Maverick Citizen

TUESDAY EDITORIAL

‘For God’s sake, save Gaza’ – millions take up the call for a ceasefire, peace and justice

‘For God’s sake, save Gaza’ – millions take up the call for a ceasefire, peace and justice
People wave Palestinian flags during a peaceful march in support of the Palestinian people in Johannesburg on 15 October 2023. (Photo: EPA-EFE / Kim Ludbrook)

‘We believe that peace is the only option... To achieve this, steps must be taken now. We therefore call on all parties to exercise restraint and on all state actors to desist from providing weapons to either of the sides to the conflict’ (President Cyril Ramaphosa, 21 October 2023).

This weekend, as Israel Defense Forces bombs rained down on the Gaza Strip and the death toll of Palestinian civilians mounted to nearly 5,000 people, including more than 100 children a day according to the United Nations, calls for an immediate ceasefire grew from ordinary people of all faiths, races, nationalities and classes in countries across the world. A new report by a UN commission of inquiry, chaired by former South African judge Navi Pillay, confirms that “civilians are the primary victims”.

In the most recent outbreak of violence, thousands of Israelis and Palestinians have died since Hamas launched an unprecedented attack on Israel from the Gaza Strip on 7 October and the Israeli strikes on the Palestinian enclave which followed it.

And as the world witnesses each new massacre, anger and anguish are growing and fuelling a global protest movement for peace and justice. An estimated 100,000 people marched in London. Several thousand people marched in Cape Town

Days before in Washington, DC, Jewish Voice for Peace and IfNotNow had organised protests outside the US Capitol buildings. According to Ryan Grim, writing in The Intercept: “In the US, support is growing for a ceasefire. More than 400 staff members on Capitol Hill have circulated a letter urging their bosses to back one.”

There are also growing demonstrations across Europe, Asia and the Americas. All the marches were peaceful. 

save Gaza

Activists from the group Jewish Voice for Peace protest against Israel’s expected ground assault on Gaza and call for an immediate ceasefire, inside the Cannon House Office Building next to the US Capitol in Washington, DC, on 18 October 2023. (Photo: EPA-EFE / Will Oliver)

Greta Thunberg has spoken out and when Liverpool Football Club took the field at Anfield Stadium on Sunday a banner was held up by fans at the famous Kop that read “For God’s Sake Save Gaza”. Liverpool’s globally revered striker, Mo Salah, made a large donation to support humanitarian aid, and wrote:

“The escalation in recent weeks is unbearable to witness. All lives are sacred and must be protected. The massacres need to stop.”

save Gaza

Liverpool fans show their support for Gaza at the game at Anfield. (Photo: Twitter)

In parallel with demonstrations, petitions are garnering unprecedented support. 

In the coming days an open letter signed by several thousand senior health workers from across the world will be published in The Lancet. It states:

“As global health professionals we act in kinship with fellow humans. We recognise that ‘there is no hierarchy in pain and suffering’. Because we are human, we witness the deep pain and suffering: the Israeli and Palestinian civilians who have been killed or injured are all our parents, grandparents, siblings, and children. We share the call for ‘unconditional humanity’ in Gaza and to guarantee health through peace.” 

The hypocrisy of supporting rights of self-determination for the people of Ukraine and denying it to the people of Palestine.

In addition, more than 250,000 people have supported a petition by #CeasefireNow on change.org, and the signatories are rising by the minute. A civil society-organised petition calling for an immediate ceasefire has been signed by 550 human rights organisations across 75 countries, “the largest I’ve seen” according to one of the people who initiated it. 

Read the petition: Open Call for an Immediate Ceasefire in the Gaza Strip and Israel to Prevent a Humanitarian Catastrophe and Further Loss of Innocent Lives

The people are speaking! But their elected politicians are not listening.  

