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The death of the Arab conscience

I began writing this article on the fall of the Arab political system. Then, I backtracked and realised that the Arab system has fallen several times in Palestine and Iraq. Arab governments have fallen with the cry of every poor and oppressed human being or the scream of every victim of the violence of occupation or sectarian and political strife.

The scandal embodied by the ongoing slaughter in Gaza, where death comes from the sky, land and sea, cannot be summed up by Arab silence or concern. Rather, it helps explain the reality that Arab governments and regimes acquire their sense of legitimacy by pleasing their US masters and their official and unofficial relationship with the Zionist entity; obedience is far more important than the blood of the people. Life has become like a daily soap opera, where leaders can change channels as they see fit. There are no condolences for the bereaved mother or the frightened child.

Even words of condemnation have lost their effect. In fact, they have become shameful in that they carry an implied condemnation of the victim. These empty statements also imply a commitment to the illusion of a peace process, the failure of which is blamed repeatedly on the Palestinians; they are blamed for their inability to achieve and maintain unattainable peace. They are also blamed for their failure to echo American sentiments, which are often the equivalent of weapons of mass destruction. The Palestinians are reminded constantly of the importance of “ending the cycle of violence”. It is as if the victim is responsible and the criminal carries no responsibility; as if the Palestinians are now the occupiers and rapists. Yet, these trite expressions are nothing more than immoral evasions from political responsibility.

Today, Arab regimes are no different from the Israeli regime in terms of their wishes for the fate of the Palestinian people. They want them to be silent and submissive because any form of resistance is a nuance or disruption to these regimes. They wish to place the Palestinians under a fait accompli, one in which they will have no choice but to accept the reality on the ground and to take the crumbs that are given to them by those who have weapons and are more powerful. They must remain silent and bear the burden of being occupied, losing their land and remaining homeless.

Even the so-called Palestinian Authority is “an authority without authority” and it finds itself surrounded on all sides. It has determined its power by its ability to control an already oppressed and besieged people. The revolt of the Palestinian people negates the basis for its presence. It’s as if the right to self-determination depends on good conduct or is based on the presence of a continued and stable military occupation. The status quo makes it seem as though the people must prove that they, too, have the right to live or at least bow down to their coloniser, as a slave does to his master.

The reason for all of this is that Arab regimes now find themselves more restricted after the Arab revolutions and the only way that they can ensure that they remain in power is to resort to help from America, which has declared its eternal and non-negotiable conditions for its support. Put simply, these are: to protect Israel; to participate in the “war on terror”; to allow a new form of neo-colonial intervention, one that completely denounces Arab human rights; and pave the way for national economies to be determined by the International Monetary Fund, which ensures the enslavement of and subordination of the countries in question.

Over the years, the Arab regimes have celebrated and abided by numerous resolutions born from international conferences catering to world powers and wealthy men, not at the expense of the poor, per se, but at the expense of the rich in less affluent and forgotten developing countries. These conferences depend on, and constantly trample upon, basic human rights. Arabs and “moderate” Palestinians are proud to be in the presence of prominent global figures and politicians, knowing full well that in order to be invited to the party, they must comply with the terms and conditions set out by the rules of the game. In other words, they must agree to partner politically and economically with the star of the show, Israel, which dazzles at the expense of a dormant Arab world.

From the Atlantic Ocean to the Gulf, economic problems are solved for those who agree to destroy Arabism and the dream of Arab unity. In Egypt and Jordan, national wealth (stolen wealth in the first place) is part of the larger scheme of maintaining the regime, whether it is a monarchy or elected. Egyptian gas is made available for Israel, as is the water supply from the Red Sea, Dead Sea and River Jordan, which function as the heart of Palestine and Jordan. However, those who blatantly stole resources from Palestine need not search for a way to continue to do so subtly via secretive treaties that suffocate popular will.

Just look at how the Arab people reacted to the death of Mohammad Abu Khdeir on Facebook and Twitter and look how they reacted to every child blown apart by Israeli rockets. What difference does it make as long as Arab governments chose willingly to stay dormant and quiet? After all, security remains Israel’s exclusive right and, in turn, Israel’s security ensures the security of the Arab regimes.

These regimes do not concern themselves with mothers’ cries in Gaza for their hearts cannot feel and they have insufficient conscience to demand that the occupier must pay for the price for the effects of the occupation on an innocent people. We have witnessed the death of the Arab conscience. We may not be able to awaken the regimes to their responsibilities but we can, at least, continue to salute the resistance that lives on within us.

Translated from Al-Araby Al-Jadid, 15 July, 2014

The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.

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