by M.A. Shaikh (Occupied Arab World, Crescent International Vol. 26, No. 10, Jumada' al-Akhirah, 1438)
The Arab dictators, anxious to ditch the Palestinian cause at the behest of Uncle Sam, by whom they privately swear, have redefined it as a non-Muslim, non-Arab issue that is solely between Israel and Arafat’s Palestinian National Authority (PNA), a virtual subcontractor for Israel charged with suppressing resistance to the Oslo sellout in the areas under its control.
Led by president Husni Mubarak of Egypt, and ably assisted by Jordan’s king Husain, they have invented for themselves the monstrous role of saving a peace process that does not exist - leaving Israel free to use its military might, US diplomatic clout and Arab petro-dollars to bludgeon the Palestinians into submission.
In their zeal to save the ‘peace process’ by persuading the Palestinian side to return to a negotiating table at which it holds few cards, if any, both Mubarak and Husain have said publicly that they will act as strictly impartial mediators between Tel Aviv and the Palestinians. As if it were not bad enough for Arab and Muslim leaders to be impartial in a cause that so closely and directly concerns them, their remarks have coincided with a brazen bid by Israel to snatch al-Qud, with the demolition of Palestinian homes on a vast scale, and with the publication by Benjamin Netanyahu’s regime of maps which leave Palestinians a fraction of the disputed land.
Things would not be as bad as they are if in fact the Arab dictators were strictly impartial. Far from being so, they have been advising the Americans and Israelis on how to deal with the Palestinian negotiators and defuse tensions, as an editorial in the London-based al-Quds al-Arabi put it on February 27, the day after Netanyahu announced the Bar Homa settlements project in al-Quds.
The editorial accused Muslims, ‘including 200 million Arabs’ of doing nothing in the face of Israeli provocations, particularly the settlements project and the digging of tunnels under the Aqsa Mosque. Instead of action, the editorial charged, ‘we saw Arab leaders acting as mediators, volunteering to calm things down for Netanyahu, and advising him what to say in order to defuse tensions’ (italics added).
Nor is that all. By declaring the Palestinian cause to be an issue only between Palestinians and Israelis they are also trying to block any action by Muslims and Arabs prepared to challenge the Zionist and US threat to al-Quds and Palestine. This explains Mubarak’s determination to prevent the convening of an Arab League summit and the concurrence of the rest of the Arab leaders that there is no need for such a meeting.
It has fallen to the Libyan leader, colonel Mu’ammar Qaddafi, to announce in late June that he would call an emergency summit. Libya is subject to both UN and US sanctions, and blockaded as it is, no Arab leader would set foot in it in case Uncle Sam got annoyed. In any case, the Libyan master of gesture politics does not care two hoots about Palestinians. Did he not deport all Palestinian worker in his country, saying they had acquired a country after the PNA took control of bits of a tiny enclave?
Husain was even more abject than Mubarak, if that is indeed possible, when he announced on the thirtieth anniversary of the 1967 war that joining battle with the Israelis was the worst mistake of his career - adding that he should have kept out of a war and a cause that were not his.
But the shameless dictators are beginning to face some challenge to redefine the Palestinian issue, as powerful voices are being raised against the perfidious pursuit. The outgoing Iranian president Hashemi Rafsanjani called on June 21 for a comprehensive effort by Arab and Muslim States to resist the US congress’s resolution ordering the transfer of the American embassy in Israel to al-Quds, which it had described as Israel’s ‘undivided capital’.
The president, who made his statement at the opening of the conference of Muslim cities and capitals in Tehran, launched a stinging attack on Arab leaders who hold forth on their struggle against Zionism, and of their support for the Palestinian, but give al-Quds as a ‘present to the enemy’. Rafsanjani attributed the tendency of the US to treat Muslim and Arab countries like dirt to deference shown by some Arab rulers to Uncle Sam and his Israeli ward.
Other Islamic leaders had earlier rejected the attempt to redefine the Palestinian issue. Dr Musa Abu Marzouk, in a long interview with Al-Hayat daily in late May, called the PNA unrepresentative of the Palestinian people and demanded election of a new leadership. He insisted that the cause was a Muslim issue because of the holy sites, besides being an Arab one. He called on Muslims to rally to the cause.
Usama Ben Laden also called in May for jihad against US troops in the Arabian Peninsula and the Persian Gulf, praising the al-Khobar bomb attack on US troops. He said he did not take part in the venture only because he was out of the country. During an interview with a CNN correspondent, he held Washington responsible for the crimes against Palestine and the murder of innocent people in Iraq and Lebanon.
Ben Laden, who also called for jihad against US interests worldwide, believes that the Americans will not withdraw their support from Israel without being seriously hurt.
This wider intifada, as opposed to a Palestinian uprising in the occupied territories, is the only way to halt the US and zionist assault on al-Quds and the Palestinian people. The expanded strategy may yet have to be widened to eliminate the disgraceful Muslim and Arab dictators that dance to Uncle Sam’s tune.
Muslimedia - July 16-31, 1997