by Dr. Ahmed Saad*
Exclusive for Al Waref
As an Arab who lived during the 1956, 1967, 1973 wars and all Intifadas, I experience the very deep pain, anger and frustration that most Arabs feel. I strongly believe that most of Palestine within the 1948 borders not just 1967 borders belong rightly to the Palestinian people. Unfortunately our strong feelings of pain and resentment have not returned a single meter of land to their rightful owner. That is the reason for the following article.
With the carnage that is taken place in Gaza where the mighty Israeli army and its air force are killing hundreds of Palestinian children women and other civilians, masses in all Arab Countries become again very angry and when allowed by their governments thousands go out on the streets in very noisy and emotional demonstrations condemning the bloody aggression and pledging their blood and lives in sacrifice for Palestine.
While this is taken place all Arab governments are absolutely unified in that they would or can not do anything to stop the killing. Although they are in this respect unified, the reasons for them not to do anything would vary:
Some have signed away treaties that all but abdicated their right to be a party of this conflict
Some are using all the power and strength they have to only to protect their regimes that their sole objective is to keep the President or King in power, and to prepare for the offspring of their leader to succeed him.
Some pay lip service to the Palestinian cause, and when they are pressed they may promise financial aid to Palestine, and only very few of them actually deliver the promised checks.
No doubt in due course, the Israeli aggression into Gaza will stop and no doubt Hamas will declare victory and behind the scenes would sign away more of the Palestinian lands and rights.
Also no doubt very quickly the Arab population anger will subside and will be replaced by frustration for a while, and as usual the Arab population return to their usual (mostly miserable) daily lives as if nothing had happened.
The pattern described above has been repeating itself since 1948 only with only some circumstantial differences:
The difference may be that the Arabs would accept that they have been defeated like in 1948 and 1967, giving lame excuses for their failure
The difference may be that the attack would be instead of being on Gaza it would be on the Occupied west bank or other indeed other neighbouring countries like Jordan Syria or Egypt .
Regardless of the mentioned differences the following events have been repeated in reality like a recurring nightmare with little change since 1948:
1. -The Arabs have not been prepared for any war or confrontation with Israel (except in 1973 war), and despite of their knowledge that they are not prepared; they engaged in or trapped to provoke the Israeli attack. It is as if in all their engagement with the Israeli army and air force, the Arabs have developed strategies relying only on miracles or direct divine intervention from Allah to fight their wars for them. Invariably these miracles or expected divine intervention on the side of the Arabs never materialised.
2. -In addition to the expected divine intervention, the Arabs demand (effectively beg) and expect the governments in Europe and America as well as the United Nations Security Council to condemn the Israeli action in no uncertain terms and call to halt the Israeli aggression and force her to return the Arab land they lost and rights, invariably no Arab land has ever been returned as a result of US or EU pressure. If the UN or UN Security Council issues a resolution to stop the conflict, invariably this is ignored by Israel till after they create new realities on the ground.
3. -Before and during battles, wars or Intifadas masses across the Arab world register their anger by going on the streets in demonstrations with a great deal of emotions and intensity, lamenting the Arab disunity condemning the Arab traitors (who ever they are) and of course pledging of their souls and blood in sacrifice for Palestine and offer sincere prayers to Allah to revenge the spilled Arab blood and to return their lost land. Again till now we have not witnessed clear answers to any of these prayers or observed miracles or even Tsunami that destroy the Zionist nation the arch Satan and enemy of Allah.
4. -The number of Arab casualties in any wars or battles or Intifadas has been orders of magnitude higher than the Israeli casualties; and nearly every Israeli killed in such conflict, his body was recovered by Israel, while there are tens of thousands of Arab bodies have never been recovered. Invariably the dead Arabs are given the title of martyr and are thought of as enjoying the trappings of paradise!
5. After the conflict gradually the Arab emotions subside and increase their frustration and Arabs in their individual countries apart from Palestine go back to their normal lives as if nothing has happened. Invariably the feelings and frustrations of the Arab masses are never translated into positive subsequent actions to prevent future recurrence of the defeat and loss of Arab land and rights.
6. -After the end of battle, war or Intifada the Arab governments involved in the conflict sign away in secret Arab and Palestinian rights that they had before the last battle or war had begun. Invariably the most important details of agreement with Israel or treaty are kept secret from the people and terms of such agreement that are declared to the people are just camouflage to hide the dark and secret humiliating conditions (1973 war was no exception).
