After more than 65 years, Palestinian tears are mostly ignored by the West

A wounded Palestinian woman arrives at Al Najar hospital in southern Gaza yesterday, after the US-brokered ceasefire was shattered.  Said Khatib / AFP
A wounded Palestinian woman arrives at Al Najar hospital in southern Gaza yesterday, after the US-brokered ceasefire was shattered. Said Khatib / AFP

After a live interview with an Arab news channel last week, Chris Gunness, the spokesman for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine in Gaza, broke down sobbing over the massacre and devastation he had witnessed at UNRWA schools in Gaza by the­ Israeli war machine.

Mr Gunness couldn’t control himself as he recalled the suffering of children who had sought refuge in the schools. He thought he was off-air, but the images were broadcast.

“Chris Gunness isn’t Arab or Muslim, but he was stunned nonetheless at the targeting of children’s schools despite coordination between UNRWA and the Zionist entity informing them that the refugees in the schools are civilians,” said Abdullah Al Suwaiji in the Sharjah-based daily Al Khaleej.

But, as always, Israel cannot be trusted, the writer said. It has no respect for its commitments. It waited until the schools were full of civilians to bomb them directly to avenge the death of its troops in confrontations with Palestinian resistance fighters.

“Time and again, Israel has demonstrated the extent of its hostility and madness and its total disregard for human rights or international conventions that protect civilians in war times,” the writer added.

It is a war that has been raging for over 25 days, covered by the silence of great powers and mainly the US, which already compensated Israel for any losses to its stockpile of ammunition caused by this offensive. Other great powers – those able to use their veto at the UN Security Council, including China and Russia – didn’t lift a finger and most of them asserted Israel’s right to self defence.

“The movements of Israeli gangs portend even more evil plans for Gaza,” the writer suggested.

He claimed that Israel’s plan is to annihilate the entire strip in order to uncover the resistance tunnels that have so far eluded its intelligence.

Many Palestinian journalists reporting from Gaza have collapsed on camera in similar circumstances, but the bitter truth is that Mr Gunness’s tears would have a more significant effect on people in the West, not because those other reporters’ tribulations were less honest, but because Palestinian tears have been shed for more than 65 years and continue to be shed.

“Their impact has waned and they’ve become a familiar sight that doesn’t warrant sympathy or thought,” Al Suwaiji wrote.

In the same vein, the columnist Mohammed Salah asked in the pan-Arab daily Al Hayat: “Who changed? Israel or Arabs?”

Judging by Israel’s violent reaction to the kidnapping and killing of three of its youths, it is safe to say that Israel is the same: racial, bloodthirsty and colonial.

The only change may be the types of advanced weapons used in one offensive compared to another.

“It is Arabs who have changed and become weaker and less resourceful. They have turned against themselves,” the writer claimed.

“In their confrontations with Israel, Arabs have never repeated the admirable stance they took in the October 1973 war against Israel,” he noted.

At the height of their unison, Arab governments’ stances never amounted to anything more than official condemnation statements and promises of support to Palestine.

The writer also attacked those Arabs whose allegiance was no longer to a government or a ruler, but to the international Muslim Brotherhood, to which Hamas is affiliated.

Following its sudden fall from grace following the swift success it achieved during the Arab Spring uprisings, the Muslim Brotherhood feels that it is losing its foothold, the writer said.

For them, enhancing the reputation of the group is a religious duty of the highest priority – more important than the blood of Brotherhood members, be they Egyptian or Palestinians.

Hence, Salah said, it is no wonder that some Arab countries are reluctant to declare a position with or against Hamas in its war with Israel.

“Yes, Arabs have indeed changed with the changing regional and international circumstances,” the writer concluded. “They are more disintegrated than ever as countries have collapsed from within, without any foreign intervention or colonialism.”

rmakarem@thenational.ae

Published: August 4, 2014 04:00 AM

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