Edna Yaghi’s Column
I can understand why Jordan is an ideal place for the Arab summit scheduled to take place March 27-28. The weather right now is very pleasant as opposed to the already sweltering heat of Gulf countries. The atmosphere is conducive to holding such a meeting and the Jordanian people are friendly and hospitable.
I can already hear the trombones blaring out their welcoming music and the drums boom boom booming in time. The goosesteps of the soldiers in welcoming formation, a carry over from the good old colonial days, will march in perfect unison to appropriate accompanying tunes.
Helicopters will buzz overhead, keeping vigilance over busy thoroughfares and police will be positioned throughout the capital making sure nothing goes wrong.
Royal heads of state and other Arab presidents will zoom into the kingdom with their personal planes full of bodyguards, attendants, hairdressers, grooms, chefs and servants to the lavish surroundings of plush hotels and bellboys waiting on their every demand. Suddenly the semi-arid country will spout forth fountains of water in which to bathe and Jacuzzi each and every special leader. Elaborate banquets will spread out on endless tables and those whose bellies have already been fed to the max will then dine on feasts fit for kings and noblemen. And all the while these noble leaders dine and feast in their extravagant surroundings, the poverty stricken will stare through stained glass windows with hungry eyes and empty stomachs and be dismissed by the nobility with, “Well if they can’t afford to buy bread, let them eat biscuits instead!”
While they are wined and dined, and while they sit at tables full of exquisite fine smelling bouquets, Palestinians will continue to carry their dead and wounded out on endless stretchers and bloodthirsty Israeli soldiers and settlers with “Born to Kill” emblazoned on their foreheads, will continue to batter them out of existence.
All the while, Arab leaders will deliver lengthy sermons and eloquent speeches. They might promise mountains of gold to those who have already fallen and if we are lucky, one or two might even shed a tear of remorse at the growing number of dead and wounded. They might even remember the child who died at an Israeli checkpoint from a burst appendix or the little boy who passed away from heart failure because the Israelis refused to let him cross over to Egypt where he could have gotten life-saving emergency care. They might mention the little Palestinian 10-year-old who was abducted by Israeli settlers and found two days later with his head bashed in.
Yes, they will talk and talk and talk and look important and remain as always, impotent, indecisive and inactive. They might pledge a few pennies to the Palestinian dying or the mortally wounded, they might voice support of the 6-month-old Intifida, but nothing but pomp and ceremony will come of it all. They might even condemn Israeli atrocities and ask, mind you, only ask, that the siege of Palestinian cities and villages be lifted. But nothing will come of it all and things will go on as before or grow even worse.
After all, what are Palestinian lives compared to the rest of the Arab nation? More importantly, what are they compared to the lives of the nobility? Why should any Arab leader living better than a king worry about what happens in the Holy Land? There are other much more important issues at stake, such as how and where next to spend a million dollars on self-gratification and how to best confiscate more money from oil revenues or their people’s incomes making sure that in the end, they totally bankrupt their countries’ resources and their own states.
This is what will happen. What should happen is an entirely different matter. No one is in need of eloquent speeches and lengthy sermons or verbose rhetoric. Such do not bring back to life, the children who have died nor replace limbs that have been amputated. No one needs crocodile tears. Palestinian children want protection and to be assured that they will be able to grow up just like all other normal children in peaceful areas of the world. They really don’t care what fabulous meals are served at summit feasts or how well entertained the heads of state will be. They don’t need empty promises of a trickle of money that they know they will never see in the first place. What they do want is to have freedom and self-determination and to live in happiness and safety just as their Israeli counterparts do.
The Arab leaders could for the first time in more than 50 years, take a united stand. They could serve an ultimatum to Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon instead of paying lip service to the ongoing slaughter of the innocents. They could also tell Bush Jr. that either he get the Israelis off Palestinian backs and lift the siege and bombardment of Palestinian homes and villages or else suffer the consequences.
Arab leaders now have the chance to insist that there be a comprehensive peace based on justice, equality and the inalienable rights of all concerned parties. They have the power to do this; they have the money and the means. But they don’t have the guts and they simply don’t care.
So after their weepy, lengthy, boring-to-the-point-of-tears- speeches, they will pull out of their plush hotels, gather up their army of bodyguards and attendants and zoom back home to their even plusher palaces, convinced that they had accomplished something. And in the meantime, because of Arab impotency, Israelis will continue to pillage and plunder, slaughter the innocents and then tell the world that they will not talk until and unless the Palestinians stop the violence.