At a time when the countries of the world are opening up to each other, be it in trade, travel or communication, we in this part of the world do not seem to utilise this interaction to the degree that these countries do.
It is evident that Western countries and even the former eastern bloc countries have developed their democracies to a level where their citizens rights and privileges are safeguarded and enhanced beyond limitations. This development is exemplified and evidenced by the prosecution and conviction of war criminals and human rights violators in the Balkans.
One was hopeful that the opening of borders and the rapid expansion and popularity of the Internet would allow peoples, regardless of their origin, race or conviction, to be heard; thus compelling dictators and oppressive regimes to think twice before any violation of the rights of their subjects. It was also hoped that the transformation of the world into a global village would improve people’s standard of living and favourable sustainable development for all would be enhanced.
Unfortunately, we in the Middle East do not possess or enjoy that privilege. Democracy that is almost nonexistent or mal-practised in many countries of this region makes it difficult for many to pursue a decent living free of persecution or harassment.
Rights are not fully protected and governments are still politically assuming the role of the big brother, by censorship and licensing only what they hold as correct and suitable .
Yet, all this at the moment seems a second priority vis-a-vis events on west of the River Jordan. Bloody oppression that is escalating in frequency and magnitude defies imagination. Men, women and children are killed daily with no one raising serious objection to such actions.
The right wing coalition in Israel is applying such violent means and methods, justified by another right wing administration in the US, in total defiance of the rest of the world, including the Arabs.
One is genuinely amazed and dismayed by the utter disregard for the current events in Palestine where any serious attempt to stop the bloodshed is absent.
Only the Israeli government is to decide on the time and the manner to implement the long-talked about ceasefire. Assassination of civilians, demolishing of homes and burning of crops, besides many other dreadful acts committed by the Israeli military are becoming daily events that the US and the rest of the world have chosen to ignore, and for a period was met by silence in the Arab world as well.
Yet, one cannot count on Arab patience for long, whether the people’s or government’s, in responding to these murders.
The streets of Arab capitals have recently witnessed an increase in protest marches and demonstrations against Israel, some of which were in contravention of local government bans, but which most people felt were legitimate and necessary.
It has become evident now that Israeli policies are causing considerable damage to its relations with the Arab world.
Countries that signed peace treaties with Israel are finding it increasingly difficult to answer their people’s calls for a more hardline action against Israel. Actually pressure on such governments is not limited to only that, but extends far beyond these fears.
Jordan, for one, is watching Ariel Sharon change all elements of security in the Middle East, from one that was based on peace in the region, to one that is based more on increasing hatred between the Arabs and Israel to a point of no return.
The fear of a severe blow to the PNA forcing it to react from abroad will take the region back to the seventies. This will not constitute a threat to Israel only, but also to all elements of stability in the region. As a matter of fact, it seem that neither Sharon nor his partners in the Israeli cabinet care much about how such a move would affect Jordan and Egypt and other countries of the region. On the contrary, they seem to strongly believe that this is the only way for them to go ahead with their far-right policies leading to the forced exodus of more Palestinians from Palestine.
It is amazing that only few in Israel, and even the US, realise that this would deal a severe blow to all previous US efforts to cement peace in the region. Yet, the bloody Israeli measures were described as “justified” by the US vice president, Dick Cheney. One wonders if Mr Lieberman, an orthodox Jew, would have said that if he had been elected vice president .
This is actually an aspect of right-wing policies that recognises no human factor in dealing with people and their future, or even the environment. What really counts for right-wingers is the balance of power in the region and what they gain from it.
It is sad that the US government is so keen to develop the expensive antimissiles’ shield while at the same time allowing such massacres to continue. Why is this happening at a time when there is no arms race in the world. Instead, the trend of the new century was thought to be: New inventions, and the development of technology to fight diseases and poverty.
Unwavering US support is not only encouraging the Israelis to continue on this bloody path but also leading them to believe that it is right. Even more alarming are the results of polls that reveal the Israeli population is more attracted to the far right-wing policies of their existing cabinet. It is pathetic to know that extreme right-wingers like Ben Yamin Netanyahu are calling Sharon’s actions too soft and demanding more severe measures against the Palestinians, and still gaining popularity due to such calls.
The situation is becoming extremely dangerous, not only for the Palestinians but also others in the region. Something must be done to stop this genocide, and genuine efforts must be made to assure the return of peace–loving people to power.
Assassins, murderers and their supporters do not belong in the government, they should be persecuted for their crimes. This demands an ethical code of conduct, one that is governed by the protection of human rights and international laws – not by right wing politicians.