7. -Before, during and after battles or wars with Israel, Arab summits or Foreign minister Meetings take place under great publicity often with little more that hot air resulting from these summits. Invariably there has never been any sustained action on the governmental side to deliver a self reliant solution to the Palestinian problem or protect the Arab interest.
8. -Invariably as a result of any war, battle or Intifada, Israel realises most if not all her goals i.e. either increased real estate, less rights to Arabs, International observer existence on the Arab side of the border or mass migration of Palestinians from their land. These step-by-step realised Israeli goals over the history of the Arab Israeli conflict, form a well planned and efficiently executed strategy.
9. -Invariably the 16 Israeli governments since 1948 (with their power transferred through democratic process, with the exception of one who was killed) never lost sight of their objectives and plans. On the opposing Arab side, all the Arab Regime heads stay in power till they die of old age (e.g. 3 presidents in Egypt since 1952, one was killed, 5 kings in Saudi, also one was killed….) yet there has been no consistency of policies visa vie Israel or real beneficial coordination between heads of state at any specific time.
10. -Over the last 60 years Israel internal policy for its citizens has been to develop their skills and their economic development, helped a great deal by support from the US, European regimes and in no small amount propelled by the Jewish financial support from all over the world. Israel established itself as a major research base for most leading technology companies. Israel GDP in 2007 according to world bank is $ 161 billions with population of 7.17 million and $21900 income per capita per annum (compare this with Egypt GDP in 2007 being $128.1 billions with population of 75.47 million $1580 income per capita per annum).
Looking at these invariants one can easily relate this to:
-We Arabs by and large Lost touch with reality and the ability to seeing things for what they are. Realities and truths such as:
1. Invariable Truths
Might is right, regardless of the arguments of what we think as really right and wrong and their moral significance and implications. Might and power are never given but they are taken and in most situations due to sustainable and serious work and determination
The only real consideration effective in international relations between countries is mutual interest. The individual self interest is partly traded or sacrificed for common interest in democracies and on the other hand short sited selfishness is endemic in corrupt nations.
Direct divine intervention in this world has not been scientifically observed and powers of unseen entities like Angels and Allah soldiers etc. are yet to be proven.
Words are no replacement for actions, regardless of what kind of words these are, truths, words of god words of people. The only way to realise objectives is by good short and long term planning and serious and sustained actions
Through history nations have been born and disappeared with or without trace due to wars, natural disasters, occupation by other nations etc... Close at home the Egyptian nation that existed before the Arab occupation of Egypt 1400 years ago has all but disappeared, i.e. their culture vanished, their language exists only in museums and their identity has been replaced by Arab/Egyptian identity. History is full of such nations and countries.
2. Arab Truths
Hundreds of people in Gaza have been killed and the Gaza strip (very small strip of land) has been destroyed. Gaza effectively is occupied by Israel and is essentially a large prison almost totally dependant on Israel for infrastructure, utilities and every day needs. Majority of population lives in refugee camps in very poor and un acceptable conditions. The only entry and exit points that are not controlled by Israel are controlled by treaties between Egypt and Israel. Population live in squalor, under the control of Hamas. The population is increasing very fast. The economic situation has been a disaster even before Hamas existed.
The West Bank is controlled by Palestinian authority; the Authority has been very corrupt and famous for its nepotism. Palestinians in Gaza, West Bank, Lebanon, and Jordan are dependant largely on hand outs from Arabs outside Palestine, or UN, EU...
History of Palestinian and Arab political engagement with Israel has been that Israel always was in a position of strength based on real military power and dedicated American and European government support (Influenced by Jewish un questionable dedication). While negotiations are taken place Israel has never stopped their continuous Illegal settlement program, or building the separation wall etc...
Arabs regimes repeatedly are begging the world to force Israel to go back to 1967 borders and relinquish east Jerusalem to become capital of a new Palestinian Nation these begging tones have not changed despite a great deal of realities that have been changed on the ground by Israel. These realities make Arab demands very difficult if not impossible to realise. The weakened Arab regimes, other than repeating monotonously the same demands to any one who would listen, do not take any serious and sustained actions to force or facilitate the realisation of these demands.
The concept of Arab unity is an emotional dream and can not be realised (and was never realised) as it is against the individual Arab culture, where the common interest is always sacrificed for the individual interest.
No small part of the Arab culture evolved into a culture focussed on the Afterlife at the expense of this real life and death than live. This culture this fuelled by poverty and desperation and lead by fanatic clerics.
