by Mahboob A. Khawaja, Ph.D.
Politics is a game of pretension like a stage drama enacted by planned scheme of things, casts, dresses, clichés, performance images and the end goals- a willing suspicion of the disbelief of the performed act. The actors pretend to be something; they are not but make the audience feel entertained with unthinkable. The Western democracies enjoin systematic programs of political good time with billions of dollars budgeted for the information media, performers, perks, imposters and the real actors – politicians making stage shows to win the game. Politics is about winning, not losing the invisible battlefield. There exists a wide gulf in ideas and perceptions how the Israeli politicians define political games and what the Arab rulers perceive of the intents and purposes of politics. The puppet show goes on for ages with the blessings of the European colonialists and the US intermediaries claiming to be the proponent of peace but none knows what peace means in the real world. The Europeans, the US, Israelis and the Arab rulers, all have role-plays in instigating animosity and perpetuating insanity in public affairs, relations and conflict management.
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At issue is the internationally agreed upon agreements from the UNO to the latest US policy stance, the establishment of an independent State of Palestine living in con-existence with the State of Israel. The recent opening chit-chat between the PLO and Israeli leaders mirrored a glimpse of positive hope but soon it disappeared after three rounds of non-agenda meetings. If the US sponsored dialogue has any serious merits, why it is not based on a formal agenda for the peace negotiations?
The peace dialogue must be seen in relatives terms contingent upon number of factors:
If all the parties involved are serious, they are responsible to create a conducive political environment in their sphere of interest to encourage the masses for open minded exchange of social, moral and political thoughts and practices. The ordinary folks on both sides of the aisle cannot be ignored. The 6th decade old perpetuated animosities between the Arab and Israelis will not go away with the blink of eyes. Have the Arab-Israeli politicians given enough thoughts to these pre-requisites for the emergence of peace talks? The realities on the ground speak a different language although sign are there for understanding the relative importance of the new peace endeavors. There should have been a formal and well defined agenda to facilitate the favorable dialogue for peace. Such a move should have given the feeling to the belligerent viewpoints that something different and positive is in the making. For the agenda setting, the primary onus is on the US-Israel to demonstrate clearly that:
- All the illegal Israeli settlements are stopped
- Removal of the inhuman barbed–wired culture and walls from Palestine reminding of the Nazi era treatment and captivity of the Jewish people- a shame that East Jerusalem, West Bank and Gaza areas depict that image of human captivity in the 21st century so called civilized world
- To allow free movement of people and goods across the occupied territories
- End of the blockade of Gaza
- In spirit and reality the end of the Israeli occupation paving ways for the freedom of Palestinian homeland.
Strangely enough, none of these vital factors were considered relevant by George Mitchell or the Obama adminsitration claiming to be the proponent of peacemaking.
Take no solace; the on-going Arab-Israeli conflict is as critical in global politics of the 21st century as it was in the mid 20th century. The global institutions such as the UNO failed miserably to evaluate its value in human terms. The continued animosity fed insanity leading to institutionalization of fear and mutual distrust over six decades. Since the Israelis and Arabs have opened-up the corridors of backdoor politics, would reason prevail over insanity to articulate a new hope for a promising future and durable peace in the Middle East?
All the actors in the peace dialogue process appear active and energetic to compete for global attention, recognition and credibility data. The Arab rulers are always keen for a peace deal with Israel but there are serious problems of missing proactive moral and intellectual leadership and institutionalized capacity for interactive dialogue to make positive things happen. So much so that “peace” has lost its meaning and purpose. For the Arab rulers to be effective, must RETHINK about their own short comings and political capacity to conduct the peace negotiations. Islam emancipated the Arabs to develop a knowledge-based global civilization unparallel in human history. Its progressive achievements and contributions to the making of the European civilization are second to none. But with petro-dollar transitory prosperity, the Arabs seem to have compromised the norms and principles of Islam, they fell in humiliation and defeats and confined to remote palaces, not mindful of the world around them. Realism lives in denial that the Arab had success and honor and global achievements not as an Arab Ummah but as Muslim Ummah based on the adherence of Islam. They breathe and enjoy life on foreign myths and political clichés, misfit for the Arab-Islamic culture. If the wealthy oil producing Arab rulers were open to communication and listening to the voices of REASON and HONESTY by Muslim scholars, they could have made the earth feel their existence and weight. Modernity is an illusion, whereas, Islam is the real lifeline for the humanity to pursue happiness and success. With massive Western indoctrination, the Arab rulers ignored Islam as a system of governance and adapted modernity of political tyranny against their own people and indifference to the issue of Palestine.
Comparatively, Israelis have institutions and political leadership to represent the national interest although divergent viewpoints regularly sustain the Israeli political culture from one extreme to another. The Israeli politicians are fearful that Zionism doctrine is no longer relevant to the foundation of Israel and in recent days they have opened up the debate to call Israel a “Jewish State”- changing the belief from Zionism to Judaism. Some other extremist figures will stall the peace talks by insisting on continued Jewish settlements in the occupied land. Arab rulers date back to the colonial age and lack smart and intellectual foresights to compete with the Israeli strategies, often doing the opposite what was demonstrated to be agreeable and forthcoming. Recall the Israel spokesman at the beginning of the peace talk in early September stating that “Israel is looking for a large cemetery to bury the past” and to make new beginnings for peace talks with Palestinians. Instead, Israeli bulldozers went to the ancient Muslim cemetery in East Jerusalem and started disturbing the dead and removing their graves. One Arab member of the Knesset called it” Israeli war against the living and deads.” Israeli Government has some committed Zionists to oppose any peace initiatives with the Palestinians. There are other Jewish groups active for peace and co-existence with Palestinians and many leading Jewish scholars and intellectual outside Israel supporting the two states solution.
