Op-Ed By Ahmad Barqawi
Maybe we’ve just grown tired of the Palestinian cause; maybe Palestine has lost its “revolutionary” luster after the hellish season that was the “Arab Spring”, in favor of “nobler” and more urgent matters in the Arab World, like chasing the Houthis out of the Yemeni capital for instance or liberating Syria from the “Alawite” occupation, according to GGC-media that is.
Maybe it’s the fact that the Palestinian issue cannot be maneuvered into yet another frontline for the Sunni-vs-Shia conflict, or maybe we’ve just become so brand oriented and media-hyped that we constantly need a glittery tagline to identify every little event that occurs in the region, otherwise it’s forgotten or cast as an insignificance not worthy of our already short-tempered attention; maybe it’s the fact that we’ve become so antipathetic towards anything that no longer has a face, a name or at least a catch phrase when we’re still wrapped up in a pointless debate on whether what is currently happening in Palestine qualifies a Third Intifada or not (and if you’re watching Western- or GCC-funded media: it’s no more than rising “tension” in the West Bank).
Brutal occupation, land confiscations, the carnage in Gaza, phosphorous bombs, blockades, generations of refugees, the settlers’ binge killing sprees of Palestinians… evidently we’re okay with it all; none of what happens in Palestine offends our slumbering conscience and human sensibilities which seem to awaken with fervent urgency the minute terrorism hits a Western capital, for in moments of “blowback”, terrorism and counter-terrorism; everything is relegated to triviality and irrelevance, and no one even dares mention the Israeli occupation of Palestine; that other decades-old brand of terrorism which manages to cloak itself as a mere “territorial dispute” between the Israelis and the decrepit Palestinian Authority.
In fact, if the Arab world has spoken, the message is loud, clear and unequivocal: Palestine can wait. And the Palestinians, whether living in the squalid rubble of what used to be their homes in Gaza on a strict, Israeli preset calorie allowance or those disappeared into the black hole of indefinite detention and torture that is the Israeli prison system, will have to stick it out in a wretched, terror-ridden existence till they get their own mainstream media headlines, 24-hour live coverage, hashtags or “safety checks” (as if the concept of safety is strictly reserved to and monopolized for the benefit of white European victims).
Nobody wants the people of Palestine to revolt, protest or even disturb the Israeli occupation with a mere stone’s throw at its unrelenting apparatus of death, torture and destruction; everyone wants (and expects of) the Palestinians to hopelessly cower behind the bullet-ridden walls of their overcrowded, half-demolished homes, heads down to their bellies and surrender themselves to a bleak reality of living as sub-humans, stripped off their most basic rights, under an apartheid regime where arbitrary arrests and summary executions are the orders of the day, unless, of course, they’re torched alive along with their loved ones in the safety of their own bedrooms by state-sponsored, swarming gangs of Zionist settlers.
Every time the hope-deprived Palestinians attempt to rise against the occupation, it is much to the bitter chagrin of the GCC club and its allies; for fear it might steal the “thunder” away from their unholy crusade against the people of Yemen and Syria, and manage to yet again expose the depths of their own hypocrisy and hyperbolic macho rhetoric that passes for foreign policy when it comes to Iran and the “Shiite threat”.
But the Palestinians are not ones to cower in submission, they rose up against their occupiers again just like they’ve done countless of times before… only this time armed with knives and screwdrivers of all things, which only speaks volumes about our own complicity and chronic state of apathy towards the Palestinians and their ongoing plight; the fact that the Palestinians had to resort to kitchen utensils to defend themselves against the disproportionate military might of Israel while only a few kilometers away all manners of sophisticated weapons and multi-million dollar bombs are being recklessly dropped by the “Arabs” themselves on the poorest civilian Arab population in Yemen is both a profound indictment and a glaring testament to the rotten state of affairs that the Arab world has sunk itself into.
Evidently the Arab World is just too busy with its own frivolous sectarian wars and internal bloodletting to bother with the “annoyance” that Palestine has become to some of its Arab brethren, the Arab World is too preoccupied with its own self-inflected cleansing of religious and ethnic minorities to even notice the decades-old, ongoing-still (albeit at an accelerating pace) ethnic cleansing of Palestinians from their own homeland, and we’ve become too enamored with the notion of (re)partitioning the Arab world along sectarian frontlines to worry about the wholesale land annexation and systematic bantustanization of Palestine. I guess Mark Sykes and François Picot weren’t cynical (or in their case; optimistic) enough when they reworked the map of the region in 1916 into vying, hopelessly disconnected western spheres of influence.
