In a world where there is only one super-power, and that is too conscious of its military might and vast economic power, what are small states menaced by stronger neighbours to do? If that super-power was using its might and wealth for the good of the world and to make it safe and peaceful for others who are weak or poor or both, that would have been a welcome happening. That is not the case in respect of the US which wants to augment its military might, maintain its global superiority and sustain its dominance.
In such a world what are various states imperilled by major regional powers to do when they want to dominate the region as well? And what are such menaced states to do when the regional powers are aligned with the US and have its total support? In the case of Israel which is totally aligned to the US it is not always clear who is more important to whom or more dependent on the other state in view of Israel’s utterly disruptive role in the Middle East which helps the US to keep the
oil-rich Arabs down and variously dependent on the US rather helplessly.
The US support to Israel is total and unending. The support is political, financial and military. In the financial area the non-official support for Israel from the US is larger than the official support. And the US supplies the Israel the latest weapons and the most destructive arms. It has helped Israel to become a nuclear power armed with a sizeable nuclear arsenal.
And when the world wants to stop the Israeli excesses the US is always ready to use its veto in the UN Security Council. So Israel has little to fear from the rather disunited Arab neighbours all around it or the larger Muslim world which is weak.
In such a world the Palestinians dispossessed of their historic homeland know that war is no solution for their eternal problem. The wars of 1956, 1967 and 1973 have not solved their problem. In fact after the 1967 war the left-over Palestine following the 1948 partition was re-occupied by Israel. And the areas of Palestine which were eventually allowed to come under the Palestinian Entity under Yasser Arafat were re-occupied by Israel three weeks ago following suicide bombings by Palestinian youth in Israel. And Yasser Arafat has been confined to Ramallah and his various offices rocketed and bombed. Only he was allowed to stay alive, although Ariel Sharon, the Israeli prime minister, would have preferred to see him dead but for the intervention of the world, particularly the European Union.
Even before the total re-occupation of Palestinian areas by Israel, Israeli settlers have been encroaching on those territories more and more and setting up hundreds of settlements in an effort to absorb the areas completely. The Palestinians have been resenting such settlements and resisting them. The killing of five settlers on April 27 near Al Khalil is the latest manifestation of that resistance for which they have to pay a very heavy price.
What are the Palestinians to do in such a context? They cannot get back their lost homeland through peaceful means. They cannot get that through the US with the principal of its resolutions 242 remaining a dead letter. And the US blocks any effective step to bring lasting peace to the region, as that does not suit an aggressive and expansionist Israel.
The Arab threat to use the oil weapon to force the world to strive for peace in the Middle East and justice to the Palestinians has not worked either. And higher prices of oil hurt the poor countries of the Third World more than the rich countries which are achieving increasing efficiency is the use of energy, beginning with energy-efficient cars.
Frustrated by such setbacks and the humiliations and horrors to which the Palestinians have been exposed in recent weeks Crown Prince Abdullah of Saudi Arabia came up with his brave peace plan. He wanted Israel to withdraw from the Palestine areas it had occupied after the 1967 war. In return, the Arab states would recognise Israel and guarantee peace and security for Israel. Israel showed interest in the proposals, but did not accept that. The same was the response of the US which wanted to work on some key details in a manner that suited the Israeli demands.
Meanwhile, if earlier the Palestinians suffered the horrendous Sabra and Shattila massacres in the Lebanon, they have now the mini-holocaust of the Jenin refugee camps in which hundreds of Palestinians were killed and their homes razed to the ground, and the dead Palestinians allowed to rot under the debris.
Even ancient mosques have been destroyed in Nubulus along with a historic bath house and other architectural heritage. Palestinians say Israel wanted to destroy their cultural heritage in the areas it had re-occupied. Such vandalism is inexcusable on the part of a people who talk of Hitler’s holocaust.
What are young Palestinians to do in such ghastly circumstances? In the current uprising in the Palestinian areas over 2,000 have been killed. The young Palestinians have seen their fathers, mothers, and brothers, including little children killed by Israeli military action. In return for the stones they use or small arms they employ against Israeli soldiers on the attack, they are rocketed by Israeli field artillery, bombed by F-16 planes, and helicopters or bombarded from Israeli ships.
The options the young Palestinians saw were either to get killed by the Israelis one after another and their parents and brothers and sisters rocketed to death or kill some Israelis before dying so that their death would not be in vain altogether.
