Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Palestine: What is expected and what can be done?

After the dust had settled, and the guns in Gaza are gradually falling silent - cautiously - one cannot escape the inevitable question: what's next? An Arab initiative, at least two Arab summits, various promises of assistance and relief, all's good, but the man whose home had been obliterated from the map and reduced to rubble is now living in a 2x2 tent right next to that rubble, along with his wife and children, waiting for what comes next.

What is expected from the Arab world in order to relief this poor family, whose only fault is being in the wrong place at the wrong time?

Financially, money is no object in the Arab world - it never was - so there's no problem there. GCC countries can commit to billions and billions in aid, but it seldom goes to the right recipients, and controlling it is even more difficult - curiously enough! One needs only to look at the facts to see just how messy their financial aid has become: underground tunnels, rocket-making material, uniforms, weapons, smuggling operations, they all need money, which arguably comes from donations. Hamas isn't state-sponsored like Hezbolla, it's sponsored benevolently by all the Arab and Muslim world, which makes things worse, because the only victim here is the man on the streed waiting in line for his five pieces of bread, since the money's been diverted to make useless rockets.

Militarily, the Arab governments are as harmless as a fruit fly, any any form of supporting paramilitary groups to fight proxy wars instead comes with the wrath of global condemnation and threats to cut trade, so that's off the table.

Diplomatically, the Arabs are about as effective as a band-aid on a gushing wound, even though they hold many valuable tools with which they can promote their agendas peacefully. They're not doing so - in my opinion - because they lack the leadership to even say so, despite their glamorous claims in high-profile summits.

Religiously, we Arabs, as Muslims, Christians and other religions, can only sit back and pray to God, asking for forgiveness and peace to roam the land, and at the same time, asking for his wrath to sweep over the land and punish the criminals - whoever they may be - once and for all.

The fiction that is Palestine today is - simply put - two disconnected plots of land, squeezed by and between three giants who would easily trade it for an Oil contract if no one was looking. But to shift fiction into reality needs more than a cheque, a flag and a national anthem. It needs a political imperative to exist, a social plan to expand and an economic basis to continue to cater to its people. With the rise of Hamas, all these things have been replaced with rockets and martyrs, and while our leaders sit and watch what comes next, organizations like Hamas are claiming their unilaterally achieved victories, with little help from the outsiders, all music to the ears of the poor man living in the makeshift tent, pitched beside a mound of rubble that was his 3-storey home.

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