ISRAEL — WHERE DO WE STOP?

By Vincent Lyn

Israel is a settler colony. European Jews left Europe, went to Palestine, changed the name to Israel, expelled the original inhabitants, the Palestinian Arabs, and hence dominated the land.

“Did the Zionists have the legal or moral right to invade Arab Palestine, uproot its Arab citizens from their homes and seize all Arab property for themselves? Just based on the “religious” claims that their forefathers lived there thousands of years ago? Only a thousand years ago the Moors lived in Spain. Would this give the Moors of today the legal and moral right to invade the Iberian Peninsula, drive out its Spanish citizens, and then set up a “new Moroccan nation” where Spain “used to be” as the Zionists have done to our Arab brothers and sisters in Palestine?”

– Malcolm X (1964)

It brings to question whether or not it would be legal and moral for African Americans in the Western Hemisphere to do likewise and return to Africa, dispossess the Africans currently living there, and establish a nation for them selves, or for Native Americans to retake their lands and evict white settlers. It only brings us back to the original point made by Malcolm X that the Zionist argument to justify Israel’s present occupation of Arab Palestine has no intelligent or legal basis in history, not even in their own religion.

I have spent the last six years in much of East, West and North Africa as well as most of the Middle East including, Palestine, Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, Kuwait, Oman and yes what is presently known as Israel. What I find horrifying is the current way the Palestinian people are subjected and sadly have been for over five generations exactly 72 years. As if to say yes we understand the plight of the Jewish people and the suffering that was imposed on them by the Nazis during WWII. But at the end of the war why didn’t they take a nice chunk of German territory for their own and carve out a new home? But instead travel 2,500 miles and take a territory that wasn’t theirs to begin with. The Jewish people were living extensively all over Europe. I know many of you will argue this point but it surely raises an important question. Yet the heinous barbarity that was inflicted on them by the Nazis, they in turn subjected the same awful suffering on another people the Palestinian Arabs. That I find completely intolerable. In the West especially since 9–11 the anti Muslim sentiment took to an all time high as if to say they were barbaric murderers living in squalor and running around in bed sheets yet Zionists were no better. The crimes they inflicted on the Palestinians and still do to this day are just as barbaric. Yet their land was stripped from them just like the Native Americans land was taken piece by piece, until whomever was not dead were all rounded up and given a little ‘reservation’ to survive on.The Palestinians fate is no better except their lives are even worse.

The Israeli policy is “a system of control” in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, including the ID system; Israeli settlements; separate roads for Israeli and Palestinian citizens around many of these settlements; Israeli military checkpoints; marriage law; the West Bank Barrier; use of Palestinians as cheaper labor; Palestinian West Bank enclaves and inequities in infrastructure, legal rights, and access to land and resources between Palestinians and Israeli residents in the Israeli occupied territories, resemble some aspects of the South African apartheid regime, and that elements of Israel’s occupation constitute forms of colonialism and of apartheid, contrary to international law. The Gaza Strip is home to a population of approximately 1.9 million people, including some 1.4 million Palestine refugees.

For the last decade, the socioeconomic situation in Gaza has been in steady decline. The blockade on land, air and sea imposed by Israel following the Hamas takeover of the Gaza Strip in 2007 entered its 14th year in June 2020 and continues to have a devastating effect as access to markets and people’s movement to and from the Gaza Strip remain severely restricted. The U.N. Secretary-General has found that the blockade and related restrictions contravene international humanitarian law as they target and impose hardship on the civilian population, effectively penalizing them for acts they have not committed.

Years of conflict and blockade have left 80% of the population dependent on international assistance while the continuing intra-Palestinian divisions serve to exacerbate the humanitarian and service delivery crisis on the ground. The economy and its capacity to create jobs have been devastated, resulting in the impoverishment and de-development of a highly skilled and well-educated society. In 2019, the average unemployment rate has reached over 55% — one of the highest in the world according to the World Bank. The number of Palestine refugees relying on food aid has increased from fewer than 80,000 in the year 2000 to almost one million today.

Access to clean water and electricity remains at crisis level and impacts nearly every aspect of life in Gaza. Clean water is unavailable for 95% of the population, and, availability of electricity is only 4–5 hours per day the end of October 2019. However, ongoing power shortages has severely impacted the availability of essential services, particularly health, water and sanitation services, and continues to undermine Gaza’s fragile economy, particularly the manufacturing and agriculture sectors. As a result of the continued deteriorating socio-economic situation in Gaza from the blockade, there is increasing and widespread hopelessness among Gaza’s population.

