January 2009


For those of you who are wondering what the recent fighting between the Jews and Arabs in the small strip of land called Gaza was all about, read this piece below by an ex-WMD chap, Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi.  Quite a sensible (but not feasible) argument from someone known for his eccentricity.

Interesting historical bits/facts below too if you are Christian, Muslim or Jewish.  Moral of story?  “The Butterfly Effect” (google if you want to know) …

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The Mideast’s one-state solution

By Muammar Qaddafi

Thursday, January 22, 2009

TRIPOLI, Libya:

The shocking level of the last wave of Israeli-Palestinian violence, which ended with this weekend’s cease-fire, reminds us why a final resolution to the so-called Middle East crisis is so important. It is vital not just to break this cycle of destruction and injustice, but also to deny the religious extremists in the region who feed on the conflict an excuse to advance their own causes.

But everywhere one looks, among the speeches and the desperate diplomacy, there is no real way forward. A just and lasting peace between Israel and the Palestinians is possible, but it lies in the history of the people of this conflicted land, and not in the tired rhetoric of partition and two-state solutions.

Although it’s hard to realize after the horrors we’ve just witnessed, the state of war between the Jews and Palestinians has not always existed. In fact, many of the divisions between Jews and Palestinians are recent ones. The very name “Palestine” was commonly used to describe the whole area, even by the Jews who lived there, until 1948, when the name “Israel” came into use.

Jews and Muslims are cousins descended from Abraham. Throughout the centuries both faced cruel persecution and often found refuge with one another. Arabs sheltered Jews and protected them after maltreatment at the hands of the Romans and their expulsion from Spain in the Middle Ages.

The history of Israel/Palestine is not remarkable by regional standards – a country inhabited by different peoples, with rule passing among many tribes, nations and ethnic groups; a country that has withstood many wars and waves of peoples from all directions. This is why it gets so complicated when members of either party claims the right to assert that it is their land.

The basis for the modern State of Israel is the persecution of the Jewish people, which is undeniable. The Jews have been held captive, massacred, disadvantaged in every possible fashion by the Egyptians, the Romans, the English, the Russians, the Babylonians, the Canaanites and, most recently, the Germans under Hitler. The Jewish people want and deserve their homeland.

But the Palestinians too have a history of persecution, and they view the coastal towns of Haifa, Acre, Jaffa and others as the land of their forefathers, passed from generation to generation, until only a short time ago.

Thus the Palestinians believe that what is now called Israel forms part of their nation, even were they to secure the West Bank and Gaza.

And the Jews believe that the West Bank is Samaria and Judea, part of their homeland, even if a Palestinian state were established there.

Now, as Gaza still smolders, calls for a two-state solution or partition persist. But neither will work.

A two-state solution will create an unacceptable security threat to Israel. An armed Arab state, presumably in the West Bank, would give Israel less than 10 miles of strategic depth at its narrowest point.

Further, a Palestinian state in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip would do little to resolve the problem of refugees. Any situation that keeps the majority of Palestinians in refugee camps and does not offer a solution within the historical borders of Israel/Palestine is not a solution at all.

For the same reasons, the older idea of partition of the West Bank into Jewish and Arab areas, with buffer zones between them, won’t work. The Palestinian-held areas could not accommodate all of the refugees, and buffer zones symbolize exclusion and breed tension.

Israelis and Palestinians have also become increasingly intertwined, economically and politically.

In absolute terms, the two movements must remain in perpetual war or a compromise must be reached. The compromise is one state for all, an “Isratine” that would allow the people in each party to feel that they live in all of the disputed land and they are not deprived of any one part of it.

A key prerequisite for peace is the right of return for Palestinian refugees to the homes their families left behind in 1948. It is an injustice that Jews who were not originally inhabitants of Palestine, nor were their ancestors, can move in from abroad while Palestinians who were displaced only a relatively short time ago should not be so permitted.

It is a fact that Palestinians inhabited the land and owned farms and homes there until recently, fleeing in fear of violence at the hands of Jews after 1948 – violence that did not occur, but rumors of which led to a mass exodus. It is important to note that the Jews did not forcibly expel Palestinians. They were never “un-welcomed.” Yet only the full territories of Isratine can accommodate all the refugees and bring about the justice that is key to peace.

