“Joy Bangla, Joy Palestine”

myself speaking at the last major demo in London during the Gaza assault

myself speaking at the last major demo in London during the Gaza assault

As a child l can well remember being bombed by Pakistan Air Force during the Bangladesh Liberation War in 1971. The bombardment of the Gaza strip by Israel, reminded me of those events in my life after over 40 years but at least l was able to flee across the border to India with my family. Sadly the Palestinians do not have this option as the Egyptian army have kept the Rafah crossing firmly closed whilst the Israel’s have complete control by air, sea and land access into the Gaza strip, effectively making it an open prison. (I trust the Egyptian people will hold their leaders to account someday on this betrayal). So it is easy to relate to what’s being happening as a Bengali to events in Gaza strip over the pounding it has received over the past month, with more than 1800 civilian killed and thousands injured including many children over the month of Ramadan.

In Rafah this last weekend, we saw one of the worst acceleration of the killings based on half truths peddled by the Israel government media service. We were told that one of their soldiers had been taken captive by Hamas and they will take all measures possible to retrieve him including the wide spread destruction of Rafah. After two days of bombing in Rafah killing over 150 Palestinians the Israel Defence Force (IDF) than admitted that he was probably killed in action, which is what Hamas have said all along. The additional killings in Rafah included bombing UN school sites, one of the last refuges for many Palestinians, even after the UN had informed that there was nothing untoward at the schools. So it was not surprising to hear of the Secretary General, Ban Ki-Moon, moral outrage at the attacks, calling them “murderous acts and an war crime” But the reality from the outset of this military action by Israel, was that an attack on Gaza was really about breaking up the unity between the Palestinians and their two political entities amongst them, Fatah & Hamas across both the West Bank and Gaza strip which l saw first hand in a trip to the West Bank a month before the appalling action by Israel. The brutal killing of the three Israel’s in Hebron under suspicious circumstances was just the pretext for the launch for the assault.

More recently a British aid worker called Kadir Islam from Rochdale representing Muslim Aid was killed in Rafah giving aid of medical supplies to a hospital when he was struck down by missile. I too have been to Rafah with medical supplies and ambulances, going over land via Egypt after the last war in Gaza. I can well understand his motives but he done it under fire during the war when my party and myself were more cautious.

As a citizen of the UK, l also have to acknowledge how complicit the British state has been from the outset of the plight of the Palestinian. During the original British mandate in the 1940’s, it was governing the lands when the “nakba” occurred with land being stolen from Palestinians and they ethnic cleansing from their own lands. More recently l have seen first hand how British colonial laws like administrative detention are being used in the West Bank to detain political prisons and young boys and the shameful supplying of military arms and equipment to the IDF. Such arm sales must stop immediately, as the British public are shell shocked to see daily images of the death and destruction in the Gaza on TV for the past month. Once they realise we are supplying them to the tune of £ 8 billion worth of sales, the coalition government will have to bee seen to be doing something about it. The historical responsibility has to be taken on board and maybe we can start doing that by accepting Palestine as a member of the Commonwealth, given it was a part of the British empire. Whilst this will not change things on the ground, it would be diplomatic victory similar to recognition by the UN. It should aid and assist the Palestinian pursuit of war crimes through the International Criminal Courts (ICC).

I remember well my first political slogan that l learnt from the laps of my grandparents, Joy Bangla. We were very fortunate to at least see the land of Bengalis; Bangladesh actually emerged from a 9 month battle. I hope in my life time to hear Joy Palestine as well but it will a lot harder task in hand and has ready been running for over 70 years. I know many Bangladesh’s will be working towards that goal. So Joy Bangla, Joy Palestine.

The blog piece has been published in Dhaka Tribune & Weekly Desh


One thought on ““Joy Bangla, Joy Palestine”

  1. Bartlome

    – Hey Joel,My mom told me about this blog so I came to take a look. They are very beautiful ptciures. I am glad you got to go to Palestine. I have been protesting and praying back here in L.A. I have also been working for muslims here, so Palestine is becoming closer to my heart. Thanks for the post.-ariel


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