Middle-east Arab News Opinion | Asharq Al-awsat

Catastrophe or Joke? | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Around this time, thirty-eight years ago, while busy studying for our High School finals, the news came that the exams would be suspended. The Arabs have launched an attack on Israel to liberate Palestine.

Radio news became the center of People’s attention then. On the first day of war, Sawt Al Arab (the Arab Voice) station stated that 130 enemy planes were shot down. Later, Jordanian radio announced that 62 were also dropped. All reports told stories about the success of Egypt, Syria and Jordan over Israel.

This was the start of a enormous lie that millions of people swallowed across the Arab world. During the period that Arab radio stations were emotionally charging people with patriotic songs, and up-lifting speeches; Israel was steadily overcoming our falling fronts, untrained armies, and strategically disorganized attacks.

A few days later, people found out that they were the victims of leaders who duped them into believing that their armies could win this battle. It was an illusion of these so-called honest leaders, plans and strategies. Moreover, the result was a shameful defeat that we are still paying for today. Another consequence is that all Palestine was engulfed by Israel. Towns and villages of the Gaza strip and the west bank, in addition to Sinai, Golan all fell victims. Important Arab capitals like Cairo and Damascus became left vulnerable and unprotected without their armies.

No one could believe that, with all our rhetoric, patriotic songs, and armies that consumed our national resources at the expense of education, health and development; that we were so badly defeated. However, we agreed on calling this a Naksa (set back) just like we called the fall of Palestine in 1948 a Naksa.

Armies that overthrew their monarchs in the name of their nation’s betterment brought hunger and poverty to their people. They promised them freedom and turned their societies into large jails. Those who declared in their first public statement following the coup that they would liberate Palestine gave the remaining Palestinian territories to Israeli occupation.

Nevertheless, it doesn’t seem like we learnt our lesson. The evidence is that millions of people, many years after this painful experience, believed former Iraqi Minister of Information Mohammed Saeed al –Sahaf’s lies that Saddam’s army was getting the better of the American army, and that “the vulgar invaders” were driven back. Moreover, since 1967 we never heard about any officials being brought to justice until the fall of Baghdad, This is no joke, it is a catastrophe.