The Israeli bombing on Gaza continues as Arab leaders trip over one another rushing to normalize relations with Israel. The attack is mostly ignored by Western media, or, as always, presented as retaliation to an attack from Hamas, although this time it’s “balloon bombs.”
Israeli warplanes always target Hamas, not Palestinians, not people, not wives and husbands, not the only power plant, not fishing boats, and of course not schools and children. Every Palestinian is Hamas, and any national resistance is terrorism, in the media/Zionist narrative.
The United Arab Emirates-Israel peace agreement is paying dividends already. Arab Zionists in the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Egypt and elsewhere in the Arab/Muslim world all agree now with the Zionist narrative. After years of unofficial, shadow diplomacy, the UAE-Israel agreement was hailed by the White House and Western media as historic, and a gateway to stability and progress in the troubled Middle East.
“The agreement will shock those who thought the portion of the Jared Kushner portfolio devoted to peace in the Middle East consisted of a single briefing folder filled with printouts of Wikipedia articles,” reported the Atlantic.
“It swapped one Palestinian nightmare — annexation, which many world leaders had warned would be an illegal land grab — for another, perhaps even bleaker prospect of not being counted at all,” reported Isabel Kershner and Adam Rasgon for the New York Times.
The irony is that everyone is excited about this historic peace agreement except the Arabs and Israelis themselves. Some may be wondering why a country consisting of a few tribes with flags like the UAE — which never had a war with Israel and doesn’t have any border with Israel — would need to make peace with Israel. The UAE and Israel are two of the most hawkish countries in the region, working together on wars on the Palestinians in Gaza for years.
The UAE has been involved in wars in Yemen, Libya, Syria and Somalia, and supported counterrevolution in the Arab Spring. Now they are talking about a historic peace agreement that would give the Palestinians the right to have an independent state.
Since 1948, every time there has been a peace agreement or cease fire with Israel, there has been more land grabbing and expansion of settlement.
Throughout my life in the U.S., I have often been asked about President Anwar Sadat of Egypt, the first Arab leader who struck a peace agreement with Israel. Wasn’t he a “nice man,” “a man of peace,” “didn’t he win a Nobel peace prize?” they ask me. Usually I just nod and say something about the weather. Sadat, yes, achieved peace with the Israelis, and war with everybody else. He was not a man of vision or a transformative leader. However, he was a clever man after the Six Days War disaster of 1967.
Sadat’s predecessor, Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser, mobilized people in Egypt and the Arab world to liberate occupied lands taken by Israel and launched the war of liberation. Nasser died in 1970 before he finished his liberation project. Sadat took over, since proximity is the main virtue in Arab leadership selection.
Sadat turned Nasser’s ambitious liberation project into a more modest “War of Crossing.” Egyptian journalist Mohamed Hassanein Heikal explained Sadat’s intention in the 1973 Yom Kippur War in his book about Sadat’s 1981 assassination, “The Autumn of Fury.”
Sadat crossed militarily to the east, Heikal explained, so he could personally cross politically to the West. The “Egyptian Army launched a surprise attack on the Israeli occupying forces, crossed the Suez Canal, and took back a few kilometers from the occupied Sinai.” The Israeli counterattack created a deadlock, and both sides accepted a cease-fire and declared victory.
Sadat then decided to transform himself from a war hero to a peace hero, made a three-day visit to Israel, met with Menachem Begin, visited the Knesset, and lay a wreath at a monument to Israeli war dead — something he probably didn’t do with Arab war dead.
On Oct. 6, 1981, Sadat was assassinated at the hands of four military officers during an annual parade celebrating the anniversary of Egypt’s 1973 war. I was a student at the University of Minnesota, where students were protesting the Zionist state’s aggression and violation of international laws in Lebanon and Palestine.
Public TV was covering reaction to the shocking news from Cairo here in Minnesota. I and a few Egyptian students gathered at the U’s Wilson Library. The TV reporter came into the room. There was tension in the air. Several students stood outside the room. The reporter wore a grim look, confused and troubled. Five or six of us students sat on stools in a half-circle, sharing the latest news from Egypt. We were sad about the assassination of Sadat but not surprised.
The reporter asked for our reactions. Everyone started giving a historical perspective to the assassination. We knew how terrible Sadat was, contrary to the Western image as the man of peace. In Egypt and the Arab world, he was out of touch and out of tricks, growing more dictatorial. Most of his promised peace dividends didn’t materialize. He had survived a major riot in 1977. Then he started arresting anyone he thought was a threat — intellectuals, writers, journalists, opposition political leaders, even members of his military circle. The reporter was shocked by our reactions.
“When I came here,” he reflected, “I expected something like Americans’ reaction after the assassination of President Kennedy, but this is very different.”
So please don’t talk to me about peace with Israel. If the past has taught us anything, it’s that the biggest land grabs in history took place after peace agreements.