VIEW : After Gaza ceasefire

This Article was published in
Daily Times (Posted on Wednesday, December 05, 2012)

By Sahibzada Hussain Mohi-ud-Din Qadri

The studied silence of the Muslim world over the atrocities and gross violation of human rights in Gaza points to a larger malaise afflicting it

Starting a newspaper article with an anecdote is an unconventional way of writing. However, at times one feels persuaded to adopt this approach given the vast similarities existing between anecdotal content and situational realities on the ground. According to a tradition reported by Maulana Rumi in his world renowned Mathnawi, a cub joined a herd of sheep and started living with them. As he grew up, he adopted all the habits of the sheep and behaved like them. He forgot that he belonged to a different breed of animal figuratively referred to as the ‘king of the jungle’, and was blessed with physical prowess, courage and daring, unlike the sheep in whose company he was growing. Once, a lion attacked the sheep. On spotting that one of his breed was also among them, he talked to him trying to woo him back in his fold by reminding him of his family lineage and proverbial courage in an attempt to alienate him from the herd of sheep. Every argument he employed to achieve his purpose produced little result, as the lion remained adamant on retaining his present identity, secure as he was in the status quo. When every trick failed, the attacking lion hit upon an idea. He took the meek lion to a pond of water and showed him his reflection in it. Upon seeing his image, the lion brought up in the company of the sheep jettisoned his present identity and joined the herd of lions.

This anecdote reflects the present-day reality of Muslims, spread as they are over 57 states and sitting on strategically vital locations as well as vast energy deposits of the world. Despite their strengths, they are unable to face the world the way it is today. They continue to play second fiddle to the world powers and pocket insults and intimidation in the process.

As illustrated by the recent Gaza episode, the Muslims’ irrelevance could not have been more clearly and starkly proved. As the Israeli fighter jets continued to rain death and destruction on the innocent and unarmed people of Gaza, the Muslim world looked the other way and remained content by merely issuing condemnatory statements. It did little to move the United Nations, OIC and even Arab League by bringing their collective influence to bear upon Israel and its supporters to stop the massacre of the people of Palestine.

In its editorial, Daily Star wrote on November 26: “The stark numbers confirm that Israel dealt out far more pain than it suffered. More than 160 Palestinians including key Hamas figures were killed and more than 900 were injured, compared to six Israeli dead and 240 injured. The Israeli military rained down 1,000 tonnes of explosives on Gaza, while the Palestinians managed to land one tonne on Israel’s built-up areas. Much of Hamas’ paramilitary infrastructure and rocket network are a smoking ruin.”

The studied silence of the Muslim world over the atrocities and gross violation of human rights in Gaza points to a larger malaise afflicting it, a la the lion who was unable to shed the acquired ways of thinking and exploring his real identity and strength. Like the lion, they need a mirror to look at their reflection with a view to recognising who they are and what strength they possess to fight off contemporary challenges with a win-win mindset. The Muslim world is in acute need of leadership as well as strong institutional capacity building of their representative forums such as the OIC, etc, to leverage their influence and be counted as a power to reckon with at the global level.

While Egypt did succeed in getting the Israeli government and Hamas leadership to agree to a ceasefire, it achieved this ‘success’ with full backing from Washington. The rise of the new Egyptian president, Mohamed Morsi as a power broker in the Middle East after the famous Arab Spring marks a departure from the meek and, at times, supine role Egypt under Hosni Mubarak played vis-à-vis the conflict between Israel and Palestine. However, the conduct of the post-revolution Egyptian leadership leaves much to be desired, given the nature of heightened expectations pinned on the post-Mubarak democratic leadership.

The Independent rightfully summed up President Morsi’s dilemmas on the Mideast crisis: “For all the human tragedy, the periodic conflicts in Gaza provoke a sense of weary inevitability. What is different this time is that the latest spasm takes place in a region reshaped by the Arab Spring. Under Hosni Mubarak, Egypt was an ally of the US committed to peace with Israel; now its government is led by a member of the same Muslim Brotherhood that counts Hamas among its affiliates. Of the many tests that Egypt’s first democratic President has faced since his election in June, the conflict in Gaza is perhaps the most hazardous. Mohamed Morsi is under pressure at home to stand up for beleaguered Palestinians, reversing Mubarak-era policies widely considered unduly supine. But regional instability will hit Egypt hard, and its ailing economy needs western aid. So far, Mr Morsi has played his cards carefully. He has condemned “Israeli aggression”, withdrawn Egypt’s ambassador to Tel Aviv and sent Prime Minister Hesham Kandil to Gaza. But he has not offered the Hamas military support, or threatened action against Israel.”

As for the newly reinstalled US President Obama’s decisive role in finding a permanent solution to the Middle East crisis, the less said the better. As the plot thickens and more lives including those of infants and children are lost with a possibility of violence revisiting Palestine, President Obama seems to have forgotten his famous Cairo speech in which he promised to make a “new beginning” with the Muslim world based on ‘mutual respect’. The slogans of ‘change’ employed in 2007 and ‘Forward’ in 2012 appear to have been masked in the guise of vote fetching platitudes. There could not have been a more skewed world order than this.

The writer holds a PhD degree in Economics from Queen Victoria University, Melbourne, Australia