by Zafar Bangash (Occupied Arab World, Crescent International Vol. 37, No. 12, Safar, 1430)
History has a habit of returning with a vengeance to reveal the behavior of unsavory characters. The Israeli onslaught on Ghazzah launched on December 27 that resulted in the cold-blooded murder of thousands of Palestinians is not the first dastardly crime perpetrated by the zionists. Theirs is a history of repeated genocides against the hapless Palestinians from DeirYasin (1948), Qibya (1953) to the Sabra and Shatilla refugee camps (September 1982), the massacre in Jenin (April 2002) and Beit Hanoun (March 2008). In between there were the twointifadahs — October 1987 to September 1993 and September 2000 to June 2005 — that reveal a clear pattern of zionist crimes. And now we witness the two-year-long siege of Ghazzahsince Hamas won the elections in January 2006 and the recent barbaric onslaught.
While Zionist barbarism is well established, what is less well known is the true nature of Arab rulers. There striking parallels between what the noble messenger of Allah (saws) had faced at the hands of the Arabian mushriks in Makkah 1400 years ago and the attitude displayed toward Hamas and the Palestinians in Ghazzah by Arabian rulers in the Middle East today. In particular, the Israeli siege of and assault on Ghazzah has many similarities with the mushriks’ siege of Muslims in Sha’b Abi Talib during the seventh to the tenth year of the Prophetic mission in Makkah. Then as now, narrow self-interest superseded other considerations: moral, social and even ties of blood. Those closest to the Prophet (saws) by blood—Abu Lahab and his wife Um Jamil — betrayed and abandoned him and his companions as the Arabian rulers have done with the Palestinians today. The present-day rulers are much worse: Abu Lahab and his wife were openly hostile and did not hide their shirk; today’s Arabian rulers claim to be Muslims but their behavior is closer to that of mushriks than to Muslims except in one important respect: unlike the Arabian rulers today, the mushriks of Makkah were not cowards.
Let us briefly recall the events in Makkah. When the Makkan chiefs despaired of convincing the Prophet’s uncle Abu Talib to abandon him, they embarked on a collective boycott of the two clans of Banu Hashim (to which the Prophet (saws) belonged) and Banu Abd al-Muttalib, their cousins. The boycott extended even to their non-Muslim members but clan solidarity prevented them from abandoning the Prophet (saws). Only Abu Lahab and his wife broke away and vacated the house that shared a common wall with the Prophet’s house, to live with themushriks. The mushriks’ demand was that Abu Talib should either abandon the Prophet (saws) or the latter should abandon Islam (nastaghfirullah) before they would lift the siege. The boycott agreement was written down, signed by 40 leading figures of Makkah and posted inside the Ka’aba. The siege lasted nearly three years; it was ultimately broken at the behest of a number of concerned mushrik relatives of the besieged people. Principal among those that decided to break the siege were Hisham ibn Amr (Aamir clan); Abu al-Bakhtari ibn Hisham andZam’ah ibn al-Aswad (Banu Asad clan); Zuhayr ibn Abi Umayyah (Makhzum clan) and Mut’im ibn Adi (Adi clan).
One can immediately identify the modern-day equivalents of Abu Lahab: Mahmoud Abbas and his so-called Palestinian Authority. His alliance with the zionists against Hamas and the Palestinian people ranks on par with Abu Lahab’s attitude toward the noble messenger of Allah. But Mahmoud Abbas is not alone in this dubious honor. The Arabian rulers of the Middle East, in particular those of Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Jordan fall in the same category. This is not mere speculation; their own statements and behavior expose them unambiguously.
Ten days before the start of the Israeli onslaught on Ghazzah, Egypt’s Intelligence Minister Omar Suleiman had told the visiting Security Advisor to Israeli prime minister, retired general Amos Gilad, that Egypt would like to see Hamas cut down to size, even in Damascus. Further, that Cairo would not mind an Israeli incursion into Ghazzah to put and end to Hamas. A day before Israel launched its murderous aerial assault on Ghazzah that murdered 300 Palestinians in the first 15 minutes, Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni was received with hugs and kisses in Cairo by President Husni Mubarak of Egypt. Even after the murderous nature of Israeli attacks became clear, Mubarak told a delegation of European Union (EU) foreign ministers that “Hamas must not be allowed to win”, according to the Israeli daily, Ha’aretz (January 5, 2009). When the Egyptian people held rallies demanding the immediate opening of Refah border with Ghazzah to help the besieged Palestinians, Egyptian authorities said they could not do so because the Quartet (the UN, US, Russia and the EU) had imposed this blockade. The Egyptian rulers pathetically admitted they were not free to make decisions even about their own borders. They suggested instead that the people should demand that Israel open its border!
Other Arab rulers have been equally criminal in their negligence toward the suffering Palestinian masses. At the Arab League summit in Cairo on December 31, Saudi Foreign Minister Saudal-Faisal advanced the lame excuse: “This terrible massacre would not have happened if the Palestinian people were united behind one leadership.” He went on to pontificate: “Your Arab brothers cannot extend to you the hand of real help, if you do not extend the hand of affection to each other.” This was disingenuous: the Saudis are directly responsible for creating divisions among the Palestinians. The Saudi regime and its mukhabarat (intelligence agency) have used the kingdom’s wealth not to alleviate the suffering of the Palestinians but to bankroll the corrupt Palestinian Authority against Hamas. This so-called “Authority” has been rejected by the Palestinian people but since the US and Israel prop it up, the Saudis too support this puppet authority whose only purpose, besides stealing whatever money is donated to alleviate the suffering of the Palestinian people, appears to be to do Israel’s bidding.
