Palestinian disunity has changed the attitudes of Arab nations

Palestinian disunity has changed the way the Arab world looks at the struggle against Israeli occupation. Other views: Israel's leaders were embarrased into not attending the Mandela memorial, and Syrian and Gazan children die while money is fed to rebel groups.

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Palestine used to be the Arabs’ number one cause so what has happened, asked Taoufik Bouachrine in the Moroccan newspaper Akhbar Al Youm, to make its presence undesirable to Arab governments?

The Arab public was deeply interested in what was going on in Palestine, seen as an arena of freedom-fighting and part of the project of Arab renaissance, said Bouachrine in the article, adapted from a lecture to the Arab Centre for Research and Policy Studies conference in Doha.

That situation has changed now and the Palestinian cause is either only partially present in the media, or present but not under the banner of liberation and laying bare the Israeli occupation.

The Arab coverage of the Palestinian cause has been revolving around the labyrinths of negotiations, meetings and mediation.

Thus the once-inherent conflict between the Zionist project and the Arab project has become a matter of dispute between Palestinians and Israelis, with solutions being brokered by the US and Europe.

In the past, all Arab governments and groups, right and left, would include the liberation of Palestine in their platforms. Across the Arab world, Palestine was a local, Arab, humanitarian and religious cause, followed and given priority by the media and by political milieus which openly slammed Israel as an enemy, coloniser and usurper.

Today the Arabs and their media outlets seem to have been relieved of the burdens of a cause they cannot solve. Nor can they come clean to their people about being incapable of solving it, the writer noted.

More than 20 years of peace negotiations have sown the seeds of normalisation with Zionism, establishing the notion that Arab entities unwilling to coexist with the now-normal state of Israel are radical and unrealistic.

Arab parties described as moderate have insisted the problem is not Israel but rather the Arab hardliners who try to block a peaceful resolution. This political division has led to a polarised coverage of the Palestinian cause so that the news has become the arguments of each party. The occupation takes a back seat.

The internal divide among Palestinians and their respective Arab backers have dragged the Arab media into the conflict, with each party covering their opponents in a negative light.

Meanwhile, Israel has been lobbying hard to ensure the Palestinian “freedom-fighters” are called “activists”, while they are not “colonisers” but a “party to the conflict”, and the “apartheid wall” is called a “security barrier” and “occupation” is dubbed “redeployment”.

The solution is primarily in the hands of the Palestinians who must end division, admit the negotiations have been fruitless and draft a new democratic liberation plan that avoids the choice of negotiations or resistance.

Mandela’s death drives Israel into a corner

Amid shrinking interest in the Palestinian cause in the Arab world, a surprising event came to put Palestine back in the spotlight as one of the greatest moral conflicts of modern age, noted Jihad El Zein in the Lebanese newspaper Annahar.

That event was the isolation of Israel across the world as the world’s leaders gathered on Tuesday in Johannesburg for the memorial of Nelson Mandela.

Israel hesitantly sent the speaker of the Knesset to the memorial, having exposed itself to condemnation as the only apartheid regime that still exists, he said.

The world is driving Israel into a corner at a time where it seemed to be in the midst of one of its strongest stages since its inception, amid the weakness of Arab countries, he said.

Suhail Kiwan wrote in the London-based Al Quds Al Arabi that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu did not dare attend the funeral of the freedom icon, citing financial reasons, while President Shimon Peres put his absence down to ill health.

The real reason is that they knew that the people remember that Israel was the closest ally of apartheid-era South Africa until the last moments of the regime.

However, the master of ceremonies at the memorial accidentally announced the presence of Netanyahu and Peres. The result was like a test of the reception they would have had: the news was met with a chorus of disapproval from the crowd.

Arab billions ignore Syrian and Gazan children

While Syrian children die of cold in snowbound refugee camps in neighbouring countries and the children of Gaza die in the floods, Arab countries have turned a blind eye, wrote Abdel Bari Atwan in an opinion article on the news website Rai Al Youm.

The people in Gaza have already suffered from months of power blackouts and the stifling effects of the Arab-Israeli blockade. Then came the rain storms to add to their ordeal, the writer said.

Hamas, which runs the Gaza Strip, has neither the experience, the funds of the abilities to efficiently respond to this crisis. They resorted to using worn-out fishing boats in an attempt to rescue the people stranded on their rooftops.

Membership of the Friends of the Syrian People group includes more than 150 member states, including wealthy European and Arab countries, and yet millions of Syrian refugees inside and outside the country are plagued by hunger, disease, fear and the absence of hope for the future.

Huge quantities of money is being funneled from Arab nations to rebel groups fighting the dictatorial regime in Syria or spent on the latest weaponry. But when children in refugee camps freeze to death, the billions of dollars and the people who own them vanish into thin air, he said.

* Digest compiled by Abdelhafid Ezzouitni