Gathered in Cairo in order to prepare the Beirut Summit scheduled for March 27-28, the sole comfort the Arab foreign ministers could bring to the Palestinian people suffering Sharon’s unrelenting warfare, consisted in acknowledging that from the $ 1 billion promised to the Palestinians in 2000, about $ 700 million have been disbursed so far.
“Great!” One would eagerly shout, but the dramatic situation in the Palestinian territories worsening, not each day but rather each hour, would indeed limit one’s expansive effusion: how could anyone rejoice of such a misery? People are dying by dozens, and our Arab Ministers find nothing better to comfort the orphans and the widows than to pretend that their leaders é i.e. the PA- have already pocketed $ 700 million, whereof the majority of the afflicted population knows definitely nothing! And this not because Mr. Arafat and his Cabinet embezzled the money, as some rumors would inevitably pretend, but rather because this sum is hardly sufficient to keep a minimum of economic and social life going on in the territories. If the ministers sought to alleviate their conscience, as to the Palestinian blood, they have missed their target. And if they sought only to inform their peoples that they are actually doing something to lessen the ordeal of the Palestinian people, they have also missed their target. For nobody inside the Arab world is fool enough to believe that $ 700 million in almost two years of continual war against the disarmed population of the territories, is an honorable acquittal releasing the Arab states from any responsibility towards the Palestinians. This is a sham, and a shameful attempt from the Arab officials to wash their hands from the whole problem, while pretending that they helped the PA. The Europeans, have perhaps given more funds to support the crumbling Palestinian economy than the rich Arab states é with few exceptions é have ever done.
The point is that the Arab states are neither ready to oppose the Israeli government efficiently, nor to support the PA’s daily struggle for freedom and justice adequately. Their absence is perhaps the sole permanent reality of the Middle East, since the start of the Oslo process that led to the short-lived truce between Israel and the Palestinians. No wonder that the President of the PA has been hijacked by the Israelis and reduced to the status of hostage since months! The failure of the Arab leaders to obtain his liberation é I well say: liberation é from his prison in the “liberated” territories, is enough expressive to show the failure of the whole Arab system.
What then? All those “independent” and “sovereign” states are powerless and frightened by Sharon’s cannons? All of them are helpless while pretending to help the Palestinians? With what? Since years and years they have been accumulating every kinds of weapons. Whether these weapons are efficient or not, declared or not, expensive or not, have never been really of any concern. For who cares? Who would ever ask the rulers about the bills or the accounts or anything related to the weaponry’s business? Their inexistent or é in the best
case – masqueraded parliaments? Their orchestrated or muzzled press? Their deceptive or unavailing opposition? Who exactly?
So far, the Arabs accepted all the solutions proposed by the USA, as if they were a gift from heavens! They accepted as well and in the same frame of mind the solutions proposed by the Europeans. There is a reason for this endeavor: The Arabs better than anyone know perfectly what are their deficiencies. Who better than the diseased knows what disorder is affecting him and diminishing his potentialities? That is why the Arabs accepted the varied peace plans. It was not out of might that they did, but rather because they have no other choice. If they depend on the USA to keep their own countries stable, and if the USA is the first supporter of Israel, what would be the issue of the current conflict opposing them to Israel if it is not based on a compromise? War? Nobody dares to talk about fighting the Israeli army anymore amidst the Arab officials. Even the most recalcitrant among them, or the most hawkish, do not mean to fire a single bullet against the Israeli army, albeit they are still holding the old position rejecting any recognition of Israel. Suffice it to recall the Syrian stances since 1973. Israel is still occupying the Golan, and the Syrian army is still occupying the same positions in Lebanon, just some miles away from Tsahal. Did the Syrians budge when Sharon launched his tanks and planes against Lebanon in 1982, and wiped out the infrastructure of the PLO, forcing Arafat and thousands of Palestinian fighters to boarding the sea? Did they move as long as the Israelis occupied the “security margin” southern Lebanon? Yet, although Damascus is helpless and unable to liberate its own territories, it has been incredibly criticizing towards the PLO, when back-to-the wall, the latter tried to obtain with negotiations what it had been unable to get with warfare.
However, the Arab general acceptance of the US and European solutions never decided Israel to reconsidering seriously what are its options. Everything happened as if each time the Arabs gave up and announced their readiness to brokering a peace compromise, Israel plunged its head in the sand and behaved like an ostrich! Sure of the indefectible American support, the Israelis used to give up to megalomania and paranoia, whenever their neighbors yield to peace dreams! The Arabs would have certainly accommodated themselves of such behavior, if the Israeli madness costed nothing to them. But this is blood-shedding megalomania. If Israel’s Jews are not able to bear their own history, if they still need to persecute another people just because they are afraid to see themselves in the history mirror as the “victims” of the anti-semitism, their moral plight is not about to end. The whole ideological basis of the Zionist state may be summed up in these few words: “we are the victims”! But the Israelis did not wake up yet. Are they still claiming to be the victims of history and injustice? Are they still terrified? If they really are, then they might be still more helpless than the Arab states, for if with all their technological and military advance they find themselves desperately “disarmed” while facing the anger of the Palestinian population, they should certainly revise their political creeds and their very foundations. Indubitably something is wrong with them: The Arab helplessness is justified by the general state of backwardness prevailing in these societies. But we are told that Israel exports technology, that Israel is a nuclear power, that Israel is democratic! Isn’t that enough then to feel safe? What makes Israel so frail when it is so powerful?
I cannot resist to quote Mr. Friedman, writing in The New York Times (March 10) this admirable é because honest é sentence:
” Some in Israel and in the American Jewish right argue that it is already a war of civilizations and that the only thing to do is kill Palestinians until they say ‘uncle’. That is called ‘realism’. Well, let me tell you something else that is real: If this uncompromising view becomes dominant in Israel and among American Jews, then cash in your Israel Bonds right now é the country is doomed. Because there are so many more Muslims than Jews to be killed, and weapons of mass destruction are becoming so much smaller and so much cheaper, it won’t be long before the student of my Egyptian friend’s story gets one of his eight bombs and wipes Israel off the map. Is that real enough for you?”
Let’s hope that they would think it over Mr. Friedman.