Time for Palestinians to Speak Out

In their suffering from the occupation, the Palestinians asked where the Arab world was. Now the time has come for them to speak out, because a Syrian whip, even a nationalist one, remains a whip.

A hurricane the size of Katrina has hit the Middle East coastline - a hurricane of hypocrisy. U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who represents a country that has been making regular use of its veto in the United Nations Security Council in support of the Israeli occupation, is disgusted by the veto cast by Russia on a resolution condemning the Syrian regime. And Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who imprisons Palestinians under a 45-year wall of occupation, sheds tears over human rights in Syria.

The Arab League, which held its peace in the face of the occupation of Gaza and Lebanon, and over the thousands of civilians killed there, is wildly attempting to enlist the West to intervene. And the Arab intellectuals, who until recently beat a path to Syrian President Bashar Assad's door and rebuked the Syrian freedom fighters rotting in Syrian jails, suddenly remember the issue of human rights. Arab citizens of Israel ask themselves whether they are witness to the theater of the absurd.

Even if the hypocrisy is blinding, it doesn't deny the fact that a terrible crime is being committed in Syria. Does a demonstration of solidarity require that the hypocrites first be convinced not to shed crocodile tears? After all, that's the crocodile's nature - catching its prey and shedding tears. It recalls the story of the bus that broke down and whose passengers began pushing it. Just then, the ticket inspector decides to check for tickets and demands that one of those pushing, who was having trouble finding his ticket, desist from pushing the bus.

If we had had a nimble ticket inspector in the case of Syria, he would have sent away all of the hangers-on who are mounting the bandwagon of solidarity. First let them ask to be forgiven for the injustice caused to their people and to other peoples. Unfortunately, when there is no such ticket inspector, the scent of the wounded Syrians' blood attracts all kinds. It attracts those good people who come to bring healing, as well as the predators who come to devour what is left. If progressive forces don't take a stand, they shouldn't complain that the wounded Syrian looks to the West for help. The Assad regime is slaughtering the Syrian people, while patriots beg for silence lest the cries contaminate such lofty Arab patriotism.

In relation to the occupied "Al Quds" (Arab East Jerusalem ), the Iraqi poet Mudhaffar al-Nawab asked: "Is the rape victim to remain silent?" True, there are Arab public figures in Israel who are trying to have it both ways, until it is impossible to glean from their comments who is committing the massacre and who is its victim. Most of the Arab population, however, opposes the Assad regime, and many people have expressed themselves strongly over the issue.

The concern of an Iraqi-type tragedy following Western intervention is understandable, as is the rise of Islamic forces, as occurred in Egypt, Tunisia and Libya. Nonetheless, it is impossible to abandon the Syrian people to bloodletting until a secular alternative arises from within. And first of all, secularism must rid itself of those who, in its name, brought disaster to its peoples. And it is actually the silence of Arab secularism that constitutes an invitation of sorts to the hypocrites to intervene.

In the words of the 10th century Arab poet Abu al-Tayyib al-Mutanabbi, the Arabs in Israel have "neither horses nor wealth to provide, so may words bring cheer if the situation is intolerable." And when they express solidarity with the Syrian revolution, they are not trying to make themselves look good for Netanyahu or for Qatari Emir Hamad bin Khalifa Al-Thani in the face of the injustices committed in Bahrain and Saudi Arabia. They are mainly making themselves look good to themselves, so that when the time comes, they can regard their handsome faces when they look in the mirror.

In their suffering from the occupation, the Palestinians asked where the Arab world was. Now the time has come for them to speak out, because a Syrian whip, even a nationalist one, remains a whip.

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