In the slaughter of the innocents in Gaza, it is unfortunate that the Muslim world cannot take the moral high ground.
TWO characteristics describe the brutal Israeli attack on Palestinian Gaza: Vengeance and Arrogance. Underlying them is the clear confidence the rest of the world cannot effectively do anything about it.
There are of course tactical Israeli military objectives, such as closing down the tunnels used by Hamas for supplies and infiltration, but the scale of Israeli attack shows also a desire to punish and kill without let. To teach a lesson yet again to Hamas and the Palestinians.
When those three Jewish youths were kidnapped and brutally killed, there was no doubt there would be Israeli revenge coming. The burning and grisly death of an Arab-Palestinian boy in retaliation was not an act of state, so the visitation of full Israeli might was outstanding, especially with those nonsensical Hamas rockets landing about various parts of Israeli territory, signalling intent but causing no real damage or loss of lives.
Why Hamas keeps doing this I do not understand. This is not the first time those rockets are the excuse for the attack on Gaza on all Palestinians, guilty or not. In the game of numbers killed on each side, the Israelis make it a point to keep a healthy margin. At time of writing, Palestinian casualties are approaching 1,000 and Israeli not yet 40.
To boot, as Hamas does not discriminate and is not quite able to achieve on the same scale of horror, the Israelis kill Palestinian men, women and children with impunity, even hitting UN areas and compounds not for the first time.
The world may fulminate and froth at the mouth, but cannot do anything about it. I have written about this bloody cycle in my book, 9/11 and the Attack on Muslims. Nothing has changed.
There are heroic Jewish liberals who genuinely are appalled at what Israel is doing, and who remind the world public that this was what happened in Nazi Germany. No one spoke out. Six million Jews were tortured to death in the Holocaust. They are right.
But the world has not changed much even if more people speak out and demonstrate. More Palestinians must die. Now in Gaza, blockaded for seven years by the Israelis, leading wretched lives which even so are being blasted out of them.
Israeli might is absolute. With American support it is unshakeable. That support is so strong even the suspension of commercial flights to Israel by the Federal Aviation Authority for safety reasons had to be lifted as it was attacked as political by American politicians such as Republican Senator Ted Cruz who hope to benefit from domestic Jewish support which is critical in US politics.
I know how strong it is as I have met top AIPAC (American-Israel Public Affairs Committee) Jewish leaders of the pro-Israel Anti-Defamation League in New York – smart HQ on Manhattan; heavy security, guns in breast pockets; aggressive tone of conversation. Support for Israel in the US is palpable.
Major powers who might have been able to exert some moderating influence, such as Russia and China, are not particularly bothered. Other matters and interests concern them.
Only Muslim nations are truly repulsed. But they are incapable and have become disqualified from taking the moral high ground because of their own acts of bestiality against their fellow Muslims. Take Syria and Iraq. Hundreds of thousands have perished, be it because of Alawite state brutality (pace Israeli) or because of Sunni-Syiah hatred of one another.
Everywhere else, Muslim sect sets upon Muslim sect, and a lot of blood is spilled in total Muslim disunity.
Further divisions are being created as if there are not enough already. Ideological edicts push Muslims back and mount in holding them back. Engagement, as is happening in the common grief among particularly the Netherlands, Malaysia, the UK and Australia in the MH17 tragedy, is rare.
(Even in this case there are elements in Malaysia trying to make an issue of common service of respect for the dead, and declaring the shooting down of the plane as an act of retribution against Malaysia Airlines for serving alcohol to those who wish it and for having the stewardesses wearing “fetching” clothes – how sad and how mad).
Intolerant attitudes and acts of violence against non-Muslims further cause Islam to be seen as an unfriendly religion of war, not peace. The Salam is increasingly felt to be a greeting of threat rather than its beautiful wish “Peace be upon you”. Muslims themselves are responsible for this turn of perception.
So, even as this Israeli slaughter of the innocents has occurred in the holy month of Ramadan and at the onset of Eid Mubarak, emotional Muslim response is wearing thin. Muslims have also slaughtered Muslims holy month or not.
All the factors conspire to give Israel the audacity of power. The ability to get away with the most consistent act of genocide since the Holocaust. The Palestinians in Gaza are alone to face the onslaught, much as the Jews did in the ghettos.
The Muslims have failed the Palestinians in so many ways. This failure is not going to be absolved by emotional outburst and whatever humanitarian aid sent to them alone. Muslims need to look at themselves to address their deficiencies.
The Jews after the Holocaust took decisive steps to ensure “Never Again!” The establishment of the state of Israel is one of them but, more widely, they have accumulated power and wealth to influence its continued existence. They have not squandered their chance like many oil-rich Arab countries have done.
Of course there is not one single Muslim state and one is not likely however much there are wishful movements and naive expectations just because a quarter of mankind are Muslim. But if developed Muslim states of power, repute and influence could get together, they would be able to influence the course of world events more credibly, if not singly, and to make a difference.
Instead we see them fighting among themselves and with their own people. They have caused themselves to remain weak and must stop always blaming others for causing them to be in the state they are in, including their inability to realistically help the Palestinians, probably the most talented of Muslims tragically being reduced to nothingness.
Whether land or state expression, Israeli encroachment progressively is extinguishing the future of Palestine, a One State Solution pursued in a manner not unlike the Final Solution. Muslims have largely themselves to blame for not being able to do anything effective to help the Palestinians.
Tan Sri Dr Munir Majid is Visiting Senior Fellow with LSE IDEAS, a centre for the study of international affairs, diplomacy and grand strategy. He is also chairman of CARI and Bank Muamalat. The views expressed here are entirely his own.