I believe, as I think many of you do, that the children of the street, the shebab of the Intifada, the Lebanese,the Jordanian, the Palestinian (especially those at Bir-Zeit University), Egyptian and Syrian colleges and universities are our heroes and NOT our elected or appointed Arab Leaders.
It was the students who urged, shamed and then obliged these "leaders" to finally take a principled stand and hold a meeting in Lebanon to formulate a joint policy for the first time.
I personally however have not seen them take any significant or concrete action with regard to the above appeals, in some frank and unequivocal message. The attacks by the ID on the infrastructure of Lebanon are criticized, words of support are sent, yet at the same time these leaders continue to normalize relations with Israel.
After Israel withdraws unilaterally from South Lebanon, from its self-appointed "security zone"; assuming it makes good on the statement of the Israeli cabinet, will it at the same time continue to destroy the Lebanese infrastructure, or perhaps that of Syria?
What then happens? Let the Arab countries pay for this as they have
done in the past, while the United States Administration and other powers
with interests in the region continue to allow this blatant aggression
Israelis to continue?
How is it that Israel continues its policy of bulldozing Palestinian
homes and property; extends existing illegal settlements, builds new ones,
allows more civilians onto the occupied territories; while refusing at
the same time to acknowledge, much less allow the fundamental human right
of the Palestinian people to return to their homes, while all criticism
policies from numerous quarters around the world is blithely ignored?
It seems as if the government of Israel, under its Zionist policies
will always refuse to acknowledge, or respect prior commitments and agreements
signed in writing no less, while the Palestinian leadership under U.S.
Israeli pressure continue to content themselves with a few minimalist crumbs.
The same thing no doubt will hold true for Syria and Lebanon as they
attempt to regain the rights to their own Israeli occupied territories;
alone, while other countries only pay lip service to international law,
their business and other economic relations with the state of Israel.
In view of the above, I would like to suggest the following:
(1) I believe that it is in the Arab street, among the common people, where the Truth is being spoken at this time.
(2) I believe that the power of the internet in allowing virtually instantaneous communication with the university students mentioned above, have become the strongest partners in fighting for Justice in regard to the above situation, while the political leadership make deals advantageous to only themselves.
(3) I believe this newly developed power has the ability to force the leaders to change their direction before an imminent disaster which many foresee occurs.
(4) I believe there is a "red line in the sand", which if crossed,
forfeits our integrity and our dignity. We must define this line,
and make sure that our leaders do not dare cross it. This can be
done through non-violent means, gain world sympathy for our just and proper
cause, and thus protect the generations of the future who must pick up
this heavy mantle which has
been placed at their feet without their asking or assent.
(5) These red lines I speak of must be based on:
(a) all existing United Nations resolutions
(b) other documents of International Law
(c) The Universal Declaration of Human Rights
(d) our own history in the region, and our future in the region.
(e) on the cooperation of all those of good will, who define themselves as Arabs, irrespective of their religious affiliation or non affiliation.
(f) allying ourselves with non Arabs who see the issues in the broad terms of basic human rights and are willing to support our stand.
With this in mind I believe a statement must be formulated and signed
by thousands of individuals and organizations. With this document
in hand, we must obligate the Arab leaders to create a "Justice
Task Force" which has
enough moral power to oblige the Arab countries (and others) to respect the document's decisions on how to proceed, and work in the same way that the United Nations had done in the past, i.e.; placing an embargo on those
countries that continue to flaunt the basic international documents that were intended to better the condition of all mankind.
There should be no further dealings with the state of Israel until such time as the stated conditions are met. Thus it is the common people working throughout the world, who have established the quid pro quo, and not those who were given this task in trust for them, but have now subverted it to their own petty interests.
I would hope that such a Task Force would prompt the Arab countries to become unified in their stance towards Truth and Justice.
Allow me to present two proposals as to how this would operate:
Whereas: some of the red lines are the halt to all kinds of settlements, home demolitions, the recognition of the Palestinian Right of Return, the respect for all pertinent UN resolutions on the subject, the complete withdrawal from the occupied territories, from Lebanon and from the Golan Heights,
and whereas: The State of Israel will not comply with these red lines
then: the Task Force will obligate the Arab countries to stop any normalization of any relations with Israel, until such time as Israel does comply with all of the red lines which in fact it had previously agreed upon. For example, the fundamental right of return was agreed to as a prerequisite to the admission of the State of Israel to the UN by its acceptance of UN resolution 194. The agreement not to settle civilians on territory conquered by war, and not to alter any part of that territory or incur mistreatment on the resident civilian population was agreed to by its signing of the Geneva IV convention.
To ask for compliance with agreed and signed international documents is not asking for the Sun and the Moon, it is merely asking for the human rights that we are entitled to.
Whereas: any Arab country should deviate from the agreed upon unified decision
Then: It will be the obligation of the Task Force to obligate
the other Arab countries to compel the deviating country to comply by all
peaceful means including but not limited to; recall of ambassadors, halting
of diplomatic relations, placing a boycott on products from that country,
The truth is this: The world as a whole will never respect our rights if we do not take actions to defend our own human rights. They always speak about THEIR own interests. We must finally be serious about OUR own interests.
I believe: We the People, are Partners for Peace, the builders of our future, who can oblige our leaders to listen to US. If we define our red lines, articulate how these affect our dignity and our human rights, get all the grassroots organizations to stand together on these matters, then our leaders will have no choice but to listen to us, and work in our interest.
This is not a fantasy, it has happened before in the non-Arab world, in India. It has happened before in the Arab world in Lebanon. The latter was proven when angry young people from the streets tore down and marched through the fences of an occupied Lebanese village,without the use of any arms whatsoever. It has been done before, it has been proven effective, and it can be done again. It should be done no later than NOW.
And what the Children, the students, the People can do if the Leaders will not listen....
What you do is you get two and a half million people to sit in the road and DO NOTHING.
And you stay there, you don't sing, you don't pray. You do NOTHING. I believe that the Arab Leaders, all over the Arab Countries and the Israelis are prepared for every contingency except TOTAL CIVIL DISOBEDIENCE of this nature.
This has never been tried on a serious scale by Arabs in general and
by the Palestinians, and it has always galled me because:
(a) like Gandhi in India, and Mandella in South Africa, it creates sympathy.
Violence never creates sympathy in third parties, and although I do indeed understand the frustration that breeds it; it is always counterproductive. If you are going to fight, then you can't target noncombatants, and if you are going to start a fight, you better be sure you can finish it.
(b) It will make the Arab Leaders, Israeli government and the whole world look REALLY BAD.
A couple of million people (we may need less, let Ramallah, Nablus, Bethlehem do it at the same time for example in Palestine, let some cities universities in Egypt, Lebanon, Jordan, Syria, ...join them) sitting in silence in the streets and roads, doing nothing will not go unnoticed by the international media.
If I'm right, the Arab regimes or the Israelis will respond the way the American Southerners did to Martin Luther King - use water spray and attack dogs to get people to move and then lift them off bodily. Now that is exactly what you want because it exposes them for what it is, just as this worked completely against the South and forced civil rights legislation.
After all the people are asking for their right to live a dignified