In May 2021, Israel prepared to celebrate seventy-three years of its formal existence by dispossessing yet more Palestinians (for the second time since it emerged on the world scene). To add a flavour to this, it also decided to tear-gas worshippers in Islam’s third holiest site, on the holiest night, in the holiest month in the Muslim calendar. This provoked protests all over Palestine, and rocket volleys from Gaza. In eleven days of devastating retaliatory bombing, the Israeli military killed 242 civilians, made 72,000 homeless and deprived Gaza of what little fragile infrastructure it has for sustaining lives, in particular in health, electricity, and education. Israeli security forces also murdered scores of peaceful protestors in the West Bank and within the so-called Green Line, arrested thousands, and injured hundreds. (No response to ‘terrorism’ pretexts here, especially since ‘terrorist’ Jewish settler extremists, under police protection, were often leading the attacks on unarmed Palestinians.)

But all this is not news. Israel has been piling misery on the Palestinians with impunity for over seven decades. The UN arbitrarily divided Palestine between its Arab inhabitants and a flux of Jewish refugees in 1947, giving the latter 56 per cent of Palestine, even though they represented less than a third of the inhabitants, owning merely 7 per cent of the land. Since then, the Israeli governments have been systematically displacing and dispossessing more Palestinians, grabbing more and more land and other resources, especially water. Today Israel controls over 93 per cent of all land and is fast eroding the 7 per cent that the five million plus Palestinians should at least enjoy unmolested.

What was remarkable, the real news, was the official international reaction. The US led a chorus of voices championing ‘Israel’s right to defend itself’. A political entity that is less of a state than a robbery in progress has a right to defend its crimes, while the victims should not even complain! No less remarkable was the siding of a number of Arab states with Israeli aggression, mostly tacitly in the face of the popular Muslim outrage at the assault on the Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem and other televised atrocities. Over the last year, four new Arab countries (UAE, Bahrain, Morocco and Sudan) have publicly recognised Israel and established diplomatic relations with it. Saudi Arabia all but joined. 

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