An ANC supporter addresses the crowd during an ANC-led march to the Israeli embassy in Pretoria on 20 October 2023. The march was in solidarity with the Palestinian people, calling for an end to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. (Photo: EPA-EFE / Kim Ludbrook)

Pro-Palestinian protesters march through London on 21 October 2023. Thousands of Israelis and Palestinians have died since the militant group Hamas launched an unprecedented attack on Israel from the Gaza Strip on 7 October 2023, and the Israeli strikes on the Palestinian enclave which followed it. (Photo: EPA-EFE / Andy Rain)

Rein in the masters of war

Thankfully, unlike South Africa’s often muddled position on Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, President Cyril Ramaphosa’s statement to the Cairo peace conference, should be commended and supported by all people in South Africa. In particular we applaud his call “on all state actors to desist from providing weapons to either of the sides to the conflict”.

But herein lies the problem. 

Peace would seem an obvious option. Surveys and opinion polls show it is the people’s choice all over the world. But political elites have an agenda of their own. National security adviser Sydney Mufamadi points out that “practitioners of statecraft have an obligation to listen to the people”. That, after all, is the essence of democracy.

If only…

Palestinians flee following an Israeli air strike in Gaza City on 23 October 2023. More than 5,000 Palestinians and more than 1,400 Israelis have been killed, according to the Israel Defense Forces and the Palestinian health authority, since Hamas militants launched an attack against Israel from the Gaza Strip on 7 October. (Photo: EPA-EFE / Mohammed Saber)

Smoke rises behind destroyed buildings after an Israeli air strike in Gaza City on 23 October 2023. (Photo: EPA-EFE / Mohammed Saber)

A wounded Palestinian woman mourns as she holds the body of her daughter at Al-Shifa hospital in Gaza City on 9 October 2023. The Israeli army announced that it had carried out more than 500 strikes on targets across the Gaza Strip overnight. Palestinian officials said almost 500 people were killed, including 91 children, and more than 2,700 were injured after Israel launched retaliatory raids and air strikes in the Palestinian enclave. An unprecedented attack on southern Israel on 7 October claimed by the Islamist movement Hamas killed more than 700 Israelis and left more than 2,150 injured, the Israeli army said. (Photo: EPA-EFE / Haitham Imad)

Instead of actively pursuing peace we witness the hypocrisy of providing billions of dollars in arms to Israel and a few millions in aid to the victims of Washington-funded bombs; the hypocrisy of supporting rights of self-determination for the people of Ukraine and denying it to the people of Palestine. 

We believe that the Israel/Palestine conflict is only as ‘intractable’ as the forces that benefit from perpetuating it, be they the arms industry, or religious or political zealots of whatever faith or ideology.

As with the war in the Ukraine, in addition to the butcher Putin, there are powerful political and economic forces who do not want peace and who benefit from death and division. The global arms industry in particular has purchased powerful sway over governments such as the US, the UK and Israel. It is already riding high on deepening geopolitical tensions and, as this headline in an Israeli tech magazine reports: “Arms manufacturers’ stocks surge worldwide following Hamas attack.” The article records that “in Israel, the stock of the largest public defence company, Elbit Systems, trading at a market value of NIS 35 billion, surged by 37% since the year began”.

 

There’s big money to be made in war and the influence of these companies cannot be discounted from inflammatory statements made by US President Joe Biden, UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and others. As former South African MP Andrew Feinstein has shown through extensive research and experience, the arms industry is the most corrupt in the world and has mastered state capture. 

Finding solutions – but how and where?

Over the weekend several writers in South Africa drew parallels between the miracle of our negotiated settlement and the possibility for peace in Israel/Palestine.

It’s not too late.

We believe that the Israel/Palestine conflict is only as “intractable” as the forces that benefit from perpetuating it, be they the arms industry, or religious or political zealots of whatever faith or ideology. It is only “intractable” in the face of misinformation and disinformation that spreads fear intended to cause hatred and deepen division. 

Neither Israel or Palestine can “win” this war. Therefore peace and long-term solutions lie within the framework of existing international law and the multilateral institutions under the UN that emerged from World War 2, the world’s last great conflagration. For these reasons, as I write, civil society organisations from across the world are preparing a new petition to governments calling for the convening of a special session of the UN Human Rights council “to prevent further violations of international humanitarian and human rights law”.

