The Israel Palestine Issue — An Absence Of Credible Leadership

Can The Solution Lie In The Last Message of the Great Mathematician & Philosopher Bertrand Russell

Tasneem H Yousuff
6 min readOct 28, 2023
The Decimation Of Palestinians By Unrestrained Israeli Occupation. (Photo courtesy: Ifamericansknew.org)

While we sit glued to our screens another Holocaust is unfurling in Gaza by the hands of the State Of Israel. In the most menacing manner Israel has blocked the Palestinians in Gaza from all sides, has continued its relentless bombardment killing over 8000 people mostly children and has withheld food, water, medical aid, electricity, fuel etc.

These concentration camps are fast becoming breeding grounds for contagious diseases. Israel with the support of its strong allies the U.S, Britain, France, Germany, Australia and a few others is bent upon committing a most heinous crime — the Holocaust of the Palestinians!

The voices of the many fair minded people all over the world including many Jews both inside and outside Israel calling for a ceasefire, to end the brutal occupation, the settlements, the demolitions, the annexations — are going unheard. Prominent and well respected Jews such as award winning journalist of Israeli newspaper Haaretz — Gideon Levy, Israeli British historian Avi Shlaim, American Professor and Public Intellectual Avram Noam Chomsky, Miko Peled — an Israeli General’s son, to name a few who have all spoken of unrestrained, most disproportionate Israeli human right abuses that have been going on for several decades have fallen on deaf ears.

There have been several skirmishes in the past where the battered & decimated stone throwing Palestinians have borne the disproportionate wrath of the mighty Goliath — Israel. These events have always triggered demolitions of Palestinian homes, evictions, killings, imprisonment including children.

The most alarming event that took place on 7 October 2023 when over 400 Hamas members broke into Israel despite its world famous “Iron Dome” security, killing 1400 Israelis and taking over 200 civilian hostages was the trigger for the present conflict. Israel has never borne such a huge loss of life on the hands of its victims although the reverse is true in many instances.

How Hamas was able to break through this iron dome security remains a mystery. Many ex Israeli Defence Force personnel as well as the relatives of the hostages have questioned this, but no answer has forthwith come from the Israeli Government to date.

Israel however has lost no time in retaliating against not only Hamas but against the whole Palestinian population particularly in Gaza and to an extent in the West Bank by carpet bombing homes, schools, hospitals indiscriminately killing thousands of innocent children and civilians. According to Human Rights Watch Israel has also used white phosphorus upon the people of Gaza in its bombardment that causes extreme pain and severe burns on skin and eyes. This continues as I write this.

Like a spoiled child and the illogical backing from its allies, Israel has not taken kindly to the words of U.N Secretary General Antonio Guterres who, while calling for an immediate ceasefire of relentless Israeli bombardment of Gaza, stated that Hamas actions on 7 October did not happen in a vacuum. It is the result of 75 years of brutal Israeli occupation…

Israel’s immediate response to Guterres is by demanding his resignation! This spoiled child who receives unstinted support from the U.S and its allies has never respected the independence of the U.N. It has violated 32 Security Council resolutions dating back to 1968.

Against this backdrop where there is no real leadership except for maniacal statements from the President of the U.S.A and its allies stating “We stand with Israel” and “Israel has a right to defend itself” etc, it is imperative to look for voices from great thinkers, leaders and philosophers.

A serious look at the last message of the highly respected Bertrand Arthur William Russell, A famous British mathematician, philosopher, logician, public intellectual and Nobel laureate is warranted. His words which hold true even today serve as a blueprint by which world leaders can strongly advocate for a resolution to this crisis.

This statement on the Middle East was dated 31st January, 1970, and was read on 3rd February, the day after Bertrand Russell’s death, to an International Conference of Parliamentarians meeting in Cairo.

Russell wrote, “The latest phase of the undeclared war in the Middle East is based upon a profound miscalculation. The bombing raids deep into Egyptian territory will not persuade the civilian population to surrender, but will stiffen their resolve to resist. This is the lesson of all aerial bombardment.

The Vietnamese who have endured years of American heavy bombing have responded not by capitulation but by shooting down more enemy aircraft. In 1940 my own fellow countrymen resisted Hitler’s bombing raids with unprecedented unity and determination.

For this reason, the present Israeli attacks will fail in their essential purpose, but at the same time they must be condemned vigorously throughout the world.

The development of the crisis in the Middle East is both dangerous and instructive. For over 20 years Israel has expanded by force of arms. After every stage in this expansion Israel has appealed to “reason” and has suggested “negotiations”.

This is the traditional role of the imperial power, because it wishes to consolidate with the least difficulty what it has already taken by violence. Every new conquest becomes the new basis of the proposed negotiation from strength, which ignores the injustice of the previous aggression.

The aggression committed by Israel must be condemned, not only because no state has the right to annex foreign territory, but because every expansion is an experiment to discover how much more aggression the world will tolerate.

The refugees who surround Palestine in their hundreds of thousands were described recently by the Washington journalist I.F. Stone as “the moral millstone around the neck of world Jewry.”

Many of the refugees are now well into the third decade of their precarious existence in temporary settlements. The tragedy of the people of Palestine is that their country was “given” by a foreign Power to another people for the creation of a new State. The result was that many hundreds of thousands of innocent people were made permanently homeless.

With every new conflict their number has increased. How much longer is the world willing to endure this spectacle of wanton cruelty? It is abundantly clear that the refugees have every right to the homeland from which they were driven, and the denial of this right is at the heart of the continuing conflict.

No people anywhere in the world would accept being expelled en masse from their own country; how can anyone require the people of Palestine to accept a punishment which nobody else would tolerate? A permanent just settlement of the refugees in their homeland is an essential ingredient of any genuine settlement in the Middle East.

We are frequently told that we must sympathize with Israel because of the suffering of the Jews in Europe at the hands of the Nazis. I see in this suggestion no reason to perpetuate any suffering.

What Israel is doing today cannot be condoned, and to invoke the horrors of the past to justify those of the present is gross hypocrisy. Not only does Israel condemn a vast number of refugees to misery; not only are many Arabs under occupation condemned to military rule; but also Israel condemns the Arab nations only recently emerging from colonial status, to continued impoverishment as military demands take precedence over national development.

All who want to see an end to bloodshed in the Middle East must ensure that any settlement does not contain the seeds of future conflict. Justice requires that the first step towards a settlement must be an Israeli withdrawal from all the territories occupied in June, 1967. A new world campaign is needed to help bring justice to the long-suffering people of the Middle East.”

Two likely scenarios are pervading this present brutal and most disproportionate war of 2023:

  1. Israel cannot exist unless it grows up and behaves like a mature and responsible citizen of this world. The support it has today is minimal in numbers in comparison to the nations that support Palestine. The minimal support will vanish when China will take over the supremacy from the U.S which is bound to happen soon. Just like Britain & Rome that once were major powers, U.S will also have to only reminisce its long forgotten golden days.
  2. Israeli’s who have lived in comparable comfort and security for the past few decades will now realise that the “Iron Dome” can also be breached by a population who are willing to die for their cause. This is unlike most Zionist Israeli’s who would only fight by bombing from a distance saving their lives at any cost. Most of these Israeli’s are also dual citizens of other countries and there is likely to be a mass exodus back to the places where they can be secure.

Will Russell’s message be prophetic? If so, the world will breath a sigh of relief!

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Tasneem H Yousuff

Top Writer in Food & Cooking. I also write about life experiences, self-improvement, health, gardening, memoirs and anything beneficial for the reader.