To Allan Hart, “Zionism” is the real enemy of the Jewish people. Now, the Israeli leaders are asking the people to make allegiance to the Jewish state although for all practical purposes, it was a Zionist state. Are they changing the religion of the Israeli state? Israeli policy makers enjoin proactive intellectual aims and strategies and are capable to manage navigational change even under most unfavorable circumstances but not the Arab rulers. The Arab world lacks institutions and proactive, educated and intellectual leadership to cope with the contemporary political contrasts and innovative ambiguities in policies and practices. Often the Arab rulers have relied on rear mirror to move forward in relations with Israel and the rest of the world. Islamic faith and civilization gave the Arabs intellectual prominence and successful standing in global affairs. Islamic approaches to governance are institutionalized and focus on people’s consent and advisory for the development of official policies and practices. God fulfilled the promise of authority on earth when the Arabs were in complete submission to God and followed the Islamic system of governance. Islam defines the people of the Book, namely the Jews and Christians as part of the concept of Ummah- One nation originating from the Abrahamic faith. For 800 years, Jews and Christians lived in peace and honor and flourished during the Islamic civilization in Al-Andulus-Spain. In all human affairs, the Arab leaders used to have moral and intellectual superiority as they were dedicated to follow the commands of God. The Divine message (Al-Qura’an: Al-Noor), illustrates the truth clearly, if the contemporary Arab leaders are open to listening, learning and advice:
“Allah has promised to those among you who believe and work righteous deeds,
That He will of a surety, grant them in the land, inheritance (of power), as He granted it to those before them,
That He will establish in authority their religion- the One which He has chosen for them; And that He will change (their state), after the fear in which they lived to one of security and peace…”
The politics is a game of pretension and stage acting overwhelmingly embedded in leadership acts of knowledge and intellectual pursuit to challenge the existing status-quo. The 21st centruy is overwhelmed with war of new ideas and innovation. To deal with the US and Israel, the Arab leaders need creative challenges, not submission to the dictates of colonial masters. But the old-aged Arab rulers have little to share with the knowledge-based modern age of creativity and impressive leadership. They live in palaces, not with people to understand the encompassing realities of the 21st century global politics. Leaders create leaders but rulers inherit the rule, fair or foul. Most of the Arab rulers are authoritarian, and operate in close circuit political cell excluding the voices of reason and intellectual foresights. The phenomenon of change is not allowed in the corridors of palaces, it lives in denials. But the Israelis are the master of change, both in policies and practices. Were the peace talks simply meant to dispel the global anti-Israeli reaction against the brutal attack on the Turkish flotilla sailing to Gaza with humanitarian aid and the killing of 7 innocent Turkish aid volunteers? If so, they have managed to disregard the global criticism with the US complicity and active support. The people of Gaza are suffering from the Israeli blockade and Arab states/leaders combined are not in a strategic position to break the Israeli blockade. Given all the wealth and the illusion of economic prosperity, all the Arab rulers do not weigh on the global scale of leadership role play. If they adapt to listening and learning as critical values for effective leadership, they can be changed and reformed to perform with improved leadership qualities. Learning is vital for the 21st century innovative leadership.
One wonders, when would the Arab rulers relinquish the neo-colonialism traditions and make ways for the new, educated and intelligent young generation to assume leadership role and be able to challenge the prevalent insanity in global affairs. The Arab leaders do not have the political and strategic capacity to challenge Israel and its occupation of Palestine, whereas, Israel despite its military strength and institutionalized power, cannot claim to be at peace and durable in search of a peaceful con-existence. There are persistent engineered animosities, not rationally balanced perspectives for the peace talks to be meaningful for mutually favorable outcomes. Nobody would like to be seen as failure after the latest stage of the Arab-Israeli dialogue. It was different and more transparent than any other in the history of Middle East affairs. The global community expects positive outcomes. If an independent State of Palestine is established, it is a win-win for Israel and the US too. But if insanity is allowed to prevail over reason, freedom and tyranny of occupation, then all the parties have failed and that is what especially, the US Obama administration would like to avoid the embarrassment of another failure after the prolonged failed wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Israeli leaders can well make the difference in peacemaking if cynicism and insanity are denied a role in the decision making. President Obama desperately needs some concrete and tangible global achievements to maintain balance of power within the congress and the US presence in global affairs. The international humanity is watching carefully if the Arabs, Israelis and Americans will strive to be winners or losers in the peacemaking process? History shall judge them by their actions, not by their claims.
(Dr. Mahboob A. Khawaja specializes in global security, peace and conflict resolution with keen interests in Islamic-Western comparative cultures and civilizations, and author of several publications including: "Muslims and the West: Quest for Change and Conflict Resolution", University Press of America; How America Lost the War in Iraq and Afghanistan and Mujahideen Won; To America and Canada with Reason, VDM Publishers, 2009; “President Obama – War is War, Not Peace”, 2009; and “Is President Obama Remaking America?” “The Arab Time Capsule- Once You Were the Leaders of Islamic Civilization.” Comments are welcome at: firstname.lastname@example.org)
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