The Twitter Dispute Over Real Estate
Obama has just clinched his second term to lead America and the world. As the head of the clinical team, he has been given the life support machine to resuscitate America from its financial coma. The diagnosis? “Fiscal Cliff”. It is that time of the year again, the season of goodwill to all men. The Christmas season is upon us, and not even the father of all austerity will deter us from observing our yuletide generosity to all men. But no sooner had Obama settled back into the most powerful seat than the presents have started raining on his desk, courtesy of the Middle East; gift-wrapped from Syria to Israel, via Palestine. (Photo: Abdulai Mansaray, author)
The ongoing crisis between Israel and Palestine is a depressingly familiar sight, but unlike the past debacles, this crisis is panning out against a much changed political landscape. In the past, much of the criticisms for both Israel and Hamas had come from outside the borders of the Middle East. What makes this significantly different is that, the crisis is coming at a time that has seen the biggest overhaul of the political systems in the region. In the past, the exchange of artillery between Israel and Hamas was quickly met with the closure of the border between Palestine and Egypt. It is the opposite this time. The borders have not only remained open, and senior political officials from Egypt have not only crossed the Rubicon into Gaza; as a show of support and solidarity, but have also voiced a rather unfamiliar but unequivocal condemnation of the Israeli assault.
With tears streaming from his eyes, Egypt’s Prime Minister Hisham Kandi called for an end to Israel’s “aggression”. Mr. Kandi’s visit to Israel could be seen as an attempt to broker peace, but his condemnation that “what I am witnessing in Gaza is a disaster and I can’t keep quiet” will come as music to Islamic militants. This is also coming against the background of an emergency meeting that has been called for the Arab League. With Hamas tweeting running commentary on its mortar and rocket attacks on Israeli targets, the stakes could not be higher. Imagine what the reaction will be like among ordinary Israelis and Palestinians when they see live missiles and rockets killing their fellow citizens in real time? The issue this time is that no one entity has control over what is being put out there for public consumption. The chances of sanitising and adulterating the news are significantly reduced by the power of the Tweeterati. It is obvious that the battle will be largely fought in the PR arena, which Hamas has used in the past to play the victim role; thus drawing worldwide condemnation for Israel’s “over reaction”, while Israel will be expected to give a blow-by-PR-vetted blow of the campaign; in its bid to maintain the moral high ground. You can hardly fault Israel for defending its citizens when rockets are rained down their alleyways.
With the Arab Spring on the verge of becoming an Arab Perma Frost, it is nerve shattering to think of the repercussions ;among a people whose psyches have been politically DNA’d to stand up for change. Already, some people who purport to be closer to God have been giving this round of conflict a biblical dimension; as if it was a prophesy. With Israel branding it “Operation Pillar of Defence”, the conflict takes a whole new ethos as Israel continues to put a religious significance of a state of Israel for the Jewish people. Hamas has pledged to “open the gates of hell”; against a background whereby both parties accuse each other of being “invented and imaginary”. It is no wonder then, that many now see the Israeli-Palestinian war as a seasonal festivity of atrocities, with no end in sight.
Until both parties unequivocally acknowledge, accept and promote the rights of their mutual existence, the road to perdition will always be littered with God’s children. “A negotiated, comprehensive and permanent agreement between Israel and Palestine that ends the occupation, ensures security and peace for both sides, and solves all final-status issues in accordance with International law and previous bilateral agreements” is what many see as the recipe for peace in the Middle East. Unfortunately, the International Community seems to have given up on these people; as much of what is seen now is a reactive rather pro-active action. We seem to hear of the Security Council convene about the conflict only after missiles and rockets have been traded
It seems like centuries ago when Late Yitzhak Rabin and Yasser Arafat shook hands for the first time in public on the White House lawn. I can still recall the noise of the cheering crowds on that blossom day. That day was summarised with the immortal statement that “There are no more “risks for peace” and we all had better get used to it”. Hmmmm. Israel had Mubarak to count on for friendly fire. In his place is Mohamed Morsi who hails from Egypt’s popular Muslim Brotherhood group. Although he has continued to honour the 1979 peace agreement with Israel, that has not stopped him from withdrawing his ambassador from Israel and summoning the latter’s envoy to Cairo, to deliver a protest and call for an emergency meeting of the Security Council.
With Israeli calling up to 75,000 reserve troops, fears for a ground invasion are growing; a move that Britain has warned will cost Israel international support. The region is recovering from the wave of change that saw old regimes, Western-friendly ones included, swept aside in the name of democracy. In relative terms, they have been replaced with new regimes (or is it governments?) that at best, can be described as embryonic and fledgling. It is no secret that these newfound and “democratically” elected governments are laden with Islamic DNA. Their leaders are fighting to keep their political ships afloat. The dilemma here is that these leaders will eventually be caught between serving two masters; their people’s wish or the friend of the people who helped bring them to power. If the will of the people was instrumental in bringing about the change, who is to say that the same people will not pester their governments for action against what they see, rightly or wrongly as Israeli aggression? That will leave people like Mohamed Morsi of Egypt in a quandary; to stick or twist. It was not surprising then that he denounced Israel’s attacks on the Gaza Strip as “a blatant aggression against humanity” and said that Cairo “would not leave Gaza on its own”. What will that do to Hamas ‘confidence?
As if that is not enough for one region, there is the small matter of Syria on the other side of the fence; bordering the shores of Lebanon with a significant Hamas presence. Killing the Lebanese security chief last month has thankfully, not yielded the perpetrators’ intention to sublet the Syrian war to Lebanon. The Syrian Opposition groups are gradually amalgamating and taking the form of a “credible” opposition, at last. With the International Community queuing up to recognise their legitimacy as the government in waiting, Assad is becoming increasingly desperate as we see the killing spree go up another notch. With the stage set for a theatre of war, the Palestinian-Israeli conflict could not have come at a worse time. The world will understandably look to the US, France, China, Moscow and UK for some guidance and intervention. But with domestic issues toting up by the minute, the saying that “charity begins at home” could not be better appropriate.
The world is still hopeful that peace will prevail. War is what happens when language fails. Albert Camus once said that “there are causes worth dying for, but none worth killing for”. Darkness cannot drive out darkness and an eye for an eye will only make the whole world go blind. Peace cannot be kept by force; it can only be achieved by understanding. But with the potential for a regionalised break out of war, will it be too farfetched to conclude that we are seeing the beginning of the end? After all, is that not where all the prophets and saviours came from? If ever we needed a second coming, I can’t wait to see that guy again. Come down Father.
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