A peace of the people, by the people, for the people

 
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By Khaled Diab

Palestinians and Israelis don’t need more US diplomacy but a people’s peace process… and this requires mutual understanding and humanisation.

Wednesday 11 December 2013

Photo: US Department of State

Photo: US Department of State

John Kerry recently returned, yet again, to the Middle East on an impossible mission to revive stalled Israeli-Palestinian peace talks. In an effort to allay Israeli fears, the US Secretary of State was expected to present Israel’s Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, on Thursday, with a plan for security arrangements in the West Bank following the establishment of an independent Palestinian state.

Even though this is the Promised Land, the facts on the ground do  not look so promising. Just ahead of Kerry’s visit, Israel defiantly bulldozed Palestinian land earmarked for settler homes, according to media reports.

It was exactly this issue of settlement building and how it makes the establishment of an integrated and contiguous Palestinian state impossible that prompted Palestinian negotiators to quit last month, even though Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has not yet accepted their resignation.

For his part, Abbas has reportedly said he will appeal to the United Nations if peace talks fail.

On the Israeli side, Netanyahu focused on the Iran nuclear issue during his encounter with Kerry, despite the fact that, in my view, the unresolved Palestinian question is the greatest threat to Israel’s future security.

In addition, prior to the Secretary of State’s arrival, Israeli officials voiced loud criticism of Washington. For instance, Economy and Trade Minister Naftali Bennett expressing his view that Israel must reduce its dependence on the US, which was holding it “hostage”. This echoes the findings of a poll in which half of Israeli Jews believed that Israel should seek new allies other than the United States.

But judging by his previous statements, John Kerry seems undeterred by the obstacles ahead. He has warned Israel that it faces the prospect of a “third intifada” if it fails to forge a durable peace with the Palestinians, and Washington may push through its own deal in January if an agreement is not reached before then.

Despite this uncharacteristically active US diplomacy, I am unconvinced John Kerry will succeed in his mission. This is partly because the two-state formula has lost the race against space, Washington is not an honest and impartial broker, not to mention poor political leadership on both sides, a reality which favours the status quo and the downward inertia this imposes.

The Oslo process has also been undermined by its quest for a “comprehensive peace”.  This raised unrealistic expectations. In a conflict this deeply entrenched and with the massive disparity in power, there can be no ultimate, one-time, all-or-nothing resolution.

But possibly the most fatal flaw of Oslo has been its largely top-down, outside-in nature which sidelines and ignores the most vital ingredient in any truly lasting peace: the people. That is why I have repeatedly advocated a people’s peace process.

For such a grassroots effort to work and to stand a chance of success requires a high degree of mutual understanding and a good dose of empathy. This conviction is what spurred me, as an Egyptian, to climb down from the ivory tower of the outside spectator and to engage directly with Palestinians and Israelis, despite the mainstream hostility towards such encounters in the Arab world and Israel alike.

Like only a handful of Egyptian journalists and writers before me, I have embarked on a personal journey of discovery in the unholy mess of the Helly Land. I have visited Israel and Palestine, lived there for nearly two years and now have returned to live among the people again.

In my time here, I have encountered the good, the bad and the ugly, not to mention the outright eccentric, from Palestinian women race drivers to Israel Jewish Sufis who fast Ramadan. Along the way, I have had many adventures and misadventures.

To construct a proper understanding and a realistic picture, I have striven to challenge and push myself, not only questioning every aspect of the conflict, but also forcing myself to meet people from all walks of life, including those who are hostile to who I am and what I stand for, such as ideological settlers.

On the whole, Palestinians are thrilled to have an Egyptian here, given the Hollywood-like appeal of Egypt in these parts, and Israelis, who are more hospitable than their hard exterior suggests, are flattered to find an Arab willing to learn more about them.

This has enabled me to see the human face veiled by the conflict, and to witness how people on both sides are, for the most part, ordinary folk caught in an extraordinary situation – a conflict inherited from their great-grandparents which most expect to hand down, as an unenviable legacy, to their great-grandchildren.

My journey has radically altered my view of the situation and has unearthed some surprising realities, such as just how much in common Israelis and Palestinians have, their massive political differences notwithstanding, and how confoundingly diverse each society is, despite being so small that, combined, they would only make up half the population of my hometown, Cairo.

In fact, it would not be a stretch to say that, if it weren’t for the artificial political and physical constructs keeping them largely apart, many Palestinians and Israelis would find greater common cause among members of their enemy camp than among their own side.

In a bid to promote understanding, or at the very least a modicum of human sympathy, I have tried hard to capture this complexity and ambiguity in my journalism. I am also writing an ambitious book about those most intimate of enemies, those forgotten people, the Palestinians and Israelis.

Even though Israel-Palestine has become overshadowed by the recent uprisings and upheavals in the region, it is probably the most written-about conflict in the modern Middle East. But I believe my book of the people is different. Most of the literature out there deals with the geopolitics and history, focuses on the land, as if a nation is a piece of dirt and not the sum total of its people, and/or is partisan in nature.

Based on extensive interviews and thorough research, I profile both peoples in all their rich variety, relate my personal experiences living among them, explore the two societies, examine the culture, plot the differences, investigate the commonalities, and much more.

Although my book is not primarily about the politics or history, I do explore both through the prism of the people. I dig into the annals to uncover the shocking and shameful history of missed opportunities for peace over the past century, and I propose what I call the ‘non-state solution’ to the conflict.

But at the end of the day, it is up to the Israeli and Palestinian people to find the path to peace and coexistence that best suits them. And, to paraphrase Abraham Lincoln, to forge a peace of the people, by the people, for the people.

 

If you would like to keep abreast of the latest developments relating to Khaled’s book, please drop him a line at info@chronikler.com

____

Follow Khaled Diab on Twitter.

This article first appeared in The Huffington Post  on 5 December 2013.

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Israel-Palestine: a book of the people

 
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By Khaled Diab

In Israel-Palestine, a peace without the people has left two peoples without peace. That is why I am writing a book about these most intimate of enemies.

People: the forgotten link. Photo: ©Khaled Diab

People: the forgotten link. Photo: ©Khaled Diab

Thursday 21 November 2013

Although the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has become overshadowed by the tumultuous upheavals gripping the Middle East, the US Secretary of State has created something of a stir with his stated determination to revive the defunct and dysfunctional peace process.

