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Zafar Bangash

History has a habit of returning with a vengeance to reveal the behavior of unsavory characters. The Israeli onslaught on Ghazzah launched on December 27 that resulted in the cold-blooded murder of thousands of Palestinians is not the first dastardly crime perpetrated by the zionists. Theirs is a history of repeated genocides against the hapless Palestinians from Deir Yasin (1948), Qibya (1953) to the Sabra and Shatilla refugee camps (September 1982), the massacre in Jenin (April 2002) and Beit Hanoun (March 2008). In between there were the two intifadahs — October 1987 to September 1993 and September 2000 to June 2005 — that reveal a clear pattern of zionist crimes. And now we witness the two-year-long siege of Ghazzah since Hamas won the elections in January 2006 and the recent barbaric onslaught.

While Zionist barbarism is well established, what is less well known is the true nature of Arab rulers. There striking parallels between what the noble messenger of Allah (saws) had faced at the hands of the Arabian mushriks in Makkah 1400 years ago and the attitude displayed toward Hamas and the Palestinians in Ghazzah by Arabian rulers in the Middle East today. In particular, the Israeli siege of and assault on Ghazzah has many similarities with the mushriks’ siege of Muslims in Sha’b Abi Talib during the seventh to the tenth year of the Prophetic mission in Makkah. Then as now, narrow self-interest superseded other considerations: moral, social and even ties of blood. Those closest to the Prophet (saws) by blood—Abu Lahab and his wife Um Jamil — betrayed and abandoned him and his companions as the Arabian rulers have done with the Palestinians today. The present-day rulers are much worse: Abu Lahab and his wife were openly hostile and did not hide their shirk; today’s Arabian rulers claim to be Muslims but their behavior is closer to that of mushriks than to Muslims except in one important respect: unlike the Arabian rulers today, the mushriks of Makkah were not cowards.

Let us briefly recall the events in Makkah. When the Makkan chiefs despaired of convincing the Prophet’s uncle Abu Talib to abandon him, they embarked on a collective boycott of the two clans of Banu Hashim (to which the Prophet (saws) belonged) and Banu Abd al-Muttalib, their cousins. The boycott extended even to their non-Muslim members but clan solidarity prevented them from abandoning the Prophet (saws). Only Abu Lahab and his wife broke away and vacated the house that shared a common wall with the Prophet’s house, to live with the mushriks. The mushriks’ demand was that Abu Talib should either abandon the Prophet (saws) or the latter should abandon Islam (nastaghfirullah) before they would lift the siege. The boycott agreement was written down, signed by 40 leading figures of Makkah and posted inside the Ka’aba. The siege lasted nearly three years; it was ultimately broken at the behest of a number of concerned mushrik relatives of the besieged people. Principal among those that decided to break the siege were Hisham ibn Amr (Aamir clan); Abu al-Bakhtari ibn Hisham and Zam’ah ibn al-Aswad (Banu Asad clan); Zuhayr ibn Abi Umayyah (Makhzum clan) and Mut’im ibn Adi (Adi clan).

One can immediately identify the modern-day equivalents of Abu Lahab: Mahmoud Abbas and his so-called Palestinian Authority. His alliance with the zionists against Hamas and the Palestinian people ranks on par with Abu Lahab’s attitude toward the noble messenger of Allah. But Mahmoud Abbas is not alone in this dubious honor. The Arabian rulers of the Middle East, in particular those of Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Jordan fall in the same category. This is not mere speculation; their own statements and behavior expose them unambiguously.

