First published in The Silhouette along this piece on March 6th, 2014

In a recent book attacking academics that support Palestinian human rights, Professor Alan Dershowitz writes, “Many supporters of Israel – and I count myself among them – care deeply about the Palestinian people. I am pro-Israel and pro-Palestine. I want to see a vibrant, democratic, economically viable, peaceful Palestinian state…”

‘What a fair-minded guy’, I naively thought to myself back then. Little did I know that this deceptive mantra has long been deployed by apologists for Israel and sympathizers of its war crimes. It represents accurately Israel’s long standing two-faced propaganda tactic: pretend to be an advocate for peace to the Western world while continuing the unending oppression of the Palestinian people.

Knowingly or naively, many are inclined to adopt this flawed dogma because, on the outset, it appears as a fair stance to the uninformed. The major flaw in this idea of being pro-Israel and pro-Palestine is the following: it ignores that Palestinians have been living under Israel’s brutal military occupation since 1967.

Approaching its 50th anniversary, the occupation is the longest and one of the bloodiest in modern history. Israel continues to usurp Palestinian land to build colonies for the exclusive use of its Jewish population; barring Arabs access to their own land. It continues to implement draconian apartheid laws on these occupied people to maintain absolute domination. The military check-points, the Separation Wall, apartheid roads, permit systems – the list of injustices is never ending.

This conflict is between a nuclear armed beast and a defenseless people. It’s between the oppressor and oppressed; the occupier and the occupied; the colonizer and the colonized. In a conflict which is so brazenly disproportionate, how is it possible to argue for a balanced stance? It’s as ludicrous as taking a ‘pro-British’ and ‘pro-Indian’ stance when Britain colonized India. It’s as shameful as taking a ‘pro-white’ and ‘pro-black’ stance in apartheid South Africa. It’s as meaningless as taking a ‘pro-slavery’ and ‘pro-abolition’ stance during the American civil war.

Israel’s intention to control Palestinian territory is no secret, as highlighted in the Drobles Plan which was adopted by the Israel’s cabinet. It states: “there must not be the slightest doubt regarding our intention to hold the areas of Judea and Samaria (i.e. the West Bank) forever… State and uncultivated land should be seized immediately for the purpose of settlement in the areas located among and around the population centers with the aim of preventing as much as possible the establishment of another Arab state in these territories”.

As is evident by the shrinking map of the Palestinian territories, the Drobles Plan has been implemented to a tee – all the while Israel has been pretending to negotiate a ‘peace processes’ for two decades now. Former deputy mayor of Jerusalem, Meron Benvenisti, observed that, “It goes without saying that ‘cooperation’ based on the current power relationship is no more than permanent Israeli domination in disguise, and that Palestinian self-rule is merely a euphemism for Bantustanization [i.e. dividing land based on race].”

Israel’s continued air, land and sea blockade of Gaza has made this Palestinian strip inhospitable. The UN declared that if the current siege continues, Gaza will be unlivable by 2020 – that’s only 6 years away. Sewage treatment plants are broken down and can’t be repaired due to the blockade; untreated sewage now pollutes the Mediterranean. This has rendered 90% of water there undrinkable.

The Israeli army regularly conducts raids to destroy agricultural produce in order to squash any nutritious growth. Fishermen are shot at for fishing in the ‘wrong places’; same goes for the farmers. Students are barred from studying because their schools have been shelled; winners of scholarships abroad are denied leaving the occupied territory. This is some of what is happening in Gaza; the injustices in the West Bank haven’t even been mentioned here.

In the face of such brutality, how can one pretend to keep silent about the perpetrator of these atrocities? How is one expected to stay ‘respectful’ and not express outrage? The path of co-operation and dialogue can happen when two parties are on some sort of equal footing. However, in a conflict where one side is armed with the military and financial arsenal of the world’s superpower, it becomes a moral obligation to support the oppressed.

So it comes down to the following: you can delude yourself into thinking you are being fair-minded by arguing for both sides of the conflict; or you can join the global movement to put pressure on Israel to end its occupation of the Palestinian territories and comply with international law. The choice is yours.

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