No innocents in Gaza

The Muslim Times has the best collection for interfaith tolerance and to refute sectarianism

Source: Dawn

By Pervez Hoodbhoy Published October 28, 2023  

AHEAD of the invasion, the Jerusalem Post quotes Israeli defence minister Avigdor Liberman: “There are no innocents in Gaza.” The Post’s comments section mostly shows support for Liberman. The West largely concurs.

Photo: US President Joe Biden hugs Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on arrival at Tel Aviv airport. In the backdrop stand hulks of Gaza’s bombed-out buildings, a million terrified Palestinians fleeing their homes, and the rubble of Al Ahli hospital. But even before 500 bloodied and broken bodies can be picked up, Biden rushes to whitewash Israel by affirming that Hamas, not Israel, had blown up the hospital.

But a New York Times analysis of Oct 24 casts doubt on Israel’s official claim that an errant Hamas missile was responsible. Even before this hospital’s bombing, WHO pointed out that Israel had targeted and heavily damaged four of Gaza’s 35 hospitals.

For decades, Israel has been the tail that wags the American dog. Netanyahu has often bragged that whatever he does matters little because he has “the American leadership in his pocket”. He is right. When cabinet minister Rafael Eitan once boasted that Palestinians living under Israeli occupation were like “drugged cockroaches in a bottle”, none on Washington’s Capitol Hill protested.

Stop! Lest we descend into an abyss of hate, let’s understand that Israel and America are not alone in committing crimes against humanity. A full gallery of rogues cannot be fitted into any decent-sized building. Of course, one must avoid whataboutery else every crime can then be absolved by pointing to yet another crime.

But focusing just on one set of crimes while ignoring others is also a whitewash. Most importantly, the underlying pathology of human behaviour would then be unexposed.

Consider, for example, the Saudi-UAE-led war against impoverished “low-life” Yemenis and a Gaza-like blockade from which 85,000 children starved to death. Or, closer to home, the Pakistan Army’s operation in East Pakistan, which killed several hundred thousand Bengalis and sent millions fleeing into India. In Gujarat, Narendra Modi’s government casually looked on as 2,000 innocent Muslims were slaughtered.

Such episodes of war and butchery are no less horrific than the ongoing carnage in Gaza. They force us to recognise that all mortal conflicts come from tribalism — the identification with your own group and a separation of ‘us’ from ‘them’. You mourn the death of your own tribe’s member and kill the other with relish — as Hamas does. But Hamas is weak and can kill only a few, while Israel is strong and is extracting revenge in proportion to its strength.

In evolutionary terms, tribalism derives from the territorial competition between small tribes during the formative period when our ancestors were hunter-gatherers on the grasslands of Africa some 80,000 years ago. A pessimistic view is that tribal identities are forever fixed by our genes. Ergo: human nature is fixed, unchangeable.

By this logic, we cannot stop humans from fighting any more than we can stop cats and dogs from fighting. But this view was challenged with the advent of modernity and industrialisation. As societies became more diverse and complex, tribal identities weakened. You could belong to bigger and bigger entities, such as large nation states, with all behaviour being rule-based.

Read further

Suggested reading for living in the image of the Loving and the Most Merciful God by Zia H Shah MD, Chief Editor of the Muslim Times:

Thirty Plus Quotes from the Poet of Love

Two Hundred Verses about Compassionate Living in the Quran

A Message of Compassion and Love from the Holy Bible

True Fasting: A Message of Compassion and Love from the Old Testament

Abou Ben Adhem, A Compassionate Man

‘Love Hormone,’ How it works in Hospitality?

‘Love Hormone’ Oxytocin May Enhance Feelings Of Spirituality

I am a Jew, a Catholic, a Christian and a Muslim; I am Zia H Shah

Surah Lail: Compassion and Generosity a Way to Paradise

1 reply

  1. Analysis
    US looks isolated after opposing UN resolution on Gaza truce
    Patrick Wintour
    Diplomatic editor
    Only 12 countries joined Washington and Israel as Jordan’s motion was passed at the general assembly

    Israel and Hamas at war – live updates

    Sat 28 Oct 2023 06.22 EDT
    The US has ended up looking quite badly isolated after only 12 countries joined Washington and Israel at the UN general assembly in opposing a motion calling for a sustained humanitarian truce leading to a cessation of hostilities.

    One hour after Israel had extended its offensive in Gaza, Jordan’s motion was passed in New York by 120 votes to 14, with 45 countries abstaining. The outcome was remarkable for showing the limited direct support for the world’s greatest superpower, with even France, Spain and the UK refusing to join the US in voting against the motion.

    The splits inside the EU, visible over recent weeks, were also laid bare, with the 27-members of the bloc voting three different ways, but the majority abstaining. Six of the votes the US garnered were from Pacific islands: Fiji, Tonga, the Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Nauru and Papua New Guinea.

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