Will Bushnell’s self-immolation douse the flames of injustice and oppression in Occupied Palestine?

Will Bushnell’s self-immolation douse the flames of injustice and oppression in Occupied Palestine?

ON FEB 25, a United States air force serviceman torched himself to death in front of the Israeli Embassy in Washington DC.

He was protesting in the most meaningful way possible against the ongoing genocide in Gaza. In the words of commentators who have made the effort to highlight the self-immolation amid a near total Western media “blackout”, Aaron Bushnell’s action was the “sincerest” and most powerful message for everyone – not just the world’s leaders – to get up and do something for the people of Gaza.

To carry out such an act, Bushnell, 25, must have internalised the sufferings of a whole community of people who have not just been denied their rights for the past 75 over years but also treated in the most oppressive manner by an occupying force backed by several western powers. For the record, he was said to have had an activist past and his involvement in issues related to oppression by the powerful is said to be quite long.

What should we make of the self-immolation carried out by Bushnell?

First and foremost, it signifies the total collapse of the “rules-based” world order – that is the catchword for many a Western nation when dealing with adversaries - because, an innocent life had to be sacrificed in this manner to demonstrate to the powers that be that laws and rules have become meaningless; they are impotent in the face of the ongoing genocide against Palestinians in Gaza. The world is still witnessing the mass murder of innocents as it is in its sixth month. One more innocent life had to be sacrificed in this manner for the more than 30,000 lives already lost unnecessarily with an impending tens of thousands more in the coming weeks if a ceasefire is not put in place permanently soon.

It declared to the world that one small incalcitrant regime can wield so much power that even the superpowers cannot do anything to rein it in.

It also demonstrated to the world how the intransigence and hard-headedness of just this one arrogant nation has held all other nations to ransom. Just imagine, even when Palestinians line up for food aid that somehow managed to reach them in Gaza, they were mown down by the blood-thirsty soldiers of the regime.

Secondly, it signified the hypocrisy of the American administration, not just the present one but all those before it, that have been pontificating long, long verses about human rights, democracy and so on, but have always been silent, or more precisely, joined the perpetrators of human rights abuses and undemocratic, ruthless regimes like Israel that has unleashed its terror on the Gazan Palestinians and Palestinians of the occupied West Bank.

So hypocritical is the US that despite casting veto after veto to block any ceasefire in the UN Security Council, it suddenly plays innocent by shoving forward its poster lady, Vice President Kamala Harris, to “demand” a “ceasefire now” (reminding us of the same slogan uttered by the hundreds of thousands of people in the streets of Western capitals at the beginning of Israel’s genocidal campaign and that was repeatedly denied through these same vetoes by the so-called “champion” of human rights, the US) in Gaza.

Equally hypocritical is the highly dramatised “air drop of humanitarian aid” which the US started just recently. Ironically it did not find it compelling to open the Rafah border with Egypt where scores of trucks loaded with food and other urgent supplies for the trapped Palestinians have been kept waiting for days on end to cross over and deliver them. It makes us wonder why the US, which claims to have leverage over Israel, could not deliver aid through land? Who is in control then?

As for the air-drop itself, commentators have lambasted it as a huge lie and propaganda attempt because it is the US that delivers the bombs for Israel which then “air drops” them on the Palestinians.

What hypocrisy, what irony. Hence the self-immolation act by Aaron Bushnell.

Only people who have a conscience and a very deep one at that would readily sacrifice their lives for such a noble cause. Bushnell wanted his message to reach the entire world and how important the Palestinian issue is.

On the contrary, those with vested interests would not feel any remorse over their actions that cause suffering to others. Over 30,000 deaths don’t mean anything to the Western leaders except for purposes of shedding crocodile tears when confronted with the wrath of their citizens. That is why to this day the US doggedly refuses to stop weapons supplies to the Israelis. For the record, since the Israeli onslaught began in October last year, US president Joe Biden had bypassed Congress’ approval for the weapons supply at least twice. Last month reports mentioned that the US was going to provide another US$14.3bil (RM67bil)worth of weapons to the regime.

And because of the continuous support in every form that the US provides, the genocide in Gaza will just continue. Extreme protests will take place but will the administration bother about it?

Not in the near term.

Political corruption runs high in the US. Hence, nothing is going to change in Occupied Palestine unless a whole new set of leaders emerge in the US - ones who refuse to be shackled to the powerful Zionist lobby. If they are “paid” handsomely to “toe the line” as what AIPAC has been doing all along, then the situation will remain dire for the Palestinians.

It was also the wish of Bushnell that his ashes be strewn on a Palestine that would one day become free. Given the developments that have taken place since Oct 7, there definitely is emerging a new equation in that region. Israel has probably reached the end of its violent, bullying, dominance.

Its onslaught on Gaza must have given it enough lessons to re-consider a non-military approach to dealing with the Palestinians. They have no choice because might cannot be right. Justice must prevail.

Post Oct 7, there definitely seems to be a silver lining for the future establishment of an independent Palestinian state based on Palestinian aspirations.

Dr Abdul Latiff Mohd Ibrahim is Head of Research and Publications Division, International Institute of Advanced Islamic Studies (IAIS) Malaysia.

Published in The Star on Monday, 11 March 2024.

Source: https://www.thestar.com.my/news/focus/2024/02/11/the-zionist-regimes-outright-rejection-of-the-latest-ceasefire-proposal-confirms-its-genocidal-bentWill Bushnell’s self-immolation douse the flames of injustice and oppression in Occupied Palestine? | The Star