Palestine and Western
Some Western hearts
'bleed' aplenty for those who chafe at and work against
democracy and communal peace in the developing world, but they
do not seem to be having any tears or time for the Palestinian
people. It is such unconscionable indifference which has
compounded the agony of the Palestinian people over the decades
and alerting the totality of the international community to the
situation of the Palestinian people is part of the process of
delivering the Palestinians from their torment.
Fortunately, Sri Lanka has been sufficiently sagacious over
the years to take on the cause of the Palestinian people and
President Mahinda Rajapaksa has been prominent in his
persistence of bringing to the notice of the world community the
gross injustices which the Palestinian nation has been compelled
to shoulder in virtual mute silence and fortitude. It is this
background of unstinted moral backing which Sri Lanka has been
extending to the Palestinian cause which makes Palestinian
President Mahmoud Abbas' present visit to Sri Lanka very
memorable. The event will help seal a bilateral tie which has
been characterized by mutual support and admiration.
Current indications are that sections of the international
community are relatively sensitive to the Palestinian cause but
much more has to take place before we could rest assured that an
equitable solution to the Middle East conflict is finally at
hand. As is well known, the dispossession of the Palestinian
people is at the heart of the conflict, and it is the
negotiation and establishment of full Palestinian statehood
which would help resolve the problem which has been tormenting
the Middle East particularly since 1947. But in doing so, the
rights of all concerned parties must be ensured.
Needless to say, big power involvement has been a significant
factor in the Middle East conflict. In fact it has been a
stumbling block to the settlement of the question from the late
forties and looking back over the years it could be said that if
the world community spoke with one voice over the issue an
amicable settlement to the problem could have been arrived at.
Instead, the West, in particular, allowed itself to be guided by
its short term political and strategic interests in this
rankling issue and this has stood in the way of the
international community expeditiously resolving the persisting
The West is perfectly entitled to persist in backing those
parties to the conflict, which, in its opinion need to be
supported, but it must be also seen that the Palestinian people
have been suffering inexorably as a result of justice not being
meted out to them.
It is common knowledge that sections of the Palestinian
people have languishing in refugee camps in foreign lands for
decades. They too have been brutally uprooted from the land of
their birth and it is important that their suffering is viewed
from a humanistic angle.
The international community 'cannot rob Peter to pay Paul'
and adherence to the principle of equity would indeed go a long
way in resolving the conflict.
As mentioned, it should be the resolve of the West to be fair
by all sides to the Middle East imbroglio. The West officially
swears by democratic equality and the tolerance and recognition
of the 'Other', but it seems to be slow in applying these
principles to the Middle East question.
As we cautioned yesterday, such 'double-think' and
'double-speak' could prove highly counter-productive in that
they could get in the way of ushering progressive change
Meanwhile, the developing world is morally obliged to
stand-by the Palestinian people and it is gladdening to note
that Sri Lanka has been adhering to this policy over the years.
Moves are underway to broad-base the areas of cooperation
between Palestine and Sri Lanka and this policy would need to be
persisted with in the name of humanity.
The issue is also that some Western hearts are in the wrong
place. For instance, some of the enemies of the Sri Lankan state
are molly-coddled and provided protection in the West but the
Palestinian call for justice is being callously disregarded.
While Sri Lanka is one of the most vibrant of democracies in
South Asia and must be given an opportunity to grow further, the
Palestinian people have suffered indefinitely and need to be
supported whole-heartedly. Thus have consciences been perverted.