Lack of democracy and corruption are systemic in the regimes of the Arab world, this haemorrhages the Arab resources and weakens the Arab individual and deprives him of self confidence. Most of the Arab regimes are pre-empted by staying as long as possible in power, and expand the big portion of their resources on security apparatus to cow their masses and spend even bigger portion on Armies and advanced hardware, presumably to protect their counties against other Arab countries. Non of these armies is geared up to fight Israel and mostly there armed forces are primarily for ceremonial purposes.
Generally speaking apart from the Arab Gulf States and Libya, who have substantial oil resources the rest of the Arab countries have very low average standard of living (third world) and have high average rate of illiteracy and very poor health and education services. The rich Arab countries are very busy spending their money and developing their infrastructure and services (not withstanding corruption). In terms of statistics the vast majority of Arab citizens are preoccupied in their daily lives with feeding themselves and paying for primitive health, education and infrastructure services (some of them even die or are killed as martyrs in long bread or butane gas queues).
3. Israeli Truths
Israel is here and here to stay for the foreseeable future, based on their military and economic strength (supported by the US and world Jewry).
Israel is a democratic nation where by definition the government serves its people and protects their interests and defends their security.
The Israeli nation is hard working and is serious to improve the lives of its people and protect them.
Israel in their quest to realise their military objectives
1. Do not worry or care about the world public opinion
2. Would break International laws and treaties
3. Would not stop at atrocities and killing civilians
The US support to Israel is not an act of charity of or a whimsical inclination, this is due partly to the strength and dedication of the very successful, powerful and influential Jewish population and partly the strategic interests of the USA in the area.
The Jewish population any where in the world are very organised and hard working and successful and their contribution to science, technology, the arts, economy and political sciences is unrivalled. Their contribution to science and technology per Jewish person in the world is orders of magnitude higher than any other race or ethnic group and this is reflected in the strength of their influence and prominence of them in every human endeavour (this is due to hard work and cooperation rather than racial supremacy).
The question now is, given the above invariables how can the Arabs move forward to stop the recurring nightmare:
Doing more of the same we have been doing so far since 1948 will certainly get us more of the same loss of land and loss of rights that we have been ``winning`` against Israel. Leaving the Palestinians living in large prisons depending on handouts only increases their misery and desperation and add to the instability of the middle East
As the Arabs are not able to solve the Palestinian problem, perhaps it is time to face reality and come out clean and not hide behind words and emotions. It will be up to the Arabs to minimise the losses of this alternative and maximise the positives.
Arabs to face reality and stop lying to themselves and their people and choose a pragmatic approach as described later, this would essentially mean accepting compromises and even sacrifices. On the other hand this certainly would mean better life for the Palestinians and stability in the area. Such approach would have with it many risks as shown later. In doing so the Arabs must accept that this is really the end of the line for what we have been doing for 60 years.
The Strategy is to reach an Arab wide treaty with Israel based on realities not emotions, by which the new State of Palestine lives next to the State of Israel under a treaty signed by the Arabs and Israel.
Part of this strategy is to relocate hundreds of thousands of Palestine population in selected areas of the Arab world (The Sudan, Libya, Egypt, Saudi Arabia) and other regions of the world (Brazil, Argentina), and the other part of the strategy is to invest in Gaza and West Bank, and the new Palestine home territories through funds from Arab countries and the rest of the world.
Arabs have to assess reality as it is and the Arabs through a new joint political mechanism (Saudi, Egyptian, Gulf States and Palestinians) develop a strategy based on the givens.
Telling the Palestinian authorities in no uncertain terms if they do not accept what the new political committee recommends they are on their own. Therefore they will continue to throw bulks of stones or metals on the Israelis and the Israelis will continue the assault on the Palestinians till they break their power to resist or even want to live
The Arab regimes must tell their Arab population the reality as it is and sell them a package based on truth not exaggerations and lies. This will be of course not popular, and the regimes will be accused of treason and selling out. On the other hand the Arab regimes know best how survive and prosper against the will of their population
If the US and the Jewish supporters of the State of Israel realise that the Arabs are genuine and have accepted the existence and security of Israel and have taken actual steps to realise that, it will deprive Israel of one of their most powerful cards during the negotiations i.e. the unquestionable support of the US government and world Jewry.
The Arabs and Israel as part of the negotiations accept that All American financial and military aid to Israel and Egypt must be diverted to development programs inside Palestine.
The rich Arab countries must accept to deliver a large aid package to develop Palestine and also divert future armament expenditures to help the new Palestine State.
Set up a Palestinian Development Authority (for home land and abroad) with management participation from the US, UK, Russia, France, Switzerland and some Scandinavian governments as well as the other donating countries. This would reduce corruption and create development strategy and proposals supervised by subject experts.
