News about Israel’s latest killing spree against the people of the Gaza Strip has only occupied a small amount of airtime in the news bulletins of Arab TV stations. This is a source of great anger, especially when those channels are in Arab Spring countries seeking to restore dignity and freedom for their people. It begs the question of what is going on in our region, and what is being decided for our people behind closed doors. Aren’t the Arabs supposed to be as one body? Isn’t it forbidden for anyone to shed Arab blood, especially the Israelis?
Even more shameful, and dangerous, is the way that Israel’s aggression has been dealt with as it continues in broad daylight. Take the American response: Washington’s position was expressed by Victoria Noland, a spokeswoman for the US State Department, who expressed her Government’s serious concern about violence in the Gaza Strip, and “strongly” condemned the “terrorists” firing rockets into southern Israel.
To-date, at least 23 unarmed people, including children, have had their bodies blown apart by Israeli bombs and missiles. Don’t those people and their relatives, who are trapped by Israel’s immoral blockade of Gaza, with no electricity and no water, deserve one word of sympathy from Mrs. Noland, or condemnation, albeit mild, of those committing such crimes against them? Noland’s government claims to lead the free world, and supposedly sympathises with the Arab Spring and the victims of the corrupt Arab dictators. Is it, though, incapable of expressing sympathy for the victims of Israel’s murderous assaults?
The State Department shows unprecedented concern and worry about Israelis in “southern Israel” and condemns “terrorist” Palestinians who fire rockets (which, by the way, have not killed anyone). Meanwhile, it is blind to the blood of Palestinian children and their bodies broken by missiles fired by US-made aircraft sent as gifts to maintain Israel’s “sacred” security.
Palestinian martyrs may not trigger any interest or curiosity in US officials, because Palestinians have been exposed to Israeli massacres for at least seventy years, but we are surprised that this is true also for Arab foreign ministers. This may be due to the relatively modest number of deaths in the Gaza Strip on this occasion, compared to the number of martyrs in Homs and Idlib, for example, at the hands of the dictatorial Syrian regime. However, perhaps it would be good to remind the Arab ministers that 23 martyrs out of a total population of around one and a half million people, is equivalent to at least 350 martyrs in Syria, which has a population of 25 million. In any case, all martyrs, no matter what their nationality is, are equal in terms of importance and respect.
I am not seeking to undermine the significance of the massacres conducted by the Syrian regime and its erstwhile counterparts in Libya, Egypt and Tunisia; I have condemned them all, and still do, and we condemn all killings committed by Arab dictatorships against their own people. Moreover, I hope that the Qatari and Saudi governments, which are heading a campaign to equip the Free Syria National army so it can face up to the Assad regime and its bloody security apparatus, are ready to do the same thing for the people of the Gaza Strip, and the occupied West Bank in the future, so that they may defend themselves against bloody Israeli arrogance. If not, why not?
We have seen the Arab, Turkish, American and Western enthusiasm to form coalitions, and hold conferences of the Friends of Syria, and Friends of Libya before that, and that’s a good thing. The people of Syria and Libya deserve all possible help. But, in all sincerity, what are the reasons for the failure to form a coalition for Friends of Palestine, to protect the lives of its people from Israeli aggression, occupation and oppression? French President Nicolas Sarkozy’s concern for liberties and human rights was manifested by sending French warplanes to hit Gaddafi’s tanks en route to commit a massacre in the city of Benghazi; where is his concern for what is happening in Gaza? How many martyrs will have to fall for him to order his air force against Israel? A thousand? Two thousand? A million? Would someone please tell us?
And where is Sarkozy’s close friend Bernard Henri Levy, the soft-hearted French philosopher and friend of Benjamin Netanyahu, arguably the most prominent defender of the Arab spring revolutions, especially in Libya? He boasts in his recent book about how he picked up the phone and called the Elysee Palace and persuaded the French President to intervene militarily in Libya, and he got what he wanted. So why doesn’t Levy expand his humanitarian circle to include the people of Gaza Strip in his care? The answer to this was mentioned in his book when he said that he did all that in Libya in order to serve the interests of Israel and the Jewish people.
On the BBC’s current affairs flagship “Newsnight”, I asked Mr. Levy why he and his president did not intervene to stop the Israeli aggression on the Gaza Strip; to stop white phosphorus being used to burn women and children; to try to save some of the 1,400 people killed by Israel in December 2008 and January 2009 alone. He said something to the effect that the Gaza Strip is ruled by terrorist Hamas which launches rockets at Israel; in other words, as I understand it, that the people of Gaza deserved the burning and killing.
We can understand that Arab foreign ministers, or their American allies, would hesitate to condemn the Israeli aggression if the Palestinian resistance groups were the ones to start the violence and kill Israelis. But the opposite is the truth on this as on other occasions. Israel’s missiles were fired first, killing Sheikh Zuhair Qaisi, Secretary-General for the popular resistance committees, and some of his aides. He was the third secretary-general to be assassinated, after Jamal Abu Samhadana and Kamal Neirab. Americans do not condemn the executioner but the victim, as usual, because the former is Israeli and the latter is an Arab Muslim Palestinian.
Dr. Nabil Alarabi, the Secretary General of the Arab League, surprised us last Saturday when he ended his press conference held at the conclusion of the meeting of Arab foreign ministers with their Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov. He gave a brief answer to a question asked by an Arab journalist curious about the position of the Arab League towards the Israeli raids on the Gaza Strip: “The meeting was not about the events taking place in Gaza; and there are many international decisions about such attacks which Israel does not adhere to.” He ended the press conference quickly in order to avoid any other embarrassing questions in the same context.
There is no one to mourn Gaza’s martyrs in the Arab League or Washington or Paris, because their killers are Israelis, so killing them is “allowed” even if they are Arab Sunnis. And Arab Foreign Ministers will not go to the UN Security Council to adopt a resolution to protect them, either now or in the future, because the “friendly” American veto awaits. But we will ask them again: you armed Libya; you want to arm the people of Syria; do so, by all means, but arm the people of Gaza too.
The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.