domenica 18 gennaio 2009

The war is over. Why not let a new future begin?

To my Arab brothers: The War with Israel Is Over - and they won. Now let's finally move forward

With Israel entering its fourth week of an incursion into the same
Gaza Strip it voluntarily evacuated a few months ago, a sense of
reality among Arabs is spreading through commentary by Arab pundits,
letters to the editor, and political talk shows on Arabic-language TV
networks. The new views are stunning both in their maturity and in
their realism. The best way I can think of to convey them is in the
form of a letter to the Palestinian Arabs from their Arab friends:

Dear Palestinian Arab brethren:

The war with Israel is over.
You have lost. Surrender and negotiate to secure a future for your children.
We, your Arab brothers, may say until we are blue in the face that we
stand by you, but the wise among you and most of us know that we are
moving on, away from the tired old idea of the Palestinian Arab cause
and the "eternal struggle" with Israel .

Dear friends, you and your leaders have wasted three generations
trying to fight for Palestine , but the truth is the Palestine you
could have had in 1948 is much bigger than the one you could have had
in 1967, which in turn is much bigger than what you may have to settle
for now or in another 10 years. Struggle means less land and more
misery and utter loneliness.

At the moment, brothers, you would be lucky to secure a semblance of a
state in that Gaza Strip into which you have all crowded, and a small
part of the West Bank of the Jordan . It isn't going to get better.
Time is running out even for this much land, so here are some facts,
figures, and sound advice, friends.

You hold keys, which you drag out for television interviews, to houses
that do not exist or are inhabited by Israelis who have no intention
of leaving Jaffa , Haifa , Tel Aviv, or West Jerusalem . You shoot old
guns at modern Israeli tanks and American-made fighter jets, doing
virtually no harm to Israel while bringing the wrath of its mighty
army down upon you. You fire ridiculously inept Kassam rockets that
cause little destruction and delude yourselves into thinking this is a
war of liberation. Your government, your social institutions, your
schools, and your economy are all in ruins.

Your young people are growing up illiterate, ill, and bent on rites of
death and suicide, while you, in effect, are living on the kindness of
foreigners, including America and the United Nations. Every day your
officials must beg for your daily bread, dependent on relief trucks
that carry food and medicine into the Gaza Strip and the West Bank ,
while your criminal Muslim fundamentalist Hamas government continues
to fan the flames of a war it can neither fight nor hope to win.
In other words, brothers, you are down, out, and alone in a burnt-out
landscape that is shrinking by the day.

What kind of struggle is this? Is it worth waging at all? More
important, what kind of miserable future does it portend for your
children, the fourth or fifth generation of the Arab world's have-nots?
We, your Arab brothers, have moved on.

Those of us who have oil money are busy accumulating wealth and
building housing, luxury developments, state-of-the-art universities
and schools, and new highways and byways. Those of us who share
borders with Israel , such as Egypt and Jordan , have signed a peace
treaty with it and are not going to war for you any time soon. Those
of us who are far away, in places like North Africa and Iraq , frankly
could not care less about what happens to you.

Only Syria continues to feed your fantasies that someday it will join
you in liberating Palestine, even though a huge chunk of its
territory, the entire Golan Heights, was taken by Israel in 1967 and
annexed. The Syrians, my friends, will gladly fight down to the last
Palestinian Arab.

Before you got stuck with this Hamas crowd, another cheating,
conniving, leader of yours, Yasser Arafat, sold you a rotten bill of
goods - more pain, greater corruption, and millions stolen by his
relatives - while your children played in the sewers of Gaza .

The war is over. Why not let a new future begin?

Youssef M. Ibrahim, a former New York Times Middle East Correspondent and Wall Street Journal Energy Editor for 25 years, is a freelance writer based in New York City and Dubai in the United Arab Emirates.