In a caricature I saw recently, an X appears over the area of Israel while the Palestinian areas are awash in Xs. Over the past few days, one X from the lands of the Xs, hunger-striker Samer Issawi, has gotten the attention of the UN secretary general, who asked that Issawi’s suffering and that of all other administrative prisoners be brought to an end. Meanwhile, if Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz gets angry at the leader of the Xs in Ramallah, the man who serves coffee in the president’s residence will not receive his salary.
And if we’re already talking about Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, for many he represents a supernatural phenomenon. Despite his long years in politics, he is still what is known in Arabic as ala bab Allah − one who speaks his heart. When he says, with amazing frankness, that he will visit Safed, the city of his birth, as a tourist, the world was up in arms.
Why doesn’t Abbas learn from the Hamas leader Khaled Meshal, who tells the masses in Gaza that he wants a state that stretches from the river to the sea, and whispers in the ear of King Abdullah of Jordan that he believes in the principle of a two-state solution. Abbas gets it from both sides, from the extremists on his side and from MK Avigdor Lieberman, who accuses him of diplomatic terrorism. As the old Arabic proverb goes, he doesn’t get along with the grandfather or the grandmother.
Now the leader of the Xs and the supreme commander of the Xs Prison Service is waiting for the visit of the superpower’s leader next month. And I don’t know why so many people are hanging their hopes on this visit. After all, we’ve already been there, at Camp David in 2000 we thought, we simple people, that something just had to come out of this; it was inconceivable that a meeting of such high-level leaders will not bring salvation. It turned out that, as the Bedouin saying goes, even a qadi, a Muslim judge, is just a human being.
And even President Barack Obama, who said that the settlements were the main obstacle to peace, knuckled under to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. So why should this time be any different? Especially when Yesh Atid chairman Yair Lapid declares that Jerusalem (which is bursting with annexations) will not be divided. As for a settlement freeze, no chance of that at all, of course. Then they will declare that there is no choice but to continue the process, which has become nothing more than an exercising treadmill.
“They kissed, they took pictures, they ate to their heart’s content.” That is the way the radio journalist in a musical featuring Fairuz describes the visit of the senior official to a remote village in Lebanon. That is the way it will be here, too.
Assuming that they buy up all the revealing, lacy dresses in the market, the visit will even be boring. It will be full to the brim with moving speeches about how peace is more valuable than gold. We will probably also hear both sides speak of their dream of peace. Jibran Khalil Jibran, the representative on the suffering peoples of this earth, meant exactly such an event when he wrote of the bitterness of the demands that the happy people of this world make of the miserable. Because after the joyful appearances, they will all go back to enjoying their vacation, and perhaps the Xs will go back to being Xs, the checkpoint will go back to being a checkpoint, and the jailer will be a jailer once again.
And when violence erupts again, they will blame the Palestinians, who this time again did not miss the opportunity to miss an opportunity when they refused to accept the nothing that Netanyahu is offering them.
But everything depends on the leader of the Xs; will he cooperate with the Xs Prison Service, and as the visitors pause by his cell will he tell them that the Xs Prison Service has increased family visits, that the daily ration has exceeded the 2,279 calories a day per person in the prison by the sea, and that with the renewal of the peace process, the Xs, inshallah, will receive more benefits.
Or will he say, quietly, that liberty is the only way, and the Xs Prisons Service and their patron from across the sea can go to blazes. While administrative detainees are fighting for their lives, I believe that the leader of the Xs has no choice but to shut down the celebrations.
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