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Mainstream, Vol XLVIII, No 26, June 19, 2010

Sonia in Jammu, Israelis pound Aid-carrying Ships in Besieged Gaza

Sunday 20 June 2010, by Humra Quraishi

Sonia Gandhi’s advisers should have suggested to her that if she had travelled as far as Jammu she should have travelled still further. Towards Shopian to meet the affected family of the two slain women—Neelofar and Aasiya Jan. After all, last week-end the entire Valley was observing the first death anniversary of these two young women, whose murder still remains wrapped in layers and is one of those blatant cases of a cover-up of sorts. And if anger over these murders couldn’t be contained, came this new shocker from the Valley: three young men killed in a cold-bloodied fake encounter, with the facts staring hard. Well, hard enough for the establishment and Army’s top brass unable to come up with any of those formality-ridden balms.

And what’s absolutely disappointing is that even if the so-called national leaders are on a visit to these locales, where the affected families reside, they want to stay away. Just about go on indulging in those ‘safe’ exercises of inaugurating meets and rendering a speech or two, but, no moving further. To pour condolences, to speak out, to order a fair probe.

The politician of the day wants to play it safe and yet people throng to see and sense what they are saying. Not to overlook the entire State machinery running about in a hysterical frenzy. And along with them all those tinkers, tailors, soldiers, sailors, rich men …I wonder how long will all this tamasha last! Wouldn’t the masses get totally fed up with all these facades and nexuses at work? Of course, disillusionment is fast setting in but the distancing from those who run the very establishment is yet to gain momentum. No longer that awe of a this or that sahib or memsahib, but it’s that sheer scare of their wrath and the outreach of their powers that keeps the third- class system still chugging along.

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News of Israelis pounding and attacking ships carrying aid to those sitting besieged in the Gaza belt shouldn’t really shock, for Israelis have been indulging in mass murders of the Palestinians. Either shooting them on the spot or else killing them in slow motion by cutting off all supplies. And this has been on for decades. This time around the focus couldn’t be diluted because these ships had many volunteers and well-known activists from several European countries.

In fact, whoever has visited Palestine has come back with grim facts. Two months back, in April, Rajmohan Gandhi was there and this is what he had to state soon after his travel in that region:

“The settlements, walls and separating roads loom larger and more oppressively than I had imagined. The settlements intrude everywhere and dominate the landscape...The range of Palestinian nonviolent activity against occupation is larger, and richer in creativity, than I had imagined. Nonviolence is a superior strategy. …Many Palestinians I have met seem to hold both weapons in their hands—in one hand the weapon of nonviolent resistance and in the other the weapon of constructive work, of strengthening civil society. No matter how small, the victories achieved through nonviolent struggle and in strengthening civil society have enhanced Palestinian confidence…

“The spirit of the Palestinians I have met, including their ability to laugh amidst hardship, is remarkable. Faced by the looming settlements, I find it hard to believe that the Government of Israel is serious when it talks of wanting an independent Palestinian state. The settlements, walls and separating roads negate and nullify such a claim and will obstruct the creation of a Palestinian state.

“The Government of Israel has used fear—genuine fear—to pursue a policy of domination and expansion. This policy sees Palestinians as an inferior race, less than human, not meriting equality or respect.

“In fact this policy is interested in Palestinian land, not in the Palestinian people. In the past, colonialists claimed that colonialism was good for the colonised. No such claim is being advanced in justification of the Israeli policy. Injustice anywhere is injustice everywhere. Mandela said that the liberation of South Africa is incomplete without the liberation of Palestine. I would say the same about the liberation of India and Pakistan.

“I become smaller in my own eyes if I don’t fight for justice. Also, I will meet my Maker one day, who will want to know whether or not I raised my voice for justice.

“I salute the many in Israel, and the many Americans of Jewish origin, who fight for Palestinian rights.

“I have a question for the Almighty, who is also a God of justice. I don’t know why a just cause remains short of victory for a long time. Not long before his death (in 1988), Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan told me that the word that appears in the Qur’an more often than almost any other word is Patience.

“I cannot shake the Almighty to act. But I can disturb the sleep of the international community.
On Easter Sunday, I had the amazing privilege of being in two sacred places, the place of worship in Hebron at the grave of Abraham, and the place of worship in Bethlehem where Jesus was born. In both places I prayed silently for two things: for the liberation of Palestine and for the wellbeing of my Jewish friends in Israel and in the USA.

“Suggestions for Palestinians struggling non-violently: 1. Be patient. 2. Never give up your faith. The Soviet Union crumbled, apartheid in South Africa crumbled, the occupation of Palestine will also crumble. 3. Be appreciative of one another. Instead of blaming a colleague for what is not done, appreciate what is done. Live to make the other person great. Then your team will become stronger, your cause will prosper, and your greatness will also be seen. But if your concern is to make yourself great, your team will weaken. 4. Continue the constructive work. Build the Palestinian home. Make everything you do of the highest quality. 5. Continue to laugh amidst hardship. 6. Enlarge the nonviolent struggle. 7. Strengthen the friendship and partnership of Palestine’s Muslims and Christians. Let Palestine become an example of a country where the rights of all minorities are fully respected...

“What is the duty of the international community? It should mobilise support for the just demands of the Palestinians. It should put pressure on the Government of Israel. And it should appeal to the sense of justice in Judaism. It should rouse Judaism’s conscience...”

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