Arab Summit Ends as Massacre Goes On
Red carpets have been rolled back. Trombones no longer blare and drums no longer boom. There are no endless formations of goose stepping soldiers to receive, honor and march to a seemingly never ending procession of kings, princes and heads of state. The helicopters no longer hover overhead and sentries posted throughout Amman no longer keep vigil. Streets are no longer blockaded or cordoned off and traffic moves more frantically than ever. The grandest of all hotels, where dignitaries congregated, looks like a tinsel ghost town.
And so it has all ended. The fancy eloquent long speeches, the indecision, the hesitation to take any decisive action, the overflowing rhetoric, the beating around the bush and countless press conferences where some of those who staged such scenes sugar-coated the failure of the whole scenario.
Yes, there was pomp and ceremony. The silk cloaks, the gold braided head bands, the expensive suits, the army of attendants and body guards all disappeared in a swoosh as suddenly as they had come. Across the boundless stretches of red carpets, leaders, heads of state, kings, princes and all floated back to their respective extravagant palaces to forget once more until the next summit, Palestinian children dying in the streets.
Even before the disintegration of the summit, Israel launched deadly attacks on Palestinian cities. Israeli helicopters bombarded Palestinian security forces and the home of Palestinian President Yasser Arafat was damaged in the process.
The greatest thing that came out of the summit was that the Arab leaders, staunch make-believe defenders of Palestinian rights, human rights, justice, freedom, and the Holy Land agreed to "support" the Intifada. Support here means to nod their heads in sympathy when a Palestinian child or elderly person dies on the streets or in their homes. Support means that the millionaire, or rather shall we say billionaire rulers, pay by proxy for Palestinian babies to die on their behalf in defense of Haram al-Sharif. It's ok if Palestinian kids die as long as the sons and daughters of the nobility are fed with diamond spoons and pampered in ways the ordinary could never imagine. In fact, it would be no big deal if Israel killed all Palestinians as long as the Arab leaders remain untouched.
As expected, during the summit, elaborate banquets were spread out on miles and miles of ornate tables. And bellies, some of them hanging hopelessly over imaginary belts, were stuffed to the max on feasts fit for kings and princes and the like. Some of the poverty stricken masses did manage to stare through the stained glass windows of Le Meridien at the feasts spread out before their eyes, but they were dismissed by a wave of multi-ringed royal hands to the tune of, "Hmph! If they can't afford to buy bread, let them eat biscuits instead."
During the summit, two suicide bombers blew themselves up, taking with them an Israeli or two. Though any act against civilian targets cannot be condoned regardless of who the instigator is, such suicide bombings are a result of the frustrations and utter despair of Palestinians living under the most brutal occupation.
They left the summit as they began it, unwilling to make any sacrifices, unwilling to unite on a common cause but willing to let the slaughter of Palestinian civilians continue.
CNN no longer pretends to report the news of Palestinians being slaughtered with any objectivity. A stone thrown by infant Palestinian David's is defined as "violence" while Israeli helicopters, army jeeps, tanks, and soldiers who shoot to kill the innocents are defined as those who are merely enforcing law and order in the form of "reprisals."
George W. Bush had the insolence to stand up in front of the world and condemn Palestinians who are fighting not just for freedom and liberty anymore, but for their very lives and then say that it is time the Palestinian Authority contains the violence and those who are responsible for it. Obviously he conveniently forgot that it is Israeli jeeps, tanks, gunboats and helicopters that bombard indiscriminately Palestinian civilian targets on Palestinian land. Obviously he forgot to mention that there are no Palestinian jeeps, tanks, gunboats and helicopters bombarding Israeli homes and civilian targets. It is beyond a doubt that this "born again" Christian has been listening to too many Billy Graham sermons. In case you forgot who Rev. Graham is, he is the rich and famous evangelist who "blessed" George Senior's bombing of Iraq.
Bush's condemnation followed the US veto of a UN resolution that would provide UN observers to protect Palestinian civilians from the war that is being waged by Israel on the entire Palestinian community. Apparently Bush too decided that it is ok if Palestinians children are killed as long as the children who die are not his own.
The eloquent summit speeches have not brought back any Palestinian children to life nor replaced any limbs that have been amputated. Arab leaders have promised to pay $40 million a month for a period of 6 months to the Palestinian Authority. But who will pay hard cash to the orphans of the Intifada, to those who are permanently impaired, to those who are starving? It is not very likely that any of the $40 million a month will reach those who so desperately need financial support.
The Arab leaders did not deliver an ultimatum to Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon nor did they demand the Americans tell the Israelis to stop their Holocaust of the Palestinians. Bush has not asked that the siege of the Palestinian homes and cities be lif,ted, nor ins,isted t,hat Israelis get off Palestinian backs.
The Arab leaders did have a chance to insist that there be a just, comprehensive peace based on fairness, equality and the inalienable rights of all concerned parties. They had the power to make demands to issue threats not in the name war but in the name of justice, in the name of freedom, in the name of human decency. Arab leaders had their chance, they have the power, the money and the means but here again, they don't have the guts, they simply don't care and most of them are client-agents of American and Israeli whims. They left the summit as they began it, unwilling to make any sacrifices, unwilling to unite on a common cause but willing to let the slaughter of Palestinian civilians continue.
Meanwhile, Palestinians will continue to bury their dead as the massacre goes on.
Edna Yaghi is a free-lance writer living in Amman, Jordan.