A game changer

23-05-2021 11:44 AM

By Ahmad Y. Majdoubeh

Several lessons have emerged from the current Israeli aggression on Palestinians in the occupied territories as well as its ruthless attacks on civilians in Gaza and the eventual cessation of hostilities.

One important lesson is that public opinion counts; people’s power is real.

For a long time, people all over the globe have been greatly disappointed with politicians who seem to either prioritise their own narrow interests over those of their constituencies, or fail to live up to people’s expectations.

And they have also been disappointed with mainstream press and media which have largely lost credibility due to their biased or prejudiced positions on issues.

In fact, in many countries, including well-established democracies, people have for some time felt that both the politicians and the press and media are “bought”, i.e. influenced by financiers who chip in to affect their stands on matters.

As a result, people felt disillusioned and alienated, and hence their so-called “apathy” or disinterest in matters.

With the rise of social media, however, people started to voice their political and other opinions directly, and without having to rely on representatives or politicians to convey them on their behalf, or on journalists or media personalities to broadcast their grievances or opinions.

This gave people power: Power to express and power to influence.

This important recent development has been manifested clearly, as prefaced above, in the recent Israeli attempt to confiscate by force the homes of Palestinians living in the Sheikh Jarrah neighbourhood in Arab East Jerusalem, and consequent events which led Israel to bombard civilians in Gaza mercilessly.

As always, most coverage of these events in official press and media in most US and other Western countries has been heavily slanted and in favour of Israel; and many key politicians came out with the usual statements about the need to ensure Israel’s security and safety, with some bland words about the rights of Palestinians.

The blow, however, to Israel’s aggression and impunity came from the people: From people’s power.

First of all the Palestinian people themselves, in Sheikh Jarrah and other Palestinian areas, who started something like an Intifada in the face of Israeli aggression on innocent, unarmed Palestinian inhabitants, and then the millions of people in Arab countries and the world who either went out to the streets to demonstrate against the callous and cold-blooded Israeli actions, or took to social media to vent their anger, express their views and air their opinions.

Clearly, many factors led to Israel’s cessation of aggression, including factors on the ground, as well as some mediation efforts by some politicians.

The main factor, the game-changer, one would argue, is people’s reaction: The reaction of Palestinian civilians in the territories themselves, and the solidarity and support they received from millions of people around the world.

Such development is crucial and is likely to affect future events not only in Palestine, but also in other parts of the world.

An important fact: People all over the world deplore and abhor aggression, violence, and injustice. Every time an act of this sort happens, people feel angry and at times even traumatised: Be it the shooting of an innocent motorist or pedestrian by a ruthless policeman, a murder committed by an extremist or a terrorist, or an act of aggression by an occupier.

For a long time, people relied on politicians and the main press media to influence and uproot the evil emanating from violence, aggression, and injustice.

Now that people have given up on politicians and the media, they have taken the matter upon themselves and started to act: Speaking out, voicing their opinions bravely and creatively, and pressuring.

And they have proven to be effective.

In the days to come, the world should keep in mind the power to influence events that people now have, and the momentum of solidarity they can muster; as a result of such awareness, we hope to see zero violence, zero aggression, zero injustice and zero occupation.

Public opinion, people’s power, in any individual country, and in the world at large, has become a game-changer.

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