Thirty-nine years ago, on 6 October 1973, the third major war between the Arabs and Israel broke out. The war lasted only 20 days. The two sides were engaged in two other major wars in 1948 and 1967. To this day, many more confrontations have taken place.
The Arab-Israeli conflict is the most complicated conflict the world ever experienced. Following the anniversary of the 1973 War between the Arab and the Israelis, many people in the Arab world began to ask questions about the past, present and the future.
The questions no-one dares ask
The questions at the moment include: “What was the real cost of these wars to the Arab world and its people?” And the more challenging question that no Arab national wants to ask is: “What was the real cost for not recognising Israel in 1948 and why didn’t the Arab states spend their assets on education, health care and the infrastructures instead of wars?”
But, the testing question that no Arab national wants to hear is if Israel is the real enemy of the Arab people?
The real enemy...
I decided to write this article after I saw photographs and reports about a starving child in Yemen, a burned ancient Aleppo market-place in Syria, the under-developed Sinai in Egypt, car bombs in Iraq and the destroyed buildings in Libya. The photos and the reports were shown on the Al-Arabiya network, which is the most watched and respected news outlet in the Middle East.
The common impression is that the destruction and the atrocities are not done by an outside enemy. The starvation, the killings and the destruction in these Arab countries are by the same hands that are supposed to protect and build the unity of these nations and safeguard the people of these countries. So, the question now is: who is the real enemy of the Arab world?
The Arab world wasted billions of dollars and lost tens of thousands of innocent lives fighting Israel, which they consider their sworn enemy, an enemy whose existence they never recognised. The real enemies of the Arab world are corruption, absence of good education, lack of decent health care, nonexistence of freedom, and a shortage of respect for the human lives.
Are we our own worst enemy?
The Arab world has had many dictators who used the Arab-Israeli conflict to suppress their own nation. These dictators’ atrocities against their own people were far worse than all the full-scale Arab-Israeli wars.
In the past, we have talked about why some Israeli soldiers attack and mistreat Palestinians. Also, we saw Israeli planes and tanks attack various Arab countries. But, do these attacks match the current atrocities being committed by some Arab states against their own people?
In Syria, the atrocities are beyond anybody’s imagination. And, aren’t the Iraqis the ones who are destroying their own country? Wasn’t it Tunisia’s dictator who was able to steal 13 billion dollars from the poor people? And how can a child starve in Yemen if their land is the most fertile in the world? Why do the Lebanese fail to govern one of the tiniest countries in the world? And what made the Arab states start sinking into chaos?
The tragedy exists in Arab states
On May 14 1948, the state of Israel was founded. And just one day later, the Arabs declared war on Israel to claim back Palestine. The war ended on March 10 1949, just under 10 months later. The Arabs lost the war and called it Nakba (‘Day of the Catastrophe’), since they gained nothing and thousands of Palestinians became refugees.
In 1967 the Arabs, led by Egypt under the rule of Gamal Abdel Nasser, went to war with Israel and lost more Palestinian land. The Arabs called this war Naksa (‘Day of the Setback’). The Arabs never admitted defeat in both wars and the Palestinian cause grew even more complicated.
We now find that with the never-ending Arab Spring, the Arab world has no time for the Palestinian refugees or cause, because many Arabs are refugees themselves and under constant attack from their own forces. Syrians are leaving their own country, not because of the Israeli planes dropping bombs on them, but the Syrian Air Force.
Yemen, the world’s saddest human tragedy play is being written by the Yemenis. In Egypt, the people in Sinai are forgotten.
Arabs are better off in Israel...
Israel now has the most advanced research facilities, top universities and innovative infrastructure. Many Arabs don’t know that the life expectancy of the Palestinians living in Israel is far longer than many Arab states and they enjoy far better political and social freedom than many of their Arab brothers. Even the Palestinians living under Israeli occupation in the West Bank and Gaza Strip enjoy more political and social rights than some places in the Arab World.
The Arab Spring showed the world that the Palestinians are happier and in a better situation than their Arab brothers who fought to liberate themselves from the Israelis. It is now time to stop the hatred and wars, and start to create better living conditions for the future Arab generations.
By: Abdulateef Al-Mulhim
First Published on Arab news