Just when you think Israel cannot descend any lower, it surprises you with ever new depths of depravity. If anyone ever needed any more evidence about the absolutely evil, sick and homicidal nature of this regime, they got it last week. And if anyone still nurtured innocent hopes of peace and Israel’s commitment to the peace process, dialogue, two-state solution and all that balderdash, Israel showed them what it thinks of their fond hopes and aspirations.
When Huwaida Arraf, the fiery spirit behind the Free Gaza campaign and co-founder of the International Solidarity Movement for Palestine, paid us a visit in Dubai last year with her equally committed husband Adam Shapiro, a Pakistani colleague and friend of mine who met and interviewed Huwaida with me, eagerly requested to be made part of her next aid mission to Gaza.
Huwaida, obviously uninitiated into the complexities of India-Pakistan relationship, promptly offered to put her on an Indian ship, saying some Indian friends were planning to join the Free Gaza mission with their own boat.
My Pakistani friend, ever proud of her national identity, was horrified at the suggestion. Nonetheless, she really wanted, like so many of us, to be part of the mission to break the inhuman siege of Gaza and its long suffering people. “It would be a great honour to die saving Palestinian lives,” said my friend, almost breathless with emotion.
I nodded in agreement. Little did we realise then the seriousness of our words and the dangerous nature of the mission undertaken by Huwaida, still in Israeli detention, and numerous other peace activists and conscience keepers of the world.
Perhaps not even those 700 plus noble souls on board the Freedom flotilla who defied great odds and put their own lives on the line to save those imprisoned in Gaza ever suspected that Israel could go to the extent of attacking ships full of peace activists and humanitarian aid. Especially when those on board included top international journalists and prominent personalities from 32 countries.
But when you are dealing with Israel anything is possible. Ask the Palestinians. The history of the state whose very birth was soaked in innocent blood is replete with unprecedented crimes against the Palestinian people and crimes against humanity that would even shame the Nazis.
From Dair Yassin massacre to the mass slaughter of Palestinian refugees in Sabra and Shatila camps in Lebanon, and from the Jenin refugee camp carnage to the total destruction of Gaza in 2008-09, Israel sets a new precedent with every new atrocity. Every crime appears to create a new history of oppression and abuse of human dignity. But what the Israelis have done this time around is shocking even from their own standards.
Even Nazis and the most depraved mass murderers in history respected certain red lines. They spared international peacemakers, the Red Cross and relief agencies. But then when it comes to the state of Israel there are no red lines. Nothing is sacrosanct. Everything and everyone is fair game.
From the shock-and-awe attack on the USS Liberty, a battleship belonging to its own ally, friend and protector that killed scores of US marines, to this assault on the Gaza relief flotilla killing 19 peace activists, most of them from another ally and friend, Turkey, Israel routinely kills at will and casually annihilates everyone and everything in its way.
More important, it always gets away with murder, just as it did earlier this year in Dubai using the passports and identities of people belonging to friendly countries to assassinate a top Hamas commander.
The question is how long will this go on? When is enough, enough for Israel’s protectors and the international community? How long can a tiny state with the population less than that of New York hold the entire world hostage?
Just like in those Hollywood features when a couple of lunatics hijack a plane full of passengers threatening to blow it up in air, Israel has hijacked our world and threatens to destroy it with its reckless actions and dangerous policies. Unless someone comes forward to take control of the plane before it blows up in air or crashes down to the ground, you can be as sure as hell we are all headed for the certain doom.
The brazen attack on the Freedom flotilla carrying 10,000 tonnes of food, medicines and other essentials to a starving, desperate population in Gaza is the plainest sign yet – if anyone ever needed it – that Israel is a clear and present danger to the peace and stability of our world.
This is not about Palestinians’ rights or their never-ending persecution at the hands of a racist, evil state any more. This is now about the shared future of our world. Israeli policies have become a cancer not just for the Middle East but the entire civilised world. They have emerged as the greatest challenge to all that we have come to believe in and respect: peace, justice, freedom, respect for the basic rights and the rule of law.
If the international community does not act now, it will pay a huge price – perhaps even higher than it paid in the last two Great Wars. It’s time to save the world from Israel and save the Zionist state from its own destructive self.
The terror on high seas has understandably outraged the world. This outrage of the global conscience must be channelled to confront the Zionist regime and end the seven decades of suffering of Palestinian people.
Just as the Soweto massacre gave birth to a global movement against the Apartheid regime in South Africa, eventually leading to its overthrow, this latest Israeli outrage and the sacrifices of numerous soldiers of peace must unleash an international movement against the Zionist oppression.
Tide has already turned against Israel, manifesting itself in millions of people around the world coming out on the streets, from Toronto to Tokyo, in spontaneous protests following the attack on the Gaza aid mission. It’s these voices of conscience that may have forced Israel’s European friends to condemn the terror on high seas in unequivocal terms.
Now President Barack Obama and his fellow Americans have to decide where they stand. Are they on the side of justice, freedom and an individual’s right to live with dignity or are they on the side of Israel, no matter how many innocents it kills and no matter what new lows of degeneracy it plumbs in its hubris?
Is President Obama willing to stand up for what he believes in? Or would he rather play safe to end up as yet another wimp in the White House dancing to Israel’s tunes? Whatever he eventually does, he must remember British historian and intellectual Edmund Burke’s warning: “All it takes for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing.”
Are you going to act now, Mr President, or you too have chosen to “do nothing” like so many of your predecessors?
The writer is opinion editor of the Khaleej Times. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org