This is an ultimate test for the UN, and one it needs to succeed with.

Greta Thunberg and her friends in a photo she shared on social media. (Photo: Instagram)

The solution doesn’t lie in redrawing colonial borders, it lies in acceptance of universal human rights and dignity, the values and principles that were built into the Universal Declaration of Human Rights 75 years ago, ironically the same year that Israel was founded. It lies in respect for the Geneva Conventions, where “collective punishment” is explicitly prohibited.

The challenge people of the world face today, however, is not waiting for another genocide and regional war, then learning our lessons after millions of deaths. It is in all of us doing all we can to prevent this conflict from developing any further. 

Although thousands of lives have already been lost, we should not assume that genocide is inevitable and wait for it to unfold. 

That is why, at this moment, amplifying calls for a ceasefire now and escalating people’s protests for peace, human rights and justice – making protests an assertion of what unites us – is the challenge across the world and South Africa. Find ways to stand up for peace, justice, equality and freedom. Millions of people’s lives, and world peace, depend on it. DM

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Comments - Please in order to comment.

  • Mordechai Yitzchak says:

    Another piece of biased reporting, painting Israel as the unprovoked aggressor, without context. Furthermore, the photos included are a disingenuous depiction of Jewish support. Anti-Zionism is the new antisemitism.

  • J W says:

    Why don’t you rather call for all member of hamas to take the kidnapped victims to the border and then hand themselves collectively over to Israel rather than using civilians as human shields.

    • Andrew P says:

      Check out the op-ed in The Times of Israel: “For years, Netanyahu propped up Hamas. Now it’s blown up in our faces”. The Intercept also has a good explainer on YouTube (“Blowback: How Israel Helped Create Hamas”). Perhaps Netanyahu should hand himself over to the ICC for supporting terrorism on both sides.

  • Trenton Carr says:

    It seems the time for peace is long past, they wanted hate and now they will have it, in perpetuity. For both sides. If history is any witness, your cries for peace falls on deaf ears.

  • Rod H MacLeod says:

    Unfortunately the Israeli response is portrayed as the sole aggressive action in this situation. There are only calls for Israeli “aggression” to stop. Nowhere do we see a call on Hamas to stop firing rockets into Israeli towns, there isn’t a single plea put out to Hamas to turn over the hostages, and there is this infernal journalistic habit you all perpetuate in lumping Hamas and the Palestine cause into one movement. The loss of life in any conflict is regrettable, and unjustifiable. One can however hardly imagine that the Hamas strike on Israeli citizens wasn’t a deliberate attempt to force an Israeli response and then through the knowing or unknowing media to garner completely unwarranted moral support for their position. A masterstroke of cunning and depravity. And unfortunately DM perpetuates the media trend with headlines like “war on Gaza must stop” etc etc.

    • Steve Davidson says:

      And the continual desecration of the Al Aqsa mosque and the attacks on the West Bank?

  • Rod H MacLeod says:

    Unfortunately the Israeli response is portrayed as the sole aggressive action in this situation. There are only calls for Israeli “aggression” to stop. Nowhere do we see a call on Hamas to stop firing rockets into Israeli towns, there isn’t a single plea put out to Hamas to turn over the hostages, and there is this infernal journalistic habit you all perpetuate in lumping Hamas and the Palestine cause into one movement. The loss of life in any conflict is regrettable, and unjustifiable. One can however hardly imagine that the Hamas strike on Israeli citizens wasn’t a deliberate attempt to force an Israeli response and then through the knowing or unknowing media to garner completely unwarranted moral support for their position. A masterstroke of cunning and depravity. And unfortunately DM perpetuates the media trend with headlines like “war on Gaza must stop” etc etc.

  • George (Mike) Berger says:

    It’s really sad to see Mark Heywood lend himself to such ignorance and distortion. You’re on the wrong side of reality and history Mark.

    • Eberhard Knapp says:

      PS: I would like to add: I know what I am talking about. I have visited both the Strip and Westbank numerous time – since 2002.