John Kerry even warned Israel that it faces the prospect of a third intifada, if it failed to forge a durable peace with the Palestinians. Presumably to avoid such an outcome, Washington reportedly plans to push through its own peace deal in January if an agreement is not reached before then.

Even if the uncharacteristically stern tone Kerry adopted with Israel’s intransigent government is sincere, I cannot help but think that the Secretary of State is flogging a dead horse.

As I’ve argued on numerous occasions before, the Oslo framework has been a spectacular failure. This is for a host of reasons, including the fact that Washington is not an honest and impartial broker, as well as poor political leadership on both sides, a reality which favours the status quo and the downward inertia this imposes.

The Oslo process has also been undermined by its quest for a “comprehensive peace” and to put in place a “permanent status”.  This raised unrealistic expectations. In a conflict this deeply entrenched and with the massive disparity in power, there can be no ultimate, one-time, all-or-nothing resolution. The best we can hope for is little pieces of peace, shards of shalom or slices of salam, as the two sides gradually navigate the minefield towards conciliation.

But possibly the most fatal flaw of Oslo has been its largely top-down, inside-out nature which sidelines and ignores the most vital ingredient in any truly lasting peace: the people. That is why I have repeatedly advocated a people’s peace process.

For such a grassroots effort to work and to stand a chance of success requires a high degree of mutual understanding and a good dose of empathy. This conviction is what spurred me, as an Egyptian, to climb down from the ivory tower of the outside spectator and to engage directly with Palestinians and Israelis, despite the mainstream hostility towards such encounters in the Arab world and Israel alike.

Like only a handful of Egyptian journalists and writers before me (at least since the conflict began), I have embarked on a personal journey of discovery in the unholy mess of the Helly Land. I have visited Israel and Palestine, lived there for nearly two years and now have returned to live among the people again.

In my time here, I have encountered the good, the bad and the ugly. I have had many adventures and misadventures. Although as an Arab my instinctive sympathies are with the Palestinians, as a humanist, I have also nurtured empathy and sympathy for Israelis. To construct a proper understanding and a realistic picture, I have striven to challenge and push myself, not only questioning every aspect of the conflict, but also forcing myself to meet people from all walks of life, including those who are hostile to who I am and what I stand for, such as ideological settlers.

Along the way, I have made many good friends on both sides, and probably some enemies, though on the whole Palestinians are thrilled to have an Egyptian here, given the Hollywood-like appeal of Egypt in these parts, and Israelis, who are more hospitable than there hard exterior suggests, are flattered to find an Arab willing to learn more about them.

Photo: ©Khaled Diab

Photo: ©Khaled Diab

This has enabled me to see the human face veiled by the conflict, and to witness how people on both sides are, for the most part, ordinary folk caught in an extraordinary situation – a conflict inherited from their great-grandparents which most expect to hand down, as an unenviable legacy, to their great-grandchildren.

My journey has radically altered my view of the situation and has unearthed some surprising realities, such as just how much in common Israelis and Palestinians have, their massive political differences notwithstanding, and how confoundingly diverse each society is, despite being so small that, combined, they would only make up half the population of my hometown, Cairo.

In fact, it would not be a stretch to say that, if it weren’t for the artificial political and physical constructs keeping them largely apart, many Palestinians and Israelis would find greater common cause among members of their enemy camp than among their own side.

In a bid to promote understanding, or at the very least a modicum of human sympathy, I have tried hard to capture this complexity and ambiguity in my journalism. I am also writing an ambitious book about those most intimate of enemies, those forgotten people, the Palestinians and Israelis.

Another book, the weary reader might ask? It is true that, even though Israel-Palestine has become overshadowed by the recent uprisings and upheavals in the region, it is probably the most written-about conflict in the modern Middle East – some might say, the entire world.

But I believe my book of the people is different. Most of the literature out there deals with the geopolitics and history, focuses on the land, as if a nation is a piece of dirt and not the sum total of its people, and/or is partisan in nature.

Based on extensive interviews and thorough research, I profile both peoples in all their rich variety, relate my personal experiences living among them, explore the two societies, examine the culture, plot the differences, investigate the commonalities, and much more.

Although my book is not primarily about the politics or history, I do explore both through the prism of the people. I dig into the annals to uncover the shocking and shameful history of missed opportunities for peace over the past century, and I propose what I call the ‘non-state solution’ to the conflict.

The unusual nature of my enterprise has made publication a tough challenge, given the polarised nature of the Israel-Palestine publishing industry. Although I have written some 65,000 words and am two-thirds of the way through my manuscript, I have yet to find a publisher who will actually publish it.

A number of publishers have expressed initial interest and praised the manuscript, but have shied away from actually committing to publishing it. This is partly due to the (unintentionally) controversial nature of my work and partly due to the crisis afflicting the industry which has made editors reluctant to try the untested. Perhaps the path to follow, and one that will guarantee my editorial and political independence, is to self-publish, despite its reputation as a vanity outlet.

Whether I find a publisher or not, I am determined, with the help of family, friends and supporters, to finish what I have begun and to make whatever modest contribution I can to the quest for peace, by the people and for the people.

If you would like to keep abreast of the latest developments relating to Khaled’s book, please drop us a line at info@chronikler.com

Follow Khaled Diab on Twitter. This article first appeared in The Daily Beast on 13 November 2013.

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Egypt’s revolution in the breaking

 
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By Khaled Diab

Although Egypt has been eclipsed on the Western media radar, it remains caught in a deadly bind between popular jingoism and religious demagoguery.

Monday 14 September 2013

No news is good news, the adage tells us. But just because something does not make it on to the evening news that does not mean the situation has improved, as demonstrated by the US-sparked civil war in Iraq, which continues to exact a heavy toll.

Though the situation is nowhere near as bad, Egypt, too, has been eclipsed in the United States‘ and much of the Western media by the ongoing carnage in Syria, and by the new Iranian President Hassan Rouhani’s conciliatory gestures and charm offensive towards the West, not to mention the weekend’s US raids in Somalia and Libya.

But it is still very much news for us Egyptians and those who take a deep interest in the future of the country. In fact, as my four-year-old and I embark on a trip home to his “fatherland”, I am plagued by worries and dogged by questions.

How much further will the violence escalate? Where will the clash between pro-military jingoism and divine demagoguery lead the country?

Borrowing from the neocon American lexicon once so despised in Egypt,General Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi’s “war on terror” has, like its US counterpart, mushroomed into a war of terror, as reflected in the recent death of at least 50 people during pro-Morsi protests.

