The Culture of Grovelling for Peace
Abd al Bari Atwan
History has shown us, from the experiences of previous nations, and the Arab in particular, that countries are liberated and regain their sovereignty only through resistance, in all its forms, but the military in particular. But we have never heard of countries that were liberated through grovelling and begging, as is currently being done by the Palestinian Authority and its lawmakers in Ramallah.
Two days ago, we were surprised to see full page advertisements being taken out in Arab and international newspapers, in all languages, with the entire text of the Arab Peace Initiative, signed by the Arab League and alongside a statement regarding the full support of the organisation of Islamic Conferences, with the two flags, Palestinian and Israeli, side by side on the top of the page and the flags of the Islamic countries on either side of it.
The surprise was mainly due to the fact that it was the Palestinian Authority in Ramallah which was the one behind this concerted and worldwide advertising campaign, and that it was being paid for directly out of its own budget, a cost that surely ran into the realm of millions of dollars.
What is so ironic is that these vast amounts of money were being wasted on an advertising campaign at a time when one and a half million Palestinians in Gaza are unable to find a loaf of bread, a litre of petrol, firewood for cooking food, or even food, due to the unjust Israeli siege which is being perpetrated in collaboration with the Arab countries.
Perhaps we might have excused these ‘lawmakers’ who were behind this campaign if they had spent these millions (the cost of one full page advert in a few of the British and American newspapers is approximately $150,000) in order to produce figures on the hundreds of thousands of children in the strip who are suffering from anaemia or malnutrition, or the martyred patients who have died due to the electricity cuts or shortages of medical supplies, or the pollution due to the lack of any chlorine for purifying water..or...or...but their promotion of the Arab Peace Initiative, and spending millions on it? That is just incomprehensible.
At first they said that they were publishing these advertisements on the Initiative in the three main Hebrew newspapers in order to inform Israeli public opinion and breakthrough the imposed news blackout carried out by their government and some politicians, such as Benjamin Netanyahu the head of the Likud party, now that their parliamentary elections are looming. But is the Arab citizen also ignorant of this initiative, to such an extent that the Palestinian Authority resort to buying whole pages in the Arab newspapers in order to promote it and in the naive manner that we witnessed?
Does the citizen of Jordan, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia or of Lebanon really not know that this initiative was first proposed six years ago? That the newspapers and satellite channels had scrutinised and discussed every detail of it? That they devoted entire programmes to it, inviting dozens of commentators, analysts and officials? Or that Mr Amr Mousa, the Secretary General of the Arab League, held tens of press conferences, on occasion and without occasion, to proselytise about it and the benefits it will flood the region with? Did these people not know of the initiative and not heard of it had the Palestinian Authority not bought, with the money of the besieged and hungry, whole pages in the Arabic newspapers to announce it? I admit that I have studied media and politics both in the English and the Arabic languages over a period spanning twenty years uninterrupted, and in various universities worldwide. I have also worked in the media for over thirty years but I find myself unable to understand this unprecedented and unique media phenomenon. There is no doubt that the owners of these Hebrew, Arabic and Western newspapers, where the advertisements were published, would have ‘burst out laughing’ at this Arab and, in particular Palestinian, brand of stupidity.
The entire Palestinian people look up to their innovators, martyrs, intellectuals and journalists, and the huge sacrifices made, the incredible bravery, and the record number of graduates and students that come from amongst them. But it seems that we are now living in a different Palestinian era, completely contradictory to what has preceded it and, in fact, completely destroying this unique cultural heritage.
The Israeli’s will not understand this Arab Peace Initiative even if it was injected directly into their minds, thus they will never respond to it because they are capable of understanding only one language, and this is the one that threatens their security, their interests and their economic prosperity in particular. As for this language of begging and soliciting, it has proven through prior experience that it only increases their stubbornness, pride and arrogance. The president Mahmoud Abbas met with Ehud Olmert, the Israeli prime minister, over twenty times, and a slightly less number of times with Condoleeza Rice and the US president George Bush, and nearly all the European officials. Has this dismantled even one settlement, or removed one military barrier from the West Bank, or led to the release of over eleven thousand prisoners in the Israeli prisons and camps?
Whosoever watches “Television Palestine”, run by the authority in Ramallah, and the music and dance shows that it broadcasts, at a time when the inhabitants of Gaza resort to eating animal and bird fodder in order to stay alive, will not be too surprised by such bizarre behaviour which is alien to the Palestinian political dictionary of resistance.
I had hoped for just one programme which sympathised with the besieged and starved inhabitants of Gaza to appear in the three weeks since water, medicine, fuel and food were cut off from them. But I was to be faced with a huge disappointment; as if these were not even Palestinians we were talking about, nor even human! The media genius which lies behind the television screen and defines its policies is the same one behind the insulting and naive advertising campaign that we see in the paid advertisements published in Arab and world newspapers.
I never imagined I would see the day that Palestinians would speak to their own enemy in such an idiotic way, but in this awful age for Palestinians everything is possible. Perhaps the coming weeks will hold further surprises which are even stranger and more provocative than this.
Thursday, November 27, 2008
The Culture of Grovelling for Peace