« Home | 26th July 2005 » | Idhar udhar ki baatein » | A page from my diary … » | The Return of Gahji - Part 2 » | Tsunami Relief Contacts » | Investment Opportunity » | Does anyone care any more? » | Munna Gah, MBBS » | The Return of Gah » | The Greatest Story of All Time »

Thursday, September 15, 2005

They deserve it!

Three days back, a relatively tiny news clipping on the front page of various newspapers announced the completion of the withdrawal of Israeli forces from the narrow coastal area known as the Gaza strip.

True, they have left behind little more than rubble. True, they still retain control over the territory's air and sea space and, at least temporarily, all its borders, ostensibly to "prevent militant groups smuggling in weapons into Palestine". True, the "victory" of the Palestinians is perhaps more symbolic than real. Nonetheless, this was an event which can prove to be the decisive tipping point in the history of the troubled Middle East. The length of the news articles did not do justice to the historic significance of this momentous event.

While I am no expert on international politics, I personally am prima facie totally delighted at this news. The Palestinians have suffered long enough, and greatly enough, to warrant all the sympathy and aid that any humane world can offer. My heartiest congratulations to them on this memorable, and long-overdue, occasion!

The moot question here, though, is "why". Why did the Israelis retreat? International pressure to withdraw was currently low. Pressure on Israel to adopt new peace plans was also not working. Israel's hawkish right-wing Likud leader Ariel Sharon was under pressure, not just from the moderate Labor and opposition Shinui parties, but also from within his own party. His traditional supporters have not yet given up on their dream of a "Greater Israel", a dream which Sharon has aggressively been pushing since he was elected Prime Minister in February 2001. Why then this retreat, which in one way tantamounts to a public admission of defeat?

The most plausible reason by far is that Sharon wants to appease Bush, who has publicly supported the existence of a Palestinian state, albeit with riders attached. This immediately raises the further question - why is the US apparently not supporting Israel wholeheartedly in this war? After all, the Israel-Palestine war has been construed by historians as less of a war over territory, and more of a symbolic Jewish-Islamic battle. In such an eventuality, if the push comes to the shove, the US would historically oppose the Islamic forces. Why then an exception in this case?

Perhaps the answer lies in the winds of change. Jews are still very much part of the central engine which drives the US economy, but their political hold over the White House may have reduced because the Oval Office now has alternate sustainable sources of funds (read: "Oil"). Or maybe the US, having to choose between two devils, has decided to support the "Islamic-but-weaker" Palestinians rather than the "non-Islamic-but-potentially-a-future-superpower-in-the-long-term" Israel. Or maybe the US, having established its foothold in the oil-rich and strategically-positioned countries of the Middle East, thanks to its occupation of Iraq and its kinship with the family of Saud, no longer feels the necessity to kowtow to Israel. The last explanation may be the most plausible, but whatever the reason, it bodes well for the much-suffering Palestinians.

There is, however, a fourth explanation which is rather disturbing. Perhaps this withdrawal, and the "disengagement plan" as a whole, is an elaborate and deliberate ploy to throw dust in the eyes of the world.

After all, how much difference will it truly make to Palestine, or for that matter to Gaza? Is the withdrawal irreversible? What are Bush's and Sharon's private road-maps for the Middle East going ahead? These are uncomfortable questions, not just for the region, but for the world as we know it.

For now, however, it is a time for the beleagured residents of Gaza, and their families, to celebrate, rest, and rebuild their lives. Brick by agonizing brick, stone by mortared stone. Here's wishing them Peace.

Heaven knows, they deserve it.

E-mail this post

Remenber me (?)

All personal information that you provide here will be governed by the Privacy Policy of Blogger.com. More...