Future of Middle East: Between a rock and a hard place

Future of Middle East: Between a rock and a hard place
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By Jafar M. Ramini

Jafar Ramini

Jafar Ramini

I am in a quandary, torn like no other time before between throwing in the towel and calling it a day or continuing on the same path with no end in sight.

What brought this state of confusion and uncertainty in my mind and heart is the wall-to-wall media coverage of events concentrated around ISIS. The international media is full of stories about the brutality of ISIS and its grotesque excesses while no mention is made about the savage, continuing Israeli occupation of our land. Yes, you might be able to read or see a clip of the brutality of the Israeli Occupying Forces on our women, children and lands, but there is no serious or meaningful discourse on how to tackle this impasse. Western powers have long decided that Israel cannot do any wrong and Israel is there as their extended arm in the Middle East.  As such Israel’s safety and security is paramount even above their own.

So how could a small nation like Palestine, with no army, no navy, no air force and hardly any friends or supporters stand in the way of the fourth most powerful army in the world plus its supporters and backers?  The answer is very simple.  We can’t. We are the only people in the history of mankind who are not permitted to resist occupation. When we do, because do we must, we are blamed, tagged as terrorists, demonized and besieged to the point of near strangulation.

Another reason for my state of melancholy and despair is the total disengagement between the West Bank and Gaza. The PLO (Fateh) behaves as if Gaza doesn’t exist. It is not their problem. The people of HAMAS do exactly the same towards the West Bank. It is nothing to do with us, they say.  We are here, standing in the face of Israeli aggression while the people in the West Bank negotiate and collaborate with our enemy.

Over the last ten years I have tried, through many articles and interviews, to point out the pitfalls of division and in fighting and called for unity; to say to both Fateh and Hamas to release the stranglehold that they have over Palestine. 

PalFest 2008 Dr. Hanan Ashrawi moderates the f...

PalFest 2008 Dr. Hanan Ashrawi moderates the first ever event (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Of course, all my efforts have been in vain. That is maybe to be expected, because politicians are a different breed. What hurts the most, like a dagger in my heart, are the hundreds of exchanges and comments on the social media between members of Hamas and Fateh exchanging accusations and insults in defence of their entrenched positions.  Not for the good of Palestine and the Palestinians, but for the good of the party that they belong to.

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 Israel, of course, is sitting back looking at this division, feeding it and laughing all the way to the bank. Because, make no mistake, Israel profits hugely from the occupation According to the International Bank those Israeli profits add up to $6 billion a year from the occupation and division in Palestine.

Not only are these yearly returns an excellent reason for maintaining the occupation, Israel, which yet again, destroyed Gaza completely last summer, was not even asked to contribute to the reconstruction of Gaza.  On the contrary one of the Israeli architects of Gaza’s destruction, Major General Yoav Mordechai, a sadistic commander of the Golani Brigade, is now a member of the team that will oversee the passage of reconstruction material into Gaza. This position effectively, gives him the power of veto. 

How is this right?  How is it even possible?

This is the man who rained white phosphorous, a chemical weapon that inflicts horrific burns on its victims, over Gaza in 2009.  How could a man of this caliber be put in charge of the reconstruction of the place he destroyed and demolished down to its last person standing and its last brick?

And what does the international community do?  Nothing much as usual.  They are too busy elsewhere, namely the Ukraine.  This last weekend, M. Hollande of France and Mrs. Merkel of Germany had a tête-à-tête with their Russian counterpart, Mr. Putin to try to find a way out without resorting to war. This is what the UK Foreign Secretary, the Rt Honourable Philip Hammond had to say referring to Mr. Putin.

“This man has sent troops across an international border and occupied another country’s territory in the 21st century acting like some mid-20th century tyrant.

“We do not behave like that. Civilised nations do not behave like that in the 21st century”.

Quite right, Mr. Hammond. Can you find the courage to direct these very words towards Mr. Netanyahu? How could you when you are a prominent member of Conservative Friends of Israel?

Oh, I neglected to mention that only two days ago the Head of EU Foreign Policy, Ms Federica Mogherini only yesterday, in a moment of inspiration, came up with a new idea. “Let’s revive the peace process,” she said.

“We need a collective rethinking of our overall approach to the conflict. The Quartet will prepare for a resumption of the peace process, including regular and direct outreach to Arab states”.

Let me remind you who are the members of this all-powerful Quartet. The United Nations, the US, the European Union and Russia and please don’t forget to mention Mr. Blair.

It’s like trying to administer medicine to the dead.

After 22 years of futile negotiations, which have given us, the Palestinians more pain and losses, what negotiations can you be talking about, Madam? And this brings me to another lady who has been in the news recently.

Our very own, Dr. Hanan Ashrawi, a veteran member of the PLO negotiating team was interviewed by Middle East Eye recently. While bemoaning the loss of control of Jerusalem she said, “Israel practised some of the cruelest measures against Jerusalemites; exorbitant taxes, no services, forming the Palestinian areas into ghettos, stealing their land, leaving them with 12 to 13 percent of their own land, and thousands upon thousands of ID card confiscations and the separation of families.”

May I suggest, Mrs. Ashrawi that the cruelty of the Israeli occupation does not stop at the gates of Jerusalem?  It extends to Gaza, Hebron, to Ramallah, to Nablus, to Jenin, to Bethlehem, to everywhere in Palestine where their mechanized brigades can roll in and out unhindered.

Mrs. Ashrawi went on to blame the unity government for falling short of carrying out their supposed responsibilities. The divisions are widening and neither Hamas nor Fateh are doing anything about it.

“Hamas wants to keep its militias,” said Mrs. Ashrawi, “ and wants to keep its security apparatus intact. Why should the PA’s president send his guards to the crossing points if behind them there are Hamas militias? You cannot do that.”

She was equally critical of government ministers who appear to ignore Gaza.

“You have a big strong government: Go there, take over. Don’t sit back and say, “Well, the deputy ministers have created a shadow government.” Why did they? Because you were not there. Go there, take over… Now is the time to be strong to have a big showing”.

I am actually not sure what Mrs. Ashrawi is calling for.  From past experience if the PLO, PA or Fateh try to force their way and their will on Hamas in Gaza a bloody, costly civil war would ensue, as surely as day follows night.

No my friends and compatriots. Now that I have laid my soul bare I see that in no way am I giving up.  Despite the fact that there is no pot of gold for Palestine at the end of this particular rainbow I just can’t give up.  As I have always said, we Palestinians, we don’t do defeat.

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Jafar Ramini

Jafar M Ramini is a Palestinian writer, commentator and analyst on Middle Eastern affairs living in London.

He was born in Jenin, northern Palestine, was educated in England and spent the early years of his working life in the Arabian Gulf and Saudi Arabia. He has traveled far and wide, searching for the answer to a question that still eludes him.

Why does the United States of America support the Zionist line in such a blind folded way while ignoring the legitimate rights of the indigenous Palestinian people? Particularly as the Palestinian people harbour no ill feelings towards America and its people nor has ever caused them any harm. It is, Jafar says, a conundrum.

Email him at: jafar_ramini@yahoo.co.uk
Jafar Ramini


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