Here we are again, discussing the brutality of the Israeli government, which pretty much always seems to get away with murder.
This time, it’s in the form of solar panels, children’s belongings, and tents.
This past month, the Israelis destroyed aid provided by foreign governments that was to help support the basic needs of a small village, Khirbet Humsah. They then destroyed the village itself. They want the land; it’s in the West Bank after all. They’ve gone so far as to designate Khirbet Humsah as a military firing range. This is just a drop in the ocean that is Israeli destruction.
Meanwhile, Netanyahu is crying wolf (read: ‘anti-Semitism’), as the International Criminal Court has recently announced that they will be conducting an investigation into the “possible” war crimes committed by the Israeli government from 2014 (when Israel launched Operation Protective Edge in Gaza, killing an estimated 1,492 civilians) onward.
Sorry Bibi, saying that people, even if they are Jewish, should not be able to get away with murder, is not anti-Semitic.
Just in case there’s any doubt over murder, here’s the confession of a First Sergeant in the IDF, who was in Deir al-Balah, Gaza during Operation Protective Edge:
“The Rules of engagement are pretty identical: Anything inside (the Gaza Strip) is a threat, the area has to be ‘sterilized,’ empty of people – and if we don’t see someone waving a whit flag, screaming, ‘I give up’ or something like that – then he’s a threat and there’s authorization to open fire” (p.27)
Here’s a description of the IDF’s policy during Operation Protective Edge:
Source: Breaking the Silence, https://www.breakingthesilence.org.il/pdf/ProtectiveEdge.pdf, p.18
More of the Same
We know also that many of the Arab governments in their current forms are also not helping Palestinian cause. What is even more disheartening, is the current state of the Palestinian leadership and that there is little effort by the Palestinian leadership itself to truly change things, to truly frame this problem as an Islamic one, and to stop working with Israel and agreeing to deals that place power in Israel’s hands.
It was positive to hear that Biden will be restarting the aid to UNRWA that Trump had retracted, but while that is helpful in the short-term, never, ever forget the long-term view that US foreign policy has taken and continues to take toward Israel:
Source: Wolf Blitzer meets Antony Blinken, 2/8/21, https://www.state.gov/secretary-antony-j-blinken-with-wolf-blitzer-of-cnns-the-situation-room/
At least Trump was transparent about his stance. Consider the money to UNRWA a nice-looking band-aid.
The Progressives’ Stance
Some progressives in the US are critical of Democrats’ and other progressives’ hypocritical stance on Israel. In a new book Except for Palestine: The Limits of Progressive Politics, Mark Lamott Hill & Mitchell Plitnick write:
“American policy in Palestine and Israel has always been hopelessly intertwined with our own longstanding struggles with white supremacy, Islamaphobia, anti-Semitism, and ethnocentrism. As we’ve come to understand that racism, sexism, religious bigotry, anti-LGBTQIA hate, and other prejudices are intersectional, we must also recognize how these systems of oppression inform our foreign policy. If we are to adopt a progressive political outlook—one rooted in anti-racist, anti-imperialist, humanistic, and intersectional values—we must begin to prioritize the freedom, dignity, and self-determination of Palestinians.”
We can see the problem Muslims in the West face. They don’t fit into the Republican’s clear stance against Palestine, they don’t fit into the Democrat’s fake stance on ‘supporting’ Palestine, and they don’t fit into the progressives’ linking of Palestinian rights to LGBT and everything-else-rights (e.g. abortion, sexual liberation, etc.).
While secular progressives may mean well (and we appreciate their support of Palestinians), the “intersectional values” they speak of are not intersectional for us. They cross into the Islamic realm only in that they contradict Islam.
That contradiction, oddly being embraced and celebrated by Muslim members of Congress, such as Ilhan Omar and some progressive Palestinian organizations such as al-Qaws, must be noted. A clear stance must be taken against it.
For the sake of argument, let’s set aside for a brief moment our knowledge that supporting LGBTQ rights is counter to Islam. Does fighting for LGBTQ rights fit the needs of Palestinians in any shape of form?
Now, bringing our faith back in, do we hope that in helping to liberate Palestinians, that they would then stand up for LGBTQ causes? That’s not the goal of Palestinian liberation; that’s not even a short-term point that we [and the Palestinian leadership] are hoping to reach.
This is why Islamically-guided involvement is important, not necessarily to be combative with the outpouring of support for Palestinians (BDS, which does not align with any religious group, remains one of the most powerful tools to fight Israel), but to set ethical limitations as to how this cause is approached.
Islam and the Palestinian Struggle
For us, Palestine is, first and foremost, an Islamic issue.
Along with the Muslims who live there and the basic inhumanity to which all Palestinians there are subjected, we can find the importance of Palestine to Muslims mentioned in the Quran and in Hadith.
In the Quran, Allah (SWT) says:
سُبْحَـٰنَ ٱلَّذِىٓ أَسْرَىٰ بِعَبْدِهِۦ لَيْلًۭا مِّنَ ٱلْمَسْجِدِ ٱلْحَرَامِ إِلَى ٱلْمَسْجِدِ ٱلْأَقْصَا ٱلَّذِى بَـٰرَكْنَا حَوْلَهُۥ لِنُرِيَهُۥ مِنْ ءَايَـٰتِنَآ ۚ إِنَّهُۥ هُوَ ٱلسَّمِيعُ ٱلْبَصِيرُ
Glory be to the One Who took His servant ˹Muḥammad˺ by night from the Sacred Mosque to the Farthest Mosque [Masjid al-Aqsa] whose surroundings We have blessed, so that We may show him some of Our signs.1 Indeed, He2 alone is the All-Hearing, All-Seeing. (17:1)
Just as Palestine is an Islamic issue on the basis of the injustices and crimes committed against Palestinians, so is it one because of its significance in Islamic tradition and history. It was governed by the prophets Dawud and Suleiman, is mentioned to us by Allah (SWT), and the Prophet ﷺ was sent there and then spoke of it in many ahadith.
We know Islam has the ability to make an inclusive society, and history has seen that before—twice over—in the very place we’re discussing. After the first Islamic conquest of Jerusalem in 638 CE and the second in 1187—Islamic rule allowed the Jews to come back to Jerusalem (the Christians had banned them). That is a far cry from how it is governed today, with Palestinians at times even struggling to pray in al-Aqsa.
We should not lose sight of Palestine’s significance in this regard. Recall even that the question of Jerusalem is such a contentious one, one that even the “inclusive” Biden administration has spoken about, saying that Jerusalem is Israel’s capital. They are not only fully behind Israel, but they are in many ways complicit in its attempts to ethnically cleanse.
Israel wants to maintain a Jewish majority in their supposedly “Jewish state” (their law code is not taken from their holy books; it is a secular ethno-state). This point of a Jewish majority is key to remember because it is at the heart of why it is crucial for the Israeli government not simply to relegate Palestinians as second-class citizens (as blacks were under apartheid in South Africa), but to eliminate their presence in their country.
Israel is only an apartheid state when thinking about the present moment; when thinking long-term, we see that it is a state actively seeking either genocide or a purging of Palestinians from the country, even from the areas supposedly under Palestinian control.
We cannot force anyone who speaks up for Palestine to do so in the way we want. But, if enough Muslims carry the movement forward and speak to the cause as an Islamic one, that is where a difference can be made in sha Allah.