Assimilation is already a fact of life in Israel. There are more than 1 million Muslim Arabs in Israel; they possess Israeli nationality and take part in political life with the Jews, forming political parties. On the other side, there are Israeli settlements in the West Bank. Israeli factories depend on Palestinian labor, and goods and services are exchanged. This successful assimilation can be a model for Isratine.

If the present interdependence and the historical fact of Jewish-Palestinian co-existence guide their leaders, and if they can see beyond the horizon of the recent violence and thirst for revenge toward a long-term solution, then these two peoples will come to realize, I hope sooner rather than later, that living under one roof is the only option for a lasting peace.

Muammar Qaddafi is the leader of Libya.

 

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Just another day in Cairo.  An excerpt of what happened today.

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Driver from My Workplace:  so do you like soccer?

Me: Qoora Al-Qahdeem (Arabic for ‘football’)?  Tahbaan (Arabic for ‘of course’)

Driver from My Workplace:  there is THE big match tonight on tv.  You should watch it.

Me: (recalling that there was a Man Utd vs Chelsea big game later this evening, and excited to share with him my five-cents on the Scolari reign and the possible tactical lineups) yeah!  i hope to though i don’t have cable tv at home.

Driver from My Workplace:  nah, the big derby match between Al Ahly and Zamalek can be caught on the free-to-air channels.

[Note: Al Ahly and Zamalek are the two traditional powerhouses in domestic soccer here – their derbies are often violent and deadly literally.]

Me:  … oh, THAT big match …

Driver from My Workplace: yeah, how could you not like the Egyptian Premier League, eh?

Me:  sure (unenthusiastically) … Abu Troika, Zidan, Amr Zaki, Hossam Ghaly, Mido etc

[Note: the last few players do not ply their trade in Egypt but the English Premier League – shows you my knowledge of Egyptian soccer players who play locally!]

Driver from My Workplace:  yes.  the whole of Egypt will shut down from 6pm onwards, traffic will be good, you can go anywhere, but not that you want to coz both teams blah blah blah

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afternote:  Chelsea got tonked by Man Utd 3-0 later unfortunately.  but not that any Egyptian here would notice.  and for you non-Blues fans laughing away, oh well at least the league was won within my lifetime not once but twice.  scant but decent consolation (think of the poor newcastle and spur fans!)

i suspected i was “one of them” some time ago, the symptoms were clear, but i just could not bring myself to face the truth … after all i’ve often thought and prided myself as being above the fray, and had even often dispensed wise words to my contemporaries on how to remain unscathed despite it all … so then, how could it be possible?

it all started when awhile ago, someone asked me via email how i spent my weekends here in Cairo.  a perfectly legitimate question until i realised that i actually have nothing tangible or substantive to report of (which probably explains why i’ve yet to reply to that email)!  doing a quick stock-take of my four months worth of weekends and public holidays, i realised that i’ve been spending far too much time in the office and at home (in order to consume my daily diet of 3 sets of newspapers, handouts and varied magazines from politics to economics to arts).  and on top of that, i’ve not even been practising on my Winning Eleven for several weeks at length.  worse, i was actually enjoying this lifestyle and oblivious to the fact that i’ve “a lack of life” (and that is putting it mildly)

… and so the search for an explanation saw the following excuses:

well, among other things, it is kinddof difficult to get around here – taxi drivers are mostly thuggish (no disrespect to the minority who aint so, but sometimes you just have to call a spade, “a spade”), the traffic and human jams, most of my better khakis are not around any more, and of course a lack of interesting recreational activities etc … 

but then in all truth and honesty, i realised and admit (with a dose of good-natured “embarrassment”) that Singapore is just too much in my psyche – yes, one whose day starts early and end late; one that is irritatingly efficient and often described as a ‘kan cheong’ spider; one that cannot stop to rest or play; one whose vacation/rest day is often interrupted by calls to or from the office – sounds familiar? i had thought being here would be a welcome respite from the rat race of life but now i know – this “chasing after the wind” isn’t around me, it is inside of me … no wonder there is this saying, which i paraphrase here, that you can take me out of Singapore but you can’t take Singapore out of me!

so here’s to a less hectic and balanced ‘inner’ me for 2009 … in any case, if there is something i can learn from the Egyptians, it is this – hang beside the Nile the entire weekend with family and friends just doing nothing – it sure is a ‘waste of time’ imho but at least it beats being at the office doing work!