Lest we forget

Palestinians set a kite on fire, to be thrown at the Israeli side during clashes at the Israel-Gaza border in the central Gaza strip, April 18, 2018. REUTERS/Ibraheem Abu Mustafa

Israelis this week are celebrating “Independence day,” marking 70 years since the creation of the state of Israel, according to the Hebrew calendar.

It would be wiser instead for them to reflect on every step that has been taken from the turn of last century to the Jewish state’s establishment and through to today. Persecuted in Europe, Jews were welcomed in the Holy Land where, at the turn of last century, they constituted around 2 percent of the population, living side by side with Palestinians. Then, with their financial clout and the dark period of World Wars I and II and in between, they garnered and received the support of Britain, a colonial power at the time with a mandate over Palestine.

While upstanding world leaders seek to leave a legacy their nation can be proud of, in the 70 years since Israel's creation, its leaders have made their mark through massacres, starting in Palestine in Deir Yassin and spreading to Egypt, Lebanon with Sabra and Shatila and Qana, and across the world with the assassination of Palestinian intellectuals and leaders abroad.

These massacres are tied to names including but not limited to David Ben-Gurion, Golda Meir, Menachem Begin, Yitzhak Shamir, Ehud Barak, Benjamin Netanyahu and Ariel Sharon, the king of massacres.

When Yitzhak Rabin started to shift, realizing the need to come to an understanding with the Palestinians, he was assassinated by a right-wing extremist.

Now, Israel’s daily routine is persecution, murder, the usurping of land and exercising flagrant designs over what they have already occupied, all under the eyes of the international community. In the process, they have created an apartheid, thwarted every peace initiative that would have given Palestinians a part of their rights, and even treated Oriental Jews as second-class citizens.

“Independence day” should be a time for Israelis and their supporters, particularly those in the U.S., to reflect soberly on the dark, bloody history of the Jewish state – built on the seizure of land and the expulsion of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians from their ancestral homes.

The two-state solution can and must become a reality, but it will take strong, sustained international effort for this to be achieved. Without it, the conflict will only continue for another 70 years.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on April 20, 2018, on page 1.




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