by Zafar Bangash (Reflections, Crescent International Vol. 35, No. 6, Rajab, 1427)
Crises bring out the best and worst in people. While Muslims everywhere have rallied in support of the Palestinian and Lebanese peoples facing the Israeli onslaught, the Arab regimes have joined the West's propaganda campaign against the Islamic resistance movement, Hizbullah. While Muslims worldwide have condemned Israeli crimes in both Ghazzah and Lebanon, the Arab regimes have openly supported the zionist aggression, through the Arab League meeting in Cairo on July 15. While even the UN representative, Jan Egeland, was forced to denounce Israeli crimes as "violations of humanitarian laws" during a visit to Beirut on July 23, the Arab League condemned Hizbullah's valiant resistance as "irresponsible adventurism". One can only wonder at how these rulers see the world and whether they have any shame at all.
[Pic, right: Arab leaders smile for a photo session]
Let us list Israel's recent crimes in Ghazzah and Lebanon. Israel has targeted power stations, bridges and residential areas, killing hundreds of civilians. Nearly 700,000 people are without electricity in Ghazzah's scorching heat; they lack clean drinking water, food and medicines. In Lebanon, Beirut International Airport has been destroyed, as have 55 bridges, numerous apartment buildings, milk factories, grain warehouses, communication towers and ports; these constitute war crimes. As Crescent went to press, on the day of the massive attack on Qana in which at least fifty people have been killed (see front cover), the Lebanese death toll was over 600, a third of them being children. Phosphorous bombs have been used in violation of the Geneva Conventions. The US, Canada, members of the European Union and most Arab regimes, including Saudi Arabia, Egypt,Jordan and the tiny Shaikhdoms of the Persian Gulf, have all condoned these Israeli atrocities.
While we can hardly expect anything else from the US or the European Union, the Arab rulers' behaviour, born of cowardice, is quite disgraceful. They raise fears about Iran's growing influence in the region because Hizbullah has refused to surrender to Israel, but are themselves silent about zionist crimes against Arab civilians. But they must know that Hizbullah cannot be destroyed by this campaign. In fact, the longer the Israeli military onslaught continues, the less effective it becomes because of mounting casualties, both among Lebanese civilians, horrifying observers around the world, and among Israeli soldiers, horrifying Israelis who expect to win wars without suffering losses. The zionists' only advantage is in the air because Hizbullah has neither aircraft nor anti-aircraft weapons. The much-touted Israeli army stands belligerently at the border, but has struggled against Hizbullah mujahideen in the few areas where it has dared to enter Lebanese territory, for example in its attack on the strategic village of Bint Jbeil. Even Israel's navy has been given a bloody nose. On July 14, a Hizbullah missile crippled a warship that was shelling the residential areas of Beirut; four Israeli sailors were killed. Since then, while blockading Lebanese ports, Israel has kept its navy at a safe distance from the shore.
The current crisis exposes yet again one of the root causes of the problem in the Middle East, as indeed in much of the Muslim world: nationalism. At the beginning of the last century, British and French colonialists carved the Middle East into nation-states and installed puppet rulers to keep the Muslims divided. This also facilitated the implantation of Israel by injecting the poison of nationalism into the body politic of Islam. Operating under the label of Arabism, these regimes have suffered repeated defeats at the hands of Israel, despite their huge armies and expensive military hardware, which are used only to suppress their own people. Initially, these governments held Arab summits to camouflage their impotence vis-a-vis the illegal zionist entity. The first Arab summit, held in Cairo on January 12, 1964, was prompted by Israel's plan to divert water from the Jordan River. The summit also resolved to establish a "unified Arab military command" and appointed a "commander-in-chief of all Arab armies". Subsequent summits resolved to plan a "comprehensive strategy" to liberate Palestine and to defend Syria, Jordan and Lebanon from Israeli aggression (September 5, 1964); to "eliminate the effects of [the] aggression" of the June 1967 war (August 29, 1967); and so on. AfterIsrael's rampage in Lebanon in 1982, the Arab rulers realized that even the rhetoric of liberating Palestine was not sustainable, so they came up with a plan to accept Israel "within the 1967 borders". This massive climbdown was endorsed at the Faas (Fez) summit in Morocco in November 1982 and reiterated at the Arab League summit in Beirut (March 27, 2002). The only problem with all these plans was and remains Israel's utter refusal to accept them.
The recent Arab League declaration denouncing Hizbullah exposes the true nature of these Arab regimes and their puppet rulers. Israeli prime minister David Ben Gurion called themIsrael's first line of defence, a role they have fulfilled with great alacrity. The intensity of their attacks on Hizbullah surpasses even those of many Israelis; Israeli commentators have expressed grudging admiration for Hizbullah's tenacity and ability.
Neither Arabism nor Palestinian nationalism can solve the problems of the Ummah; only the Islamic movement, under a muttaqi leadership, as shown by Hizbullah, Hamas and Islamic Iran, can do so. Muslims must be clear that Islam, not nationalism, will ultimately bring them victory, liberation and dignity.