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    Middle East
     Jul 28, '14

Why no Arab state cries for Gaza
By Ehsan Ahrari

Israel's use of "made-in-the-USA" death machines over the skies and on the ground of Gaza are raining hellfire on its civilian population, especially its women, children, and elders. No Arab State has had the guts to denounce that brutality.

Only the newly elected Pharaoh of Egypt, Fattah al-Sisi, has spoken out on the issue, but only to manifest his utter contempt for the Islamic Brotherhood of Egypt by condemning Hamas for its brutal firing of rockets on Israel and to beseech it to arrange a ceasefire. However, Hamas was not interested in a ceasefire that did not also end the Israeli embargo. Egypt could have negotiated that concession from the Israelis, but it did not. It only wanted to

play a symbolic role to appease its US paymaster's crony, Israel.

Needless to say, Hamas, along with Israel, is very much part of these mindless cycles of violence and counter-violence. When anyone attempts to sort out the cause and effect of these recurring rounds of violence, which invariably results in the death of hundreds of Palestinians and a few Israelis, one is faced with the ugly reality of being depicted as an anti-Semite if he/she is critical of Israel.

But here is some food for thought for those who so boldly belittle the critics of Israeli policies toward occupied Palestine. There are no scales of objectivity for condemning the contemptuous behavior of the occupied ones toward the occupiers. No scales of neutrality are available to determine culpability of violent and counter-violent acts, without blaming both of them. There is no moral equivalence here, because the occupied ones never voted to be in that role. They did not have a choice but to manifest their acute hatred of the occupation and the occupier, while the occupier does have a choice. It could simply withdraw from that reprehensible role after establishing reasonable parameters of its security.

Every time war breaks out in or around occupied Palestine, the US, unabashedly, sides with Israel. The so-called "exceptional" country ignores its otherwise vociferous and verbose commitment to the laws of wars that guarantee the well-being of unarmed civilians. Israel's "usual" response to the charges of high civilian casualties on the Palestinian side is to blame Hamas for its so-called "use the civilians as human shields".

No one seems to remember that the territory of Gaza is too small to bear the brunt of violence and counter-violence from both sides. The citizens of that territory have simply no place to hide from the incessant torrents of Israeli rockets and bombs dropped from the American-made F-16s.

The chief "crime" of the Gazans is that they have no powerful constituency inside the United States to condemn their many deaths. The United States does not know it (and would even categorically reject it), but every round of violence in occupied Palestine also inexorably edges America closer to endorsing the inhumanity related to Israel's continued occupation and its correlated endless perpetuation of the death of innocent civilians, especially the children.

The support for Israel inside the United States is such that no sitting US president dares to criticize its war-related actions with the use of American-supplied weapons, which, in itself, is a gross violation of American law. With strong domestic support for Israel inside the United States, and with an unflinching, uninterrupted, and unconditional economic and military support of it, the Jewish state has no palpable reason to pull back from the occupied territories and allow the establishment of a respectable state of "free" Palestine.

Regarding the Palestinian conflict, one is struck by the rude awakening that there is no such thing as the so-called "international community" or its role as a moral global force. It only exists in the rhetoric of the Western media when the interests or proclivities of the United States' highly visible issues are violated by one or more non-Western actor.

The word "international community" only starts to pop up during discussions among Western talking heads whose fleeting "expertise" on various issues struggles to keep up with fast-changing headlines. Otherwise, the masses of the Third World are either only silent observers or indulgers of feeble protest gatherings in their reaction to the issues of brutality perpetrated on civilians, whether by an occupying entity like Israel, Russia (in Ukraine), or by other non-state actors such as the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria or al-Qaeda.

In almost every single instance involving occupation, the occupying power is either part of the West or there is profound sympathy for it in the West. The West's erstwhile bemoaning about the violation of international law is shelved in the pursuit of expediency. That may be one reason why world opinion (not just opinion in the West) was not appalled when Russia annexed Crimea or when the Russian-backed terrorists started a secessionist campaign in the western part of Ukraine. Non-Western public opinion has been too accustomed to Western duplicity.

Why aren't the Arab States making any hue and cry against the Israeli rain of death on the Gazans? For a clear understanding, one has to examine the political realities of the Arab region in the post-Arab Spring era. As the Arab Spring turned into Arab autumn in 2013-2014, the autocrats of the Middle East were left with virtually little doubt that their days are numbered. Thus, they are doing everything feasible to shore-up their respective rules.

The Arab autocrats have also concluded, quite correctly, that the post-Arab Spring era has also resulted in a serious loss of power and prestige by the United States. In fact, their perception of the United States is that it is a declining hegemon, which is striving to sustain the pretensions of being a superpower.

Considering that the Arab autocrats view the entire world through the prism of how new global events might affect the durability of their regimes, they have concluded that they should do very little to encourage events that would further diminish the chances of further erosion of US power in their region. And a possible victory (even a symbolic one) of Hamas over Israel at the end of the current war would also have its own palpable deleterious effects on the prestige of the United States, the sole supporter of the autocratic regional order in the Arab world.

What those despots might not know - or they do know but are too timid to 'fess up to the reality - is that the unjust regional order of the Middle East may also be edging toward a rapid and abrupt collapse, notwithstanding the military prowess of the United States and Israel to forestall such a calamity. After all, no one predicted the sudden implosion of the former Soviet Union in 1991 or the onslaught of the Arab Awakening in 2010.

In a maddening impulse to take revenge, the perpetrators of violence against a weak opponent not only cause countless deaths on the weak side, but, in the process, the strong side also loses its own humanity, its claim to be abiding by the international laws, and its commitment to human rights.

Just because Israel has not yet experienced the aforementioned effects does not mean it should continue its current disproportionate use of violence against the citizens of Gaza. For Hamas, there is no price is too precious for the fulfillment of its dream to be free. However, in that pursuit, it should do everything to prevent its own transformation into a mindless death-creating machine.

In all likelihood, both Hamas and Israel are likely to reject these words as a mere expression of this writer's partisanship. But if this writer has a bias toward anything, it is about the emergence of a framework for peace, both for the Palestinians and for the Israelis to live side by side without fear of one side becoming a hegemon or a secret aspirer to annihilate the other.

It is clearer than ever that the US is not capable of playing the role of an honest broker, and the Arab autocrats are too scared for the survival of their regimes to proffer any daring and thoughtful proposals to resolve the Palestinian conflict.

In the final analysis, a solution has to appear from within Israel/Gaza. Unless that happens, the race for escalated violence is likely to be between the two partisans of that conflict. Human blood continues to be spilled, while no one is willing to accept culpability for any violent act.

Dr Ehsan Ahrari ([email protected]) is CEO of Strategic Paradigms, Defense and Foreign Affairs Consultancy.

(Copyright 2014 Ehsan M Ahrari)




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