Ten days before the start of the Israeli onslaught on Ghazzah, Egypt’s Intelligence Minister Omar Suleiman had told the visiting Security Advisor to Israeli prime minister, retired general Amos Gilad, that Egypt would like to see Hamas cut down to size, even in Damascus. Further, that Cairo would not mind an Israeli incursion into Ghazzah to put and end to Hamas. A day before Israel launched its murderous aerial assault on Ghazzah that murdered 300 Palestinians in the first 15 minutes, Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni was received with hugs and kisses in Cairo by President Husni Mubarak of Egypt. Even after the murderous nature of Israeli attacks became clear, Mubarak told a delegation of European Union (EU) foreign ministers that “Hamas must not be allowed to win”, according to the Israeli daily, Ha’aretz (January 5, 2009). When the Egyptian people held rallies demanding the immediate opening of Refah border with Ghazzah to help the besieged Palestinians, Egyptian authorities said they could not do so because the Quartet (the UN, US, Russia and the EU) had imposed this blockade. The Egyptian rulers pathetically admitted they were not free to make decisions even about their own borders. They suggested instead that the people should demand that Israel open its border!

Other Arab rulers have been equally criminal in their negligence toward the suffering Palestinian masses. At the Arab League summit in Cairo on December 31, Saudi Foreign Minister Saud al-Faisal advanced the lame excuse: “This terrible massacre would not have happened if the Palestinian people were united behind one leadership.” He went on to pontificate: “Your Arab brothers cannot extend to you the hand of real help, if you do not extend the hand of affection to each other.” This was disingenuous: the Saudis are directly responsible for creating divisions among the Palestinians. The Saudi regime and its mukhabarat (intelligence agency) have used the kingdom’s wealth not to alleviate the suffering of the Palestinians but to bankroll the corrupt Palestinian Authority against Hamas. This so-called “Authority” has been rejected by the Palestinian people but since the US and Israel prop it up, the Saudis too support this puppet authority whose only purpose, besides stealing whatever money is donated to alleviate the suffering of the Palestinian people, appears to be to do Israel’s bidding.

The excuse advanced by Saud al-Faisal, however, is even worse than the behavior of the Makkan mushriks. Hisham ibn Amr, Abu al-Bakhtari ibn Hisham and Zuhayr ibn Abi Umayyah (a member of the rival Makhzum clan), for instance, did not argue that they could not help the Prophet (saws) and those besieged with him in Sh’ab Abi Talib because the Banu Hashim clan was divided. After all, one of their leading figures, Abu Lahab had broken rank and openly sided with the mushriks. Some of the Makkan mushriks could see that an injustice was being perpetrated against the Prophet (saws) and his relatives. They decided to challenge their elders to end this. The mushriks of the Prophet’s time appeared to have far greater sense of justice and honor than today’s “Muslim” Arabian rulers!

One can find non-Muslims of similar disposition even today that rank far higher than the Arabian rulers in the Middle East. Professor Richard Falk, the UN Special Rapporteur for Human Rights in Palestine, and international law expert at Princeton University, described Israel’s siege of Gaza last year, prior to the current onslaught, in the following terms: “Is it an irresponsible overstatement to associate the treatment of Palestinians with this criminalized Nazi record of collective atrocity? I think not. The recent developments in Gaza are especially disturbing because they express so vividly a deliberate intention on the part of Israel and its allies to subject an entire human community to life-endangering conditions of utmost cruelty.” It should be stated for the record that Professor Falk is Jewish yet he is prepared to speak out against Israeli crimes. After the Israeli onslaught began, Professor Falk issued the following statement on December 27: “The Israeli airstrikes on the Gaza Strip represent severe and massive violations of international humanitarian law as defined in the Geneva Conventions, both in regard to the obligations of an Occupying Power and in the requirements of the laws of war.” These were augmented by statements made by Miguel D’Escoto Brockmann, President of the UN General Assembly who not only condemned Israeli atrocities but also called for sanctions similar to those imposed on the apartheid regime of South Africa in the eighties. While the Arab regimes refused to expel Israeli diplomats operating in their countries, President Hugo Chavez of Venezuela gave marching orders to the zionists to pack their bags and leave Caracas. Venezuela and Bolivia broke off diplomatic relations with the zionist State on January 14. President Evo Morales of Bolivia even called for putting Israeli leaders on trial for war crimes.

