Justice Katju: People of Gaza say death is preferable to living in perpetual hell

By Justice Markandey Katju-

Justice Markandey Katju

(Justice Markandey Katju is a former Judge, Supreme Court of India, and former Chairman, Press Council of India. The views expressed are his own)

Ever since Israel declared itself a sovereign state on May 14, 1948, Israelis, knowing they have the backing of Western powers, have been kicking around the Palestinians, as if the latter were dogs.

Earlier, over 90% of people living in the territories of Israel were Arabs. After the creation of the state of Israel, many of them (including women and children) were killed, and most fled in panic and fear, and now only about 20% population of Israel is Arab. Those who fled are still living in horrible and squalid conditions in Jordan, the West Bank, Gaza, Lebanon, etc.

I had a long talk about the present Israel-Hamas conflict with a friend living in the United Kingdom. These are the points we discussed.

  1. He said that Israel had a right to defend itself if attacked.

I replied that if someone forcibly occupies my house after throwing me out, and I fight to get it back, will you support me, or the person who forcibly occupied my house in the first place?

  1. He then said that Jews in Europe and elsewhere were always longing to go back to Palestine. I said this was rubbish, and I referred him to my two articles, given below:



The Holocaust was not perpetrated by the Palestinian Arabs but by Germans and their European collaborators. So why should the former be punished for the fault of the latter?

  1. He then said that the Jews had converted a desert into a green, blooming paradise.

I replied that if you forcibly occupy my house and throw me out, how does it matter to me that you have converted my house into a luxurious mansion? I am still living on the road.

The Jews who came to Israel were mostly Europeans, who brought their advanced technical skills with them. This made the desert bloom and was like the European immigrants pouring into North America from the 17th century onwards, bringing with them their technical skills, which led to rapid development of North America.

But this does not resolve the plight of Palestinians rendered homeless, and living in horrible conditions, just as it does not resolve the plight of the native Americans, who were displaced by European immigrants, and many of whom are still living in reservations in bad conditions.

  1. He then contested my thesis that Israel was created by Western powers to control and safeguard the oil supplies for Western industries from the Middle East region. He said that the Israeli army has rarely invaded other countries near Israel which have huge oil deposits.

I replied that armies everywhere in the world are rarely fighting all the time. But they have yet to be maintained, just in case a need arises at a particular time.

The situation in Arab countries is that though the people are mostly anti-Western, the rulers are pro-Western ( in fact Western puppets ). So there is no need to send the Israeli army into the oil-producing countries because even without that the rulers of these countries ensure oil supplies to the West. When Iranian Prime Minister Mossadegh nationalized the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company in March 1951 he was promptly deposed by the CIA, and the puppet Shah Reza Pahlavi was installed.

  1. He then said that many Arab countries have recognized Israel, and Saudi Arabia is about to do so.

I replied that the rulers of Saudi Arabia and most Arab countries are Western puppets, and so is Israel. So this was only to be expected. But has the wish of the people of these Arab countries been taken into account?

  1. He lastly said that Israel has a right to exist. I said that I am not against Jews, and I am not in favor of expelling Jews from Israel. After all, the Jews presently inhabiting Israel are not immigrants (like their grandparents or great-grandparents) but were born and brought up in Israel.

But I believe that the only just solution to the conflict is creating a secular, democratic, State of Palestine, uniting Israel, Jordan, the West Bank, Gaza, the Golan Heights, and Lebanon, where Arabs, Jews, Christians, etc., can all live peacefully, amicably and in harmony.

There is no other way, and unless this is accepted there will be no peace in the region.


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