  • Eberhard Knapp says:

    Sorry – I think you are really overlooking the fact that since 1945 Palestinians have continuously been driven off their land (formalised in 1948). In addition, in Gaza Strip they were locked up in a huge open-air prison. With no way to get out! In Westbank the population is being terrorised by illegal settlers (around 600,000 by now!) – under the protection of the IDF. Before October 7th already some 230 Palestinians, mostly civilians, had been shot, murdered, or burnt to death. The civilians in Palestine face the same terror that Blacks here in SA had to endure up until 1990! Without recourse to justice.
    And – as we learnt in this years of Apartheid: oppression gives birth to people fighting back, to hatred – and to what we called “terrorism”.
    NB: just to make sure there is no misunderstanding: the murderers on 7.10. were disgusting, horrible, inhuman monsters – I hope the IDF gets them all!

    • Steve Davidson says:

      And of course the 2 million plus Palestinian refugees in Jordan?

    • Deirdre Lubbe says:

      You are of course 100% correct. I have never been to the area but the injustice Israel has visited upon the Palestinians has been well documented for years. But this can no longer be compared with apartheid, let’s call it what it is: genocide.

      • virginia crawford says:

        I agree. Am I the only one to find a ‘ ha ha ha ‘ response childish and inappropriate in the circumstances? Who moderates the moderators? Some very uncivil comments are published.

  • Marius van der Merwe says:

    Incredibly biased opinion piece. So disappointing.

  • Extraordinary article in that it subtly manages to position the two sides as equally culpable. The Israelis are the aggrieved party here, and the elaborate concern for the faithless Palestinians is overdone. The Israelis to blame for the barbaric attack? Actually, if the Palestinians wanted peace we wld have had it long ago – but no, they want Israel and all jews eliminated, it is clear. Leftist Jew hate is unfortunately all too real

  • Cornay Bester says:

    Ukraine and Israel are pro west democracies fighting autocratic neighbours with genocidal intentions. The Ukrainians doesn’t target enemy civilians like the Palestinians. Palestinians have been receiving humanitarian aid since 1948 and now Europe have become the biggest contributor.
    Lastly, have we already forgot the victims of the 7th October??

    • Mordechai Yitzchak says:

      Cornay – I’m yet to see a single article on DM about the victims of 7th October, the largest single-day massacre of Jews since the Holocaust. This is the umpteenth of this kind of article that is being published here. Kudos to the bulk of the commentators so far for recognising and acknowledging this bias.

      • Cameron Bennie says:

        Ummm, the death of the 200 or so victims 200 or so 7 October is terrible, unforgiveable, and the perpetrators should be brought to justice. However you, and many on these posts, seem to be conveniently forgetting about the tens of thousands of Palestinians who have been killed, abused, and effectively caged in on their own land, while at the same time being dispossessed of their systematically since 1948by Israeli forces. ‘Terrorism’ doesn’t simply arise out of nothing. You ask only about the victims of Israel. What about the victims of Palestine? What would you do after almost 80 years of being dispossessed and your families caged in an murdered.

  • Rachel Colbourne says:

    Great article Mark!

  • Lawrence Sisitka says:

    I get the very strong feeling that the individual biases of most commentators have blinded them to the key message in Mark’s article; namely that the only, and I repeat only winners in any of the dreadful confrontations taking place on the planet, regardless of who anyone would like to blame, are the arms companies. Their disappearance would immediately render even the most vicious and violent clashes more tractable. We are in the ridiculous situation where political neanderthals have access to weapons of mind-blowing destructive power, which happen, through their manufacture, to make insane amounts of profit for industrial neanderthals with the ethical sensibilities of turbocharged polecats, and we let both sets of braindeads get away with it at the cost of untold suffering of their own and other populations. How can we be so stupid? What bizarre trajectory has the human species embarked on? OK, it’s not new, but surely we should have learned our lesson that violence only begets more of the same, and with all the lovely new hardware available to the war-mongers among us, means just immeasurably more pain. Maybe rather than Harari’s Homo deus, we should henceforth (which at the rate we are going will probably not be a very long hence) be known as Homo stultus. Actually, judging by some of the comments, and most of social media, this is probably quite flattering. It all has to stop, or maybe we just resign ourselves to a final and horrendously violent endgame.

