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Arab democracy and Israel

Then-Israeli Defense Minister Ariel Sharon (L) meets with Egyptian President Anwar Sadat August 25, 1981 in Alexandria, Egypt. [Chanania Herman/GPO/Getty Images]
Then-Israeli Defense Minister Ariel Sharon (L) meets with Egyptian President Anwar Sadat August 25, 1981 in Alexandria, Egypt. [Chanania Herman/GPO/Getty Images]

The world seems to be completely disconnected from the cause of the Palestinians and their liberation from a racist, colonial occupation. The factional weapons and scattered guerrilla operations are no longer a means of action, but rather limited responses to the crimes of theft, occupation, murder, detention, demographic change and forgery of historical narratives.

The conditions for armed struggle have become almost impossible and the Arab arena no longer has space for anything but Arab government alliances with Israel. The general global atmosphere is not in our favour, regardless of who is responsible for losing the international public opinion battle and the support of democratic governments in Asia, Europe, Latin America and Africa, that once stood by our side. The world is shifting towards the right wing at an alarming pace and therefore siding with the stronger side, and in the Palestinian context, that means the occupation.

We are facing an Israeli-Arab axis, led by Saudi Arabia, Egypt and the United Arab Emirates, while, on the other side is the Iranian axis. The more this axis promotes Palestine and the paths that are supposed to lead to it, the more it does a disservice to Palestine and the Palestinians, by further dividing the people into sects and seeking to establish a sectarian dominance achieved by killing more Arabs and changing their identities.

The achievements of the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) are buried on a daily basis, while the Palestinian Authority (PA)'s tragic commitment to its present job, despite being stateless, is only matched by the struggles of the Palestinian division. Given the various tragedies, all that is left of Palestine is a few acres of land on which many camps are built, and will perhaps also be included in the annexation of the West Bank.

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Faced with such a reality, how could Palestine benefit from the Arabs? The conviction of the organic link that combines the possibility of saving what can be salvaged of the Palestinian rights, land and history, with establishing democracy and modernity in the Arab countries. Only legitimately democratic countries whose citizens are truly equal in the region surrounding Palestine can threaten the foundations and the "theoretical" pillar in which Zionism has invested for 72 years: a modern, enlightening democratic beacon in the forest of Arab backwardness and domination. Israeli propaganda is full of forgery that may not have received the refutation and denial that it deserves for rewriting the history of the region.

Israel claims that the true opportunity for Arab modernity and enlightenment, and the formulation of regimes that are reasonably democratic, was completely thwarted after the establishment of the occupation state, and in the name of fighting it specifically. However, it is still possible to besiege Israel with a ring of democratic countries that exposes its racism and its daily crimes, and reveals the lie of plural nationalism that it embraces (unless the division of citizens into first, second and tenth classes is an act of equality).

A pluralist democracy, especially in Egypt, Syria, Jordan, Iraq and Lebanon, is what frightens the rulers of Tel Aviv. At that time, the Jewish state would be a disdained, similar to how the Apartheid government in South Africa was being treated. It was no coincidence that the fall of the South African apartheid regime coincided with the stage of hope for a wider spread of liberal democracy worldwide (between 1990 and 1993). In Palestine, our representatives decided to accept a gift with a thick and bright wrapping, with nothing inside the box but the idea of a national authority, without a state – in other words, nothing but a factory of privileges, salaries, patronage and bureaucracy. VIP cards and luxury cars instead of sovereignty, land and liberation. The calling for a single democratic state for all its citizens – Arabs and Jews – was only faced with accusations of betrayal, our favourite national hobby.

Real Arab democracy is the beginning of the path to stop our Palestinian losses. This is one of the missed opportunities from the wave of "Arab Spring" uprisings – a lesson that some understood in the opposite manner – with the illusion that rapprochement with Israel provides support for the battle for democratisation in Arab countries. Those who have not yet accepted that after 72 years Arab democracy will abolish Zionism, are very much mistaken.

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Translated from Al-Araby Al-Jadeed, 20 May 2020

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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