That is not to say there hasn’t been terrorism. There has been plenty of it. Not only have prominent Muslim Brotherhood members incited violence, but their sympathisers have torched churches across the country, and are mounting an insurgency in the already restive Sinai.

In addition, while pleading “legitimacy” and “democracy” abroad, Muslim Brotherhood leaders have falsely accused Christians of being behindMohamed Morsi‘s downfall. This has fanned the flames of hatred towards an already vulnerable minority, leading even as far as murder.

But the Muslim Brotherhood does not have a monopoly on demonisation and false accusations. Though I am a secularist to the core and, being an “infidel”, am vulnerable to the Islamist project, I have been distressed and alarmed by the fever pitch that mainstream hostility towards Brotherhood sympathisers has reached.

For example, the idea that they are all terrorists and that the Raba’a al-Adawiya protest camp was a terrorist den, which goes against the evidence of my own eyes, has gained a surprising amount of traction. Besides which, the situation in Sinai is far more complex than the official narrative allows. The local Bedouins have been sidelined, forgotten and neglected for decades, leading to a lot of grievances that Islamists can exploit; and the military has allegedly targeted civilians, not just militants.

Then, there are Egypt’s rebels who lost their cause. The Tamarod movement did a great job of highlighting Morsi’s loss of legitimacy and channelling public anger at his dictatorial ways. Yet, the movement today sounds like a cheerleading squad for the military and its man of the moment, al-Sisi – even going so far as to defend the military trialsagainst civilians it once opposed.

Little wonder that the revolutionaries who have not taken leave of their senses and principles are despondent. As Ahmed Maher of the April 6 Youth Movement, one of the main driving forces behind the 2011 uprising against Mubarak, said: “We are at square one as a revolution.”

What can America do, some might wonder? Probably not that much, in light of Washington’s squandering – by propping up dictators and engaging in military misadventures – of what remained of the goodwill and credibility it once enjoyed, long ago.

There is one trump card Washington holds, though. It can threaten to cut off military aid if the army does not end its crackdown, release political detainees, and implement serious reform rapidly. (In fact, I would argue that Washington should also make military aid to Israel contingent on reaching a peace deal with the Palestinians.)

But the truth is that the situation is in the hands of the Egyptian people.

At a certain level, I understand why Egypt has reached this point. For me and other desktop revolutionaries outside the country, it’s easy to talk ideals when we’re not confronted with the bitter daily reality. After nearly three years of revolt, with precious little to show for it, Egyptians are suffering a sort of revolution fatigue.

Nevertheless, if Egypt does not change course, all the blood, sweat and tears Egyptians shed in their quest for freedom may prove to have been for nothing. Morsi and the Brotherhood peddled the illusion that they had a divine, magical solution to all Egypt’s problems. Instead, they proved to be a bearded version of the Mubarak regime. They talked democracy, but they walked theocracy.

But it is a grave error to believe that my enemy’s enemy is my friend. The army may have learnt to speak democracy, but autocracy is still in its blood. Six decades of military dictatorship, a disastrous first transition following Mubarak’s ouster and a campaign that seems bent of purging Egypt of the Brotherhood – which could push Egypt over the abyss into civil strife – are not promising signs.

More troubling still, al-Sisi has become a cult hero, with campaigns petitioning him to run for president and polls showing he would win, if he ran. Even if we give him the benefit of the doubt and assume he is a man of integrity, the temptations of excessive power and popularity could potentially doom Egypt to decades more of dictatorship.

For that reason, I hope Egyptians reject both the military and the Muslim Brotherhood, and reject violence, no matter whom its target is.

Follow Khaled Diab on Twitter.

This article first appeared in The Guardian on 9 October 2013.

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The hair that binds

 
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By Christian Nielsen

Despite its bonding potential, a trip to the hairdresser’s can inflict trauma on soap-phobic pre-adolescent boys and their mullet-phobic fathers.

Friday 11 January 2013

I can think of three traditional male-bonding rituals between father and son: fishing trips, the first football match together and that birds and bees chat. Today, I am reminded of another … going to the hairdresser together.

I’m sitting in an over-lit salon on a white faux leather couch flicking through magazines with my eldest son in search of a hairstyle that doesn’t make him look more of a Muppet than he currently does. It’s not going well. He’s all attitude and insists he just wants the fringe out of eyes and may be less hair on the sides.

As someone raised in the 1970s and 1980s, I can see that instructing the hairdresser to do this will result in only one thing … the dreaded mullet. Remember Bono in the 1980s, Billy Ray Cyrus in the 90s and, for those familiar with Australian Rules Football, the 21st century incarnation of this fashion travesty Richmond player Ivan Maric.

Failure to face this challenge today in an adult way, failure to overcome the fear of making a scene will have serious consequences. It will scar the memory of this landmark father-son bonding moment. The pointed finger of shame will be cast in my direction for months (until the mullet grows out) as parents recognise my salon failure, my inability to instruct the hairdresser on the appropriate length and style for a nine-year-old boy.

As I mull over the perils of this decision, an executive-looking guy walks in with his preteen son and says with authority to the hairdresser, “Can I leave my boy here to wait for a cut … make it short for school but perhaps not too much off the fringe!” The hairdresser flutters agreement to this alpha male and he walks out of the salon, leaving the boy to finger his smart phone morosely while he waits his turn.

“You see how lucky you are?” I say to my boy whom I clearly think shouldn’t care how his hair looks. “Some dads just tell the hairdresser how to cut it and that’s it.” After months of badgering him about the state of his hair, my wife decided it was time that I stepped up and did what fathers do … problem is, I’m not really sure what they’re supposed to do in this situation.

Fishing trips aside, my dad was not the most hands-on in these matters. For example, the birds and bees thing was a memo delivered via my mum along the lines … “Get him some condoms and make sure he uses them!” My mum obliged but her timing was a bit off. I was 14 and still very much a virgin. The procured box of condoms was met with some bemusement at first but that gave way to amusement for my friends and I who found a good use for them as water bombs.

So, here I sit 30 years later with my own son and sometimes I possess barely an inkling of the requirements that this entails. Next to me is a man waiting equally as uncomfortably on this white sofa, enduring the top ten R&B tunes of today on a mounted TV and humming some incessant tune of his own. Second thoughts … it’s a tick and it’s really starting to wind me up.

