A Paradise called Gaza?
The recent Israel-Palestinian conflict has seen more than 1000 Gazan Palestinians killed – most of them women and children. The Israeli onslaught was in retaliation to three Jewish teenagers being killed and burnt by Hamas. An outraged Tel Aviv vowed to exterminate Hamas. The Israeli charge is that Hamas terrorists (Palestinians call them fighters) hide behind women and children and thus they get caught in the crossfire. Israelis were seen cheering their military raid and bomb Gaza homes and establishments and Gazans were seen cheering rockets being fired at Israel only to be neutralized by the Iron Dome which was financed and provided by the United States.
It is true that Israel of today was Palestine of yesteryears and many Palestinians remember living in houses that are now owned by Israelis and are now a part of Israel. Should the Palestinians renounce their claim on what was their land? I do not suggest that for a moment. But I also do not understand the use of violence in an attempt to get back what was theirs. For one, Palestinians will have to learn to live and accept the reality of Israel. Israel cannot be wished away. No one can deny the right of the Jewish people the Promised Land. The answer for the Palestinians is to fight for their rights in international forums including the United Nations in a peaceful manner. Violence has given the Palestinians only blood and tears and nothing else. Innocent women and children have died. It has been a one long tale of death and destruction. Hamas and Hezbollah ‘fighters’ may look macho with Kalashnikovs and ammunition belts strewn all over their selves but the truth of the matter is that they have not got the Palestinians anywhere near what they want – a state of Palestine. Their use of violence has left many fatherless, many mothers without their sons and daughters and many babies orphaned. And when these young men who are part of Hamas and Hezbollah die they do not go to ‘jannat’ or paradise but leave behind them old parents who long for their darling son who they have lost. Parents want a happy family not one that has scars of death and destruction. It is silly to accept the death of young men and women fighting for the rights of their Palestinian brothers and sisters with the solace that they have gone to Paradise.
Palestinians should see what they have and make it the land of their dreams – a paradise – ‘jannat’. They have Palestinian enclaves in the West Bank and they have Gaza. Why wait for young Palestinians to die to get to ‘jannat’ why can’t all Palestinians live in ‘jannat’- Paradise?
Yes, Gaza and parts of Palestinian enclaves in the West Bank can be turned into a modern day Paradise if the Palestinians were to show some resolve. And the one basic resolve will be to shun all violence. Palestinians should tell the world that they abjure and abhor violence and as a step in that direction they should destroy all weapons that they have in public display. There shouldn’t be even a revolver in any Palestinian home. Not even a stick. Palestinians have fought for more than 60 years and have got precious little in return except for body bags. This rejection of violence is not because Palestinians are cowards but because they are brave and intelligent. Hamas and Hezbollah should become social organizations which they claim to be anyway. Once this small step but a giant leap is taken things will begin to automatically fall in place. The Islamic nations have been helping Palestinians for long with arms and ammunitions and financial aid. Now the people of Gaza and Palestinian enclaves in the West Bank must insist that they will accept aid only for developmental purposes. They will have to plan Gaza. They will realize that tunnels between Egypt and Gaza are used only for smuggling and a new thriving Gaza has no utility for such clandestine structures. The Gaza economy has to be above board and not surreptitious. If this were to happen the siege on Gaza will automatically be lifted by Israel and they will understand that it is useless to monitor everything that enters Gaza.
The world has been magnanimous with the Palestinian people and it will be even more eager to help Palestinians were they to ask for aid for the purposes of setting up kindergarten, schools and colleges. Agriculture could be mechanized and Gaza strawberries could find place in European markets. It is said that when the roads get bad one can safely assume that one has entered Palestinian part of West Bank. This should change to when the roads get better one can assume that Palestinian quarters have started. Palestinians should show the Muslim world what can be achieved by a people and a nation if one has the right priorities. The burgeoning Palestinian enclave of Ramallah can be refurbished such that this overpopulated place could be well planned and with modern amenities. Palestinians could be the show piece of the Muslim world. A desalination plant with adequate capacity could ensure enough potable water for the whole of Gaza, a power plant to serve the people such that there are no outages in Gaza; education and enterprise instead of guns and war and destruction; immaculate roads and parks and gardens with fountains instead of rubbish and garbage and filth; companies and workforce and jobs instead of idle talk and meaningless wait for aid and alms from all and sundry; elderly and children playing in these parks and gardens instead of cowering from possible Israeli raids and fretting about the welfare of their young sons and daughters. The priorities of the Palestinians have to change – a 360 degree turn is required. And if they have their priorities right, the whole question of the Middle East will have a different connotation altogether. Educated Palestinians will walk with their heads held high in international forums and in seminars and research theatres around the globe. They will be feted and celebrated by all and sundry.
If indeed Palestinians surge ahead with a constructive mind-set the Jewish people will begin to look at things very differently. They will have no choice but to look at things differently. For one, the huge ugly walls that demarcate the Jewish settlements from the Palestinian quarters will begin to look stupid and Israel will have no choice but to bring them down. There will be a healthy interaction between the Palestinians and the Jewish people. Israel may even decide to help Palestinians in their quest for growth and prosperity. The economy of the region will boom. There will be peace and tranquillity all around. Babies won’t cry to sleep, parents won’t fret for the safety of their sons and daughters and young men won’t need to keep looking behind their backs for a possible attack.
If the Jewish people are traditionally hardnosed businessmen they also have a tradition of philanthropy. Jewish people know how to share. I am not suggesting that they will part with their land and property. But they will be more accommodative and will try and understand the Palestinian point of view. If Gaza could be prosperous and progressive and an example to the Arab world such that it becomes the envy of even the Israelis then the war against Israel would have been clearly and decisively won. There are many ways to look at a situation. A constructive and wholesome approach to a problem is what is required. There is no heaven and no hell. It is what we make of our lives which decides’ how we want our lives to be. The young who have died fighting Israel have just left us. It is silly for anyone to believe that they have gone to Paradise. Give them Paradise here and now. It is for us to give them a rainbow life. To believe that they have gone to Paradise is escapism.