In the wake of the London bombings, there has been yet more talk about identifying and fighting terrorism. And one of the places I went to get some perspective was Arab News.
Over there, I found an opinion piece by one Hassan Yassin.
I lack the knowledge, resources, and time to give this load of codswallop the full Fisking it deserves, but a few things come to mind:
From the dawn of the 20th century Arab dreams and promises have been betrayed. The Franco-British division of the Middle East, the crushing of Arab independence movements, the creation of the State of Israel and the ensuing wars and occupation are only some of the impossible circumstances that Arabs had to face. Arab land, it seems, has been occupied ever since the collapse of the Ottoman Empire. The authoritarian regimes that emerged after independence were as much a reaction to as a continuation of these injustices.
Boo freaking hoo. The 20th Century wasn’t exactly days of wine and roses for anyone. Here’s a little hint: life is tough. You can deal with it, or you can get hung up and bitch about it. And blaming the West for first coming in, then leaving? What the hell do you want?
The conditions which Arabs, especially Iraqis and Palestinians, face are often desperate and extreme. Every day they are confronted with humiliating images, whether from Abu Ghraib, Guantanamo or from Israeli-occupied Palestine. Not only are their lives threatened by extremists, they are also aware that every day they may die by the nervous trigger-finger of a soldier who has learned little about their culture or by what Americans so perfunctorily call “collateral damage.”
Every day Arabs do far worse things to other Arabs than Westerners do to them in Abu Ghraib, Guantanamo, or “Israeli-occupied Palestine.” The only difference is that we have a free press and an open society, where people are free to speak about such things. Are you saying that if we merely kept such things quiet, like Arab governments do, it’d be OK?
And note how Mr. Yassin blends together those who are killed deliberately with those who are killed by accident. While he has a point — to those killed, it really doesn’t matter who killed them — the lumping together of terrorists and non-terrorists is a grave insult to our troops, and a tacit sanction of the terrorists.
We must bring an end to these injustices, to these endless and senseless conflicts. What is more, the solutions have been there all the while. On the Arab-Israeli conflict, agreed documents outlining a just peace already exist. In the case of the Taba agreement there was 99 percent agreement between parties, along with the support of a US president.
The only problem is that the Taba Agreement is dead. DEAD. Clinton attempted to force it down the throats of both sides. Israel’s Ehud Barak accepted it, but the Israeli people were so upset they voted him out of office. Yassir Arafat also rejected it, and the Palestinian people were so upset about it, they voted him out of office, too.
Whoops, my mistake. Arafat, once elected 1997, never held a followup election, as required by law (his term was supposed to be 2 years). He kept finding excuses and rationales for holding on to power, in perfect accord with the Cold War Communist tactic of “one man, one vote, one time.”
One of the main reasons that the Taba deal fell apart was that they had no explicit language regarding terrorism. Both sides made vague pledges to “stop terrorism,” but there was nothing concrete. That’s why Bush put forward the Road Map, which had specific conditions and requirements for stopping terrorism. The Palestinians eagerly signed on to it, and then blithely ignored that little provision.
OK, now I see it. The core of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is that the Palestinians simply want to be free to live their lives the way that they wish, and the Israelis are brutally preventing them from living out their dream. And that dream is to kill more and more Israelis until they are all dead or leave the region.
How insensitive of them.