Two hairdressers work on three women at various stages of what appears to be their Saturday wash-and-dry routine, while a chatty woman with a red nose waits her turn. Builders bring in materials for renovations and the red-nosed woman takes up position as traffic cop opening and closing the door each time they return with planks and boxes.

Meanwhile, my son has narrowed down his choice of hairdos to two possibilities. I struggle to hide my envy that he has a choice at all. Hair loss is cruel. I like both cuts, but one could really work with his hair, and although it is ‘fashionable’ it is also boyish, so perfect for his age!

I’ve got Time magazine’s people of the year edition open in front of me, but as interesting as Obama, Cook and co. may be, it’s impossible to concentrate. Inane nattering, R&B warbling, coiffed madams complaining, builders bantering … Human suffering gets a makeover in the salon.

Finally, it’s my boy’s turn. He approaches the spray-tanned stylist and shows her the page with the look he wants. She seems impressed. He sits and she pumps the seat to the right height.

Mullets now safely behind us, fresh concerns bubble to the surface. Will she go too far and turn my innocent boy into a Dorian dandy? What will his mother say when I walk him in with a new romantic flick that would put Spandau Ballet to shame?

I take a seat next to him and my panic is palpable. She starts at the back. He says, “Don’t let her cut too much off’, in Swedish (his mother is a Swede) so the girl doesn’t understand. But all my own fears of making a fuss come back to me. I get a flashback of the times I sat in the salon chair saying nothing as I see the next three months of my life being destroyed until the tragedy she is creating on my head grows out.

I tell him it looks great. I can tell he’s not convinced, but he can’t see what she’s doing so it’s still safe. Then she starts on the sides and front. Hair piles up on the floor. With every chunk jettisoned he winces. I can picture him starting to cry and embarrassing the hell out of me when she finishes.

Then it starts to take shape. My dread subsides momentarily. My boy smiles as the fringe is tidied up. I say it looks great and really mean it because it does. No mullet, no new romantic. We think it’s all over when she pulls out another pair of scissors and starts cutting it all again. I say cutting but it looks more my scraping as she distresses the ends … and me … with every pull.

Next comes the razor and I think this is where I have to say enough is enough, but I remember her being so pleased to be able to work on a proper hairstyle, from a book and all. I don’t have the heart to take this creative moment away from her. I sacrifice my child to her tepid career in a provincial salon. I close my eyes and pray that it will be over soon.

“Umm, do you want me to put gel in it?” I open my eyes and see that the creation is finished. “Gel?” she says slower and louder like young people do when speaking to the elderly. I look at my son, and he screws up his nose.

“No, I think it’s fine the way it is,” I say with a measure of exhaustion creeping into my voice. She brushes the hair off his face and back and removes the smock. He turns to me, catching himself in the mirror on the way, and I’m just waiting for that look which means “Daddy, I’ll never trust you again”.

It doesn’t come. Instead I get a broad smile and glint of pride. It’s a cool cut from a magazine but it still makes him look like a boy … a beautiful nine-year-old boy. The stylist is pleased with herself. The customer, my son, is pleased with himself. The father, me, is relieved as hell. We leave the salon and he takes my hand as we walk back to the car.

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9/12: Turning over a new leaf in the Middle East

 
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By Khaled Diab

On the 10th anniversary of the day after 9/11, it is high time to trash the ‘clash of civilisations’ theory and the ‘war on terror’ and start a new chapter in the West’s relationship with the new Middle East.

Monday 12 September 2011

Most people recall vividly where they were on 11 September 2001, when four passenger jets were hijacked and used as highly effective targeted missiles, bringing down the World Trade Centre’s ‘twin towers’ in New York and damaging the Pentagon in Washington. In all, nearly 3,000 people were killed, making this the most devastating terrorist attack ever on American soil.

Sadly, the massive outpouring of global sympathy, support and solidarity – with people around the world saying “We are all Americans now” – was to prove short-lived, especially in Arab and Muslim countries, as the Bush administration and its neo-conservative allies hijacked this monumental tragedy to serve their own narrow interests.

After apparently taking a break for over a decade, following Francis Fukuyama’s confident assertion that history had ended with the collapse of communism in 1989, history re-awoke on 9/12, to an apparently monumental ‘clash of civilisations’ – despite the abundant evidence that most clashes are those of interests and that ‘civilisations’ more often clash within their civilisational group than outside it – which pitted the enlightened West against the benighted forces of Islam(ism).

Equipped with a brand new enemy to replace the ‘reds under the bed’, Washington declared its ‘war on terror’ to hunt down those baddie Jihadis and launched a raft of initiatives to civilise the Muslim world.

Providing strong evidence of where the administration’s actual priorities lay, hours after the attacks, then Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld was already going out of his way to link the atrocity to Iraq, despite the secular nature of Baghdad’s Ba’ath regime and the mutual hatred between Saddam Hussein and Osama Bin Laden.

Washington’s democratising and civilising mission focused mainly on invading and bombing to smithereens two countries: first Afghanistan (in October 2001) and then Iraq (in March 2003), not to mention the more recent involvement in Pakistan.

Despite at least a quarter of a million deaths and up to $4 trillion in costs to the US tax payer,  the decade-old war on terror has resulted in little but death, destruction and destitution, particularly in Iraq which was once one of the most developed and prosperous countries in the Middle East.

The true gains for freedom and democracy in the Middle East have been delivered – as critics of the War on Terror have long been arguing – by the peoples concerned themselves, as demonstrated by the ongoing Arab Spring or Arab Awakening.

In fact, the Arab revolutions undermine many of the assumptions underpinning the US approach over the past decade, even under the Obama administration which took over many of its predecessor’s policies, namely that liberty and liberal values could be imposed from outside by a paternalistic West, that freedom is synonymous with free markets, and that democracy and free markets automatically bring greater prosperity and rights to the masses. Another shattered myth is that the United State is a benign power operating for the greater good and not out of the narrow self-interest of its economic and political elite at the expense not only of hundreds of millions around the world but also of ordinary Americans who have been left with a near-bankrupt system, as the recent “default crisis” frighteningly illustrated.

For the Arab revolutionary wave to succeed requires not only that Arabs successfully redefine and reinvent their relationship with those that govern them but also that the relationship between Arab, not to mention other developing, countries with the West and the wealthy industrialised nations.

Although the Arab uprisings are against dictatorship and despotism, they are also against the dictates of Western hegemony and have an economic bottom line. They are part and parcel of a global backlash against growing inequalities triggered by neo-liberal economics and the increasing economic marginalisation of the young.

