Arab MKs Must Beg Forgiveness for Libya Visit

All the Arab public figures who went to Libya should now publicly express remorse and beg forgiveness, first from the Libyan people and next from the Arab citizens they purport to represent.

Salman Masalha
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Salman Masalha

The whole world is watching the misdeeds of the Libyan tyrant. Muammar Gadhafi spares no instrument of repression: He dispatches planes to sow death indiscriminately and sends African mercenaries to slaughter his own people. Gadhafi knows, deep within, just how small he seems in the eyes of the world, but cannot shed his role as megalomaniacal tribal despot.

The entire world saw him stand before the camera, in his robe and turban, with his Green Book. He lectured loudly, as befits the leader of Libya - the country he sees as "leader of the world." He spoke approvingly of the modes of response used by other world powers on the level of Libya, such as Russia, the United States, China and Israel.

Libyan leader Muammar Gadhafi. Credit: Bloomberg

I will not dwell on the hypocrisy of the West with regard to the events in Libya, which are obvious to even the naked eye.

I shall instead speak of Arab hypocrisy here, closer to home. The hypocrisy of the Arab Knesset members and public figures who a few months ago went to grovel before the Libyan despot.

They returned to Israel to boast and publish, in Arabic, their stories and pictures from the thrilling meeting with the "king of kings" and other such hyperbole a la MK Ahmed Tibi (United Arab List-Ta'al ).

All the Arab parties, organizations and ethnic-religious communities were represented in the delegation there. MK Mohammad Barakeh of Hadash, Hanin Zuabi and Jamal Zahalka of Balad, Talab al-Sana of United Arab List-Ta'al and a motley crew of people of lofty status and groveling spirit. They all came before him, bowed and shook his hand. He inspected them from behind dark glasses before seating them at the edge of his tent and lecturing them on demographics.

Former MK Azmi Bishara, who after fleeing Israel became a commentator on the television station of another little tyrant, also sought shelter in Gadhafi's tent. But because he too is a small megalomaniac he would not agree to join a delegation of Israeli Arabs.

He wanted a separate audience, he longed to talk to Gadhafi as one megalomaniac to another. Bishara is no different than most hypocritical Arab intellectuals, merely the loyal servant of despots as long as their regime is strong.

Then all of a sudden, when Gadhafi's regime was began to fail, Bishara remembered the Libyan people. Typically, he never said a word about the injustices of Syria's despotic regime, which for decades has been repressing freedom-loving citizens. Here's what Syrians think of Bishara's hypocrisy: "Doesn't the Syrian people deserve the freedom and rights that he enjoyed in Palestine, thanks to his Zionist enemies?" questioned Subhi Hadidi, a Syrian intellectual living in exile in Paris.

The truth is that Arab intellectuals of Bishara's ilk are like carrion-eaters. Like a pack of hyenas they wait on the sidelines, seeing which way the wind in the Arab political jungle is blowing; they watch the fall of a tyrant and then swoop in to grab a portion of "glory" from the body's remains.

All the Arab public figures who went to Libya were as political mercenaries in the service of Gadhafi the tyrant. They should now publicly express remorse and beg forgiveness, first from the Libyan people and next from the Arab citizens they purport to represent.

A public accounting is not only necessary but would also show that they have learned their lesson and intend to mend their ways. If not, Israel's Arab citizens should turn their backs on them and toss them in the garbage, just as Arab nations are rising up against their corrupt leaders. And the sooner, the better.

The author is a poet, translator and researcher of Arab culture.

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