  • Tim Gross says:

    Has anyone asked why the Arab countries aren’t taking in Palestinian refugees?

  • John Parkes says:

    “The hypocrisy of supporting rights of self-determination for the people of Ukraine and denying it to the people of Palestine”.? Ukraine has not been firing missiles at Russia over the past years. Most missiles now fired at Russia are on it’s own annexed land. Ukraine is a fledgling democracy, or was before being attacked by a idiot with a huge ego. Where was the world outcry over the butcher of hundreds of Ukrainian civilians? And destruction of property and infrastructure on a far larger scale than we see now in Gaza? Of deliberately targeting civilians with, among other things, cluster bombs?
    Sydney Mufamadi points out that “practitioners of statecraft have an obligation to listen to the people”? Is the ANC listening to it’s people?
    I don’t think the ANC are muddled about Ukraine. They fully support Russia as can be seen by their refusal to vote or condemn in the UN. Perhaps Ramaphposa could offer asylum to Palestinians as no one else in the Arab world does. I wonder why?
    “As with the war in the Ukraine, in addition to the butcher Putin, there are powerful political and economic forces who do not want peace and who benefit from death and division.” Goodness gracious what nonsense, where does this statement come from? Who would wish war on any nation? Except, off course, some Arab nations and terrorists who have openly called for the annihilation of Israel. I don’t condone the bombing but what else is Israel to do?

  • Mark Parker says:

    Seems as though Mark Heywood felt left out and needed to do a bit of editorial virtue-signalling to keep up appearances with this “diatribe of nothingness ” other than to aim the obligatory accusations at US, UK and Israel for inflaming the situation and their puppet masters, the evil arms manufacturers. Just because thousands of people get together and protest “peacefully” (lets ignore the anti-Jewish slogan chanting, because in SA we are encouraged to sing struggle songs calling for the death of people), doesn’t make the cause any more legitimate than the opposing viewpoint. What I find telling for the “job descriptions” of new-age “Human Rights Protesters” is that the “Human Rights Bosses” decide who will be the target. So what I can gather is there will be no Uigur Muslim protests allowed outside the Chinese Embassy. No Russian Embassy protests against the aggression and colonialist expansion in the Crimea and Ukraine (it’s “muddled”). Nagorno-Karabakh is too hard to spell and too long to write on the banners, so ignore that protest. Don’t protest outside the Iranian Embassy for their state-sponsored funding of Hamas/Hezbollah or the killing of Mahsa Amini because that would ruin the BRICS’ invite. Also Human Rights activists only seem to call for human rights adherence in countries which have the most human rights out of any country on Earth. I dunno…perhaps these hundreds of thousands should be protesting against the countries where there are no human rights.

  • ilike homophones says:

    actually i do not care about either side.
    both use religion to put themselves above other people.
    they pretend to be holy.
    leave them alone, they deserve each other

  • John Parkes says:

    The protests taking place, certainly in the UK, have a bit of a sinister feeling about them with shouts of Jihad. Apparently this has two meanings. Tom Harwood, GBNews, gave an excellent analogy, say fire while sitting around the camp or in the sitting room is innocent but say it in a hall full of people…. Maybe it’s only a few stirring the mob. Why is it necessary to have heightened security at Jewish schools and institutions? There has been a huge increase in anti-Semitism in the UK.

  • Deirdre Lubbe says:

    None of the comments make reference to the complex history of the region, starting with the Balfour Declaration toward the end of the WW I followed the British rule and the establishment of a Jewish State by Ben-Gurion in 1948. Since then systematic occupation Palestinian land and oppression of a nation. This the lack of knowledge and/or humanity condemns the oppressed and advocates genocide. To those I say don’t bother to respond, get informed and reset your moral compass

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