Tackling this not only requires deep domestic economic reform by Arab regimes but also the reinvention and reconfiguration of the global economic order – which is currently skewed towards the interests of he West, other OECD countries and, increasingly, the emerging might of China and a few other heavy hitters in the developing world – to make it fairer and more equitable.

If the second decade following the 9/11 attacks is to be a brighter one, then Washington and its Western allies need to abandon their paternalistic approach to the Middle East, see the region as more than the sum of its oil wells and allow its people to gain their fair share of the global economic pie.

But with a major energy crisis on the horizon and with Western economies on the verge of bankruptcy, not to mention massive global and regional overpopulation, there are troubling signs that the wrong lessons will be drawn from the first post-9/11 decade. But here’s to hoping that enlightened self-interest will win out over destructive selfishness.

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Is Mubarak really a force of stability?

 
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By Osama Diab

Providing more legitimate access to power should be the way to guarantee security and stability in Egypt.

23 September 2009

In the speech he gave in Cairo in June, US President Barack Obama said, “I do have an unyielding belief that all people yearn for certain things: the ability to speak your mind and have a say in how you are governed; confidence in the rule of law and the equal administration of justice; government that is transparent and doesn’t steal from the people; the freedom to live as you choose. Those are not just American ideas, they are human rights, and that is why we will support them everywhere.”

Obama linked the application of these ideas with stability and security. Then in August, during Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak’s visit to Washington, Obama described Mubarak as a force of stability. As a man of courtesy, Obama may have just been trying to be a good host and show respect. It’s difficult to believe Obama is simply unaware of the Mubarak regime’s horrid human rights record or Egypt’s poor ranking in international corruption reports. I hope that Obama is not just turning a blind eye to Mubarak’s practices because he relies on him as an important ally in our troubled region — which is probably much nearer the mark.

The praise Mubarak has received from the US president illustrates America’s double-standard politics that basically say: an important ally in the region, and a friend of Israel, is a force of stability, regardless of the regime’s domestic policy.

Mubarak is a force of instability and unrest. In Arab pop culture, the term korsi (chair) holds a political significance, referring to political rule or authority. In the Middle East, rulers get attached to this chair, and as time passes, the attachment gets stronger. Death, and only death, can put an end to this union, kind of like a Catholic marriage. This has become so much the norm that the term “ex-president” sounds very bizarre to the Arab ear.

Consequently, access to power using legitimate means becomes unattainable, which is why political parties and groups resort to means that ultimately cause political turbulence and social unrest. In recent years, many political movements have challenged Mubarak’s power, such as Kifaya, the Egyptian movement for change, and the April 6 Youth Movement. These movements organise protests, sit-ins and strikes that are usually crushed by riot police, leading to even more public dissent. A large number of students and activists have been detained and are being systematically harassed by the Egyptian police.

In the 20th century, Egypt saw many attempts to challenge authority outside the system and the law. The country witnessed the assassination of many political figures. In 1990, Rifaat el-Mahgoub, speaker of the Egyptian parliament, who was also a member of the ruling National Democratic Party, was assassinated in his car in Cairo by an Islamic group. Anwar Sadat, the Nobel Peace Prize winner and Egyptian president, was also killed by Islamic militant groups for signing a peace treaty with Israel. A few hours after his death, Asyut, one of Egypt’s major southern cities, fell under the control of Islamic groups for a few days and tens of police officers were killed. For more than a decade after Sadat’s death, Egypt suffered from a very strong wave of terrorism that claimed the lives of hundreds of civilians and police officers.

Besides assassinations and terrorism, Egypt saw at least one military coup in 1952, a revolution in 1919, and a nationwide student uprising in 1936 where hundreds of protestors were killed by the police. Recently, civil disobedience has been commonplace, labour strikes are turning into some sort of a national sport, clashes between riot police and students are becoming standard to see on news programmes, and deaths are reported daily during election time.

The more that access to power is denied, the more people will look for alternatives and be willing to challenge power outside the system. When power is inaccessible by legitimate means, the ground is fertile for coups, revolutions, assassinations and non-peaceful methods of power transition. This is something Obama and his advisers seem to have failed to understand when they called Mubarak “a force of stability in the region”.

Moreover, trying to convince the public that presidents don’t age or get sick like common humans has also been a widely used strategy in the Egyptian regime. In 2007, Ibrahim Eissa, editor of independent daily al-Dostour, was sentenced to prison because he published an article questioning the then-79-year-old Mubarak’s health. The court found him guilty of “publishing false information of a nature to disturb public order or security”. Due to numerous protests and public dissent, President Mubarak pardoned Eissa after one of the most contentious court cases related to freedom of the press.

After so long in the top seat, one would think Mubark’s hunger for power would be sated. He has ruled Egypt for 28 years, not to mention his years as vice-president and a high-ranking military officer. Mubarak can make history by resigning the presidency and supervising free and fair elections to select a successor.

As someone who is known to care for his legacy, gaining credit as the founder of democracy in the Arab world and ending the military’s monopoly on power (and not by transferring it to his civilian son) should appeal to him. Mubarak can set an example in the region that democracy is attainable. He could possibly get credit for being the founder of democracy in the Middle East.

Supporting Mubarak’s regime might seem to the Obama administration like an easy way to keep the Arab world’s most populous, and arguably most influential, country from turning into an Islamic regime, but in the long term, it will achieve the opposite. If the administration wants to help contain extremism and decrease support for groups that threaten the region’s stability, such as the Muslim Brotherhood, it needs to work on making power more accessible by legitimate means.

This article was first published by WorldPress.org on 13 September 2009. Republished here with the author’s permission. ©Osama Diab. All rights reserved.

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The Middle East on Biden

 
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By Khaled Diab

Does Obama’s choice of running mate mean he’s shaping up to be just another establishment candidate for the White House?

August 2008

Obama hugs running mate Biden

Obama hugs running mate Biden

Not one to rest on his laurels, Barack Obama is already delivering on his promise of change – albeit in the wrong direction. He has changed his image from that of the sophisticated, sensible and sensitive ‘outsider’ to become another establishment figure.

Since his nomination, the recently progressive senator has taken a sharp turn to the right, and morphed, in terms of foreign policy rhetoric at least, into a ‘Republican lite’ candidate. With his selection of Joe Biden, who can best be described as a dovish hawk, the transformation seems complete, as the man resembles John McCain on foreign policy.