For Arab Governments; the Israeli Occupation of Palestine was never a priority, and the sorry lot of Arab leaders and ruling politicians right from the years of Egypt’s Anwar Al Sadat onwards were never serious about challenging the Zionist colonial project, nonetheless paying a lip service to the Palestinian cause at least used to be a mainstay within Arab political discourse, if anything but to get a tinge of legitimacy and pacify an emotionally charged Arab public that was still attached to the central issue that was Palestine at the time.
Alas, nowadays; Palestine is totally forgotten and deliberately sidelined, especially (and most lamentably) on a public level, for it doesn’t fit the strict sectarian brackets through which almost everything seems to be seen, dissected and understood in the region, it no longer fits our current post-Arab spring reality of chronic sub-divisions and religious fanaticism. Our priorities have been drastically reshuffled, altered beyond recognition and reconfigured to best suit the west’s parasitic agenda in our region, and Palestine was thus swiftly pushed down right to the very bottom of that list.
The word “Occupation” is no longer associated with Israel, today it is solely (and excessively) used in the misleading context of the so-called “Iranian influence in the Arab World”, which, for all intents and purposes, is but a direct reference to the centuries’ old presence of indigenous Shiite populations in Syria, Lebanon, Iraq and Yemen.
Every little war and military misadventure in the Arab World is a “Holy War”, especially if it’s one that is (generously) funded by the GCC club; except for Palestine… it’s a peace process there, and an endless one at that; never mind the daily massacres, home demolitions and mass arrests which have all become fixed components of every Palestinian’s life, or the fact that Gaza has become one giant killing field and a testing ground for the latest in Israel’s arsenal of internationally banned weapons and chemical munitions, when it comes to Palestine; we’re all proponents of peaceful resolutions, passivity and none-violence.
Billions of dollars are being recklessly spent on the futile “Operation: Assad Must Go!” enterprise in Syria by the GCC; a fraction of which is more than capable of (literally) buying Palestinian lands’ way to freedom from the clutches of the Zionist settler colonial project; not to mention, god forbid, supporting the Palestinians in their struggle against the occupation instead of splurging on throat-slitting terrorist groups and organizations. Yet not a penny for Palestine.
The Zionist usurpation of Jerusalem Al Quds somehow does not even so much as tickle “Sunni” sentiments among Arabs and Muslims, and the now routine ransacking of Al Aqsa Mosque, Islam’s third holiest shrine, no longer triggers explosive “Sunni” hypersensitivities, let alone militancy, which seem to rage on only at the mere mention of Iran or the Shia sect.
The repeated invasions of refugee camps in the West Bank, the night raids into homes and the kidnapping of Palestinians from their beds and in their sleep, defacing mosques, the desecration of cemeteries, the illegal (albeit lucrative) trafficking of Palestinians’ organs… apparently none of that warrants so-called “Sunni solidarity”, while daily scenes of death, assault and point blank street executions of Palestinian schoolgirls and minors does nothing to shake our newfound “Sunni” moral high ground and obligation.
Only Syrian President Bashar Al Assad (and his entire religious sect) is deserving of our blind hatred and antagonism, along with the Houthis in Yemen, and way before them the late Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi, while Israel’s Benyamin Netanyahu is viewed as the “lesser of the region’s many evils” if not an outright dependable ally; for now the conversion is complete and out in the open; the Zionist Israeli entity is not the enemy of the Arab World; it is Iran, or the Shiite threat, or a bizarre combination thereof… with Russian President Vladimir Putin being the latest arbitrary addition to the convoluted “Shiite crescent” against which we, as Arabs and Muslims, can (or are encouraged to) unleash our innermost militant hostility, unmitigated hatred and religious fervor with a Jihadi abandon to our hearts’ content, even if it meant blowing up a civilian airliner carrying tourists for the sole reason of them being Russians, or targeting a poor neighborhood whose residents just so happen to be of the “wrong” religious sect.
And now that the GCC-controlled Arabsat, the main satellite operator in the Arab World, has suspended the only news channels with half-decent coverage of the Palestinian issue from its broadcast, namely Al Mayadeen and Al Manar TV channels; you are forced to dig deep in the wretched morass of Arabic news websites and media outlets, and carefully wade through a cobweb of anti-Iran/anti-Shia sectarian screed and gutter entertainment journalism to find news even remotely related to the Israeli occupation of Palestine, and once you do; it’s just pale and watered down versions of the devastating horrors inflected upon the Palestinians day in and day out by their Israeli captors, reported with a thinly veiled bias for the benefit of the Israeli narrative under the convenient pretext of “journalistic objectivity” at a time when Gulf-funded media coverage of events in Syria, Iraq and Yemen is nothing but sectarian, heavily skewed and laden with lies and fabrications to best suit their political agendas in these countries. If this is not normalization with Israel, I don’t know what is.