After the September 11 which shook up the Americans the Bush administration should have opted for peace and justice in the world and to redress the grievances of the seriously wronged people everywhere. That is not what President Bush chose. In the Middle East, in particular, he sides with Israel strongly. He initially justified the Israeli excesses against the Palestinians. He did not favour a Sharon-Arafat meeting until Arafat reined all the Palestinians, including the Mujahideen.
The US policy largely has been helping Israel with arms and money, while giving goods and medical supplies to the Palestinians. But when it came to Jenin, Israel did not allow relief workers into the refugee camps until long after the massive killing and destruction of homes.
In such a despairing context, what is the young Palestinian to do? He cannot expect Yasser Arafat to provide the lead as he was bottled up in Ramallah and under armed attack constantly. Earlier he was held down at Gaza while his offices were demolished one after another. He was not a free agent to guide the Palestinians when under such sustained Israeli success.
And yet the Americans and Israelis were expecting Arafat to restrain his people and make them give up violence in response to Israeli excesses. As he could not influence the young Palestinians they went on killing more and more Palestinians and destroying their homes.
So the young Palestinians took the law into their own hands and a number of them, including young girls, became suicide bombers. They had the example of the Sri Lankan Tamils before them. There the women were very active as suicide bombers and killed a number of prominent Sri Lankan leaders.
So the Palestine suicide bombers exploded themselves in restaurants, super markets, holiday resorts, night clubs and hotels killing a considerable number of Israelis. The US and Israel denounce that as terrorism but that was not how the young Palestinians saw it. Young people do not kill themselves in such large numbers without compelling reasons and a moral basis for doing that.
Arafat cannot restrain such despairing and desperate young people unless he has a better alternative to offer them and a brighter future. Arafat could not be humiliated and insulted in the manner he has been, and then positive results expected from him when the young people are outraged by the manner their leader is treated.
If the US was standing on the side of peace and justice in the region instead of blindly supporting Israel or condoning its follies, the Palestinian youth could have some hope for justice for them. Instead the US was approving or condoning Israeli truculence quietly while disapproving that midly.
The US keeps on calling for Israeli withdrawal from the Palestine areas it had recently occupied or the new areas it is moving into. But Israel refuses or ignores the US request. And nothing happens to Israel. It feels it can afford to ignore the US request with immunity, despite the strong European disapproval of the Israeli excesses and its absolute crimes.
What is obvious is that if the Israeli acts of horror are not stopped the suicide bombers will carry their attacks to other countries, more like the Sri Lankan woman who explodes herself in front of Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi in Madras and killed him as well.
In the earlier years young Arabs took to hijacking of planes to carry their protest to other countries. Laila Khalid became a legend through that process. The same thing could happen now with the suicide bombers spreading to other parts of the world.
There have been several smaller explosions in Paris, in Jewish schools, cemeteries, and synagogues etc. and even in a school bus with Jewish students. The same could happen elsewhere in the world if it does not strive for justice for the Palestinians. If they are poor, weak and rather disunited in various groups that does not mean they will accept perpetual suffering and endless humiliation.
Eighteen of the people who manned the four planes which crashed against the World Trade Towers, the Pentagon or crashed midway possibly to hit the white House were Saudi citizens. No one expected the Saudi young men turn suicide bombers and kill themselves in such large numbers. And that should awaken the world to the gross injustice done to the Palestinians instead of dismissing them as an inconsequential group.
Today the Israelis who were too proud of their military might live in cold fear. Their sense of security has crashed. They can’t visit a hotel, supermarket or a holiday resort without considerable uneasiness or fear of instant death. Hence even some of the liberal Jews have demonstrated against the Israeli excesses in Washington.
And one of them described suicide bombers as a poor man’s F-16. That is what the young Palestinians can afford however painful and horrible. They argue death may come to them at the hands of the Israelis. So it is better to kill some Israelis and die in the process heroically. While the US gifts F-16 and sophisticated missiles to Israel the young Palestinians are turning themselves into human bombs for eventual justice.
The Palestinians have fought for their rights for over 50 years and haven’t got any. So today there is the super-power on one side and the suicide bombers on the other. This is a horrible contrast and that should make the US think instead of abusing its might and wealth by supporting the wrong side, the wrong way forever. This is not the New world order, but repetition of the old horror which must end now.