 Although Biden is generally more enlightened and knowledgeable in foreign policy issues than the Bush administration, there are too many parallels that do not bode so well. He supported the invasion of Iraq and his imperial swagger and arrogance is unlikely to go down well among ordinary Arabs: “It makes a lot of sense to change the map of the Middle East,” he once said

Interestingly, he claimed that: “Building a democracy that is based upon the notion of the rule of the majority is a disaster for us.”  But I’m confused, what other kind of democracy is other?

Unperturbed by the US’s dismal record in the region, he talks a lot about “nation building” and has described Paul Wolfowitz, a major architect of the Iraq war, as an “idealist”. To his credit, Biden has criticised the current administration’s disdain for “soft power”, pointing out that: “There is a need… to establish the soil under which the seeds of liberal democratic institutions can take root.”

Being a political sceptic, I have not expected Obama to challenge significantly US foreign policy conventions – and I have warned against inflated expectations that he would somehow bring a “new dawn”.

In the Middle East, opinion is divided over the significance of Biden’s appointment. The general consensus among Arabs is that anyone would be better than the current Bush administration.

“The people of the region have endured nearly eight years of Bush’s rudderless policy and ill-advised decisions… Most Arabs are now ready for a changing of the guard at the White House, regardless of who the American people might choose,” an editorial in the Lebanese Daily Star remarked. “If the Obama-Biden camp edges ahead in the polls, the region’s [autocratic] leaders had better start preparing themselves for a diplomatic grilling.”

“Picking Biden, whose views on certain regional issues, such as dividing Iraq along sectarian lines and his staunch support for Israel, have disappointed Arabs,” a Gulf News editorial observed. “However, they trust that Obama is not a ‘war’ president. They also recognise that Biden is a sharp foreign policy man.”

Some were less flattering. “Obama’s choice of deputy confirms… that the real change he is after is a personal one: to leap from his seat in the Senate to the presidential chair.” Said Mahyo writes in the Third Power.

In a rare show of unity, Iraqis from across the political spectrum criticised Obama’s choice because of their opposition to Biden’s proposal to divide Iraq into a loose federation of autonomous states.

Despite Biden’s pro-Israel credentials and his self-described status as a “Zionist”, there remain doubts in Israel, although Israelis have now warmed more to the Obama ticket. “Biden is a firm supporter of Israel, but the way he sees the US’s role in the Middle East doesn’t necessarily reflect Jerusalem’s ideal of the ideal ‘American partner’,” Natasha Mozgovaya wrote in Haaretz.

But he seems to tick the right boxes for many American Jews. Speculating on whether McCain would choose Joe Lieberman, perhaps the best-known Jewish politician in America, the Jerusalem Post noted: “While Lieberman is a favourite on the single issue of Israel, [Biden] is more in synch with Jewish voters on the broad range of domestic and foreign policy issues.”  

Debra Adler, an American Jew I know who has been involved closely with the Obama campaign, called Biden a “safe choice” and part of Obama’s “attempt to place himself in the light of practical policy, rather than as the brash idealist many of us came to love.”

“That’s okay by me,” she added, “because the brash idealists are never successful, so I’d like to think that his inner-idealist is driving [him].”

Naturally, I realise that Obama’s “outsider” image, his skin colour, his worldview, and even his name could prove to be a losing combination for him. But this poses the difficult question of how much a leader should follow popular opinion and various interest groups in order to get elected and how much he should challenge an unhealthy status quo. Many were hoping that Obama would have the courage to follow his convictions, and persuade the electorate to share in his vision.

In addition, there is a depressing track record of leaders who embrace the centre to get elected and then spend their entire term in office determined to prove that they’re not “soft” or anti-big business, such as New Labour in the UK. When Tony Blair was elected in 1997, a lot of hope was pinned on him to deliver significant change. But “Tory” Blair pretty much defected to the Conservative party on many issues and even went to war in Iraq against his own party’s will and with the support of the opposition.

Hopefully, Obama, if elected, would not be as disastrous as Blair, and will start steering the US along a more enlightened course. But his presidency is likely to leave unchanged many US policies – such as the propping up of friendly dictators, the legalised corporate pillaging of Iraq and the unbalanced approach to the Israel-Palestinian conflict – that are detrimental to the region’s future.

This column appeared in The Guardian Unlimited’s Comment is Free section on 30 August 2008. Read the related discussion.

This is an archive piece that was migrated to this website from Diabolic Digest

 

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What’s the difference between Obama and an Arab?

 
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By Khaled Diab

John McCain has furnished compelling proof that Barack Obama is not an Arab: the Democrat is a family man.

October 2008

Just to set the record straight: Barack Obama is not an Arab. If you don’t believe me, I have it on good authority – John McCain said so. When a woman in the audience told the Republican candidate that she feared Obama because he was the scariest of all creatures, an “Arab”, the gallant McCain – who knows a thing or two about dodgy foreigners, having spent several years in captivity with them – assured her that the Democrat was nothing of the sort.

And how does he know? Because Obama is “a decent family man”.

Being an Arab myself and having lived among them for much of my life, I can confirm that McCain is not just the candidate with the most experience in foreign policy, he has also proven himself, with this penetrating insight, to be the one with the most knowledge of foreign societies.

Personally, I blame the whole sad situation on the pressures of modern life and the rat race. Family bonds are bound to break down when men are faced with the tough demands of building a career with a major multinational like al-Qaida.

How many fathers can spend quality time with their wives and children – especially when they have four of one and two dozen of the other – when they have to spend sleepless nights formulating devious and bloody plans to destroy the free world, brainstorm creative viral marketing and recruitment campaigns, and get the execution just right so as to make a killing on global financial markets?

Then, there are all the long business trips to distant places, like Tora Bora, and the gruelling but incomplete training modules, such as learning to fly but not to land, that keep many an executive up in the air indefinitely.

Besides, Arab men are too ambitious for their families’ good: they chase promotion day and night in the cut-throat business of martyrdom in the hope of gaining access to the executive club in the sky, with its 72 sexy personal assistants and rivers of gushing vintage wine. In the process, most fall by the wayside, burnt out, their nerves shot to shreds, while their families are left to pick up the pieces.

As every good conservative knows, children are led astray when there is no father figure around the house. What kind of example is an Arab role model like Osama Bin Laden setting when he walks out on his family, joins a gang and goes so AWOL that not only social services but also the CIA and US army can’t find him?