Only a few Arab governments have shown any concern for the Palestinians: Syria, Libya and to a lesser extend Qatar. While the first two do not have diplomatic relations with the zionist State, Qatar and Mauritania belatedly announced expulsion of the Israelis from Doha on January 16 during another Arab League summit; Egypt and Jordan are averse to breaking off diplomatic relations with the zionists while Morocco refuses to cut commercial and political ties even if does not have formal diplomatic relations. Both Libya and Qatar attempted to send food and medicines to Ghazzah by sea but were unsuccessful. The Libyan ship is docked at an Egyptian port while the Qatari boat did not set out to sea at all once it became clear that their Israeli friends would not give them permission to enter Ghazzah waters. In the Muslim world, only the Islamic Republic of Iran, Hizbullah in Lebanon and to some extent, the Turkish government, have spoken out against Israeli crimes and demanded immediate action.

For Muslims the lesson is clear: the Arab regimes are agents of the kuffar and have been planted in Muslim lands to provide a ring of protection to the zionist State. Nearly 60 years ago, David Ben Gurion, Israel’s first prime minister, had said in a moment of candor that the Arab regimes were Israel’s “first line of defense”. For decades, these regimes camouflaged their true nature under an avalanche of rhetoric but now they stand fully exposed. The first cracks in their carefully constructed façade had appeared immediately after the victory of the Islamic Revolution in Iran (February 1979). Far from welcoming the Muslims’ success they embarked on a policy of undermining the Islamic State in order to contain the spread of revolutionary ideas into their societies. These cracks widened further with the emergence of Hizbullah in Lebanon to confront the zionist invaders, something the Arab regimes had demonstrably failed to do. In Israel’s July 2006 invasion of Lebanon, the Arab regimes were further exposed; instead of condemning Israeli barbarities, they and their agents in and outside Lebanon, condemned Hizbullah instead. Reaction from the Arab street was swift and strong. The masses were appalled at the behavior of their rulers: far from defending Arab (if not Islamic) honor, they sided with the zionist aggressors. Today their behavior has sunk even lower. They bickered over whether to call an Arab League summit or a meeting of the Gulf Cooperation Council. When the Arab League finally met in Doha, it achieved little of practical value.    

If Muslims truly wish to support the Palestinian people then they must reach the inescapable conclusion that these puppet regimes must be overthrown and replaced by Islamic governments. Nothing less would do. There can be no compromises on this point. While Egypt and Jordan are crucial for the liberation of Palestine and Al-Quds, for the larger Muslim Ummah, bringing to an end the control of the House of Saud over the Haramayn (the two holy cities of Makkah and Madinah) is absolutely imperative. Without the liberation of Makkah and Madinah from the clutches of the corrupt Saudi monarchy, the Muslim Ummah cannot make progress. Once committed Muslims are in control of the Haramayn, conditions in the Ummah will change dramatically. It was not without reason that the House of Saud was planted in the Arabian Peninsula. More than a century ago, the British had realized the importance of the Haramyn; the US that donned the mantle of a world power after Britain, has similarly realized its importance.

Will the Muslims wake up to this reality or simply go back to slumber after the latest carnage in Ghazzah becomes a distant memory? This is the challenge facing Muslims and the Islamic movement—the vehicle through which they must operate to achieve their goals in the world today.

