A short insight into the never-ending plight of Palestine.
In recent months, the world has seen a new wave of violence and conflict. Except, this time, it took much more for this violence to make headlines. It took global activism and what has been called “citizen journalism” in response to the sheer brutality and violence inflicted on Palestinian citizens to attract global attention, and it is not the first of its kind. Over time, the global response has become louder and clearer, with more people gaining an understanding of just how grave the situation has become. With high profile individuals divorcing self-interest to speak truth to power, the outpour of support from the general public around the world, and particularly in Pakistan, has brought much greater attention to the colonial violence inflicted on Palestinian citizens, resulting in increased accountability for the responsible. Having said this, there has been an equally significant rise in efforts to dampen the Palestinian cause, giving us all reason to continue our fight for justice. Today, as the world slowly drifts back to its acceptance of the status quo, we hope to shed a little more light on the role of academia, in particular, one key academic, and the role they’ve played in the cause of Palestinian liberation.
Academia is paramount in influencing the trajectory of change in a political context. In the case of Palestine, academia, like realpolitik, has steered clear from the issues surrounding the region, largely due to the political and economic stakes involved in such discussions. Very few intellectuals have opposed this status quo, with only figures like Noam Chomsky and Edward Said - whose popularity seems to have risen in recent months with an increasing number of people looking to educate themselves on the situation in Palestine - raising their voices for change. A voice that has gone unnoticed on many accounts, however, has been that of Eqbal Ahmed: one of the most fierce internationalists of the 21st century, whose domineering opposition to the illegal occupation of Palestine has rung loud from lecture halls to rallies.
A political scientist, writer, academic and above all, a fearless advocate for human rights across the globe, for all, Ahmad’s legacy still reigns strong today. “For Eqbal, the personal and the political, politics and practice, were not separate but fundamentally conjoined”, as this recount puts it. The definition of an internationalist, fiercely living by the famous quote “injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere,” Ahmed advocated for peace and stability across the world. In particular, he called for a mass protest on Israeli borders to instigate reform, and even argued for the creation of a Palestine Liberation Organisation.
The paradigms of academia hold the power to influence the world order, yet, instead of working to counteract the blatant human rights abuses perpetrated by the Israeli state on Palestinian citizens, they have continued to perpetuate the existing power imbalance. Eqbal, at the risk of his academic career and potentially, his own life, challenged this. His relentless struggle of fierce advocacy instigated praise from prominent intellectuals from across the globe. Upon Eqbal’s death, Pakistani nuclear physicist, Pervez Hoodbhoy said, "He is the head of our clan. The only bond is our shared belief in human dignity, justice and liberty and all that is rich and precious in the human experience.” Ahmed’s views received equal, if not more, criticism across the globe for their distance from traditional power balances and international paradigms, and he was even counteracted by certain Palestinian leaders for his intervention in matters he (arguably) did not have an understanding of.
Beyond Eqbal, Pakistan has been one of the few countries to consistently oppose Israeli occupation of Palestinian land. The observance of May 21st as Palestine Day, the country’s voice at both the OIC and the UN, and the continuous, unwavering support of Pakistan’s population has had significant impacts to ensure the conversation continues. But the fact is that conversations are no longer enough. At a time when lives and livelihoods are at stake, real action is nowhere to be seen - and that certainly isn't the sort of world we thought we would see following 2020's unity. Learn, educate, discuss, highlight and share - and continue to do so until we see true justice being served.
The below is a collection of resources for better, more comprehensive understanding of the Israel-Palestine conflict:
https://teachmideast.org/resource_guides/the-israeli-palestinian-conflict/ - Educational Resources
https://www.learningforjustice.org/magazine/resources-for-learning-about-israel-and-palestine - Educational resources
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iRYZjOuUnlU&t=102s - Vox on Israel-Palestine conflict
https://www.instagram.com/sbeih.jpg/?hl=en - Short educational videos