Of course, some limp-wristed liberal is bound to claim that she or he personally knows Arab men who are loving husbands and doting fathers. Well, that’s just a show put on for your benefit. Do you know what goes on behind closed doors, I ask you?

Arab Americans may take offence to McCain’s generalisation and are bound to protest that the family is the cornerstone upon which Arab society is built, and that Arab men generally take family matters very seriously. But what would they know? Self-deception and keeping up false appearances are universal Arab traits.

Yes, indeed, it must have been those delusional voices in my head that have persuaded my that my wife consider me a dedicated husband, my mum reckons I’m a loving son, and my siblings generally think that I’m a good big brother.

Come to think of it, the legions of caring Arab fathers, generous uncles, indulgent grandfathers, and strangers who make little kids laugh in child-friendly public places that I have encountered over the years must have been figments of my imagination. Of course, too many Arab fathers are a tad traditional and old-fashioned – although there are plenty of modern ones, too – but does that mean they are not decent family men? Republicans, after all, have a tendency of equating tradition with decency, and modernity with decadence.

Then again, it might be a grand conspiracy to convince the world that we Arabs are ordinary humans, too, while we quietly take over the world. Liberals, you have been warned, let your guard down against those wily Orientals at your own peril.

This column appeared in The Guardian Unlimited’s Comment is Free section on 16 October 2008. Read the related discussion.

This is an archive piece that was migrated to this website from Diabolic Digest

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The audacity to dream

 
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By Khaled Diab

If we suspend scepticism and take up Barack Obama’s invitation to dream of change, what Middle East can the audacity of hope help to forge?

November 2008

Since Barack Obama’s victory, I have been somewhat at odds with myself. The realist and sceptic tells me that, despite the euphoria, it may well be back to business more or less as usual once the president elect actually takes office.

 Still, the dreamer and romantic urges me to savour the symbolism of Obama’s victory, with the way it has energised US voters and inspired people around the world, and allow myself the luxury of dreaming that change really can happen. This leads me to wonder about my native Middle East, one of the world’s most troubled regions, and what kind of change there could I and would I believe in.

 The most immediate dream I have – and one that is probably shared by most of the region – is to dispel the spectre of conflict which has destroyed Iraq and locked Israelis and Palestinians in a spiralling death dance. Although there is much more to the Middle East than the wars and disputes that grab the headlines, the threat of the spread of conflict – to Iran, Syria and Lebanon – or the shadow ongoing conflicts cast on the entire region has a massive destabilising effect.

 Peace will encourage stability, and stability will trigger change and progress. But what change does the Middle East need?

 Well, the region is a diverse and complex place, and there is no general panacea. But to take up Obama’s challenge for people to have the audacity to hope, I will suspend my disbelief and allow myself the luxury to flesh out my own Middle Eastern dream.

 The Middle East I dream of is one of greater equality and empowerment, where the fruits of economic development are shared more equally among citizens, where people have more power to make a difference and where governments better reflect the will of their people.

 I dream of societies that have the self-confidence to look to the future, and take assured strides into the unknown, rather than fixating on the past, whether in terms of glories or grievances. I desire societies that put more trust in innovation, and less in tradition, and where change is something to be striven for and not just emulated. I wish people would realise just how inappropriate, counterproductive and indecorous it is for them to let religion out on to the streets to make a nuisance of itself and intimidate others, when its rightful place should be at home and in the heart, where it can engage in private affairs with the faithful.

 I hope that the failed dream of pan-Arabism can be resurrected in a more inclusive form to build a loose trans-national union between all the peoples of the region: Arabs, Persians, Turks, Israelis, etc. I aspire to a future in which national and ethnic identity become less important and more blurred, so that a non-Muslim can become the leader of a Muslim majority country, or a non-Jew the prime minister of Israel.

 These prospects seem like fantasy at the moment, but, after much blood, sweat and suffering, what was once deemed impossible, sometimes does become possible. Pre-Obama who would’ve thought that America could overcome the legacy of slavery and segregation to elect a president with some African blood? Who would’ve thought apartheid or Soviet communism would end so suddenly and unceremoniously? In the wake of the Second World War, who would have thought that a borderless union in which Germany and France are the strongest allies would have emerged out of the wreckage?

 Since Obama triggered this train of thought and since we shouldn’t get too carried away with dreaming, let’s start with the United States. What can America do to improve the Middle East?

 There are hopes that, under Obama’s tutelage, America will become more positively and benignly engaged in the region. My wishes are rather different. Instead of wanting America to play a more positive role, I merely wish for it to play less of a negative one.

 Given America’s own aversion to foreign meddling in its affairs and the clear evidence that the most enduring change is that which comes from within, why do so many Americans believe that other countries need or welcome American interference?

 The major difference America can truly make is to withdraw from Iraq and offer Iraqis support through international mechanisms to clean up the mess the American invasion has caused. In addition, the best way the United States can serve the cause of political reform and peace in the Middle East is to phase out its support for authoritarian and semi-authoritarian regimes that oppress their own citizens or other peoples, such as Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Israel.

 Left to its own devices, the shaky regime of the ageing Hosni Mubarak in Egypt would soon buckle to growing grassroots pressure for reform. Similarly, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict would sooner be resolved if Israel did not benefit from such excessive American largesse and almost unconditional support.

 Nevertheless, the outlook of the Pax Americana empire is unlikely to change all that much, and the United States is likely to continue to believe that its narrow imperial interests are served by continued support for forces that are ultimately not in the interests of the Middle East and its people.

 Of course, America, whose citizens possess a strong and admirable sense of idealism, can make a positive contribution to the region and the world by mobilising the US’s significant ‘soft power’ in concert with the international community and through multilateral mechanisms. This can help meet global challenges and create a sense that there is an international order that no one stands above or outside, even a superpower. Luckily, this is something Obama is more likely to do than his predecessors.

 

This column appeared in The Guardian Unlimited’s Comment is Free section on 30 November 2008. Read the related discussion.

This is an archive piece that was migrated to this website from Diabolic Digest

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تغيير على مستوى الجذور نستطيع أن نؤمن به

 
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بقلـم خالد دياب

كان أحد شعارات حملة باراك أوباما الناجحة “تغيير نستطيع أن نؤمن به”. ومع توليه الرئاسة، تغير كل شيء، إلا أن شيئاً لم يتغير بالنسبة لسياسة الولايات المتحدة الخارجية تجاه النزاع الإسرائيلي الفلسطيني.