Why this approach would work
The world at large (including the real powers that be) will realise the Arab seriousness in solving the Arab Israeli problem, and would support the real peace process as much as possible.
The Palestinian population lives in desperate conditions under continuous attacks by Israel and suffers heavy casualties. The situation is getting worse by the year. The prospect of safe and secure future may appeal to many of them in Gaza strip, west bank and refugee camps in Jordan and Lebanon.
Relocating several hundreds of thousands of Palestinians outside Palestine would reduce overpopulation which impedes any real development. This would also enable economic development and progress of Palestinians outside Palestine, and they in turn would be able to help their people in Palstine.
Currently huge amount of funds are already being pumped into the Palestine territories from Arab countries, EU, US and expatriate Palestinians. If these funds are channelled and coordinated by International body of expertise and planned managed by professional organisations, its impact will be felt in improving their living conditions much sooner. Also a great deal of the currently invested funds in Palestine are wasted by corruption and ultimately have no effect as many of the projects are destroyed in conflicts.
Currently Israel and the Arab nations invest huge sums of money in Armaments because of the instability of the areas. If Arab-Israeli peace treaty is signed, this would make the area more stable and the need for armament investment will be reduced.
The Palestinian population are relatively well educated and have strong tradition of farming and entrepreneurship which would reduce the risk of failure.
Large areas of fertile Arab land are not developed for lack of funds and people to cultivate the land (North Sudan, Libya)
Already there have been plans in the Gulf region to invest multi billions of dollars in agriculture land in the Sudan. These projects are based on purely economic bases
Israeli technical expertise in development of agricultural land is of class of its own, and would be a great asset in the new agricultural areas.
Migration of poor people to richer nations has been a problem as in Europe. What is being proposed here is a well planned and phased relocating based on economic factors. The proposed relocating model proposed is based on project modules, supported by necessary funds and expertise to make such migration possible.
Mass migration situation similar to what is proposed is perhaps the migration of the Ugandan Asian people to the UK after they were kicked out by Idi Amin. This Asian migration was un qualified success as many of these migrants created new projects created new jobs for them and the host country.
The US, EU and even traditional Jewish Israel supporters will help in such endeavour as that would stabilise the middle east and secure all its people
Palestinian population would not want to accept less than what has been promised to them by their leaders
Palestinian population would not accept relocating as to them this would separate families (understandably so) and that would mean surrender and giving up the cause
Relocating hundreds of thousands of families in new lands and creating the infrastructure for the to start from scratch is no easy task, but it is certainly doable.
The Arab regimes historically never reached an agreement between themselves that have been carried out and translated into long term sustained actions
The current and previous conflicts created residual mistrust hate and animosity between the Arab an Israeli Situation
Accepting reality for what it is has never been a strong point of the Arabs
The Arab regimes may not want to take the risks of further alienating their people in this highly emotional even semi-religious subject
Corrupt Arab regimes would be deprived of their gains of lucrative armament deals
Reducing Army numbers would not be accepted by military leaders and would have huge economic impact, especially on the Arab side as the army is a full time profession
The religious authorities would not be supportive of such treaty with Israel as it deprives them of the Jihad murky waters in which they thrive
Arab regimes would loose their Ace card (Palestinian-Israeli Problem) they have been using for decades to legitimise their regimes
Not many Arab countries or that matter non Arab countries would welcome foreign Palestinian population (known to be militant) in their midst.
Readers of this article may think that going ahead with such approach would constitute surrender, and giving in to the Israeli demands, and they would be almost right. If the Arab side has lost Egypt and Jordan for good as active military parties to the Arab Israeli conflict as it is clear to any rational observer, then the rest of the Arab countries have no chance of either political or military (even with Egypt and Jordan) solution to the conflict that would recover what has been lost. If we continue to look reality in the face and then go ahead totally ignore it, then we shall continue to send thousands of our men, women and children to Paradise as martyrs. If we keep shouting at the top of our voices in the streets of Arab capitals pledging our blood and lives in sacrifice for Gaza and Palestine, then we must accept the living conditions of Palestinians in their refugee camps. If we continue praying to Allah to revenge our spilled blood and return our lost land, then we must accept and wait till the Old mighty decides to do this for us.
*Dr. Ahmed Saad is a Ph.D. Software Engineering Imperial College, London University.
CEO of Systematica AG, Systems Consultancy Company Based in Switzerland.
Researcher in Arab Islamic history.