Political Activism

As a human being, I will always support the Palestinian cause. No nation deserves to be stateless. The latter thought always makes me appreciate Pakistan more.

Reading and watching the news these days is really tormenting. One day I found it hard to stop myself following a Palestinian cause group on Facebook. I even shared an article on my time feed because it was about a British Pakistani businessman who sacrificed a lucrative business opportunity with Israel in support of the Palestinians. I deleted it from my timeline because even if the news item is appreciable, some things are better left to the political activists. If you are interested in reading the article,  you can read it here 

There are so many organisations raising funds for Gaza and the West Bank. Although these fundraising drives are important, much more is required. Raising funds and donating money will not make the problems go away. Palestinians, or for that matter Syrians and Iraqis need more than monetary donations, medical or food aid through humanitarian organisations. I think a lot of people are becoming so emotionally involved that they forget common social etiquette. Moreover, as Muslims, it really is against Islam to utter hate speech against Jews or Christians because they are ‘People of the Book’ and Islam developed through Judaism and Christianity. So, it is actually blasphemous to engage in such hate speech.

I am a big fan of the Internet, it is one giant library and like a university it opens up better avenues to seek knowledge and information. Similarly, social networks are useful tools to get your message out to the world. Nevertheless, so many misunderstanding are created through words, it becomes easier to slander people’s opinions than actually think about what the written words state. In the context of the Israel/Palestine conflict this article sums up pretty well the kind of antagonism that can prevail online and the noise pollution subsequently created. Good intentions get drowned in bad communication and consequently lose their value. Moreover, I doubt insults has ever changed minds for the better. Moreover, I think this article summarizes what sort of mindset is required not only to handle this conflict, but, to create and build a viable Palestinian state:

I think the best defenders of a Palestinian state are the Palestinians themselves. By doing more than raising funds, I mean, the diaspora going back to give their skills and knowledge to Palestine and thereby create a better, stronger society, even if the circumstances are impossible. It is not about being part of the political administration, it is about contributing to a society that is supposed to be your own. I know it is unfair to demand people to just leave behind a good and comfortable life somewhere in the Middle East, Africa or the Western world to go back to what might be considered a dump. However, if you lack this sort of goodwill, how can you expect others to keep your own cause alive? Especially when you are unwilling to do what is required for nation state formation? Social media networks are all good to raise an issue and to draw attention to it, but other than protests, what sort of action do they actually contribute to that can bring about a viable solution?

To illustrate, in a non-Arab context, Jinnah was a successful barrister in London when he returned to India to rally for Hindu-Muslim Unity. When he realized that Muslims in the Sub-continent needed their own nation state he sacrificed his wealth and skills and health for the creation of Pakistan. I know Jinnah has his critics, and Pakistan is far from a perfect nation state, however, it is an independent country nonetheless. To make my point more Pan –Arabic, the Palstinians need a modern day Salah uddin Ayyubi, with the intelligence and courage to stand up for something that matters. What can be more significant than the future and a nation state?  However, this requires more action than talk, which is easy to do. Octavia Nasr sums up very well how this inaction and empty barrels making a lot of noise, are actually doing more harm than good to the Palestinian cause.

In conclusion, making noise and protesting against oppression is important. I just disagree with the anti-Jew/anti-Israel stand. The Friends of Al-Aqsa Facebook page is one such community I would support because they have a non tolerance policy against any discriminatory or anti-Semitic comment in their feed. I tend to just keep myself informed through the print media rather than social networks because the images and statements are too gory and quarrelsome for my taste. I don’t need to see bloody pictures of cracked skulls and crushed bodies just to have an idea of what is happening. I don’t think inaction means indifference, especially if the sort of news items that should be promoted tend to be sidelined in favour of the gory stuff. However, I do think that the Palestinian themselves ought to do more for themselves than rely on the international or wider Arab community for help. There is much the diaspora community can do, but it requires more than raising funds and blaming the UN for not implementing the specific conventions, or the Israelis for their aggressiveness. Developing role models where there are none is difficult, but not impossible, certainly not when there is so much goodwill towards the Palestinian cause.