by Mahboob A. Khawaja, Ph.D.
The Real Agenda
January 23, 2012
The Western political leaders and public institutions indulge in rhetoric of peace making but lack the vision, capacity, and courage to take challenging steps to make it happen. It is all politics of peacemaking – an illusion on the screen and not the real peacemaking. To gather people’s attention, they will invent abstract issues and reshape the facts of human history to manipulate the voters and gain cheap favors. Politics is a game of pretension and apprehension, not doing the good for the people with purpose, honesty and clarity of intentions.
To console human mind, the Western leaders and political lobbyists are at least talking in public, but what about the Arab rulers – are they talking? Are they doing anything at all? Do they have the moral, intellectual and visionary leadership capacity to do anything useful for the deprived Palestinians and for themselves? One would imagine, the Arab rulers being at the helms of oil pumping power, abundance of dollars and influence – they must be equipped to play a significant role in global political affairs. Not so, time and history tell the story otherwise. They are the wrong people, with wrong thinking and doing the wrong things.
“We Palestinians must still reconcile ourselves with our history, and with the perhaps futile sacrifices of the past century. And we must restore Palestine to its place not simply as a small piece of territory between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River but an idea that for years galvanized the Arab world into thinking about and fighting for social justice, democracy, and a different kind of future than the one that has been imposed on it by force and by an absence of Arab will.” (Edward W. Said, Peace and its Discontents, 1996)
To discard history and insult knowledge –based global informed minds, recently Mr. Ginrgrich, the Republican Party’s competing candidate claimed that “ “Palestinian are an invented people.” Strangely, Gingrich claims to be an historian and educated person being a former Speaker of the Congress, but he played a stupid joke with his informed audience across the US and elsewhere. The truth is that Gingrich is lying in return for few dollars and a complacent public image to embark on historical deceit. Palestinians have been living in Palestine for centuries. Uptil 1945, Palestine had 85% indigenous Palestinian population not otherwise. Would Gingrich care to see the historical mirror? The Jewish homeland in Palestine is outcome of the British- American complacency to avoid accountability for the centuries of conscious persecutions of the Jews in Europe. There was a culture of anti-Jewish religious metaphor across the European world that spilled over to America while Europeans migrated to the new world. Ironically, Arabs are the only people and civilization that enjoys a history of extending human dignity and equal treatment to Jewish people in their homes and hearts. Today, Palestinians are the victims of Israeli occupation and cruelty in Palestine. They live under barbed culture as did the Jews under the Nazis. Perhaps, Jewish emigrants from Eastern Europe could not think to free themselves from the past except to sustain the Nazi culture of human atrocities and reshape Palestine with barbed wires walls and check points to reinvent the insanity of Nazism. What a strange co-incident of human history? When darkness prevails, people and nation seem to lose the sense of direction. For ages, the capitalist Europeans-American fought ideological wars against communist Russia and China. Today, they eagerly and desperately trying to bridge the historical gulfs often seem unbridgeable. History is not fixed nor is the destiny of people. Jews should know better as they have gone through various critical junctures in their life cycle- it is the enlightened foresight that can envisage the future for the Arab-Israeli co-existence, not the warfare of the past or the denial to establish an independent State of Palestine..
Palestinian factions NEED political unity, new intelligent leadership and creative strategies to deal with Israelis. Divided Palestinians will lead to divisions and disparity, not unity of purpose. The essence of global politics and purpose calls for the Palestinian factions to be united at one platform and committed to logical purpose of peace and co-existence. There is no functional alternative to peaceful co-existence with Israel. History expound horrible consequences of warmongering and killings, it solves no problem but create more unsolvable situations of conflicts. Some of the traditional Palestinian leaders should encourage the new generation of educated and competent people to assume leadership for building a new future on equal terms with Israel. Palestinians need unity of thought and action as one people. Their division represents absurdity, not intelligent outlook to the purpose of freedom from the Israeli occupation. Late Professor Edward Said (“Who is in charge of the Past and the Future”), makes the point: “We acquired a modern political identity by virtue of that struggle, which is very far from over. Today our sense of our history and past should fuller, more critical, more insightful, not less. Above all, it should be written by us, not the American Secretary of State, nor the Israeli government. If we do not take charge of our history what future, if any, will be left for us to think about and implement?” Whether it is Fatah or Hamas, they should see the interest of the people, not the rudimentary flip-flop of the old tribal warfare. Their strength lies in their purpose of being rational people to make ways for the future generation to live in peace. Palestinian leaders should focus on the goal not on discard and declare the independence as it seems they are following it through. MJ Rosenberg, in his most recent article (“US: Recognize State of Palestine In 2011”-ICH, 01/20/2011) notes:
“The best alternative is a U.S.-brokered settlement that would establish a State of Palestine, with contiguous borders, alongside Israel. East Jerusalem would be the Palestinian capital. In exchange, Israel would get the two things it has always insisted are the only demands it makes of the Arabs: secure, recognized borders and security guarantees from the United States. (The security of the Palestinian state would also be guaranteed.”