Israel’s three-week long offensive on the tiny desert patch called Ghazzah has once again revealed the barbaric nature of the zionist state. Showing complete disregard for civilian lives, many of them children, whom they deliberately and repeatedly targeted, the zionists stand exposed as war criminals. Their actions also confirm yet again that they are racists and bigots, something the world has long known, hence the slogan: zionism is racism. Their onslaught on Ghazzah, however, has exposed many others; their traditional supporters in the West stand in the same dock of war criminals as the zionist rulers. Israel’s Ghazzah war has also finally exposed the true face of Arab rulers who, with few exceptions, all sided with the zionist criminals. It is important to name them even if such naming will not shame them because they have neither self-respect nor dignity. Leading the list of Israel’s Arab allies is the Pharaoh of Egypt, Husni Mubarak. Not far behind is the House of Saud that emerged more than a century ago from Dar‘iyyah in Najd and illegally occupied the Haramayn (the two holy cities of Makkah and Madinah). Their rivals from the family of Husain ibn Ali, who like Abdul Aziz ibn Saud was also a British agent, and whose descendants today rule Jordan, are perhaps even more subservient to the zionists than the first two. But as a well-known proverb goes: the snow does not fall but to reveal the beast that walks upon it. Israel’s Ghazzah onslaught has revealed many a beast. It has also revealed the myth of Arab unity and fraud of Arab nationalism as evidenced by the pathetic meetings of the Arab League. The Arab rulers met to confirm their collective impotence.

Beyond revealing the ugly faces of unsavory characters lies another truth: the complete failure of Israeli strategy. When Israel launched its assault on Ghazzah on December 27, the stated objective was to stop Hamas from firing rockets into Israeli towns. There were other objectives as well—both declared and undeclared. The zionists (Israeli defense minister Ehud Barak, for instance) said that they would change the ground rules in Ghazzah. What this meant was that Hamas would either be eliminated or so weakened that it will be rendered ineffective in determining Palestinian policy in the future. They intended to supplant their quislings from the Palestinian Authority in Ghazzah from where they were driven out in June 2007. There was an unstated objective as well: Israel’s onslaught against a defenseless population surrounded on all sides including the sea and impoverished by a vicious siege for two years, would enable some Israeli politicians within the ruling coalition — Barak, Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni et al — to improve their standing with the Israeli public in the February elections.

On January 18 when Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert announced a ceasefire, Hamas was still firing rockets into Israel. While these rockets are neither effective nor cause much damage, they symbolize Hamas’s and therefore, the Palestinians’ defiance of zionist aggression and occupation. Even if they cannot match Israel’s military might and firepower, the Palestinians refuse to be cowed down. It is this defiance in the face of overwhelming odds that has earned Hamas respect and recognition worldwide, even in countries that have declared it a “terrorist” organization.

Israel’s other objectives also failed to materialize except the cynical ploy of zionist politicians for their short-term domestic considerations: to advance their chances in the forthcoming elections. If Israeli politicians want to climb to power on the crushed bones and broken limbs of Palestinian children and the Israeli public applauds them for this, then this makes them accomplices in war crimes. The genocide of Palestinians, however, carries long-term implications that the zionists will not be able to withstand.

Most people in the world have realized, even if their rulers refuse to admit, that the fundamental issue in Palestine is not Hamas rockets; it is the 60-year-old occupation of the Palestinians’ land by the zionists. Further, that despite all the noxious propaganda against Hamas, it is Israel and its rulers that stand condemned as terrorists and war criminals. Blasting public buildings including schools, mosques, universities and hospitals with 1,000-pound bombs dropped from the sky and crushing their inhabitants in them are not acts of bravery or self-defense. Similarly, herding people into buildings and then blowing them up with artillery fire are war crimes, made worse by the Israeli soldiers’ refusal to allow medical personnel to help the wounded. While contemporary global power politics may prevent the prosecution of Israeli rulers as war criminals at present, their barbarism has exposed them in the bar of public opinion. Most people no longer accept the argument that the Nazi holocaust of Jews gives Israel the license to kill Palestinians with impunity.

Far from degrading Hamas militarily or politically, it has emerged out of this carnage with its dignity intact and its standing greatly enhanced. Even the Palestinian Authority was forced to speak out against Israeli crimes, not because it cares about the people but because silence in the face of such atrocities would have eroded its already low standing even further. It is now universally recognized that there cannot be real peace or permanent solution to the question of Palestine without the involvement of Hamas. Thus, by its steadfastness and perseverance, Hamas has won the respect of people worldwide. It has also forced the issue of Palestine to centre-stage in global politics. While Israel’s aim was to crush Hamas militarily, thereby burying the aspirations of the Palestinian people under rubble, Hamas withstood the onslaught and frustrated this plot. By showing immense courage under extremely difficult circumstances, Hamas leaders have emerged with their reputations greatly enhanced. Such courage comes from unflinching faith in Allah and the righteousness of one’s cause.

