‘Kapag puno na ang salop…’

Filipinos have an explanation for the dystopia of war, violence and turmoil that Israel is embroiled in now. There’s a metaphor in Tagalog, “Kapag puno na ang salop, dapat ng kalusin,” roughly translated figuratively as “when one has had enough (as an overflowing tub), one must react (empty it).”

Relating this to contemporary events, the Palestinians have had enough of suffering under 66 years of occupation, injustice, terror and dislocation from their homes at the hands of Israel and they have resolved to hit back. The dehumanizing policy was capped by the desecration of Islam’s Third Holiest Mosque, Al-Aqsa, which was raided several times by Israeli soldiers, dispersing violently with canister bombs and canes the worshippers, including helpless women and children.

The reaction was explicitly described by Iraq, thus: “The military operations undertaken by the Palestinian people last Saturday are a natural result of decades of ‘systemic oppression’ by the ‘Zionist Occupation authority.’

Indonesia in a statement said that “…the root of the conflict, namely, the occupation of the Palestinian territories by Israel, must be resolved in accordance with the parameters agreed upon under the UN.”

More poignant was the official statement of the Arab League of Nations which said: “Israel’s continued implementation of violent and extremist policies is a time bomb… ”

This explains the surprise attack by the Palestinians’ militia against the Israeli armed forces, which was the biggest military operation since the Yom Kippur War 50 years ago. The fighting is still raging as of press time. Hundreds of lives have been lost and still counting.

Israel, known for developing cutting-edge technology and its expertise in intelligence gathering, was caught with its pants down. A clandestine infiltration strategy which, according to a report, was two years in the making by top Palestinian military strategists culminated in a surprise attack against the Israeli armed forces. The plan was so wrapped up in secrecy that while the Palestinian militia were training for years it was only at the eleventh hour that they were told the target.

And who was first to condemn the attack? Of course, it was Big Brother, the United States, with President Joe Biden leading the other world leaders with jaundiced eyes and suffering from transient amnesia. They supported Israel’s right to defend itself from attacks forgetting that the original attacker-aggressors were the Zionist authorities who illegally occupied Palestinian lands and distributed them to Jewish settlers, resulting in the former’s encampment in refugee shelters in languor and misery. And even in the refugee camps they were not spared the terror by the Israeli terrorists who attacked and killed, and continued to terrorize them.

The US has to make up its mind. It has a Janus-faced foreign policy on certain issues, selecting the one that will promote its interest. In the Ukraine war, it condemned the occupation and expansionism of Russia over the lands of Ukraine and supported the victim Ukraine; but in the present war in Israel, it expressed support for expansionist and occupier Israel and condemned the victim of the occupation.

How is that?

The war in Israel presents a dichotomy of opinion between countries divided along religious lines. The radical Muslim countries like Iraq and Iran have expressed solidarity with the Palestinian fighters but the moderates among them have asked for a cessation of hostilities to prevent the situation from escalating. The West, as expected, has expressed its condemnation over the attack and its support for  Israel.

As we have pointed out in past articles, the ultimate answer to the impasse is the two-state solution which has the imprimatur of the United Nations. Why can’t Israel agree to the proposal? This could be partly explained by the persona of Israel’s present leader. There was a lull in hostilities and near peace  during the presidency of Menachem Begin following the historic Camp David Accord, which however resulted in the assassination of Egyptian President Anwar Sadat by the radical Muslim Brotherhood. But with a hawkish leader like Benjamin Netanyahu, we cannot hope for peace in the region.

This column is palpably biased but it does not and will never condone any death or injury inflicted upon civilians or non-combatants, be they Palestinian or Israeli, and joins in the clamor for the parties to return to the negotiating table.





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