Ramallah, (Palestine Telegraph) – Despite all the rhetoric about the Palestinian cause, most famous of all is that it is the ‘number one cause for Arabs’ or the ‘central, pivotal and crucial cause’, or yet ‘the mother of all causes’, and the ‘real reason behind revolutions and coups’ or ‘the reason behind the massive military spending’, but the fact remains that we as Arabs have not seriously fought Israel since more than 70 years ago. Our wars with the Jewish state have been abrupt; we enter them with much media enthusiasm and rhetoric rather than military planning, or readiness for long term endurance. And so far all the wars between us and Israel have actually been launched on us rather than the other way around. Even the 1948 war and 1973 war which Arabs initiated turned out to be abrupt and wallow with limited political goals rather than goals for decisive liberation wars.
For clarification reasons, let us compare the Bosnian war (1992-1995) with all the Arab-Israeli wars that took place. The Bosnians launched their wars with much determination as ‘liberation wars’ are fought, meaning they either win these wars completely or lose them completely. They exerted all efforts, sacrificed everything, and mobilized all their men and women and paid no attention to the balance of power or to opposing international and regional circumstances. They endured pressure, abandonment and conspiracy but were able to take advantage of whatever was available. They dealt with all parties that were willing to help regardless of their motives, whether sincere or not. Countries that rarely met gathered around them, the Saudis, the Turks, the Iranians and even far away countries like Malaysia. Victory was what they sought. Had they compromised or listened to those who told them to accept little from their Serbian enemy then negotiate with them, they would have ended up today being a vulnerable minority negotiating with a racist Serbian entity.
This is the fate of people who seek ‘complete freedom’ like the Algerians, the Vietnamese, the Irish and the Europeans under the Nazis. There is always a high price to pay to achieve complete freedom.
The Palestinians, and since their historical revolution in 1936, which could have been decisive, did not fight a long war alone to gain their freedom. And despite the ongoing war on Gaza, the Palestinians have left their cause to Arabs and as we know Arabs have their own interests and priorities. Thus, every time Arabs had lost a war against Israel, they had left the Palestinians to their fate, while they, the Arabs, returned to their own countries to rebuild and protect whatever is there to protect, sending Palestinians void promises because the essential for them is the survival of this certain party or this certain leader and the ability to govern whatever is left of their land.
The ongoing war on Gaza is certainly a different kind of war since it is purely a Palestinian war from start to end, an end which we yet ignore. The Arabs have completely distanced themselves from this war, and most have even denied and denounced this war and those running it. But Palestinians have imposed their decision, and this was obvious in the pride and enthusiasm of Hamas leaders like Khaled Mishaal and Ismail Hanieh’s while addressing the world and setting their own conditions so as to establish a new reality on the ground. They were able to revive the Palestinian cause and put it back on the forefront of world affairs.
Everything about this war is new. How did the weapons that entered Gaza Strip reach the strip despite long years of land, sea and air embargo? This alone is a miracle. Some thought the tunnels were made to transport rice, fuel oil and some machine guns and explosives. Israel destroyed and buried these tunnels under water however, and God only knows how tons of explosives and hundreds of missiles among which the seven-meters-long Grad missiles were infiltrated.
Were they infiltrated through the tunnels or by sea? How did Hamas got to acquire hundreds of those? It is a bit hard to believe that Hamas benefited from the one-year-reign of the Islamic Brotherhood under former Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi to infiltrate all these missiles, because we all know that Morsi had the upper hand when it came to the intelligence and the military. Israel and its intelligence are probably busy trying to solve this enigma so as it will never be repeated. But come and think of it if Hamas under the embargo was able to infiltrate all these weapons, which even late President Yasser Arafat with his wide international and Arab network, was unable to do and was even held accountable for even trying, then this means that Hamas can do this again.
The amazing performance of Hamas’ fighters and the vast network of its tunnels that stretch for miles under Gaza and some even extend to Israel and Egypt, which they have utilized brilliantly and caused the enemy unprecedented losses, will be used again and again by Hamas whenever the occupation forces attempt to invade one of the neighborhoods. It also has become obvious that Hamas did not waste any time while governing the Gaza Strip. Israel has admitted to the high performance of Hamas fighters and this worries the rulers of the Jewish state and is possibly the biggest deterrent to its invasion and reoccupation of Gaza. Hamas, on the other hand might want just this so as to engage Israel in a long-term liberation war, which will inevitably extend to the already boiling West Bank thus manipulating the post-Oslo situation there.
The national unity manifested by the people of Gaza, and their willingness to sacrifice even their lives so as not to return to the humiliating life under the inhumane siege, is yet another achievement for the stubborn Palestinian fighters. What does this leave Israel with? The only remaining option for the Jewish state is to wipe out the entire Gaza strip, but then again is the Jewish state even capable of killing two million Palestinians?
What is new in this conflict as well is that the Palestinians are now the ones imposing the terms of a ceasefire unlike all other previous Arab wars. And this is because Palestinians have nothing to lose and no Israeli threat worries them because they are under occupation and have been so for long years now, and direct occupation is certainly not in the benefit of Israel and Palestinians know that and are taking advantage of this fact.
And more importantly is that Palestinians are ready for a long fight and this is considered a strategic turning point. And if the solid fighting spirit is maintained then this is bound to change the rules and dynamics of the Arab-Israeli conflict which will eventually lead the Palestinians to become stronger negotiators respected by the entire world, which has historically respected the strong not the weak.
Had the Bosnian leader Alija Izzetbegovich collapsed early after witnessing his people being slaughtered in the thousands under the auspices of some European countries while the world was watching, US President Bill Clinton would not have moved in August 1995 against the wishes of Europe, to lead the NATO bombing of the Serbs and forced them to the negotiating table which resulted in obliging them to accept the independence of Bosnia and Herzegovina.
No one will bomb Israel but if Palestinians remain steadfast this time, then the peace talks that collapsed few months ago despite the attention and optimism of US secretary of state John Kerry, will be more serious this time around. These peace talks will certainly tackle the real reasons behind the war on Gaza which are the occupation and the siege not only of Gaza but of the West Bank as well. Then, Arabs should follow the suit of Palestinians and forget everything they said and did at the time of the great Arab decadence.
By Jamal Khashakji
Translated by Samaa Abu Sharar