Saving Palestine: Part 3
Saudi Gazette Saturday, July 06, 2013
By RAY HANANIA
The unfolding tragedy in Egypt as democracy comes crashing down is a reminder of the reality of the Arab people: We know how to protest, to complain, to reject and to destroy, but do we as a people know how to build?
Arabs reject the notion of failure and we pretend our failures don’t exist. We replace failure with excuses and blame. We demand all or nothing, and we often end up with nothing.
Egypt’s Mohamed Morsi was elected in democratically held elections with nearly 25 million Egyptians voting. But many did not like Morsi’s policies and took to the streets, abandoning the process of democracy to achieve through violence what they failed to achieve at the voting booth.
The democracy that Egypt’s military stepped in to replace would have required Morsi to run for re-election in three years, the proper time to replace him. But not everyone in Egypt can wait for democracy to work.
Egypt raises an interesting point that applies to all of the Arabs including Palestine. Because of the Arab history of being oppressed and occupied for so many generations, our concept of freedom is skewered. Instead of having the majority rule, we instead see the loudest, most extreme members of our community govern.
The Arab world is all about tribalism. It is about minority rule, by the most powerful privileged or extreme elements of our society, not the larger majority that rules. “Democracy for the loudest minority” is the essence of Arab reality. The tragedy of Egypt was already played out in the tragedy of Palestine where democracy came and went as fast as hope for peace.
The rejection of reason by Arabs stems from the years of oppression they have endured. It resulted in tribalistic nations of strong-armed leaders. Our inability to achieve consensus resulted in tyrants rising to power, as in Syria and in Iraq.
The only topic on which Arabs can express themselves is Palestine. That’s why no Arab will ever really experience democracy until democracy comes to Palestine. If we can’t free Palestine, we will never free any Arab country.
The Arabs, and the Palestinians, have to overcome the small minorities of extremists and rejectionists who know how to tear down, destroy, condemn, castigate and undermine through violence and protests and disobedience, and replace them with the majority which currently sits back in fear of doing what needs to be done. The majority needs to stand up and silence the extremists. They need to come together and build. They need to embrace a future, not live in a nonexistent past.
How do we save Palestine? First, we have to overcome the hatred that has resulted from our anger. We have to learn to be productive instead of destructive. We have to reject the Arab notion that the impossible to achieve “All” is better than “Nothing” because we always end up with nothing. We need to end up with “Something.”
Egypt’s future was played out in Palestinian voting booths in 2005 where the first real efforts of democracy in the Middle East began. But we didn’t like the results and the Palestinians fought outside of the democratic process. Ideally, when the Israelis fled Gaza, Gaza should have become the first step in Palestine statehood. But instead, Palestinian “leaders” fought for power against the results of the democratic process.
That’s what’s happening in Egypt. Palestinians could have started with Gaza and then expanded to parts of the West Bank to achieve statehood. We still can. But fanatics and extremists stand in our way.
The majority of Palestinians support the creation of two states. The majority must assert its authority over the minority. We need to respond forcefully to those who would use violence, extremism and terrorism to prevent that majority will.
Palestinians, and Egyptians and all Arabs, need a strategy built on hope not rejection.
Palestinians should accept statehood in any area freed from Israel’s violent and brutal occupying yoke. We won’t get everything, but we will get something. From something, you can build.
Many reject this as a “piecemeal” strategy. They say it reinforces Israel’s repeated violations of international law. But I have faith in the power of justice, the rule of law, principle and democracy. I have faith that the essence of the Arab is not that displayed by the fanatics, one of violence, hate and rejection.
I know that if Palestine builds a state, then eventually Palestine’s democracy will spread throughout the Middle East not just into Israel where apartheid-like policies separate Jews from “non-Jews” (a hateful term created by Israel), but also into Egypt and other areas of the Arab world.
We must have faith in ourselves knowing that our success will spread as a wave of freedom not just through Palestine, but eventually through Israel. Freedom, when allowed to grow, is a powerful force that is not easily stopped once the momentum rises. Once we have our state, Israel’s control over Palestine’s demise ends.
The only real strategy to save Palestine is to prove to the world that we are democratic, free of hatred and violence, and can build instead of destroy. We should create our state, whatever size and wherever, and build on it.
I know that justice for Palestine is a powerful force when stripped of the extremists who have hijacked it. I know that if Palestine can exist as a free nation and we work to show that we are better and stronger than the rest, then our success will spread and create a real Arab Spring in Israel and throughout the Middle East. The real Arab Spring comes from positive achievement, not from destructive anger, violence, protests and hatred.
— Ray Hanania is an award winning columnist. He can be reached at www.TheMediaOasis.com or follow him on Twitter @RayHanania
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"I write about three topics, the Middle East, politics and life in general. I often take my life experiences and offer them in an entertaining way to readers, and I take on the toughest topics like the Israel-Palestine conflict and don't pull any punches about what I feel is fair. But, my priority is always about writing the good story."
Hanania covered Chicago Politics and Chicago City Hall from 1976 through 1992. Hanania began writing in 1975 when he published The Middle Eastern Voice newspaper in Chicago (1975-1977). He later published “The National Arab American Times” newspaper which was distributed through 12,500 Middle East food stores in 48 American States (2004-2007).
Hanania writes weekly columns on Middle East and American Arab issues for the Arab News in Saudi Arabia at www.ArabNews.com, and at www.TheArabDailyNews.com, www.TheDailyHookah.com and at SuburbanChicagoland.com. He has also published weekly columns in the Jerusalem Post newspaper, YNetNews.com, Newsday Newspaper in New York, the Orlando Sentinel Newspapers, and the Arlington Heights Daily Herald.
Palestinian, American Arab and Christian, Hanania’s parents originate from Jerusalem and Bethlehem.
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, Hanania 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. He was honored for his writing skills with two (2) Chicago Stick-o-Type awards from the Chicago Newspaper Guild. In 1990, Hanania was nominated by the Chicago Sun-Times editors for a Pulitzer Prize for his four-part series on the Palestinian Intifada.
His writings have also been honored by two national Awards from ADC for his writing, and from the National Arab American Journalists Association.
The managing editor of Suburban Chicagoland Online News website www.SuburbanChicagoland.com, Hanania's columns also appear in the Southwest News Newspaper Group of 8 newspapers.
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