You don’t have to be a Muslim to feel for the Palestinians

So far, nearly 30,000 Palestinians have been killed in the Gaza massacre, nearly 70 percent of Gaza's buildings have been destroyed, and more than 80 percent of its population has been displaced.

Brig Gen Shahedul Anam Khan ndc, psc (Retd)

Brig Gen Shahedul Anam Khan ndc, psc (Retd)

The Daily Star


The writer says that the world conscience seems to be unmoved by the genocide that Israel has been conducting since October 7. PHOTO: UNSPLASH

March 14, 2024

DHAKA – In the continuing act of Israeli barbarity, the newest phase of which commenced on October 7, 2023, the Israeli Defense Forces gunned down a bunch of hungry unarmed Palestinians seeking food and water from relief trucks—killing 112 and injuring more than 700 people. So far, nearly 30,000 Palestinians have been killed in the Gaza massacre, nearly 70 percent of Gaza’s buildings have been destroyed, and more than 80 percent of its population has been displaced. Even Palestinian hospitals were not spared. The latest United Nations Security Council (UNSC) draft resolution for a ceasefire has been blocked by the US, the only council member to do so, and the UK, some refer to it as the 51st US State, since the Second Gulf War, abstained.

In an unpardonably cynical act, the US started airdropping relief on Gaza. What a mockery—a classic illustration of running with the hare and hunting with the hounds. Biden is air-dropping food pallets to the victims of the war machine he is arming with billions of US taxpayers’ dollars!

The world conscience seems to be unmoved by the genocide that Israel has been conducting since October 7. At the official level, the remonstration from the Arab and Muslim countries has at best been muted. But does one have to be a Muslim to feel for the Muslims?


It is heartening to note that many large demonstrations held in Western capitals and major cities were participated in by people of all religions and, in some instances, the protest marches have been led by Jewish organisations. It was not a Muslim country that brought the case of genocide against Israel at the International Court of Justice (ICJ).

A few weeks ago, Aaron Bushnell, a serving US Air Force member, was driven by the pangs of his conscience so much so that the only way open to him—to express his aversion to the ongoing genocide of a helpless nation, conducted by his country’s proxy in the Middle East and actively aided and abetted by his country and supported by its Western minions—was to sacrifice the most precious thing he owned: his life. For Bushnell, living would have meant complicity in the act of planned elimination of a nation. He chose to end it, in the most painful way, perhaps sharing vicariously the pain and distress the Palestinians have been enduring—not for the last five months but for the last 76 years.

I have not bothered to delve into Bushnell’s ethnicity or his religion. Why should I? He rose above the petty thoughts that confine us to a narrowly defined meaning and space of religion, race, or colour, and chose to be human. Through his extreme act of self-immolation, Bushnell has demonstrated that the Palestinian issue is no longer rooted in the narrow religious narrative but encompasses the larger issue of humanity. That is more than we can say of many of the leaders—religious or political, who continue to think still in binary terms. Just glance through the statement of the Archbishop of Canterbury, who is only seized with the thoughts and concern for the Christian Palestinians.

What is going on in Gaza now is a pure and simple act of genocide, meeting all the criteria of the UN definition of the word. Not only has a people been decimated, but civilians have also been particularly singled out. To stem the flow of information, journalists have been targeted, and so far, reportedly more than hundreds of them have been killed, some of them deliberately. Humanitarian and aid workers are being barred from entering the occupied territories.

With every ongoing day of Israel’s persecution of the Gaza war, the masks of the hypocrites, the peddlers of so-called human rights and children’s rights and women’s rights, and the rule of law and a world order based on equity and justice is peeling off. The Western media, some of the European countries, and some Arab nations too by their loud silence, have exposed their duplicity in a barefaced manner, unwilling to acknowledge the reality, even hesitant as we saw one prominent US newspaper lacking the moral courage to give out the actual figure of the victims of the Israeli massacre of a group of Palestinians gathered around a relief truck on February 29, choosing instead to say “many” killed. These countries and their leaders have lost all credentials and moral standing to talk about issues of human rights. It should not be lost upon those who are aiding and abetting the Israeli regime to perpetuate its barbarity, arming it to indulge in the wanton killing of civilians, something that is prohibited by the Geneva Convention, to lend themselves as good candidates for trial in the International Criminal Tribunal. Remember Milosevich!

However, the question is, what is the outcome of the problem? Will the saner section of world opinion allow the eviction and decimation of a nation to go unchallenged? Is there none to stop a pariah nation that has ridden rough-shod over international public opinion, UN sanctions, and ruling over the last 76 years, from continuing with its illegal persecution of war against civilians?

Unfortunately, it is not governments with the power to act who we can expect to side with the rule of law. They have their strategic interest motivated by the military-industrial complex to safeguard. The only force, I feel that can sway the respective government’s position, is public opinion. And this has been demonstrated in some measure through the recent US primaries, which has made the administration modulate its position from the past. Critical comments, unheard of heretofore, of Israeli persecution of Gaza offensive, have come from the White House lately, both from the US President and Vice-President.

Only the people can change the situation. Not only individual acts of self-sacrifice like that of Bushnell’s but also collective expression of reprehension and disgust at the current situation. And that must cut across religious and ethnic lines.

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