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Three Events and One Case - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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Tuesday Jan 20, 2009 was an exceptional date by all measures as events which preceded this date and transformations that will follow it would stand as important lessons forever. The first event is that the world breathed a sigh of relief with the departure of George W. Bush from the top of the Pyramid of US authority after he had shed the blood of millions of Arab and Muslim civilians in his unnecessary wars. He also exercised unprecedented forms of torture on them in prisons and detention camps. He disdained the dignity, freedom and human rights of millions of Arabs, and planted the seeds of fear and hatred worldwide. In his inaugural speech, on Tuesday, the first thing Obama was meant to root out the seeds of fear and plant the seeds of hope; he talked about equality and respect that should prevail between followers of the three religions. In his first day at the White House Obama signed an order to close Guantanamo Bay detention camp which will remain together with Abu Ghraib prison a stain of disgrace in the history of Bush administration.

The second event that Arab witnessed on the same day was the Arab leaders meeting at Kuwait Summit with their eyes looking at the besieged steadfast Gaza bravely resisting fires of war criminals. That day witnessed a first attempt to break the ice that Bush has fabricated between “moderate Arabs” and their brothers. All Arab leaders worked on restoring unity to the Arab line after it was clear to everyone that their division has weakened their stand. Irrespective of the future and the upshot of these efforts, the general feeling was that both summits of Doha and Kuwait have restored the pulse of the entire Arab people from the Ocean to the Gulf.

With the first moment of his inauguration as President of the US, Obama has made a unique history as he is the first black president who enters the White House. The hearts of all Arabs and Muslims were focused on his facial expressions in order to know where would this young president, who very well knows the meaning of racial persecution, stand on the agony of Arabs in Palestine living under the worst and most sever racial persecution ever. We should not be naïves in our optimism as we are aware of Zionists’ influence on American policies. We took a note of the fact that Barack Obama avoided mentioning the aggression on Gaza in his Inaugural speech despite all the shocking crimes perpetrated against women and children. Two days later he spoke about the urgent need to open the crossings to Gaza, but also demanded that Hamas should recognize the existence of Israel without mentioning the right of Palestinians in establishing their national state. He also demanded that Hamas should stop firing rockets into Israel, while he knows that Israel used American-made weapons and prohibited weapons for the slaughter of hundreds of Arab children in Gaza.

In this context, Arabs cannot shirk their responsibilities as Obama’s policy in the Middle East will depend largely on the attitude of some Arabs towards themselves, and their cause. And here we come to the third event: As soon as the aggressive guns fell silent, and the hordes of the most heinous crimes retreated, and with the start of the process of digging out the corpse of children, women and civilians from the rubble of the worst destruction that have ever occurred in the twenty first century, we saw how “civilized people” of Western democracies procrastinated any support to the victims of the Israeli war crimes through drafting conditions and initiatives. We witnessed the disappearance of any Arab or international effort to document war crimes, and we are witnessing how the Arab and international system show only a very shy sign to prosecute war criminals and children murderers from the Israeli Air Force pilots, officers, tanks and artillery soldiers, and paratroopers who annihilated families, bombed houses and fired the White phosphorous shells and bombs on homes, shelters, hospitals, schools and mosques. In exchange for all these crimes, the Arab popular uprising erupted in support of the Arab right in Palestine. Our generation has never witnessed such a spontaneous Arab revival at all levels of artists, intellectuals and thinkers and here is the core of the case as Arab people in different countries would shape their future in a very different way from what we are witnessing today.

There are voices “Calling” for the trial of Israeli leaders and officers. Also US journalists, in a press conference in Washington, call Israeli Minister of Foreign Affairs “terrorist”. It is the first time that Western “civilized people”, who are the advocates of human rights, lose the language of defense regarding Israeli crimes against innocent women and children in Gaza. It is the first time that human rights activists in Israel itself call for arresting Ehud Olmert, Tzipni Livni, Ehud Barak, Matan Vilnai, and Avi Dichter, Ben-Eliezer, Gabi Ashkenazi, Dan Halutz and Moshe Ya’alon, and others as war criminals responsible for all the bloody crimes they perpetrated against civilians in Gaza. Also, it is the first time that human rights activists from France, Britain, Venezuela, Bolivia and many other parts of the world work hard to raise a case to the International Court of Justice against Israeli officials, officers and soldiers who committed the most terrifying war crimes in Gaza.

We should chronicle photos, names and stories of those martyrs on the one hand, and the photos, names of the Israeli criminals on the other hand, and we should make the entire world remember every year, and on every occasion, the names and photos of the most horrid holocaust ever to occurred in history against mothers, children and other civilians. We should never forget the thousands of wounded who lost their eyes or arms or some of their senses in order to keep Palestine always present in our hearts until it becomes free from the shackles of occupation.

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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