Some people have enough moral sense to criticize Israel, but not to criticize anything that Assad and his supporters have done and are still doing. They see ISIS stoning women and chasing away Christians, but they ignore all evidence and testimony of torture, mass rape and mass murder in Assad’s concentration camps. They ignore evidence of collaboration between ISIS and Assad. They ignore Iran’s role in the current mayhem in Syria, Iraq and Gaza, and advocate engagement with her. They defend Russia and ignore her duplicity in war crimes in Syria and Ukraine. Clearly these people cannot truly be concerned with human rights. Their stand by the Palestinians at this stage seems motivated more by ideology than any sense of moral solidarity – an ideology that put Israel and America, and sometimes the West as a whole, at the center of all evil designs in the world; an ideology that, in essence, covets the power that these countries have and longs to appropriate it, rather than be truly dedicated to holding all equally accountable for their misdeeds.
Unfortunately, many Arabs seem to share this ideology; in fact the majority of them do. Herein lies the problem.
We continue to examine our current conflicts from the narrow angle of ideology. Moreover, all our ideologies are actually modeled along precedents set in the West and born out of its struggles to define itself. Even Islamist movements are no exceptions in this regard, fashioned as they along fascist equivalents in the West, old and new. Indeed, all our current political ideologies are imported, and our current worldview is, in essence, inorganic. Meanwhile, our sense of identity gets more battered all the time. This vicious cycle can only be broken when we choose to divorce ourselves from ideological thinking and begin to examine the world around us in more objective terms. Our relations with the rest of the world need to be defined in accordance with our long-term collective interests, not ideologies.
But, in order to do that, we really need to agree on who we are first. Or, to be put it more accurately, we need to accept that we will never agree on one solitary answer to that question. We are many, and we will always be. The issue of majorities and minorities will always depend on how the borders are drawn, or redrawn, and on what some of us are willing to do to safeguard their control of certain areas and enclaves, often, driven by fear and mistrust vis-à-vis the “others” in their environs and their midst.
Yes, we are many, but we don’t have to be locked in a state of permanent conflict. Our diversity does not need to be a curse. If we are willing to acknowledge this diversity, engage in serious discussions over new political arrangements for our entire region, and within each existing state, and if we are willing to make important compromises at certain critical junctures, then, we can still avoid an all-out regional conflagration.
But let there be no doubt anymore that change is coming, whether by design or default. In fact, it’s already taking place. The existence of external beneficiaries and dabblers, if not enablers, should not blind us to the presence of indigenous organic objective drivers for that change. The violent and tragic nature of the current developments in our region is indeed the product of this blindness, often willful, on part of our political, intellectual and professional cadres– those in power and those opposing them. The onus for managing the current processes is now on the newer generations currently being molded in our Pandoran furnaces. But the pitfalls are many, and the temptation to fall back on the same stale ideologies that paved our way to this mess is often too great. If there is any source of hope in this regard, it is manifested in the fact that some debate of the issues involved seems to be taken place, albeit far from the limelight. Perhaps, that’s how things should be at this preliminary stage. But the debate needs to become more public and participatory soon.