Al-Ahram Editorial: An Arab Scandal May 11-17, 2006

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A string of scandals have revealed the positions of Arab governments on the issue of aid to the Palestinian people amid the war of famine being waged by America, Israel and European states. The first scandal is that Arab governments are split into three categories. One group of governments completely ignores the embargo on the Palestinian people. Another group promised aid but failed to provide so much as a grain of wheat in practice. A third group offered justifications for not providing aid, and the least that can be said is that these justifications were neither comprehensible nor acceptable. The second scandal, which is related to these positions, is the fact that the total funds the Arab League has been able to collect for the Palestinian people do not surpass the paltry sum of $70 million, $50 million of which was from Qatar alone. Is this all that the entire Arab world can offer the Palestinians at this moment of cruel crisis?

The third scandal is that the Arab League is incapable of delivering this meagre sum to the Palestinians. Immense American pressure has led all banks to refuse the transferal of aid. Has the impotence of Arab governments no end?

Of course it is understood that behind this entire string of scandals is one fundamental truth that everyone knows; that all the Arab governments have disgracefully bowed to American pressure and participated in the embargo campaign against the Palestinian people during this current crisis. In other words, the resolve of Arab governments, even concerning an issue such as this, is not in their hands but rather in American hands. This is the greatest scandal of all. To stress the horridness of this final scandal, mention need only be made that at the Arab Summit financial allotments that each Arab state was supposed to pay to the Palestinian people were determined. These allotments were intended to be obligatory. Failure to honour these obligations shows that when it comes to choosing between Arab conscience and what America wants, Arab governments pander to America. This is not only a scandal; it is a major catastrophe. Can Arab governments be trusted with defending Arab causes? It doesn’t stop there. There is talk of some Arab regimes conspiring with some Western powers to topple the Hamas government in graduated steps. No one can question the integrity or transparency of the democratic process that brought Hamas to power. And political isolation and economic embargo will not topple Hamas, at least not in the short term, as proponents of this policy would like. On the contrary, this boorish intervention will strengthen the Hamas government by rallying the Palestinian people, their political forces and social institutions, around it, even while they suffer for it. The economic embargo will not harm Hamas and its government, but rather the Palestinian people. This policy is nothing short of collective punishment of the Palestinian people for its democratic choice.

It is true that the largest problem the Palestinians face is the lack of a united Palestinian vision. A nationwide united front, especially at times like these, would be able to present a Palestinian vision to the international community that could break the barriers of isolation and embargo. Might this very unity be exactly the outcome of this embargo? The embargo of the Hamas government is like pouring oil on fire; something no Palestinian will accept, regardless of their position. The alternative to unity is chaos and division that might bring the Palestinians to the brink of civil war that would certainly go beyond borders and strike neighbouring countries.

Al-Ahram Editorial: An Arab Scandal May 11-17, 2006

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