قدم أوباما، مقارنة بسلفه، تحولاً كبيراً في لغة السياسة الخارجية، حيث تعهد الاعتماد بصورة أقل على التدخل العسكري وبصورة أكبر على الدبلوماسية العالمية والحوار. ولكن هذا التحول لا يعتبر هاماً وكبيراً بشكل كافٍ لإعادة إحياء عملية السلام وبدء تحرك جديد. لذا أعتقد شخصياً أن الأمر عائد للفلسطينيين والإسرائيليين ليجدوا طريقهم إلى الأمام.

يشكل خطاب الرئيس أوباما في مصر هذا الأسبوع جزءاً من توجهه الساحر نحو الفوز “بالقلوب والعقول” – ذلك التعبير المبتذل الذي استخدم بشكل زائد – في العالمي العربي والإسلامي. ويبدو أن جهود أوباما أخذت تؤتي ثمارها. فقد أظهر استطلاع أُجري مؤخراً أنه رغم كون ثلاثة أرباع العرب يعتبرون الولايات المتحدة ثاني أعظم خطر وتهديد في العالم، تتراوح نسبة الموافقة على أوباما حول 45%، وهو تحسن ضخم مقابل وضع جورج دبليو بوش، الذي أعتبر أول أو ثاني شرير في العالم.

أدى هذا التغيير في اللهجة، إضافة إلى مؤشرات برزت مؤخراً بتوجه أكثر نشاطاً وعملية حيال النزاع الإسرائيلي الفلسطيني إلى كم معين من التفاؤل في بعض النواحي. وقد فسّر عماد جاد في صحيفة الأهرام الأسبوعية المصرية إصرار أوباما على تجميد عملية بناء المستوطنات على أنها مؤشر بأن “الدولة الفلسطينية المستقلة هي احتمال أكيد”.

أجد من الصعب، عند هذا المفترق على الأقل، أن أشارك الكاتب تفاؤله. قد يكون أوباما مختلفاً عن بوش اختلاف النار عن الأرض، ولكن الولايات المتحدة التي يقودانها ليست مختلفة إلى هذه الدرجة الجوهرية. أحد الأسباب الرئيسية لانهيار عملية السلام هي أن واشنطن لم تنجح أبداً في لعب دور وسيط صادق غير منحاز. ما هي احتمالات أن يضغط أوباما، الذي يصف نفسه بأنه “صديق إسرائيل” على دولة يتزعمها بنيامين نتنياهو اليميني الذي يتمتع بشعبية، ونائبة الديماغوجي ووزير الخارجية أفيغدور ليبرمان، لتقديم التنازلات الضرورية من أجل التوصل إلى تسوية مع الفلسطينيين، خاصة مع وجود حماس المتطرفة بشكل مماثل، تقبع وسط القيادة الفلسطينية؟ من المفيد هنا أن نتذكر أنه بحسب البعض، فقد تم تخريب عملية أوسلو إلى درجة كبيرة من قبل نتنياهو وحماس.

يأمل البعض أن يتمكن أوباما من الاستفادة إلى أقصى حد ممكن من دور الوساطة الذي تلعبه مصر منذ مدة طويلة في النزاع الإسرائيلي الفلسطيني. إلا أن القاهرة، مثلها مثل واشنطن، لديها مشكلتها الخاصة في المصداقية، إذ لا يثق بها اليمين في كل من إسرائيل وفلسطين. إضافة إلى ذلك، أدى إغلاق معبر رفح الذي زاد من معاناة الفلسطينيين إلى إذكاء الشعور بخيبة أمل كبيرة من طرف الفلسطينيين، والغضب في الشارع المصري.

وفي الحقيقة، يشعر المصريون ذوو العقلية الإصلاحية بخيبة أمل بزيارة أوباما لأنها تعبّر ضمنياً عن الدعم لنظام غير شعبي يعاني من عجز مزمن في الشرعية. “كان بعضنا يأمل بعلاقة أكثر فتوراً بين إدارة الرئيس أوباما والنظام المصري”، يقول كريم مدحت، وهو شاب مصري يعمل في مجال تقديم المعونة للاجئين.

برأيي أن ما يحتاجه الشرق الأوسط، وخاصة القضية الإسرائيلية الفلسطينية، ليس مزيداً من المشاركة الأمريكية، بل مشاركة أقل. التغيير الذي يبقى هو التغيير العضوي الذي يأتي من الداخل. ولا تحتاج واشنطن، حتى تساعد هذه العملية، أن تعارض النظام في القاهرة أو الرياض بنشاط، وإنما لأن تسحب دعمها الحالي مثل الدعم العسكري لمصر والذي يبلغ 1,3 مليار دولار سنوياً. وبالمثل، يتوجب على الفلسطينيين والإسرائيليين أن يجدوا الطريق الخاص بهم نحو السلام. والأسلوب الذي يمكن للولايات المتحدة من خلاله مساعدة هذا التوجه هو إزالة تأثيرها الضخم الذي يشّوه الوضع، مثل المعونة العسكرية البالغة 3 مليارات دولار التي تقدمها إلى إسرائيل كل سنة.

وبما أن الدينامية بين اللاعبين، خصوماً أكانوا أم وسطاء، بالكاد تغيرت منذ قدوم أوباما على مسرح الأحداث، أعتقد أن الوقت قد حان لأن يتخلى الناس عن الحلول من الأعلى إلى الأسفل للنزاع الإسرائيلي الفلسطيني. تقدم الجهود التدريجية على مستوى الجذور، عند هذه النقطة، أفضل أمل بتحقيق اختراق. أحد الخيارات التي طالما دافعت عنها في كتاباتي هو تحويل النزاع إلى كفاح اجتماعي سياسي تدريجي يتعامل مع الحقوق المدنية الأساسية، مثل حرية التنقل والحركة والحق بالعيش بأمن وسلامة والحق في التعليم والحصول على فرص العمل وحق التصويت والحق في المواطَنة والجنسية، بدلاً من مفاهيم مجردة كالقومية وقضايا شائكة حول الحدود.

سوف تعمل حركة حقوق مدنية أساسية على تحسين الوضع على الأرض، وتستطيع أن تزيل تدريجياً القومية البشعة الاستثنائية التي أذكت نار هذا النزاع خلال العقود الستة الماضية.

مصدر المقال: خدمة Common Ground الإخبارية 8 حزيران/يونيو 2009

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