The excuse advanced by Saud al-Faisal, however, is even worse than the behavior of the Makkan mushriks. Hisham ibn Amr, Abu al-Bakhtari ibn Hisham and Zuhayr ibn Abi Umayyah (a member of the rival Makhzum clan), for instance, did not argue that they could not help the Prophet (saws) and those besieged with him in Sh’ab Abi Talib because the Banu Hashim clan was divided. After all, one of their leading figures, Abu Lahab had broken rank and openly sided with the mushriks. Some of the Makkan mushriks could see that an injustice was being perpetrated against the Prophet (saws) and his relatives. They decided to challenge their elders to end this. The mushriks of the Prophet’s time appeared to have far greater sense of justice and honor than today’s “Muslim” Arabian rulers!
One can find non-Muslims of similar disposition even today that rank far higher than the Arabian rulers in the Middle East. Professor Richard Falk, the UN Special Rapporteur for Human Rights in Palestine, and international law expert at Princeton University, described Israel’s siege of Gaza last year, prior to the current onslaught, in the following terms: “Is it an irresponsible overstatement to associate the treatment of Palestinians with this criminalized Nazi record of collective atrocity? I think not. The recent developments in Gaza are especially disturbing because they express so vividly a deliberate intention on the part of Israel and its allies to subject an entire human community to life-endangering conditions of utmost cruelty.” It should be stated for the record that Professor Falk is Jewish yet he is prepared to speak out against Israeli crimes. After the Israeli onslaught began, Professor Falk issued the following statement on December 27: “The Israeli airstrikes on the Gaza Strip represent severe and massive violations of international humanitarian law as defined in the Geneva Conventions, both in regard to the obligations of an Occupying Power and in the requirements of the laws of war.” These were augmented by statements made by Miguel D’Escoto Brockmann, President of the UN General Assembly who not only condemned Israeli atrocities but also called for sanctions similar to those imposed on the apartheid regime of South Africa in the eighties. While the Arab regimes refused to expel Israeli diplomats operating in their countries, President Hugo Chavez of Venezuela gave marching orders to the zionists to pack their bags and leave Caracas.Venezuela and Bolivia broke off diplomatic relations with the zionist State on January 14. President Evo Morales of Bolivia even called for putting Israeli leaders on trial for war crimes.
Only a few Arab governments have shown any concern for the Palestinians: Syria, Libya and to a lesser extend Qatar. While the first two do not have diplomatic relations with the zionistState, Qatar and Mauritania belatedly announced expulsion of the Israelis from Doha on January 16 during another Arab League summit; Egypt and Jordan are averse to breaking off diplomatic relations with the zionists while Morocco refuses to cut commercial and political ties even if does not have formal diplomatic relations. Both Libya and Qatar attempted to send food and medicines to Ghazzah by sea but were unsuccessful. The Libyan ship is docked at an Egyptian port while the Qatari boat did not set out to sea at all once it became clear that their Israeli friends would not give them permission to enter Ghazzah waters. In the Muslim world, only the Islamic Republic of Iran, Hizbullah in Lebanon and to some extent, the Turkish government, have spoken out against Israeli crimes and demanded immediate action.
For Muslims the lesson is clear: the Arab regimes are agents of the kuffar and have been planted in Muslim lands to provide a ring of protection to the zionist State. Nearly 60 years ago, David Ben Gurion, Israel’s first prime minister, had said in a moment of candor that the Arab regimes were Israel’s “first line of defense”. For decades, these regimes camouflaged their true nature under an avalanche of rhetoric but now they stand fully exposed. The first cracks in their carefully constructed façade had appeared immediately after the victory of the Islamic Revolution in Iran (February 1979). Far from welcoming the Muslims’ success they embarked on a policy of undermining the Islamic State in order to contain the spread of revolutionary ideas into their societies. These cracks widened further with the emergence of Hizbullah in Lebanon to confront the zionist invaders, something the Arab regimes had demonstrably failed to do. In Israel’s July 2006 invasion of Lebanon, the Arab regimes were further exposed; instead of condemning Israeli barbarities, they and their agents in and outside Lebanon, condemnedHizbullah instead. Reaction from the Arab street was swift and strong. The masses were appalled at the behavior of their rulers: far from defending Arab (if not Islamic) honor, they sided with the zionist aggressors. Today their behavior has sunk even lower. They bickered over whether to call an Arab League summit or a meeting of the Gulf Cooperation Council. When the Arab League finally met in Doha, it achieved little of practical value.
If Muslims truly wish to support the Palestinian people then they must reach the inescapable conclusion that these puppet regimes must be overthrown and replaced by Islamic governments. Nothing less would do. There can be no compromises on this point. While Egypt and Jordan are crucial for the liberation of Palestine and Al-Quds, for the larger MuslimUmmah, bringing to an end the control of the House of Saud over the Haramayn (the two holy cities of Makkah and Madinah) is absolutely imperative. Without the liberation of Makkah andMadinah from the clutches of the corrupt Saudi monarchy, the Muslim Ummah cannot make progress. Once committed Muslims are in control of the Haramayn, conditions in the Ummahwill change dramatically. It was not without reason that the House of Saud was planted in the Arabian Peninsula. More than a century ago, the British had realized the importance of theHaramyn; the US that donned the mantle of a world power after Britain, has similarly realized its importance.
Will the Muslims wake up to this reality or simply go back to slumber after the latest carnage in Ghazzah becomes a distant memory? This is the challenge facing Muslims and the Islamic movement—the vehicle through which they must operate to achieve their goals in the world today.