By Marwan Asmar
Today we live in a Brave New World to use Aldous Huxley’s classic novel. While he talked about how technology would shape our lives he failed to talk about the violence and the bloody mayhem that would dominate our future not to say anything about the inequality, crime and injustice that would prevail.
I was just about to tuck in about what else, but another article on Ukraine – one more miserable war turning out to be just as violent, destructive and with the potential for annihilation judging from the nuclear weapons possessed – and my eyes flickered elsewhere.
I couldn’t believe what I was seeing, right there in front of me, Israeli police beating and punching young Palestinians, youths, young boys and girls, kicking them and hitting them regardless of the cameras, videos and the social media. Women, men, old, middle age, people taking part in a Muslim celebration in the Damascus Gate plaza of the holy places of Jerusalem – a glorious event in the Muslim calendar.
It seemed strange to me that we can’t celebrate such an event in our own backyard because Jews and Israelis keep denying us the right to be there because our narrative is different than theirs, because of our civilization and culture and despite the coexistence of Islam, Christianity and Judaism that once crossed our paths and bounds us together. But it was no more.
The violent scenes in Jerusalem’s Bab Al Amoud as it is called in Arabic, seemed far away from the current reality but reflected a long bygone nostalgia left to die in the annals of history. We, Muslims and Christians Arabs, have long become hostage to a supposedly superior body that once suffered the worse form of human oppression at the hands of people that were never in the area but reaching the far-depths of Europe.
And so the reflections begin again. No people should be subject to subjugation and oppression. Where is the old saying of ‘live and let live’ or existing together as one. The people of Ukraine should not be allowed to live in the shadows of the Russian bear. An attack by Moscow should not be allowed regardless of grievances which should be put right through tireless dialogue and negotiations.
Surely in the 21st century the gobbling up of countries should be a thing of the past and no one should stand for it. Quite right, there should not be double standards but a clear-cut, hermetically-sealed moral and ethical issue for Ukraine and Palestine and for any other oppressed peoples and states in the world.
Western countries are livid with what is Russia doing in Ukraine, they are surrounding the ‘white bear’ with sanctions that is likely to cripple its economy, polity and international standing not to mention the resolutions of condemnations at the United Nations, its Security Council and General Assembly.
And this is probably the right things. But for Arabs and Muslims why can’t such pressure be imposed on the Israelis for long-occupying lands, to press them to reach thwarted peace negotiations and stopping Jewish settlements on occupied land and is not theirs.
To western countries: You have to call a spade a spade, not apply it at your personal whims, prejudices and how you see the world. This is something that has long turned into a farce. Where is the logic in that. Western countries have to be honest to gain trust and friendship not from Arab leaders and heads of states but Arab people themselves who are most aggrieved and which is lacking at present.
Judging from social media platforms which have become a popular rough measurement Arabs have not been too enthusiastic about support for the Ukraine but this is mainly because they have their own problems. Broadly speaking, Iraqis, for instance, remember Ukraine soldiers coming to Baghdad in 2003 as part of the US-led coalition and their subsequent humiliation at their hands.
As for Palestinians, they see the present moves by Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett attempts to talk to Putin to end his war on Ukraine as disingenuous and one that is marked with mixed up standards. Bennett has made several moves but it is believed Moscow, and Putin at that, has rejected any Israeli mediation and prefers to go it alone until understandings are reached and orders settled.
Although they have a clear understanding on Syria regarding “red lines” and political strategy, Russia doesn’t want to give the Israelis the satisfaction of entering an area in which it believes as its exclusive domain.