Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Arabs Can't Live By Resistance Alone

Autocrats have raised the Zionist bogey time and again to justify emergency laws and compel millions to live as slaves under their rule

By Faisal Al Qasim     

I wonder why we as Arabs and Muslims keep mouthing the famous saying: "A true believer should not be bitten by the same snake from the same hole twice" while in actual fact, we keep allowing the same deadly snake from the same bloody hole to bite us again and again!

Throughout the second half of the last century, alleged Arab nationalists managed to fool the masses. They convinced them to waive all their rights, particularly the right of expression, because, the nation, as they constantly lied, was in a state of struggle with the "Zionist enemy"; therefore it should not be distracted. And so they raised the notorious slogan that "no voice should ever rise higher than the voice of battle".

It is sometimes necessary to live in a state of emergency if the homeland is in a state of danger. Even the Americans accepted the new security laws passed right after the events of 9/11 as the nation truly faced the threat of terrorism. But unlike America and other countries which were obliged at a certain point to waive some of their rights for the sake of the nation, many Arabs have been living under a state of emergency for over half a century or so for completely unjustified reasons.

It might have been necessary, as some apologists argue, to rule some Arab people with an iron fist during the second part of the 1960's and reduce their freedom to a minimum. With many Arab countries being badly defeated by Israel in the Six-Day War, the then ruling regimes had to impose emergency rule, they say. Funnily enough, many Arab people lived under the same old rule in the second half of the 20th century and the first decade of the 21st century.

Peace treaty

Some might argue that certain Arab countries had to prepare for the October War, which took place about six years after the Six-Day War. But since then, not a single bullet has been fired at Israel. A few months after that war, the international community managed to facilitate a long-lasting peace deal between Arabs and the Israelis, which has kept Arab-Israeli borders quiet, if not serene, until this moment.

But instead of lifting emergency laws, some Arab regimes tightened them under new pretexts in order to keep ruling the people in the same old dictatorial and ruthless manner.

In the recent past, some Arab autocrats used the conflict with Israel to restrict their people's freedom, but now there is no more war or struggle. In actual fact, some Arab countries have adhered to the truce with the Israelis so strictly that not even birds are allowed to fly over the borders, let alone soldiers fire at the Israeli side.

In order to justify the ongoing state of emergency, some Arab autocrats had to find a new pretext. Eureka! They have funnily enough, made for themselves after their recent war with "the Zionists" a fortress for "steadfastness and challenge". So now they have a new fabricated legitimacy to rule their people in the same old way.

Of course, nobody would ever dare call for the lifting of the emergency rule when their "historic" leadership is in a state of challenge with "those conspiring adversaries who want to detract from its steadfastness".

When the ‘challenge and steadfastness' era came to an end, and it was suitable to lift emergency laws, a new ploy had to be manufactured to keep ruling as before. The latest tactic was that there were new emerging "resistance movements", which started springing up in the mid-1980's, and that the "steadfast" regimes had to support them. And so the state of emergency got a new lease of life.

Diabolic ruse

It is worth noting that millions of Arabs have been subjected to all sorts of restrictions because their leaders were allegedly helping the so-called "resistance movements", which is, of course, exceedingly ridiculous. The last, but not the least diabolic, ruse to keep people living under a state of emergency is because their leaders belong to the so-called ‘Reluctance Front'.

I know it is quite difficult to translate this ambiguous term from one Arabic dialect to another, let alone translate it into English. But generally speaking, it sort of means ‘a new model of resistance'. Even ‘resistance' comes in all sorts of fashion, models and sizes in the Arab world. It is actually quite bizarre being able to ride roughshod over your people just by calling yourself ‘reluctant' or ‘resistant'.

How very absurd that millions of Arabs have been living as slaves in the name of ‘resistance' or ‘reluctance' while the Israelis, who have been in a state of war with the Arab and Muslim world, have been practising the best kind of democracy.

The Israeli government has never imposed emergency laws on its people except for a few weeks or months.

It is worth noting here that India never ever suspended its democracy throughout the long and tortuous struggle for liberation from British colonial rule.

The Indian parliament lived its best democratic moments during the struggle for independence.

-This commentary was published in The GULF NEWS on 27/07/2011
Dr Faisal Al Qasim is a Syrian journalist based in Doha

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