The Western political leaders and public institutions indulge in rhetoric of peace making but lack the vision, capacity, and courage to take rigorous steps to make it happen. It is all politics of peacemaking – an illusion on the screen and not the real peacemaking. To gather people’s attention, they will invent abstract issues and reshape the facts of human history to manipulate the voters and gain cheap favors. Politics is a game of pretension and apprehension, not doing the good for the people with purpose, honesty and clarity of intentions. To console human mind, the Western leaders and political lobbyists are at least talking in public, but what about the Arab rulers – are they talking? Are they doing anything at all? Do they have the moral, intellectual and visionary leadership capacity to do anything useful for the deprived Palestinians and for themselves? One would imagine, the Arab rulers being at the helms of oil pumping power, abundance of dollars and influence – they must be equipped to play a significant role in global political affairs. Not so, time and history tell the story otherwise. They are the wrong people, with wrong thinking and doing the wrong things.
The proactive initiatives rest with the visionary leaders on both sides of the barbed wire. To see things beyond the obvious, not just for today but for tomorrow and day after tomorrow, in the near future and for distant future to be built on mutual recognition, equality and freedom. Holocaust was engineered against the Jews by the Europeans not by the Arabs. The Arab civilization is remarkably unique and credible to claim that Jews have been living amidst their culture and in co-existence for centuries. The concept of state without people is void. Only Hitler and Mussolini could have been flattered by the absolutism of the state doctrine. The current Israeli PM Netanhou talks of peace and con-existence with Palestinians but defies logic when it comes to action in the same spirit. In one sided glorification of the state of Israel another strand can be traced out in Netanhou’s mindset and that is interwoven emotions of hatred and fear of the unknown if an equal State of Palestine will come into being. Palestinians are the victims of perpetuated fear against their culture and freedom. Arguably, when two national entities exist side by side and treat each other with respect, they develop trust and accountability for mutual survival. Leaders lead and leaders talk openly and learn from the complex situations and difficult circumstances stalling the human change and progress. Those with a picture of the future will survive, others will remain prisoners in the depth of human ignorance and self- imposed failure. Israeli policy makers and leaders with strong institutionalized capacity of thinking and actions do enjoy respect for diversity of opinions and freedom of alternatives. No matter who comes into political power, Israelis have learned to manage their interests and ultimate strategic goals of unity and purpose. Not so with the oil producing Arab elite, they lack intellectual imagination and strength of the will power to tolerate diversity of opinions. They follow one-track box and often without thinking of their own national interests. Their global image in policy making and behaviors carries no weight at all in any global setting. The oil revenues created illusion of transitory economic prosperity have blindfolded the Arabian elite to see the world as a challenge and to strive for a balanced (mizan) discourse of policy behaviors. Those who strive for change and continuous movement in life are viewed respectfully and are successful. When the Arabs were committed to Islam as a system of life, they were people enriched with originality of thinking and proactive vision of success for the future, not just for the self but for the whole of mankind. But the borrowed oil-based economic prosperity has destroyed the Arab minds, drained out their positive THINKING, Islamically knowledge-based culture and values, not just the originality of things for the good of humanity but transformed them into captives of false illusions without reality. The Arab rulers are subservient to the policy dictates of the Western masters, not accountable to the interests of the people they govern. If they were intelligent and energetic in new thinking with strong presence in global politics, they could have evolved new institutions and offered help to search for feasible solutions to major political problems such as Palestine, systematic governance and remaking of Muslim Ummah. The on-going recent authoritarian brutalities in Syria, Iraq, Yemen and other locations in the Arab heartlands signal a stern warning to all concerned. They demand immediate action to stop the killing of the masses simply asking for freedom and human dignity. Over 60 years since their freedom from the European colonization, Arab elite failed to develop public institutions, sustainable system of governance and participation of the new generation in societal change and development. They are incapable to deal with any major issues of peace and conflict resolution. Bashar al-Assad, Ghaddafi, Ben Ali
Abdullah Saleh and Hosni Mubarak were not the leaders but insane people who were put to high offices to serve their foreign Masters. To the Arab people, bundle up the dummies, selfish and stupid rulers and ship them out to where they belong – most likely permanent resting places in Washington or London’s cemeteries – the ruling imperial forces backing the age of authoritarianism. The futuristic Arab rulers would NEED an inward eye and right thinking to serve the people, not the masters in Washington or London.
