A stark reality is coursing through Arab consciousness: No one cares about Palestine. It has been the case for at least a decade. What's new is that even reasonable Palestinian Arabs now acknowledge the truth of their lost state.
Those 300 million Arabs face far more existential concerns. Bad governance, Iraq's potentially infectious sectarian violence, and economic headaches - collapsing stock markets in rich countries and collapsing living standards in poor ones - threaten their survival.
Meanwhile, the image of a Palestinian Arab state fades like an old family photo, a yellowish tint deepening around its edges, a nostalgic snapshot rather than a call to arms.
The Palestinian Arab spin machine is alive and well, fed mostly by the oil-rich Gulf region's press and broadcast outlets, including satellite networks Al-Jazeera, of Qatar, and Al-Arabiya, of Saudi Arabia. Yet reality creeps in.
ould someone ask who is really busy with the Palestinian cause, he shall not find a precise answer. In fact, he might be surprised that no one is," a militant Islamist commentator, Fahmy Howeidi, wrote yesterday in a fundamentalist Saudi newspaper, Asharq Al-Awsat (the front page of which is tinted with the green of Islam).
"It is not a secret that practically everyone outside Palestine have [sic] cleansed their hands. As for those on the inside, the struggle underway between the Palestinian Authority and the Hamas government provides an answer to the question that could not have crossed the mind of those asserting that Palestine is the central issue for the Arab and Muslim worlds," Mr. Howeidi, who serves as an intellectual facilitator for the Muslim Brotherhood, added.
The Arab world has "cleansed" its hands? Sounds like the Romans washing their hands of a persecuted Jewish prophet, Jesus Christ. The metaphor is replete with Judeo-Christian religious hang-ups of treason and guilt, coming from a man who, by any measure, ranks as an Islamist fanatic.
But thank you, Mr. Howeidi, for your frankness. It must have hurt. It turns out that his is hardly the sole smoldering ember of resentment against Palestinian Arabs. The outside world has underestimated the degree to which most Arabs have tired of Palestinian Arabs' whining, corruption, abuse of each other and outsiders, and their unique talent for what Israelis describe as "never missing an opportunity to miss an opportunity."
Arabs outside the Palestinian Arab territories also harbor pent-up revenge fantasies, dreaming of retaliation for the abandonment of Kuwait to Saddam Hussein in 1990-91. About 400,000 Palestinian Arabs living in Kuwait sided with the invader, biting the hand that fed them so well, and for so long.
In Asharq Al-Awsat's April 26 edition, Kazem Mustapha described an "opportunistic" pattern of betrayal on the part of Palestinian Arabs:
"When the Palestine Liberation Organization aligned itself with Saddam even though Palestinians had lived in Kuwait for over a half a century, and had their children born there, they aligned themselves with the occupier against their host; when Hamas rushed to kiss Russia immediately after it came to power, betraying their Muslim brothers in Chechnya, and then rushed to kiss Iran, forgetting its occupation since 1971 of three Arab islands in the Gulf and its ongoing persecution of its Arab ethnic minority in the Ahwaz (southern) province for well over 70 years, which ranks as the worst occupation by any Muslims or non-Muslims."
So the cup is full of recrimination. And there are more spoonfuls of reality.
Egypt and Jordan, two key countries in the Israeli conflict, have made peace with the Jewish state.
And due to Syria's behavior in Lebanon and its alliance with Iran, President al-Assad's regime has come to represent a greater threat to many Arab countries than Israel.
Here once again the Hamas government is seen as aligning itself with an unpopular loser whose only desire is to drag everyone else into its bloody trenches.
Once Hamas fails in its governance - as it surely will - the circle will close. Palestinian Arabs will simply have to settle as well as they can. That is the greater Arab view.
This has been clear from the lukewarm Arab support given after the Hamas election victory. Arabs spent so much time and energy to help their Palestinian brothers and they have nothing to show for it - Palestinian Arabs are further away from a state than at any time since before Oslo.
"The priorities are to end the occupation, stop Zionist violence and crimes ... then we can talk about domestic problems."