Yalla Peace: It’s an ‘Arab Winter’ when it comes to Syria

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Yalla Peace: It’s an ‘Arab Winter’ when it comes to Syria
08/10/2011 Click to read JPost Column The Arab world activists scream for Israel’s blood when it kills Arabs – and Israel has killed many Arabs, but those activists are silent when it comes to atrocities committed by Syria.

You may have noticed there is no Goldstone Report being proposed in the United Nations to investigate the massacre of civilians by the Syrian government.

In fact, many Arabs – mainly the professional activists and the extremists – are looking at Syria as if it is some kind of anomaly. Not an Arab Spring at all, but rather, an Arab Winter giving pro-Democracy pleas the cold shoulder.

Deep down, the Arab activists don’t want the spring to come to Syria. And for good reason.

The Arab world has turned its back on the pro-Democracy protesters in Syria who are being massacred by the Syrian regime.

More than 2,000 have been murdered.

Tens of thousands have been injured and thousands have been imprisoned.

The Arab world activists scream for Israel’s blood when it kills Arabs – and Israel has killed many Arabs, but those activists are silent when it comes to atrocities committed by Syria.

The silence is not only driven by the usual hypocritical politics of the activists, but by the “Holy Grail” of their hypocrisy, the Palestine conflict. It’s a hypocrisy based on political convenience that sees Egypt and Syria differently. Egypt was long ago compromised and its president Husni Mubarak is in shackles and awaiting trial.

The activists screamed loud in favor of Egypt’s Tahrir Square because Egypt was pro-Israel.

Syria, on the other hand, is at the frontline of the battle against Israel. It hosts the headquarters of Hamas and is a power behind Hezbollah, a group that issued a statement urging Arabs to give Syria and its president Bashar Assad a chance.

Syria is second only to Iran when it comes to screaming about Israel. Yet historically, Syria’s response to Israel has been the weakest of all.

Syria’s stance, which so closely reflects the empty rhetoric of the ineffective activists, is for public consumption only.

The Syrian Army, which often parades its hatred of Israel (and the United States), has collapsed repeatedly in defeat when facing the IDF.

So oppressing its own citizens is about all the Syrian Army can do, aside from occasionally brutalizing their neighboring Lebanese citizens too.

THE ARAB LEAGUE has proven to be equally worthless in the Arab Spring and in Syria’s Arab Winter. During a recent visit to Damascus, the head of the Arab League complained not about the massacre of innocent civilians, but rather the “foreign interference” in Syria’s domestic politics.

Like Arab activists for many years, Syria is wrapped in a quandary of self-oppression and dictatorship, the hallmark of Arab world politics.

Like the failed Arab activists, Syria’s only strategy has been to churn up hatred of Israel not to free Palestine or liberate Palestinian lands, but rather to distract their people from focusing on and speaking out against Arab world failures and brutality.

The Arab League and the Arab activists are weighing the imbalance of political interests. They fear that Syria’s collapse will only further weaken the spotlight that historically has been placed on Israel.

This failed Middle East policy is fueled by the inaction of the West, a West driven by an addiction to oil. Four NATO and Western countries profit from Syria’s crude oil, Germany, Italy, France and the Netherlands.

They are hesitant to take any action that might undermine their profits.

Ironically, the Muslim nation that has the toughest stand against Syrian oppression is Turkey, once one of Syria’s closest allies. This week, Saudi Arabia and the Gulf countries criticized Syria, but they did so out of predictable selfish interests. Saudi Arabia has been battling with Syria for years over Lebanon.

AMERICAN ARABS reflect the hypocrisy of the Arab activists. Recently in Detroit, the publisher of a leading American Arab newspapers organized a rally for Syria that drew more than 400 people. The English- Arabic newspaper, of course, only reported on the rally in Arabic. It also launched a campaign attacking American Arabs who have been calling for action against Syria and compromise with Israel.

Khaled Salah, the spokesman for the Syria American Council which supports the pro-Democracy movement in Syria, said during my weekly radio interview show (www.RadioBaladi.com) that the pro-Democracy protesters have been giving their weekly protests names that reflect their exasperation with the hypocrisy of the Arab World and the Arab activists. (Click to listen to the radio interview podcast.)