Who said that you have to have open embassies and ambassadors to have normalized relations? The Arab world at the moment is at the height of its normalization with Israel, be it politically, culturally, athletically and yes even militarily; the Zionist regime is, for all intents and purposes, fully recognized in the Arab world while work is afoot to delegitimize every single regime (Syria, Iran) and organization (Hizbollah) that opposes Israel.
After zealously stampeding all over Libya, Syria, Iraq and Yemen, always leaving a scorched path of failed states and societies on the verge of sectarian fracture in its devastating wake; the GCC club’s newfound (albeit disingenuous and overtly sectarian) drive for so-called democracy and (Sunni) human rights stops dead right at the Israeli Occupation’s (illegally usurped) doorstep; while a handful of Arab countries are swiftly given the full “Operation: Regime Change” treatment in all its gory splendor courtesy of the GCC club and it’s western patrons, for Israel; it is decidedly “regime unchanged”… sustained, and unabashedly allied with.
Evidently Palestine can wait… until the Arab World is done with its endless wars, infighting and purification of minorities and “infidels”. Palestine, with all its martyrs, its displaced population (in and out of Israeli torture chambers), its malnourished people in Gaza, its burnt olive groves and its torched toddlers, its cities and towns, those razed and those on the verge of extinction courtesy of Israeli bulldozers, its vanishing historical landscape and disappearing heritage, can wait until the Arab world settles a 1,400 year-old religious score that has already turned the clock back on the entire region way past and beyond that point in our history.
The Palestinians are alone in this, as they have always been. Their current revolution (of kitchen knives) has so far been disavowed and misreported in a media that seems to only revere and lionize sectarian, head-chopping backward movements on GCC-funded, bought and paid for suicide missions to further dismantle the Arab World into feuding mini statelets only for the benefit of the imperial West and of course Israel.
You won’t hear any of those fiery Fatwas, religious sermons and “Calls to Jihadi-Arms” when it comes to Palestine. Evidently these Fatwas, essentially nothing more than an insidious recruitment ploy and an open casting call for aspiring terrorists to join in the fight against any “infidel” government that the chronically delusional GCC club deems “threatening”, are reserved solely to counter the imaginary “Shiite threat” … and now Russia as well.
You won’t see hordes of trigger-happy volunteer fighters, clad in black, flocking en masse, from all four corners of the earth over to Palestine to fight alongside a beleaguered population against an occupying power.
God forbid we see convoys of brand new Toyota matching trucks stretching as far as the eye can see, juggernauting their way through Israeli checkpoints, liberating Palestinian lands from (infidel?) illegal settlers whose only sport of choice is torching Palestinians, young and old, alive. Only endless convoys of bare-chested martyrs and shackled prisoners and underage detainees with defiant smiles on their faces in Palestine.
Left to their own primitive devices, the Palestinians won’t be showered with hundreds of millions of petro-dollars, weapons, munitions, rampant military aid and unbridled diplomatic support of the kind that has been thrown into the Al-Qaeda-run regime change enterprise in Syria. They, instead, are forced to rummage through their own kitchens, houses and streets for a rusty old knife, screwdriver or a block of rock to defend themselves at the likely risk- nay, the certainty- of being summarily executed, lynched and quartered amid manic chants of “Death to Arabs”; a gruesome fate which is not much different in any way shape or form from what awaits the entire Palestinian population living daily under Israeli occupation, where for the IOF (Israeli Occupation Forces, including settlers), it’s not even a policy “shoot first ask questions later”, it is “empty your shotgun’s magazine into the chests of Palestinian civilians first, curse, insult, stampede on and kick their blood-soaked motionless bodies to the curb later”.
In a way, the Palestinians are returning the countless of knives they’ve been backstabbed, front-stabbed and gutted with, time and again, by the so-called International community, Western governments and (especially) Arab governments over the course of more than 67 years, right into the hearts of their own occupiers (assuming of course that the colonial, illegal settler entity that is Israel does indeed have a heart).
It is true that, for the Arab World, Palestine can always wait; but Palestine is no longer waiting for the Arabs to lend a helping hand.
Ahmad Barqawi is a freelance columnist and writer