[News] Why Was Gaza Betrayed? - Fearing Political Islam

Anti-Imperialist News news at freedomarchives.org
Thu Aug 28 11:03:22 EDT 2014

August 28, 2014

*Why Was Gaza Betrayed?*

  Fearing Political Islam


Ask any Arab ruler, and they will tell you of the great sacrifices their 
countries have made for Palestine and the Palestinians. However, both 
history and present reality are testaments, not only to Arab failure to 
live up to the role expected of them and stand in solidarity with their 
own oppressed brethren, but also to the official Arab betrayal of the 
Palestinian cause. The current war on Gaza, and the dubious role played 
by Egypt in the ceasefire talks between Hamas and Israel are cases in point.

Read this comments by Aaron David Miller 
a scholar at the Wilson Center in Washington to appreciate the depth of 
the unmistakable Arab betrayal. "I have never seen a situation like it, 
where you have so many Arab states acquiescing in the death and 
destruction in Gaza and the pummeling of Hamas," Miller told the New 
York Times. "The silence is deafening."

Miller explains Arab silence in relations to their loathing of political 
Islam which rose to prominence following the so-called Arab Spring. Such 
rise saw the advent of movements like the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt 
and al-Nahda in Tunisia to the centers of power. The 'Arab Spring' 
challenged and, at least temporarily, disabled the hegemony over power 
by corruption-ridden, pro-western Arab elites, unleashing the energies 
of civil societies that have been historically marginalized.begging 
slogans3 <http://store.counterpunch.org/>

Political Islam, especially that which is affiliated with moderate 
Islamic ideology known as al-Wasatiyyah (roughly translated as 
'moderation') swept-up the votes in several democratic elections. Like 
Hamas's victory in the Palestinian elections in 2006, other such Islamic 
movements followed suit the moment the 'Arab Spring' pushed open a small 
margin for democracy and freedom of expression.

The danger of political Islamic movements that don't adhere to an 
extremist ideology like that of the Islamic State (IS) and al-Qaeda, for 
example, is that they are not easy to dismiss as 'extremists,' 
'terrorists', and such. At times, in fact, often, they seem much more 
inclined to play the democratic game than self-proclaimed Arab 
'secularist', 'liberal' and 'socialist' movements.

Israel's most recent war on Gaza, starting on July 7, came at a time 
that political Islam was being routed out in Egypt and criminalized in 
other Arab countries. It was the first major Israeli military attack on 
Gaza since the ousting of democratically-elected Muslim Brotherhood 
President Mohammed Morsi on July 3, 2013. Although the Israeli war 
morphed in the course of a few days to that of a genocide (thousands 
killed, thousands wounded, and nearly fourth of the Gazan population 
made homeless), most Arab countries remained mostly silent. They 
mouthed-off some random condemnations that meant so very little. Egypt, 
however, went even further.

Soon after the Israeli war 'Operation Protective Edge' began, Egypt 
proposed a most suspicious ceasefire, one that even the Times found 
peculiar. "The government in Cairo .. surprised Hamas by publicly 
proposing a cease-fire agreement that met most of Israel's demands and 
none from the Palestinian group (Hamas)," wrote David Kirkpatrick on 
July 30. Hamas, the main Palestinian party in the conflict, which is 
also declared by Egypt's government as 'terrorist,' was not consulted 
and only learned about the proposal through the media. But, of course, 
Israel's Benjamin Netanyahu welcomed the Egyptian proposal; Palestinian 
Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, a main rival of Hamas, and a strong 
opponent of armed resistance (and arguably, any form of Palestinian 
resistance, really) welcomed the 'brotherly' Egyptian gesture; other 
Arab rulers rushed to commend Egypt's Abdul Fatah al-Sisi for his astute 
regional leadership.

Of course, the whole exercise was a farce, meant to eventually blame 
Hamas and the resistance in Gaza for refusing an end to the conflict 
(which they didn't start and were its ultimate victim), and to prop up 
Sisi as the new icon of peace and moderation in the region; the kind of 
'strong man' with whom the United States government liked to do business.

It all failed, of course, for one single reason, the Gaza resistance 
held its ground, costing Israel serious military losses, and igniting 
worldwide sympathy and respect.

But no respect came from traditional Arab governments, of course, 
including those who praise the legendary 'sumoud' -- steadfastness -- of 
the Palestinian people at every opportunity, speech and sermon. The 
renewed success of Hamas, which arguably had been fading away into 
oblivion after the overthrow of Egypt's brotherhood, and the severing of 
ties with Damascus and Tehran, was puzzling, and immensely frustrating 
to these governments.

If Hamas survives the Gaza battle, the resistance will promote its 
endurance before the Middle East's supposedly strongest army as a 
victory. Netanyahu will suffer dire consequences at home. Ties between 
Hamas and Iran could be renewed. The 'resistance camp' could once more 
rekindle. The moral victory for the Brotherhood and the moral defeat of 
Sisi (and his prospected regional role) would be astounding.

An alliance of sorts was founded between several Arab countries and 
Israel to ensure the demise of the resistance in Gaza -- not just the 
resistance as an idea, and its practical expressions, but also its 
political manifestations as well, which are felt far and beyond the 
confines of Gaza's besieged borders.

Former Israel lobbyist and current vice president of the Brookings 
Institution in Washington, Martin Indyk has an explanation 
"There's an 'alignment of interests' between nations that aren't allies, 
yet have 'common adversaries'," Indyk told Bloomberg. "As they see that 
the US is less engaged than it was before, it's natural that they look 
to each other -- quietly, under the table in most respects -- to find a 
way to help each other."

Naturally, the latest round of ceasefire talks in Cairo failed because 
the party that is hosting the talks deems the leading Palestinian 
resistance group Hamas, 'terrorist' and would hate to see a scenario in 
which Gaza prevails over Israel. If the resistance demand of ending the 
siege is met, especially the demand of reactivating the Gaza seaport and 
airport, Egypt would be denied a major leverage against Hamas, the 
resistance, and the Palestinian people altogether.

And if the resistance wins -- as in holding the Israeli military at bay, 
and achieving some of its demands -- the political discourse of the 
Middle East is likely to change altogether, where the weak will, once 
again, dare challenge the strong by demanding reforms, democracy, and 
threatening resistance as a realistic way to achieve such objectives.

Interestingly, the Hamas victory in the Palestinian Legislative 
Elections in 2006 had revived the possibility of political Islam in 
achieving its goals via the ballot box, which was a harbinger of the 
rise of political Islam throughout the region following the 'Arab 
Spring.' Any victory for Palestinian resistance can also be considered 
equally as dangerous for those who want to maintain the status quo 
throughout the region.

Some Arab rulers continue to declare their strong support of Palestine 
and its cause. 'Operation Protective Edge,' however, has exposed beyond 
a doubt that such solidarity is just a mere show of words; and that, 
although discretely, some Arabs wish to see Israel crush any semblance 
of Palestinian resistance, in Gaza and anywhere else.

/*Ramzy Baroud* is a PhD scholar in People's History at the University 
of Exeter. He is the Managing Editor of Middle East Eye. Baroud is an 
internationally-syndicated columnist, a media consultant, an author and 
the founder of PalestineChronicle.com. His latest book is My Father Was 
a Freedom Fighter: Gaza's Untold Story (Pluto Press, London)./

Freedom Archives 522 Valencia Street San Francisco, CA 94110 415 
863.9977 www.freedomarchives.org
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