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Business News/ Opinion / Columns/  Palestinians will do better without long-distance lovers

Palestinians will do better without long-distance lovers

The strong opinions of the Muslim elite who do not live in Palestine are a reason for the region’s ruin

Palestinians have gained less from Muslim sympathy than from the crumbs falling off Israel’s capitalism. (REUTERS)Premium
Palestinians have gained less from Muslim sympathy than from the crumbs falling off Israel’s capitalism. (REUTERS)

The fortune of Israel was that it made for very bland photojournalism. All the trauma of the Levant was on the other side of the fence, in Gaza. That changed on 7 October when Hamas terrorists killed over a thousand Israelis in their homes, and not all of them were killed “with guns", in the words of an Israeli spokesperson.

It was an exceptional event, and it was followed by a common phenomenon—a torrent of low-stakes rage from people who lived far away from the region. The Israel-Palestine issue has for long been the world’s biggest source of cheap rage, from both Muslims and those who despise them. There is a serious problem with the strong opinions of people who do not have to bear the consequences of their opinions.

After the massacres of Israelis, Muslims in many parts of the world rejoiced. Muslims in Western Europe and America took out festive processions in support of Palestine Arabs. The affluent Muslim elite from poor nations who migrated to the West usually are too sophisticated to expose their inner glee at a triumph for the Muslim world. Usually, their emotions in favour of Palestinians comes across as their love for humanity because usually it is Palestinian “civilians" who die, not a thousand Israelis. Habituated to operating under the cloak of empathy, Fatima Bhutto reposted an activist’s tweet, “It must be emphasised that armed struggle by the Palestinian resistance against the occupier is legal under international law." Other people with facades of modernity said similar things. Many refined people with Muslim names, in a remarkable coincidence, blamed Israel for the violence. All this not even a day since the massacre, which had the effect of endorsing Hamas’s action. Some students of Harvard signed a joint letter condemning Israel. The wokes are the petition-signing zombies of the new world. In my experience, wokes are people so bereft of innate morality that they have to make bad guesses about what goodness might be.

All sane people have the same values, certainly, but it is the secret hierarchy in which we hold them that distinguishes us. Even atheists have a religious identity, especially Muslim atheists, and in the past few days, it appeared that they hold that identity more dear than their love for unbranded human lives. Yet, the global Muslim identity has been useless to Palestinians. No one wants them in their backyard; they only “stand with Palestine". Palestinians have gained less from Muslim sympathy than from the crumbs falling off Israel’s capitalism. All that the Muslim identity has done is stoke the violence and give Palestinians the false hope that if some of them keep getting blown off, one day Palestine will be theirs.

Back home, the Indian National Congress is afraid to condemn Hamas. Amid all this, many Hindus have been wishing for Israel to obliterate Gaza as though it is just a video game. Across the world, people who hate Islam have donned the cloak of humanism to ask Israel for a spectacular retribution. Israel has no choice but to do something of that sort, and we know that its people will once again pay the price.

The way the world uses the word “civilians" to describe most Palestinians, it is as though everyone except me has a secret way to distinguish who there belongs to Hamas and who is an innocent victim. Maybe what the world is trying to say is that most humans are not terrorists; they may now and then celebrate murder, but they are not directly barbarians. I can’t argue with that.

But I do wonder what was running in the heads of Palestinian “civilians" in 2006 when over 44% of them elected Hamas to power in elections considered free and fair. More important is the fact that the Palestinians did pay the price for that mistake. They have directly borne the effects of Israeli colonisation. Their children have died, their lovers have died, they have no hope, no future. Of all the “civilians" in the world, they have paid the highest price. Their emotions have meaning. Even when they rejoiced the massacre of a thousand people.

It would be fascinating to know what they have to say about the rich Palestinian Arabs who had the means to escape, who settled in the West, and who goad poor Palestinians to fight from faraway. The long-distance Asian feudal lords in the West who want to hire martyrs, we know them. We have seen the displaced Sri Lankan Tamil elite funding the LTTE. When the violent end came for hundreds of impoverished Tamil “civilians", the emotional elite were safely in England and other such places. We have seen the affluent Kashmiris in Dubai and New York goad impoverished Kashmiris to become militants or at least stone-pelters; they defamed every local Kashmiri who wished for peace. We have seen some Canadians of Punjabi origin destroy whole generations in Punjab. And, we have seen non resident Indians celebrate the rise of a new Hindu India.

But I see the long-distance Jewish identity very differently. Even before Adolf Hitler, they were massacred across Europe. Driven from all lands, they hid in something called assimilation. But then some of them had the bizarre idea of colonizing a piece of Arab land. Of course, they took it from poor Arab farmers, who were though treated worse by richer Arabs. And suddenly there was a Jewish land. Everything that happens to Israel and everything Israel does affect the fates of every Semitic Jew anywhere. We will realize this in the coming days when there are stray “lone-wolf" attacks on Jews in some of the most advanced cities of the world.

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Published: 15 Oct 2023, 09:36 PM IST
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