ISSN 2330-717X

Arab League’s Clarion Call On Palestine Can Restore Its Relevance – OpEd

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In a little-noticed speech this week, Arab League Assistant Secretary-General Saeed Abu Ali said the group should strengthen its boycott of Israel as a tool to confront the Israeli occupation. He made his comments at an Arab League general secretariat meeting in Cairo. “This meeting comes as the Israeli occupation authorities are still continuing their systematic campaign of aggression against the Palestinian people, their sanctities and their property,” he said.

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“These ongoing crimes require the intervention of the international community, especially the (UN) Security Council and regional and international organizations, to assume their responsibilities and stop the policy of double standards,” Abu Ali added. “Hundreds of relevant international resolutions… calling for stopping the aggression against the Palestinian people and ending the Israeli occupation” have been issued but not implemented.

Abu Ali’s comments were perhaps among the most important that have ever come from the Arab world, which has become less vocal on the issue of Palestine as it nears 75 years of subjugation and military oppression.

Although it is unlikely that the Arab world will do much given the pressures it faces from both East and West, the statement serves as a grim reminder of its failure to defend its people.

In contrast, Israel continues to redefine global morality to cater to its own self-serving agenda, including framing legitimate criticism of its actions as a form of antisemitism and libeling governments and organizations such as the UN Human Rights Commission’s inquiry into its war crimes against Palestinians in the Gaza Strip in 2021.

The weaponization of antisemitism is being used to fuel the growing number of anti-Arab policies, such as those being adopted in the US that compromise the country’s constitutional protections of free speech by punishing anyone who criticizes Israel’s illegal settlements that are built on lands stolen from Christian and Muslim Palestinians in the West Bank.

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This is ironic considering it was the UN that created the international precedent for Israel to declare its statehood, over the objections of the Arab world, as ineffective as they might have been.

Antisemitism — the hatred of Jews — is a blight on humanity. But so are the anti-Arab policies embraced by Israel as it tries to justify its rejection of peace and refusal to embrace the establishment of a Palestinian state.

You cannot fight antisemitism if you embrace anti-Arabism in Palestine and apply an apartheid-like series of discriminatory laws against non-Jews in Israel. You cannot fight antisemitism when you close your eyes to a government’s brutality against Christian and Muslim Palestinians. And you cannot fight antisemitism when you refuse to recognize the rights of Palestinians, continue to deny their existence and impose punishments on those who seek to champion those Israeli-oppressed rights.

The divisions that have beset the Arab world over the past several decades certainly make it difficult to bring the Arab League back to its former strength. Its power and influence were built on the proven theory that, when Arab countries stick together, their voice has influence. However, as it is fractured, each country is weakened to different degrees.

Very few speak about the power of being Arab and instead turn to religion as a means to bring the Arab world together — an oxymoron that ridicules the region’s identity. The governments separately are weaker than when they stand together and speak with one strong voice.

This is probably why Abu Ali’s clarion call for justice will go unanswered, picked up only by a few media outlets that continue to cling to professional journalism. Every Arab nation, whether they have signed so-called peace accords with Israel or not, should heed this call and pressure Israel to embrace policies that recognize the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people.

Ray Hanania

*Ray Hanania is an award-winning Palestinian-American former journalist and political columnist. Email him at [email protected]

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