We must salute Femi Aribisala, the intrepid VANGUARD columnist, for his remarkable piece this week, titled: “WHY CHRISTIANS MUST STOP SUPPORTING ISRAEL AGAINST PALESTINIANS”. He spoke for our collective humanity, and sufficiently stoked our indignation against the Zionist state of Israel and the crimes it is currently committing against the Palestinian people, in the largest open prison on earth, the Gaza Strip.
To address the piece to Christians spoke volumes, because religion has made many otherwise decent people, to condone Israel’s criminal and racist atrocities against Palestinians. Rightwing interpretations of doctrine have beclouded the fact that Palestinians are both Muslim and Christian; yet they have not found sufficient solidarity from our Christian compatriots in Nigeria.
There is an extrapolation of the inter-religious struggle; the Muslim-Christian rivalry within Nigeria, into attitudes and positions taken on the Middle East crisis. So if Muslims support the Palestinian struggle, the tendency is for Christians to support Israel!
This ridiculous, they-against-us approach, has allowed the entrenchment of pro-Zionist biases within Nigerian Christian circles. That is why I think the Aribisala piece is so excellent! He is afterall, a learned Christian, who nevertheless understands deeply the human essence of the Palestinian tragedy.
On the other hand, it is also a fact that things have changed, often for the worse, in our country. My generation was anti-imperialist; anti-racist and anti-Zionist. We read very widely, radical literature and understood the main issues in international affairs.
But today, there is a generally reactionary pall on the world. Imperialism frames international discourse; while with the spread of rightwing religious fundamentalism, there is an often, reactionary religious, appreciation of the issues that define the contemporary world. International affairs are appreciated through imperialist media outlets like CNN, with strong Zionist sympathies.
The Palestinian resistance is framed as “terrorist”, and the unequal weaponry between Palestinian guerillas and the nuclearised, Zionist Israeli military (the fourth most powerful on earth), is underplayed; and their constant refrain is that “Israel has the right to defend itself”.
The Palestinians, who were forcibly dispossessed to create the Zionist state and who do not even have an army, an airforce or armour are then framed as attempting to wipe out Israel from the map.
That is the Israel which continues to annex Palestinian land in the Occupied West Bank and is systematically, ethnically cleansing Palestinians from East Jerusalem. Israel flouts UN Resolutions with active backing of the USA, the most powerful imperialist state in human history. And its hypocrisy has been so glaring in the current Gaza crisis.
It postures as brokering “honest” mediation yet it replenishes munitions that Zionist Israel has used to kill nearly two thousand Palestinians and the near-total destruction of the pitiable (even at the best of times!) infrastructure in the Gaza Strip. The immorality of imperialist politicians is incredible!
Nigerians must rediscover the indignation that can propel us to stand up for our collective humanity. It revolts human decency to live through the Zionist crimes committed in the Gaza Strip: systematic targeting of civilians; the killing of hundreds of Palestinian children; leveling of residences and mosques; the bombing of ambulances; hospitals; schools and even the only power plant in the Strip.
Those who carry out these barbaric acts cannot share the values of civilised humanity. We must therefore speak up to denounce those crimes. We are aware that the Nigerian ruling class is in cahoots with the Zionist state of Israel today, with the Israelis embedded in our country’s security infrastructure and creaming off millions upon millions of dollars from Nigeria everyday.
But that should not be reason for us to keep silent as the Zionist state continues its criminal atrocities. The blockade of Gaza must be lifted without delay; while Palestinians in the Gaza Strip should be allowed to bring in all that they require to reconstruct their lives. The disgraceful acquiessence of the reactionary Arab regimes in the crimes against Palestine remain a major indictment of these regimes.
On a final note, it is imperative that the international system should find the collective resolve to end this vicious circle of attacks. Relevant UN Resolutions must be implemented to ensure justice for the Palestinian people. It was not Palestinians or the Muslim world that organised the Holocaust against the Jews during the Second World War.
Of course, that was one of the greatest crimes in human history. But why must the Palestinian people suffer for the crimes of fascism and imperialism? Unfortunately, when the “international community” relies on envoys like Tony Blair to help achieve peace, it is clear there will never be a sincere commitment to a just peace that gives the Palestinians their homeland.
I will like to paraphrase the Turkish revolutionary poet, NazimHikmet, that my heart has been suffering bombardment in the Gaza Strip in the past couple of weeks, in solidarity with the Palestinian people!