Denouncing Violence is not Anti-Semitic

Author: M Fazal Elahi

US Senator Bernie Sanders has addressed the ongoing crisis in Gaza in a statement, highlighting the significance of humanitarian relief and accountability. He disagreed with the idea that critiquing the Israeli government’s policies amounts to anti-Semitism or endorsing Hamas.

Addressing Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, Senator Sanders said, “It is not anti-Semitic or pro-Hamas to point out that in a little over six months, your government has killed over 34,000 Palestinians and wounded more than 78,000, with 70% of them being women and children.” He said, “It is not anti-Semitic to highlight that the bombing has destroyed over 221,000 housing units in Gaza, leaving more than a million people homeless, almost half the population.”

Sanders went on to say, “It is not anti-Semitic to note that the government has obliterated Gaza’s civilian infrastructure, including electricity, water, and sewage systems.” He continued, “Nor is it anti-Semitic to realize that the healthcare system in Gaza has been annihilated, with 26 hospitals rendered out of service and numerous healthcare workers killed.” The devastation of Gaza’s educational institutions was also denounced by Senator Sanders, who said, “It is not anti-Semitic to condemn the destruction of all 12 universities and 56 schools in Gaza, leaving 625,000 students with no educational opportunities.”

The embargo of humanitarian aid was brought up by Sanders, who said, “It is not anti-Semitic to agree with virtually every humanitarian organization that your government, in violation of American law, has unreasonably blocked aid coming into Gaza, leading to malnutrition and famine among thousands of children.”

Two states need to be established: Israel for the Jewish people and Palestine for the Palestinians.

“Anti-Semitism is a vile form of bigotry, but do not use it to distract from the immoral and illegal war policies of your government,” Sanders urged, addressing Prime Minister Netanyahu directly. Holding you responsible for your conduct is not anti-Semitic.”

A few weeks ago, Sanders made his statements via a vlog on the well-known social media site TikTok. Since October 2023, he has been an outspoken supporter of the Gazan people, speaking out for them both in the US Senate and on social media.

Several facets of American culture as well as residents throughout the world have shown support for the senator’s advocacy and their continued solidarity with the Palestinian people. Many people have found resonance in his depiction of the Gaza issue as a humanitarian disaster; nevertheless, governments and political figures endorsing Israel’s actions have not responded in kind.

Sanders concluded by pleading with Prime Minister Netanyahu to desist from blaming Gaza’s aggressiveness on anti-Semitism. In light of the thousands of innocent lives sacrificed in the ongoing and utterly destructive conflict, he underlined the necessity of accountability and justice.

Will the governments that have provided Israel with enormous financial and military assistance since it began its war on Gaza on October 7, 2023, be persuaded by Senator Sanders’ knowledge about the dreadful situation there today?

Will they, in light of these circumstances, take urgent action to address the current situation in Gaza and demand that the Israeli government immediately cease its aggression? They should, but most likely they won’t. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has not responded to their demands for an immediate cease-fire in Gaza and a long-term solution to the Palestinian problem, as well as those of the United Nations, the International Court of Justice, international human rights organizations, and other countries.

Regardless of Israel’s obstinacy, the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, France, the European Union, and other nations that support Israel should use their influence to put an immediate end to Israel’s assault on Gaza. This devastating war has already claimed the lives of numerous innocent people, as well as caused major infrastructure damage. They must provide an early cessation of hostilities that benefits both Israel and Palestine and supports long-term peace in the area.

Following the cessation of hostilities, these countries should cooperate to find a long-term solution to the long-drawn-out Israeli-Palestinian conflict. To establish a two-state solution, this resolution should adhere to the criteria outlined in the 1993 agreement between Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO).

To execute this solution, two states would need to be established: Israel for the Jewish people and Palestine for the Palestinians. It is evident that the sooner this notion is implemented, the better the chances of achieving long-term peace in the region as a whole, as well as between Israel and Palestine.

The writer is a columnist and analyst based in Islamabad.

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