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Saturday, April 10, 2010

Another Arab "moderate" who really isn't

An op-ed by Asharq al-Awsat starts off this way:
In the Arab world, can we discuss any topic without mentioning Palestine? Though it is an odd question it is a perfectly legitimate one. It seems that raising important and complex issues such as education, health, public services, the judicial system, infrastructure and fighting corruption always comes to a dead end because of “the Palestinian cause excuse,” and because the battle must always comes “first,” as well other slogans that have been raised for a long time that aim to suspend any practical or positive action towards ultra-sensitive issues.

Under the Palestine umbrella, and with the calls for liberation and struggle, anything goes. Corruption has spread dramatically in all circles and in most fields. Educational backwardness has become a [distinguishing] attribute and a widespread phenomenon, not an exception. The deteriorating and deplorable infrastructure has become the butt of the joke and the source of mockery. Domination, despotism and the erosion of freedoms have become a way of life. The lack of an effective judicial system to guarantee people’s rights has turned into a painful reality in which people live without any real hope of changing it. Without exception, everything is being “postponed” because there is a more important battle that has now turned into a battle of tilting at windmills and because of this, despotism and tyranny have been further consolidated.

Forget about changing priorities! For that you would be labelled a traitor or regarded as one who seeks to divide the nation; a nation with a deteriorating education system, a broken judiciary and one with no agricultural or industrial potential and no sewage or electricity networks, etc.

Sounds like he has a clear vision of what Arab priorities should be, right?

But the irony is that he spends the rest of the article trying to convince his readers that the very reason they should be spending time on education, health, the judicial system and fighting corruption is...because they are prerequisites to "liberating Palestine:"

A nation with such “achievements” under its belt cannot by any means liberate Palestine. Most importantly, the correlation between deterioration and liberating Palestine is one that cannot be denied.

Yes, improving the education system, the judiciary and infrastructure will lead to “spontaneously” liberating Palestine. Yes, it’s that simple. If you liberate yourself, you will liberate your land. ... Crying and wailing in the name of Palestine has turned into a permanent state of mourning instead of aiming towards the “final” target with a continuous series of numerous, small victories and achievements within the country and within one’s self. Though it is such a long journey, it is one of utmost importance.

Which means that even the most moderate Arabs consider "Palestine" to be the most important issue; just that they differ on how to get to the point of "liberating Palestine" (which means, of course, destroying Israel.)