Still Hoping for an Honest Broker

By Samia Khoury
Thursday, November 9, 2006

Amidst all the frustration, the anger, the sadness about the general situation, I have found it very difficult to write anything lately. Yet watching the U.S. Secretary of State hopping from one place to another and showing at our door step once again, made me realize that U.S. diplomacy seems like a “bad penny” — worth nothing, having failed dramatically in the Middle East, and yet still coming back again and again.

For many Palestinians, especially those who studied in American universities, the U.S. has for a long time been a symbol of freedom and democracy — both in short supply in the Arab world, where Palestinians had to take refuge after their dispossession of their land and identity in 1948. To them, the U.S.A. was a haven with great opportunities. The sad reality is that “U.S.A.” evokes few of those feelings any more among Palestinians; instead, the phrase evokes hurt and pain for us as we see the double standard by which the U.S.A. continues to deal with the Middle East.

The rhetoric about freedom and democracy to justify the war against Iraq sounds so hollow now. The large sums of money that flooded the Palestinian Territories for training the population in democracy, elections, and statehood have dried up. Because we had a democratic election that surfaced a party not to the liking of the U.S.A. and Israel — not to mention some Palestinians — families do not have money to feed their children, and schools are closed because teachers are not getting their salaries. Even Eid el Fitr (the feast after the month of Ramadan) this past week was no celebration for the majority of people, especially in Gaza.

What, then, was the purpose of the visit of the Secretary of the State to the Middle East? She certainly did not pressure Israel to curb the aggression and to ease the siege on the Palestinians. If anything, it may have been intended to mobilize a moderate camp in the Arab World that would help impose U.S. policy in the region, and to coerce the Palestinians to topple the newly elected government, who already has a large number of its members in the Israeli jails.

Was all this hoopla about the results of the elections justified? The Palestinians had voted, and the will of the people for “change and reform” should have been respected, even though some Palestinians were worried about the effect of the ideology of Hamas on the shaping of the future Palestinian state. But the issues raised for the new government to endorse should never have been brought to the forefront. Why? Because already the Palestine Liberation Organization with the ruling Fateh faction have met all those conditions, including the recognition of Israel and the amendment of the P.L.O. charter, in order to get the peace process rolling. Yet despite that, and so many other concessions made on behalf of the Palestinians, nothing was achieved — except, that is, for further loss of land and rights, and increasing oppression, closures, and walls making life almost impossible. By the time the elections were to take place, all those agreements were practically dead with no hope of resuscitating them. So when Hamas won the elections, powers never supportive of a free Palestinian state seized upon the results as justification to impose sanctions against the Palestinians. To our misfortune, we never seem to have much choice; living under a military occupation, we are almost powerless over our destiny.

And still we are continuously urged not to blame the U.S.A. or Israel for our predicament. How can we do otherwise when the U.S.A. and Israel are blocking our liberation and independence despite U.N. resolutions condemning their actions? It is very sad to realize that in this era of international law and human rights conventions, the language of “might is right” still so often prevails, and our leaders are expected to accommodate endlessly — or else.

That is why we as Palestinians must not waste our energy on internal fighting which is absolutely unjustified and unacceptable, regardless of ideological differences between factions. It is bad enough to be oppressed and under siege. We certainly do not need anything more to placing a wedge between us on both the political and religious levels; doing so will only please our adversaries. Indeed, it may not have been wise in the first place to establish a Palestinian Authority or elect a legislative council with little power under Israeli occupation to make a difference — and now it has become more clear than ever that Israel has no serious interest in talking peace.

Shulamit Aloni, an Israeli from the Meretz party, writes in “Time to talk peace: Israel’s leaders must change mindset, engage in dialogue with Palestinians” that “many peace-making windows were opened over the years. We hindered all of them, because we coveted the whole of the Territories. We had the Oslo agreements. Twenty countries, which in the past had no ties with us, recognized Israel. We had welfare, international ties were blossoming, peace was at our gates — but we didn`t want to make concessions.”

To be a staunch supporter of Israel is one thing, but it is another thing entirely to utilize the power that the U.S. has as the only super power to run the world in accordance with Israel’s interests while defying U.N. resolutions. Such a policy will eventually boomerang and hurt the innocent civilians of the U.S.A. and the Middle East. The effects of the war in Iraq, Lebanon and the Palestinian Territories under occupation testify to this, and I hope and pray that there will be enough sense to avert more destruction that would come from repeating these mistakes with Iran, Syria and North Korea. The drums of war and threat of sanctions are beating as if the U.S.A. had already achieved the freedom and democracy that it has set out to achieve in Iraq. Such provocations can only bring back the sad memories of the atmosphere that prevailed before the Iraq war. Despite tens of thousands in peace marches all over the world at that time, lust for domination prevailed, and the resultant suffering has been seemingly endless.

In biblical terms, “this people’s heart has become calloused; they hardly hear with their ears, and they have closed their eyes” (Acts 28 :27). Is it possible that none in the administration have learned from the quagmire in Iraq? Are not the bodies of those young Americans carried home everyday not enough of a lesson to those in power and living comfortably, while so much suffering, deprivation, despair and hopelessness encompass the region?

It is high time that Israelis and Palestinians start searching for something innovative outside the box. In his new book One Country: A Bold Proposal to End the Israeli-Palestinian Impasse, Ali Abunimah, co-founder of Electronic Intifada, is suggesting a single state shared by Palestinians and Israelis. I always thought that would be the ideal solution. It was possible before 1948, and with good will it could still be possible if the people of the region are genuinely interested in ending the conflict and bringing peace to their home land. Such a single, secular state would be a place where Jews, Christians and Muslims can finally call home. And despite all of the discouraging developments, we continue to hope that the U.S. administration will be an honest broker to help make this dream come true.

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One Response to “Still Hoping for an Honest Broker”

  1. Maverick Says:

    saying “its fake, thats not her noes” obviously it looks swollen cus of the licks. But on LAD&2#8P17;s website they have a post saying that the picture is real and someone from the LAPD sold it to TMZ and if they find out who they will get punished.I didn’t know chris brown went in like that, I swer he was too hype street fighter 4 was comming out this month.

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