The former colonial master of the Middle East, the British policy makers are confused on matters of principles. Their interest is derived from the unknown and often glued to financial gains in playing the political cards. Britain is no longer a superpower but shrinking to be a colony of the US as it was during the Roman Empire. They follow blindly the US lead in global affairs as they did in Iraq and Afghanistan- fighting without a cause and killing others and get killed. The US leaders believe that war is the lifeline for the economy and the big political-military-industrial complex controlling the nerve of the US strategic thinking and policies. They need wars, not peace. The Middle East does not long for another war but peace and co-existence for human well being and living together. The US superpower role and influence is redundant. It wants normalization of relationships between the Arabs and Israel without solving the problem of Palestine on its merits. Its foreign policy is overwhelmingly one-sided to push for Israel’s political interest first and not the balanced approach to pursue a “peace process” for the establishment of an independent State of Palestine with capital in East Jerusalem. The recent Wikileaks documents spell out how the Palestinian PLO leadership in negotiations with Israel and the US compromised the right of self-determination and abandoned the goal of Palestinian freedom for personal greed and stupidity. Palestinian people must develop new and educated leadership with vision and integrity for the future. Arabs despite being rich in banking and palaces are weak and need moral and intellectual strength that oil pitched dollar cannot buy. Listening and learning is much part of the leadership trait as it is rational substance for effective leadership. Are the oil producing Arab rulers listening to the voices of REASON? A decade earlier when this author proposed to one influential Arab foreign minister to establish a university of global security, peace and conflict management to help cultivate their institutionalized capacity building to deal with global issues including Palestine and strengthen their capability in public institutions and global political interaction. Strangely enough, his reply was that we have the best experts from USA and Europe to advise us. Surely, Allah does not guide the ignorant and wicked. The Al-Qura’an clarifies the truth that “intelligent people always readily accept advice.” Are there any Arab leaders looking for intelligent advice and guidance to reconnect themselves with the aspirations of the masses?
Why the Arabs and Palestinian leaders failed to make progress in global conflict resolution? Late Professor Edward W. Said puts it in a nutshell: “we must all take the blame in colossal failure.” (Peace and its Discontents). The oil rich Arabs have no leadership, no vision for the future, nor presence in the US policy making corridors. They are overwhelmed with erecting tallest buildings made of dust across the Arabian gulf region. The big thinking behind the tall edifice does not change the political scale in Washington nor frighten anybody. Dust is dust, it does not change its originality. They lack public institutions and inward foresight and will to assign priority to the freedom of Palestine. Hardly any Arab leaders can communicate openly to the informed global community. Some Arab rulers are wasting time and opportunities to buy obsolete US weaponry worth of $60 billion or more but it will not change the Arab status-quo in the Middle East strategic construct mainly dominated by Israel. What Israel and America need is an intellectual and political challenge that the naïve and submissive Arab rulers cannot imagine. There are no Arab armies and no Arab leaders to challenge anybody on any fronts. Under Islam, the Arabs used to claim and enjoin moral and intellectual superiority in dealing with enemies and in situations of conflict. Now the oil pumped prosperity conspiracy (fitna) has made the Arab rulers redundant and irrelevant to the 21st century political games. At a Middle Eastern university campus, while this author was speaking on the current affairs, a mention was made that “Arab prince live in palaces, not with people.” Among the audience some of the ruling elite got allergic and nauseated. Consequently, next time, the Arab embassy refused to issue the visit visa. The superficial oil-based prosperity has bewildered the Arab rulers to the extent that some have become intolerable to any rational concerns. They THINK of the self, not of the people or of the Muslim Ummah. Would another jolt as was inflicted to Saddam Hussein change the Arab thinking of the politics of the palaces? Have they learned anything from the killing of Ghaddafi and ousting of Hosni Mubarak and other self-made presidents and kings? There is a culture of pretension across the Western political governance about human rights and liberty. Nobody questioned Ben Ali while he was decreeing anti-Islamic practices and torturing political activists in Tunis. All of sudden, the Western news media opens up its closed circuits to Arabs activists, Mr. Obama speaks out, so does Ban K Moon, the unheard UN Secretary General on human right violations in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, Yemen and so many others. Were they dormant and deaf in the past prior to the ousting of Mubarak and killing of Ghaddafi? Palestinian leaders should not wait for anything to happen out of the blue but organize themselves as one people of UNITY striving to achieve national freedom from Israeli occupation. Palestinians do enjoy global consensus and support to declare the independent State of Palestine with capital in East Jerusalem. The Palestinian leadership of all factions should articulate initiatives and political UNITY to make it happen. There is a persistent disequilibrium prevalent in the Middle East and this is what threatens the Israeli existence. The establishment of an independent State of Palestine will logically balance the obvious imbalance between the Arabs and Israel. In early 1980’s, while student in the US, the author had the honor of knowing Professor Edward Said – a Palestinian genius – a great thinker for the good of mankind. Late Professor Edward Said (Peace and its Discontents: Essays on Palestine in the Middle East Peace Process, 1996), was not just a visionary but enriched with proactive thoughts and a truly passionate intellectual and committed warrior to the cause of freedom of Palestine:
“I sincerely believe in reconciliation between peoples and cultures in collision, and have made it my life’s work to try to further that end. But true reconciliation cannot be imposed, neither can it occur between cultures and societies that are enormously uneven in power. The kind of reconciliation that can bring real peace can only occur between equals, between partners whose independence, strength of purpose, and inner cohesion allows them fully to understand and share with the other.”
Dr. Mahboob A. Khawaja is a contributor to The Real Agenda. He specializes in global security, peace and conflict resolution with keen interests in Islamic-Western comparative cultures and civilizations, and author of several publications including the most recent one: Arabia at Crossroads: Arab People Strive for Freedom, Peace and New Leadership. VDM Publishers, Germany, September 2011. Comments are welcome at: email@example.com)