Hamas/Israel: Letter to Belgian MPs and Senators

Our contributor Daniel Zink has taken the initiative of writing this letter to Members of Parliament and Senators on the very worrying situation in the Middle East.

Dear Mr. … / Madam the..,

It is said — and rightly so — that there are extremists on both sides in Israel/Palestine. It is believed — and this is partly true — that the humanitarian disaster that has been unfolding there since October 7 was triggered by Palestinians. But if we are to have any hope of putting an end to it, the actor in a position of power — i.e. the Israeli government — must see that the international community is aware of the overwhelming responsibilities of this actor, and put pressure on it by all civilized means possible, in particular sanctions. 

As far as I’m concerned, the above point of view is the one arrived at by anyone who really takes the relevant context into account, which I’ll limit myself to recalling in a few lines, based on the most official sources, notably the UN site. (You’re probably familiar with this context too, but the one-sided presentations we often hear can make a little reminder useful).

The settlement of many Jews or people of Jewish origin in Palestine could a priori have gone well. The big problem is that this choice was imposed on the Palestinians, and the state that was founded there in the middle of the 20th century was seen from the outset as that of a very specific community. 

With such a starting point, it’s not surprising that the situation has always led to conflict. All the more so since the fundamentalist religious settlers consider that they alone have the right to live on this land, and are gradually driving the Palestinians out.(1)destroying hundreds of villages, and increasing the number of Palestinians living as refugees in their own homeland, in miserable conditions (overcrowding in the camps, severe shortages of drinking water, energy, medicines, etc.).(2).

A whole section of Israelis criticize these colonialist crimes, but none of their successive leaders has put an end to them; on the contrary, these leaders have made themselves accomplices, since the army protects the settlers. What’s more, the balance of power is such that the deaths and injuries resulting from the inevitable conflicts caused by this revolting policy are overwhelmingly on the Palestinian side. Of course, every victim has the same value, whatever their origin, but the disproportion is flagrant: at the end of August, the UN announced that since 2008 (the year from which this institution records victims), these conflicts had caused the death of 6,407 Palestinians, while injuring 152,560, for 308 Israelis killed and 6,307 injured.(3).

Israel does have external enemies of some power, but here too the balance of power is extremely unequal, since it possesses the atomic bomb and is supported, unconditionally, by the world’s leading power, the USA, against which no one can really measure up militarily.

The Israeli government’s reaction to the October 7 attacks is certainly to be expected; but, all the more so in the light of this context, its response is clearly and totally disproportionate, and is more than ever a manifestation of inhuman communitarianism.

Thus, the right choice for the international community would clearly be that of moral condemnation without appeal, accompanied by the threat of sanctions linked to very short deadlines.

The most clear-sighted Israelis will no doubt agree — including some of those who demonstrated against their government this week.(4)or the many soldiers of the Hebrew State who, over the years, have refused to take part in criminal military actions against the Palestinians.(5).

Of course the attacks of October 7 are also a tragedy, but we cannot judge them — or their approval by so many Palestinians.(6) — without taking into account the fact that they were carried out against settlers and soldiers, on occupied territory, and by people who have been suffering for so long from the injustices and crimes committed by these settlers. To take this into account is not to accept these attacks, but to consider their causes and important mitigating circumstances.

The invasion of Ukraine sparked revolt and sanctions. It would be scandalous if the destruction and killings orchestrated by the Israeli authorities did not lead to a truly firm reaction.

And what, after the urgency of ending the current massacre, should be targeted above all is the transformation of the communitarian state that is Israel; that is, its transformation into a state that is neither Jewish, nor Muslim, nor Christian, but which is a state for all, where everyone truly has the same rights.

I sincerely hope that you will be one of the elected politicians who can see things clearly and act accordingly.

Thank you for your attention, and best regards,

Daniel Zink, former coordinator of the non-profit organization Carrefour des Cultures

Notes et références
  1. https://www.amnesty.be/infos/actualites/article/israel-palestiniens-soumis-expulsion-forcee-deplacement
  2. https://www.letemps.ch/monde/moyenorient/conditions-vie-bande-gaza-seraient-deja-invivables
  3. https://www.ochaopt.org/data/casualties/
  4. https://www.france24.com/fr/vid%C3%A9o/20231015-isra%C3%ABl-manifestation-anti-netanyahou-%C3%A0-tel-aviv
  5. https://www.rtbf.be/article/israel-43-soldats-s-elevent-contre-les-injustices-faites-aux-palestiniens-8353918
  6. https://www.lemonde.fr/international/article/2023/10/16/en-cisjordanie-entre-ranc-ur-et-peur-le-soutien-au-hamas_6194771_3210.h

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