by reminding you of the universal rule of justice—it will always prevail. The aggressive and heavy-handed behaviour of the Israeli police and security apparatuses are too frequent an experience for the Palestinians. Death and destruction experienced by the Palestinians are a daily reality, and the incursions and violations of the sacred Islamic spaces in the area are too numerous to even list. However, I am an optimist and human rights activist. I believe in humanity, truth and justice. I hope you can join me in this sense of optimism despite the current doom and gloom. I believe it is only a matter of time before the reality on the ground changes. Palestine will be free. I have a dream that the whole of the Middle East will be free. You should join me in my dream and work towards it.
The world leaders can be the real change makers, restorers of justice and fairness in Palestine, and honest brokers of peace, or they can remain silent and be remembered as colluders of the Israeli state, who sponsored brutality, racism, apartheid and the ethnic cleansing of Palestinian people.
I pray that God protects Palestine, but I also know that God will not change the condition of any people unless they change what is within them first. O people of the world, if you want to see change, you have to be the change.
Ajmal Masroor is a Bangladeshi-born British Imam, broadcaster and politician, author and public speaker. He is well known for being a television presenter on political discussions and on Muslim channels. He is currently working as a Relationship Counsellor and Mediator at Barefoot Institute. You can buy his books about marriage here: https://barefootinstitute.com/bookstore/
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