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I usually do not have much time to watch the World Cup matches? It is quite interesting how such an occasion distracts the world’s attention from the human suffering around, such as what Palestinians are going through under occupation. By chance, I watched the match between France and Portugal, ending in favor of France. I admiringly observed Zinedine Zidane, the football legend of Arab descent; and how white, black and brunette faces all interacted and competed. As I watched Zeidane and Figo of Portugal exchanging their t-shits at the end of the mach, I thought: how far away such sportsmanship is from the international attitude towards the daily suffering of Palestinians?!

The next day, no actual reaction to the crimes committed by Israel against Palestinians the day before was made. The “civilized” Great Eight considered the arrest of democratically elected parliamentarians and ministers by Israeli Intelligence as “disturbing”, while the US Secretary of States called upon both sides to exercise “self-restraint”. How could Palestinians show self-restraint under the hail of Israeli bullets and bombs? and how could the European and American leaders be such indifferent towards the massacres and violations Israel commits against Palestinians everyday?

It has become obvious that Israel uses the issue of the Israel prisoner soldier Gilad Shalit as a justification to continue the war it has been launching against Palestinians for more than 50 years. The Israeli Prime Minister gave the orders to his war government: “I don’t want Gaza to sleep”, “I don’t want Gaza to live”. It is a call for an open war of genocide against more than 1 million Palestinians living in Gaza. None of the “civilized” and “democratic” states objected to this racist call.

With such calls, Israel turned Gaza Strip and the West Bank into permanent jails, closed to the international press, where it commits war crimes against the original inhabitants of Palestine. The last of Israeli war crimes was the arrest of the Palestinian Parliamentarians and cabinet members who were elected transparently and democratically as President Jimmy Carter testified. The leaders of the “civilized countries” who call Israel an “oasis of democracy” met, as ever, this crime with ignorance and silence.

After all, the International Council of Human Rights would dispatch a fact-finding mission! Germany, coincidently with the crimes, sold Israel two nuclear submarines to increase its military power, while western press talks about everything except the genocide war against Palestinians. What a shame!

What worries is not only the silence of the west but the silence of Arabs as well. Arabs seem to be unaware that they are all targeted! They even are unable to be articulate on the crimes committed against Palestinians. An Arab newspaper calls a massacre committed by Israel resulting in 20 martyrs “an Israeli escalation”; another calls the Israel war of genocide against Palestinian people “an Israeli military plan”; while some Arab newscasts describe Israeli rocket and artillery bombardment on civilians as “clashes” or “confrontations”. One wonder how could Ayman Halawa, 21 years old from Jabalia, Mohammad al-Doraymli, 19 years old from al-Sabra – Gaza, Ahmad Abdullah al-Khalidi from Alsheikh Radwan and other 23 innocent weaponless young; how could they face occupation’s rockets and bombs except by their tender bodies!

What is going on in Gaza indicates that it is not “clashes” or “military operations”; it is war crimes committed by Israel against defenseless Palestinian civilians. Israel is not indicting the Palestinian ministers and Parliamentarians to the charge of belonging to Hamas but rather it is indicting all Palestinian people to the charge of belonging to Palestine and clinging to their land and rights. For Israel, the later charge is very grave. Those defenseless Palestinians, who show how deeply rooted they are in their land frighten the leaders of Israel.

The lesson Israel and its supporters will eventually learn is that invaders will leave and no military power could ever defeat one man who has faith in the rights of his country. Arab newspapers that call the Israel war against Palestinians “Gaza crisis” should know that the cause of Palestine is the cause of all Arabs. It is really a shame that Iran, Indonesia and Turkey rushed to support the Palestinian people before any Arab moved. Israel’s racism against Palestinians is racism against all Arabs and aims to target them one after another. Hence, Arabs should know that supporting Palestinians is in the interest of defending the Arab identity which in the focus of Israeli targets.

Despite Israel attempts to blackout truth, the last crimes in Gaza revealed its criminal face to the world. It is high time for Arab governments to stand up to Israeli occupation and its crimes. Arab History tells that Arabs always stood up to aggressions and occupations and preserved the integrity of their lands. No doubt, the brave sons and daughters of Palestine who are facing oppression and aggression will make similar history.

Dr. Bouthaina Shaaban

Dr. Bouthaina Shaaban

Prof. Bouthaina Shaaban is political and media advisor to the Syrian presidency, and the former minister of Expatriates. She is also a writer, and has been a professor at Damascus University since 1985. She received her PhD in English Literature from Warwick University, London. She was the spokesperson for Syria. She was nominated for Nobel Peace Prize in 2005.

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