"Israeli Attacks in Gaza and the Arab Demagogy"

Date: 31 Dec 2008


"Israeli Attacks in Gaza and the Arab Demagogy"

by Dr. Sami Alrabaa


Once again some of us Arabs are as usual in a big mess. The Islamist extremist group Hamas, which came to power through an un-Islamic political process, namely democratic election, has since hijacked Gaza, established its rocket factories in residential areas, in bunkers under mosques, schools and hospitals. Over the past three years, the Hamas jihadis and their affiliates have frequently targeted their Kassam rockets at residential areas in Israel. Even during the ceasefire brokered by Egypt in 2008, Hamas shot their rockets at Israel. On top of all these, Hamas, like the PLO before the Oslo Accords, rejects the existence of Israel, a UN member state. Its ultimate aim is liberating all Palestine, which include Israel, by wiping out the Jewish state from the world map and possibly by genocidal massacre or deportation of all Jewish people.

The “struggle” of Hamas is backed by Islamists across the globe, by state-controlled media of the Arab world, and by one-eyed anti-war campaigners in the West. Ban Ki-Moon, the Secretary General of the UN, has condemned the latest Israeli military operations in Gaza as “disproportionate”.

All these organizations and groups have voraciously consumed the Hamas propaganda; they allege that the Israeli blockade has caused abject misery in Gaza, people there are starving. Some compare Gaza to a huge prison, to Holocaust. But who is to blame for all this calamity?

Israeli politicians have repeatedly stated that once Hamas stops its terrorist activities and launching of missiles, the blockade would be lifted. The Israeli cabinet even approved of aid convoys into Gaza despite Hamas' continued shooting rockets. The Hamas leadership ignored such conciliatory Israeli gestures and carried on the rocket-attacks on residential areas in Israel.

We Arabs are very good at twisting facts and exaggerating them, when it suits us. Mustafa Barghouthi, a Fatah activist, told CNN (28.12.2008) that “It was Israel which broke the ceasefire with Hamas.” Buthaina Sha’ban, a Syrian cabinet Minister, called the recent Israeli attacks on Hamas' military targets “the most atrocious Holocaust in the history of mankind” [London-based Saudi daily Al Shraq Al Awsat, 29.12.2008].

We Arabs also prefer to be mystical, wishful rather than realistic. Waleed Al Tabtaba’i, an Islamist member of the Kuwaiti parliament, hoped that Allah would come to rescue the Gazans as he did with his prophet Muhammad in all his raids against the infidels [Al Watan, 29.12.2008].

Yusuf Al Qaradhawi, the renowned radical Islamic cleric, told the Al Jazeera TV that “We Muslims, we are a bunch of donkeys if we do not stand up and fight the Israelis and their supporters wherever they are.”

Hamas and its affiliates are feeding on wishful thinking. They believe that an escalation of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict would bring them closer to their aim: Arabs and Muslims would take to the street and urge their governments to take action against Israel. Islamists in Iran and Indonesia have registered themselves to fight Jihad against the Jews, the “apes" or "monkeys” as Allah calls them.

We Arabs have learned nothing from the two major disastrous wars against Israel. Some of us still believe that the Israelis understand only the language of defiance and violence. Violence is the only “argument” we possess. Rational, realistic thinking has never been a part of our discourse and action.

Especially Islamists, they rejoice at the on-going maiming and killing in Gaza, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Iraq. None of those Hamas-sympathizers has ever condemned the atrocities inflicted upon innocent people, arbitrarily killed in these countries by suicide bombers in the name Islam.

In Arabic we say, Ja’ja’a bila taheen” (It is all noise without flour). We Arabs are most boisterous, shrill people, but less effective or inclined to seeking pragmatic, workable solutions.

A huge anti-Israel demonstration in Jordan; protests like this in Arab
countries allowed only against perceived foreign enemies.

According to a clandestine survey by Bielefeld University conducted in Syria and Egypt (2006), over 70% of the population in these countries want peace with Israel. They are “sick and tired”, as many put it, of the belligerent discourse of the Islamists and the biased and instigatory propaganda of their national media. They, of course, don't dare say that openly.
Khaled, who wants to be identified by his first name only, told me, “Our leaders and their affiliates suffer from some kind of personality disorder. They keep us busy with Israel to distract from their failure to establish democracy and remove poverty. They also support radical organizations like Hamas and Hizballah as tools to keep that distraction alive.”

Fatima said, “Israel left South Lebanon and Gaza. Yet, for Hizballah and Hamas this is not enough. What do these people want? They are making the life of their people and ours miserable. We feel hijacked by these murderers. We want peace.”
In view of the fact that Kuwait and Lebanon allow relatively higher freedom of speech, columnists like Ahemd Al Sarraf, Ali Al Baghli, Hasssan El Essa, Fouad Al Hashem, and Khaleel Haidar in these countries have blasted Hamas and the Islamists for the calamity in Gaza.

The Arab world has never experienced any semblance of political freedom and stability. Since independence over the last half of the 20th century, the Arabs have been ruled by despots, either military or hereditary. Demonstrations are basically forbidden; calls for political reforms are ruthlessly squashed. But when people demonstrate against a foreign powers—Israel or the USA, for instance—they are then most welcome.

The Syrian regime even allowed a hand-picked group people to protest against the Egyptian embassy for not opening the border with Gaza. The Egyptian government also allowed demonstrations against the Israeli strikes against Hamas, while the authoritarian regime of Husni Mubarak deals with demonstrators for political reforms ruthlessly; see it here.

The Arab regimes have always projected the “Palestinian cause”—the “Wound of all Arabs” or the “Nakba” (calamity) as some Arabs prefer to call it—as a pretext to keep the people distracted from calls for political and economic reforms at home. The occupation of Iraq and the rise of Islamism have provided Arab regimes with new opportunities to defer socio-political reforms.

Besides, Arab regimes, such as the Egyptian, Syrian and Saudi governments, have appeased Islamists by antagonizing the same enemy, namely Israel and the USA, at least in the media. The radicals have stopped their arbitrary attacks in these countries; instead, they cross borders to wage Jihad against the foreign infidel enemy: in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere.

Some dictators have never left a worthy legacy. Many of them have also left destruction, misery and deaths of numberless innocent people: think of Hitler, Stalin, Idi Amin, Pol Pot; the list is long. The Arab dictators are in a sense in good company.

All that being said, the road to democracy, freedom and liberty in the Arab world will yet be long one; the Arabs would still have to wait for decades before they can enjoy these basic rights of man.

In the meantime, the name of the game in the Arab world would remain demagogy, irrationalism, political schizophrenia, defiance and violence.