Arab silence on Gaza is shameful

Published: 07 January 2009
Arab silence on Gaza is shameful
Woman in Gaza

The terrible carnage inflicted upon a starving people, caged in the dark, is too much to bear for anyone with eyes that see and a heart that beats. This unfolding crime against humanity must be stopped or else we should merely throw up our hands in despair and submit to the principle of ‘might is right’.

As a human being, I am disgusted by the inaction of the so-called international community. For, indeed, our laws, conventions, treaties and international bodies are seemingly powerless in the face of Israel’s inhumane aggression.

As an #Arab, I am appalled at the deafening silence of the #Arab leaders and governments. Have Arabs become so weak that our leaders can’t even express an opinion any longer? The angry sentiments on our streets are obvious but they are not being reflected by #Arab governments.

When Israel’s Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni was asked whether some #Arab countries gave Israel the green light to launch its assault on #Gaza she hesitated before saying, “Moderate Arabs” share Israel’s aim to destroy Hamas. If there is a kernel of truth in her between-the-lines message then the entire #Arab nation is being dishonoured.

Since when did “moderate” translate to “cowardly”? Does being a moderate mean we should relinquish our rights, abandon our families (brothers and sisters) and throw away our dignity?

Do we even deserve to equate ourselves with such heroes as Omar ibn Khattab, Khalid ibn Al Waleed, Tariq ibn Ziyad, Al Moutassem Bellah, Salah El-Din or those brave souls who lost their lives in 1948, 1967 and 1973 defending #Arab lands and honour? They must be turning in their graves. We cannot hope to demand respect if we don’t respect ourselves and our history.

#Arab leaders have shied away from attending an #Arab Summit Meeting as well as expelling Israeli ambassadors or cutting communications with the Jewish state - the very least they should do. I’m no fan of Hamas or its ideology. I believe in one Palestinian authority, but this assault goes beyond politics. There is a far greater moral imperative that must be heeded. If you came across a burning house filled with women and children would you ask their political affiliation or dissect their worthiness before you tried to save them?

I cannot help myself wondering how the West is so tolerant and understanding of Iran when it comes to its nuclear file, while it is pretending to be deaf, dumb and blind to the #Arab’s central case. Iran, whose people are impoverished and whose economy is in shambles can dictate its terms to the international community, while our richer, more populated, more strategically located and historically rich #Arab world is ineffectual.

Every hour the toll of death and misery rises. At this moment, over 550 Palestinians are dead and almost 3,000 are wounded. #Gaza’s parliament building, ministries, mosques, schools, a university and even ambulances have been targeted in Israel’s quest to destroy “Hamas infrastructure”, which is a reference to Israel’s well-oiled propaganda machine.

In a cynical PR ploy, Israeli pilots drop leaflets warning householders to flee if they know there are rocket launchers hidden in nearby structures. But in such a tiny, densely populated enclave there is nowhere to run; no mountains or caves, no bomb shelters and only few basements.

Their long-depleted hospitals can’t cope with the influx of wounded bodies and soon they will have no fuel for generators, meaning premature babies will die. People are queuing for hours for a few loaves of bread; women have to gather sticks just to make tea, children are traumatised and unable to sleep, wondering if the next missile will bring their homes crashing around them. But no-one with the power to effect real change is listening.

Late on Saturday, the United Nations Security Council met in an emergency session but predictably the US blocked even a joint statement calling for an immediate ceasefire. George W. Bush has made his stance clear: The situation is entirely the fault of Hamas. President-Elect Barack Obama who ran on the ticket for “change” remains mute. No matter who is commander-in-chief, US Middle East policies are likely to remain the same.

It is really disturbing to know that the EU has contributed €3 million as relief for people in #Gaza. Would they have allocated such petty cash if the victim was a country other than #Gaza? This help must be rejected and our #Arab countries must provide the required assistance in full since they have the resources to do so.

Similarly, the EU has shown itself to be toothless. The Union’s new Czech presidency actually described Israel’s incursion as “defensive” rather than “offensive”. When the region’s most powerful army attacks cold and hungry innocents with the full force of its military might from land, sea and air this cannot be termed “self defence” by any stretch of the imagination.

#Gaza’s courageous people, who have somehow managed to survive an 18-month-long siege and who are now captive to the terrifying sounds of Israeli F16s, helicopters, drones, bombs, missiles and tank shells, are calling out for help.

They don’t want pretty words, fancy speeches or even well-meant protest marches. They want an end to their pain and imprisonment. Like every one of us, they simply want to live.

If Arabs turn their faces away from such desperate pleas then we might just as well fill our pockets with shekels, our hearts with stones and call ourselves Israelis for we will be just as culpable as they are for #Gaza’s destruction… and ultimately our own.

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