Reflections on Quds Day: Has anything really changed after 12 years?

TEHRAN, Jun. 12 (MNA) – One must ask if Israel’s unilateral withdrawal from Gaza is really a step in the direction of peace in the Middle East. Has anything really changed?

It seems hard to believe that I began a long and fruitful relationship with Tehran Times in June of 2006 with an article titled “unbalanced US policy on Palestine.” At the time, I never dreamed that, some 175 articles later, I would be not only lamenting the utter lack of progress toward a just peace for Palestinians, but also agonizing over the spread of violence and chaos throughout most of the Middle East. 

Frankly, my despair over the current state of affairs is enough to cause a terminal case of writer’s block. Clearly, placing my pen on the table and throwing my hands up in the air won’t help the situation.  But then after 12 years of writing, speaking, protesting, listening and learning, giving interviews and trying to educate myself and inform others of the injustices being perpetrated by the United States and the Israeli entity, watching the current criminal Washington regime shred the JCPOA and target the Islamic Republic of Iran is a little much to swallow.  I’ve never felt such a sense of futility in my life.

12 years ago, I naively thought that if I can just find the right wording, construct my argument with irrefutable logic and keep striving in sending letters to newspaper editors, someone somewhere would see the light and things eventually would change for the better. At that time, the US under the administration of George W. Bush was in a dither, along with the Israeli entity under Ariel Sharon, because Hamas had captured the majority of seats in the Palestinian legislative elections. Bush was threatening to cut off funding for Palestinians, and the Hamas win played right into the hands of Sharon and others, who, in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks, were trying to brand the Palestinian resistance organization as terrorists with ties to al-Qa’ida. 

It was tempting to view George W. Bush as an aberration. After all, it seemed that a large segment of the American populace had been outraged by Bush’s power grab in 2000 by means of legal maneuvering as well as his illegal, unilateral and unjustified invasion of Iraq. But then that fantasy crumbled with his re-election in 2004. By that time, I had made a solemn oath to do whatever I could to prevent the same fate from happening to Iran.  To that end, I got in touch with the late Hamid Golpira, who was the editor at Tehran Times then, and he worked with me to polish my articles until finally, “unbalanced US policy on Palestine” was published.  I felt like I had struck a blow for justice and peace in the Middle East.

Next came Barack Hussein Obama, but not until Bush and his neocon confederates had backed the Zionist regime in another war on Hezbollah and the Lebanese people. During the 2006 “War of Tammuz,” the Lebanese resistance movement managed to crack the façade of Israeli invincibility, altering to the present the calculus of power in the region. Obama began with a disappointing show of silence, when the Israeli regime once again took to bombing Gaza with US backing in December of 2008, shortly after his election that November. Once again, I found myself writing and taking to the streets in protest, marching with a Palestinian flag in front of the capital building in Denver, Colorado in the frigid December weather. Predictably, Bush supported the Tel Aviv regime, by then under Ehud Olmert, who insisted that the Israeli entity was in an “all-out war against Hamas and its proxies in Gaza.” For his part, Bush showed no mercy to the besieged Gazans, and, referring to members of Hamas, said, “These people are nothing but thugs.” 

Obama, while an eloquent, mesmerizing speaker, did little to help the poor and oppressed in the US much less the beleaguered Palestinians. By July of 2008 months before the November U.S. presidential elections from which he emerged the victor, Obama the candidate was receiving the financial backing of Goldman Sachs, Citigroup, JP Morgan Chase and other Wall Street notables.  Meanwhile, foreclosure rates were skyrocketing, and, in particular, for subprime mortgages, over 50% were in default. So, what did Barack “The Audacity of Hope” Obama do?  He organized a bailout package for his Wall Street backers, whose unbridled greed urged them on to take irrational risks resulting in a narrowly-averted worldwide financial collapse, while those who lost their homes were left out in the cold, many of them literally. 

And, of course in 2009, the Nobel Peace prize winner escalated hostilities in Afghanistan with his “surge,” the idea for which he copied from Bush.  At the time, I predicted that “the cascade of instabilities—political instability, economic collapse, and accelerating global climate change—will cause a tsunami of devastation, exceeding that of the current US oil wars.” Even so, I don’t think I envisioned the scope of that devastation, which now has expanded to include Gaza, Libya, Somalia, Syria, and Yemen, just to name a few.  

Somewhere in the summer of 2009, I began to realize that there were disturbingly clear parallels between what the Zionists were doing to the indigenous Palestinians with their colonization of Palestine and what the American settlers had done to the First Nations with their colonization of North America.  An expression of this realization appeared in an article titled “Parallels in Palestine,” in which I explained how the early Anglo-European colonizers used exactly the same methods of justifying violence against the Native Peoples as do the Zionist leaders in their ethnic cleansing operations against Palestinians. The current situation in the Occupied West Bank, with the widespread intrusion of settlers of European descent, is virtually identical to that which prevailed in North America in the 1700s onward.

As time went on, the Zionist regime maintained their iron grip on the throat of Gaza, whose citizens maintained their steadfast resistance under the most trying of conditions. US-supplied Israeli warplanes targeted power plants, schools and hospitals, causing a humanitarian crisis.  By May of 2010, Gaza had become a huge, open-air prison whose inmates were in dire need of humanitarian relief, when the Turkish charity IHH sent a flotilla of ships in an effort to break the Israeli stranglehold.  The Zionists responded to the Gaza Freedom Flotilla by unleashing a brutal commando attack on the ship Mavi Marmara while it was still in international waters, killing nine peace activists on board.   

A year later in summer of 2011, another flotilla was attempted but then secretary of state Hillary Clinton gave a green light for a repetition of the initial bloodbath. As a result, the “Freedom Flotilla II” never set sail, except for one French ship, “Dignité Al Karama,” which was again intercepted and prevented from delivering its cargo of humanitarian aid to Gaza. In 2015, the idea was revived with the “Freedom Flotilla III,” but once again, the sole ship, a Swedish-flagged vessel named “Marianne,” was boarded and seized while in international waters by the Israeli navy. 

The current criminal Washington regime has made its best efforts to squelch any hope of reaching a just solution in Palestine. What else can one call the current occupant of the Oval Office and his cruel collaborators except criminals for their blatant and repeated violation of international law? There is almost universal agreement that Trump’s decision to place the embassy in Jerusalem/Al Quds is in violation of UN resolutions 181, 242, 303 and many others. 

I was invited to an iftar for Gaza at a Sunni mosque; the same mosque I once attended for Friday prayers in winter when I happened to be wearing a jacket sporting a flag of Iran. Someone asked how I could wear the flag of such an “evil country” on my jacket. Later, a board member apologized for the incident, but what colossal irony. There is no nation on the face of the earth that supports the Palestinian cause more than the Islamic Republic of Iran, and yet I was ostracized for wearing the flag of that country! And it is precisely for the unwavering support of the Palestinian cause that Washington and Tel Aviv are out to bludgeon Iran into retreat.  

Still despite years of valiant efforts by Iran to help the oppressed people of Palestine, their already grave situation continues to deteriorate while the US-condoned, Israeli-executed carnage continues. Considering this as I reflected on the plight of the Palestinians on Quds Day, I asked myself, after 12 years, has anything really changed? I’m afraid not. And what else can I do, write more articles?


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