image caption: Gurmukh Singh OBE

No Winners In Israel-Palestine Conflict While Humanity is the Main Casualty

The Canadian Sikh poet Rupi Kaur declined an invitation from the United States White House to attend a Diwali celebration because she felt that the Gaza invasion by Israel is collective punishment of a trapped civilian population, 50% of whom are children.

In earlier columns we have looked at the Israel-Palestine conflict with reference to Sikh history. Sikhs have survived three Ghallugharas or pogroms. Historically, they are still too close to the 1984 Ghallughara to be able to assess the longer-term outcome. However, today, they are recognised globally as a distinct progressive and prosperous community.

There are post World War II examples when occupying superpowers have been defeated by smaller nations like Vietnam and Afghanistan. Similarly, it is unlikely that, ultimately, Israel will be able to subdue the Palestinian people.

Israel seems to have lost the original argument. News reports and related discussions are increasingly critical of Israeli military action while most also condemn the unforgiveable terrorist action by Hamas of 7 October against Israel. However, as UN Secretary General pointed out, even that action cannot be looked at in isolation from earlier Israeli occupation and mistreatment of Palestinians since 1947.

According to one observer, Israeli retaliation is brutal and collective punishment and mass revenge is being delivered by an angry sovereign power with the strongest military in the entire Middle East and beyond. The action, its magnitude and indiscriminate nature&hellip. looks like a mass hate crime against Gaza Palestinians. The brutal force used is against rules of war and is counterproductive. Israeli aggression is increasingly embarrassing even for their closest friends.

Israeli moral position is weak. Their judgement is questioned when they argue that civilian deaths can be justified as collateral damage, defined as unintentional or incidental injury or damage to persons or objects during war. In any case a strong nation invading own occupied territory to kill terrorists is not at war. Palestine is not an independent state as yet.

Western countries like the US are now turning to what is described as Remote warfare which is a shift away from boots on the ground. It involves drone and airstrikes and special-operation teams training local forces to do the actual fighting and dying. This is zero-risk warfare. It is appealing to western democratic leaders: with fewer returning body bags, they no longer fear public outcry and electoral losses.

However, going by the massive protest marches in the Western cities against the civilian slaughter in Gaza, it is clear that the western countries led by the US and the UK have grossly miscalculated public reaction. The global Jewish community feels less safe and governments can topple in future as a result.

The Sikh experience of Ghallugharas (pogroms) in Sikh history is that not only the next generations did not forget but they returned in larger numbers to continue the freedom struggle. The Mughal realised this and surrendered incrementally to offer the Sikh nation own rule in due course. The emergence of Khalsa Raj became inevitable by the end of the 18th Century.

The tragedy is that Israel will remain in a no-win situation even after killing thousands of civilians and massive destruction of homes and businesses. Millions of Palestinians cannot be killed or driven away to other countries. There will have to be a regional solution. That solution is that Israel and Palestine should co-exist as two independent nations.

Gurmukh Singh OBE

Principal Civil Servant ret&rsquod (UK)