Wars of attrition need not be fought on physical battlefields. In fact, such a conflict in this day and age is possibly more suited to battlegrounds dominated not by actual weaponry, but by the pen and the word. As we close out the 20th century, Muslims continue to be beset by onslaughts of words, legislation and general media spin. No place is the more evident than in Palestine.
Recently the Walt Disney Company joined the war of words against Muslims and Arabs when it proposed to display an exhibition at its Epcot Center in Orlando, Florida that would feature Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. This salvo sparked a flurry of back and forth verbal fire.
But as the battle escalated, it became evident that the words coming from certain elements of the Muslim/Arab camp lacked the requisite bite to have any effect on the issue. It became clear that instead of attacking this assault with verbal might and main, followed with actual support of a boycott proposed and driven by American Muslims, some Muslim/Arab camps were prepared to suffice with a war of words too weak to accomplish much of anything.
The Arab League, a body not unfamiliar with mere posturing, hung the Muslim and Arab world out to dry when it failed to stand fast and unrelenting on the issue. Its watered down condemnation of the exhibit and Israeli policy on Jerusalem was followed by a statement that called on its member nations to "reconsider" their relationships with Disney. If that isn't toothless posturing, then what is?
Hot on the coattails of the Arab League was Saudi Arabia who, instead of using its leverage as a fellow contributor to the Disney exhibit, chose to ever so diplomatically pledge to follow the Arab League in whatever it decided on the issue.
Conspicuous by his lackluster stance in the fray was Saudi billionaire Walid Bin Talal who owns a stake in Euro Disney. And Morocco, who also has a display in the Disney exhibit, and other Muslim/Arab nations and organizations also failed to weigh in with much force on the issue as well.
The divided response to the call for a boycott of Disney was telling. It shows that many Muslim/Arab countries and organizations fail to recognize the magnitude of the war of attrition taking place in Palestine.
The Walt Disney Company is a gargantuan media entity that has a firm grip on the shaping of public opinion in not only America, but the world. By letting Disney continue with an exhibit that even hints at Jerusalem being the capital of Israel, Muslims and Arabs alike have unwittingly aided in the process of myth making.
It takes very little effort to transform a myth into reality in this day and age of mass media. Each step towards the public perception of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel leads too quickly to the acceptance of that as fact. The Arab League and other non-committal entities in this controversy have opened a door for Israel that should remain shut, dead-bolted and hermetically sealed.
As innocuous as Disney may seem, it owns a vast amount of information real estate, not the least of which is the American Broadcasting Company. And each entree in the media realm that Israel wins with regard to Jerusalem allows it to build a subliminal case in the minds of American citizens and politicians. Before long legislation is passed and the road is paved for the ouster of any Muslim/Palestinian presence in a city, which according to international law, should belong to no one.
Muslims/Arabs had a chance to stand firm against Israel's war of attrition. Muslims/Arabs had the opportunity to set a precedent with reference to potential future responses to Israeli encroachment on Jerusalem. But lack of foresight and unwillingness to leave the realm of politicking and behind-closed-doors dealings has once again thwarted Muslim/Arab efforts at substantive progress.
Thanks to the paper tigers, Israel scores again.