Two weeks ago, they called their protest “Your Silence is Killing Me,” referring to the failure of US President Barack Obama and the US Congress to take any substantive actions against the Syrian government.

Last week, they called their protests “Only God is With us” to reflect their isolation in the Arab World.

This week, maybe they should call their protest, “Why have the Arabs forsaken us?” The Arab activists and extremists have it all wrong. It is true that the Syrian dictatorship has been very anti-Israeli, but the truth is they have been very ineffective as champions of Palestinian rights. Imagine how effective a truly democratic Syria could be in fighting for Palestinian rights and pushing for peace? The Arab World can’t effectively champion Palestinian rights until they learn how to fight for the rights of their own people.

The Arab Spring has brought freedom closer for some, but for many like Syria it is still far off.

The Palestinians should be speaking out loudly in support of the Syrian people, even at the cost of losing the worthless empty rhetoric of the Syrian dictatorship.

But as long as the Arab activists manipulate the “Palestinian cause,” that wont likely happen.

The writer is an award-winning columnist and Palestinian activist. www.hanania.com.

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Ray Hanania

Ray Hanania is an award winning former Chicago City Hall reporter and Columnist who began writing in 1975 when he published The Middle Eastern Voice newspaper in Chicago (1975-1977). He covered Chicago City Hall from 1976 through 1992 (Mayor Daley to Mayor Daley) and has expanded to writing for newspapers around the world focussed on Middle East and American politics.

Hanania loves to write about American Arabs in politics, and focuses on Arab life in America.

Currently, he writes weekly columns on Middle East and American Arab issues for the Arab News in Saudi Arabia at www.ArabNews.com. He writes on American politics for the Des Plaines Valley News, Southwest News-Herald, The Regional News newspaper and the Reporter Newspapers. He also writes for the online websites TheArabDailyNews.com and NewsAmericaNetwork.com (Illinois News Network at IllinoisNewsNetwork.com).

Palestinian, American Arab and Christian, Hanania’s parents originate from Jerusalem and Bethlehem. Hanania began in journalism as an activist publishing Chicago’s first English-language American Arab Newspaper “The Middle Eastern Voice” from 1975 through 1977. In 1976, he was hired by the Chicago community newspaper The Southtown Economist (Daily Southtown) and in 1985 was hired by the Chicago Sun-Times and covered Chicago City Hall for both. In 1993, he launched the “The Villager” Newspapers which covered 12 Southwest Chicagoland suburban regions. In 2004, he published “The National Arab American Times” monthly newspaper which was distributed through 12,500 Middle East ethnic food stores in 48 American States.

Hanania is the recipient of four (4) Chicago Headline Club “Peter Lisagor Awards” for Column writing. In November 2006, he was named “Best Ethnic American Columnist” by the New American Media;In 2009, he received the prestigious Sigma Delta Chi Award for Writing from the Society of Professional Journalists. He is the recipient of the MT Mehdi Courage in Journalism Award. Hanania has also received two (2) Chicago Stick-o-Type awards from the Chicago Newspaper Guild, and in 1990 was nominated by the Chicago Sun-Times for a Pulitzer Prize for his four-part series on the Palestinian Intifada.

Hanania’s writings have been published in newspapers around the world. Formerly syndicated by Creators Syndicate, Hanania also has written news, features and Opinion Columns for Al Jazeera English, the Jerusalem Post, YNetNews.com, Arab News, Saudi Gazette, Newsday in New York, the Orlando Sentinel, the Houston Chronicle, The Daily Star, the News of the World, the Daily Yomimuri in Tokyo, Chicago Magazine, the Arlington Heights Daily Herald, and Aramco Magazine. His political columns are published in the Southwest News-Herald and Des Plaines Valley News, Regional News and Palos Reporter newspapers in Chicagoland. Hanania is the President/CEO of Urban Strategies Group media and public affairs consulting which has clients in Illinois, Florida, Michigan and Washington D.C.

Hanania is Palestinian Christian from prominent Bethlehem and Jerusalem families. His wife and son are Jewish and he performs standup comedy lampooning Arab-Jewish relations, advocating for peace based on non-violence, mutual recognition and Two-States.

His Facebook Page is Facebook.com/rghanania

Email him at: RGHanania@gmail.com