The shocking scale and horrific nature of the debilitating injuries inflicted by Israeli forces on Palestinians in Gaza suggests Israel has pursued a deliberate strategy to maim civilians. Many of those shot by Israeli forces are suffering life-changing injuries with profound physical and psychological scars for years to come. These devastating injuries, and the ongoing shooting of innocent Palestinians, highlight the urgent need for a worldwide arms embargo to be imposed on Israel. The plight of the Palestinian diaspora is by far one of the worst crimes in our present history.

I have spoken with many Palestinian families in Gaza and met many families in the Palestinian refugee camps. Families don’t’ have any salary and so cannot meet the needs of their children. Life is merely a means of survival, a daily routine of whether you live or die and see the sun come up. Parents stand helpless in front of their children. In Gaza there is no longer humanity, it’s as if the gates of heaven have been shut in the faces of this once beautiful and thriving land. The sound of children crying heard across the land waking up trembling in the night so terrified that all the parents can do is to try and console them.

In a COVID-19 world we live in lockdowns for 4 months and want to pull our hair out. We don’t know how lucky and fortunate we are, but imagine if you can, having to live in an enclosed region since its occupation in 1967. Isolated from the world prevented by the Israeli population in the Gaza Strip from communicating with the outside world. They have become prisoners on a land that was theirs outright. No clean water, no jobs, no universities, no medical treatment, no built houses, no paved streets, no relationships, no money, no dreams, no hopes and no future for generations.

The people of Gaza are angry at anything and everything. The factions, troops, politicians and all those killed are angry at themselves and their electoral choices and more angry at their inability to change their reality, their inability to take to the streets, their inability to pressure the forces, and their inability to be the power of influence after everyone has been let down. Gaza seems to be a laboratory for political amateurs trying their fortune. Their blood is still in the battles of tomorrow as if people realize that there is no stability for this region that does not stop the fighting. The frustration has never been so great, even in the worst moments of war, grief and pain reign.

Israel has been described as an “apartheid” state by some scholars, United Nations investigators, human rights groups all critical of Israeli policy this description has also been used by several Israeli former politicians. On November 19, 2019 Trump declared Israeli settlements on occupied Palestinian land are now ‘legal’ — upending 50 years of U.S. policy toward Israel and most likely has shattered any hope of peace in the Middle East. Announcing that the U.S. would no longer view Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank as “inconsistent with international law”. Also on that day Canada reversed course and voted in favor of a United Nations resolution condemning Israel for its “occupation” of Palestinian Territories, prompting a backlash of anger from Jewish groups. The move marks a further departure between the U.S. and Canada on their posture toward Israel and a potential reversal of long-standing Canadian foreign policy. The Trudeau government supported a resolution put forward by “the state of Palestine”, for a “just, lasting and comprehensive peace settlement” to the Israel-Palestine conflict, and explicitly refers to contested lands between the two countries as “Occupied Palestinian Territories.” It also cites a 2004 International Court of Justice decision that said Israel’s construction of a protective wall in the West Bank “severely impedes the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination.” The U.S. was among five countries that rejected the resolution, while Australia abstained. A total of 164 countries voted in favor, including the U.K., Germany and others. However, the fact remains that the Fourth Geneva Convention — of which the U.S. is a signatory — states that an occupying power cannot move its civilian population into the territory it occupies.

Amid a global pandemic, economic recession and simmering racial tensions around the world, Israel’s threat to formally annex parts of occupied Palestinian territory presents yet another international crisis in the making, because, with this outrageous move, the Israeli government threatens to unravel the rules-based system of international relations. Without an external force acting against Israel’s expansionist ambitions, the colonization of Palestine will continue. If the function and the spirit of rule-based system of international relations are to be preserved, that force must be the force of law.

Vincent Lyn

CEO/Founder at We Can Save Children

Director of Creative Development at African Views Organization

Economic & Social Council at United Nations

Middle East Correspondent at Wall Street News Agency

Rescue & Recovery Specialist at International Confederation of Police & Security Experts

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CEO-We Can Save Children. Director Creative Development-African Views Organization, ECOSOC at United Nations. International Human Rights Commission (IHRC)

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Vincent Lyn

Vincent Lyn

CEO-We Can Save Children. Director Creative Development-African Views Organization, ECOSOC at United Nations. International Human Rights Commission (IHRC)

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