Hamas, like Hizbullah in Lebanon in July-August 2006, has demonstrated that military might alone is not sufficient to secure one’s objectives. Unlike its confrontation with Hizbullah 30 months ago, Israel came out of this conflict relatively unscathed in terms of its own casualties because Hamas had little or no military hardware to confront Israeli planes, helicopters and armor. Further, Israel inflicted far more casualties in three weeks (1400 killed and 5,000 injured) in Ghazzah than it did on Lebanon in four (1100 killed) but politically it failed just as badly as it did in Lebanon. Military campaigns are launched to accomplish certain political goals; Israel achieved none. Instead, it suffered a political defeat. The fact that Livni had to rush to Washington to sign an agreement with the US to stop the flow of weapons to Hamas is admission of this defeat. Hamas rockets are not supplied by the US, the principal sponsor and financier of zionist crimes in Palestine. Even Egypt, that is no supporter of Hamas, refused to accept the US-Israel deal on Hamas arms. Besides, as people under occupation, the Palestinians have the right to fight their occupiers; arms flows should be stopped to the Zionist occupiers because of their criminal disregard for human life.

Hamas’s perseverance has also enhanced the standing of its friends in the region — Islamic Iran, Hizbullah, Syria and to a lesser extent Libya and Turkey. Muslim masses in the region witnessed who stood up for and spoke in defense of Hamas and the Palestinian people and those who sided with the zionists and the US either openly or by remaining silent over Israeli crimes. Human beings are emotional beings; emotions are aroused when they witness innocent people being brutalized. When they see horrible images of mutilated children and hear the heart-wrenching screams of mothers on their television screens, it is unrealistic to expect that they will not be moved. It arouses their anger when they see their own governments remain indifferent in the face of such crimes. Thus, far from weakening Hamas, Israel’s onslaught may have unhinged the illegitimate Arab rulers and shaken their grip on power because their people now see them as accomplices in Israeli crimes.

That fact alone explains why the military assault on Ghazzah represents a clear defeat for Israel. This was always likely to be the outcome; 60 years of Israeli brutalities have failed to crush Palestinian aspirations. As a colonial settler entity, Israel has always relied on brute force to impose its will on the indigenous population. Ethnic cleansing and mass murder have been the zionists’ favorite tools. Continuing the European policy of colonization, they thought this ploy would be as successful in Palestine as it was in North America and Australia centuries ago. But the Palestinians refuse to disappear quietly or give up without a fight. While Israeli rulers may delude themselves into believing that excessive use of brute force would buy them security, the tide of history is turning against them. Their criminal disregard for human life is hastening the day when the zionist temple will come crashing down on their heads.

With two successive defeats in less than three years, the exposure of the Palestinian Authority as zionist quislings and Arab rulers as accomplices in Israeli crimes, the battle lines are now much clearer. These have been sharpened by Israel’s own brutal conduct, most recently in Ghazzah. As Muslim masses gain greater awareness of the reality and as they see their own rulers siding with the enemy so openly against innocent Palestinians, this will hasten the day when these regimes and their rulers are swept into the dustbin of history. When that happens, Israel’s external defense barriers will be gone. The zionist state will then collapse into a heap of ash as a result of its own inner contradictions.

The fact that Israel’s latest onslaught on Ghazzah has given rise to many voices even in the West demanding the trial of Israeli politicians as war criminals is a leap forward. They have become political lepers. This is a sure sign of their impending demise.


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GOVERNANCE IN THE MUSLIM WORLD - by moeenyaseen - 05-06-2007, 11:11 AM

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