Politicians as mercenaries
Arab MKs must beg forgiveness for Libya visit*
By Salman Masalha**
The whole world is watching the misdeeds of the Libyan tyrant. Muammar Gadhafi spares no instrument of repression: He dispatches planes to sow death indiscriminately and sends African mercenaries to slaughter his own people. Gadhafi knows, deep within, just how small he seems in the eyes of the world, but cannot shed his role as megalomaniacal tribal despot.
The entire world saw him stand before the camera, in his robe and turban, with his Green Book. He lectured loudly, as befits the leader of Libya - the country he sees as "leader of the world." He spoke approvingly of the modes of response used by other world powers on the level of Libya, such as Russia, the United States, China and Israel.
I will not dwell on the hypocrisy of the West with regard to the events in Libya, which are obvious to even the naked eye.
I shall instead speak of Arab hypocrisy here, closer to home. The hypocrisy of the Arab Knesset members and public figures who a few months ago went to grovel before the Libyan despot.
They returned to Israel to boast and publish, in Arabic, their stories and pictures from the thrilling meeting with the "king of kings" and other such hyperbole a la MK Ahmed Tibi (United Arab List-Ta'al ).
All the Arab parties, organizations and ethnic-religious communities were represented in the delegation there. MK Mohammad Barakeh of Hadash, Hanin Zuabi and Jamal Zahalka of Balad, Talab al-Sana of United Arab List-Ta'al and a motley crew of people of lofty status and groveling spirit. They all came before him, bowed and shook his hand. He inspected them from behind dark glasses before seating them at the edge of his tent and lecturing them on demographics.
Former MK Azmi Bishara, who after fleeing Israel became a commentator on the television station of another little tyrant, also sought shelter in Gadhafi's tent. But because he too is a small megalomaniac he would not agree to join a delegation of Israeli Arabs.
He wanted a separate audience, he longed to talk to Gadhafi as one megalomaniac to another. Bishara is no different than most hypocritical Arab intellectuals, merely the loyal servant of despots as long as their regime is strong.
Then all of a sudden, when Gadhafi's regime was began to fail, Bishara remembered the Libyan people. Typically, he never said a word about the injustices of Syria's despotic regime, which for decades has been repressing freedom-loving citizens. Here's what Syrians think of Bishara's hypocrisy: "Doesn't the Syrian people deserve the freedom and rights that he enjoyed in Palestine, thanks to his Zionist enemies?" questioned Subhi Hadidi, a Syrian intellectual living in exile in Paris.
The truth is that Arab intellectuals of Bishara's ilk are like carrion-eaters. Like a pack of hyenas they wait on the sidelines, seeing which way the wind in the Arab political jungle is blowing; they watch the fall of a tyrant and then swoop in to grab a portion of "glory" from the body's remains.
All the Arab public figures who went to Libya were as political mercenaries in the service of Gadhafi the tyrant. They should now publicly express remorse and beg forgiveness, first from the Libyan people and next from the Arab citizens they purport to represent.
A public accounting is not only necessary but would also show that they have learned their lesson and intend to mend their ways. If not, Israel's Arab citizens should turn their backs on them and toss them in the garbage, just as Arab nations are rising up against their corrupt leaders. And the sooner, the better.
* Source: http://www.salmaghari-en.blogspot.com/ 27.2.2011
Kadhafi with his guests from Israel, April 2010
** See also in the same source an article published by the author on 29.4.2010:
By Salman Masalha
This week's visit to Libya by an Israeli Arab delegation signifies a loss of both political and moral orientation. The group, which included representatives of all Arab political parties, sectors and communities, exposed the depth of political confusion among those who pretend to represent Israel's Arab citizens. The visit did nothing to gain respect for either the delegation members or their constituency.
These members despise each other no less than they despise Avigdor Lieberman and his ilk in the Zionist parties, in some cases even more so. But wonder of wonders, all of a sudden they all came together to fly off and enjoy the hospitality of none other than Muammar Gadhafi, the man who more than anyone else represents the ugly side of the Arab regimes, the tribal autocracy. This capricious and unpredictable individual can unblinkingly say one thing and the opposite in the same breath, and no one will dare to ask him to explain, out of fear that the question will be the last he ever asks.
After a meal offered by their host came the groveling speeches, which included all the tired old slogans and the superlatives that despots of the lowest kind expect to hear about themselves. Outdoing everyone was MK Talab al-Sana, who asked the tyrant whether Libya would open its universities to Arab students from Israel. And his wish was immediately granted.
Instead of concern for schools and education here, al-Sana wants to send students to Libya. But this orotund and energetic legislator did not say where he is contemplating sending these students, or what he expects them to learn there. Perhaps to the Libyan Institute for Nano-Embroidery, or the LibyanAcademy of Barbecuing Science?
After the flattery, the great leader, His Majesty the King of Kings and Emperor of Emperors, reportedly sat his guests down and gave them two solid hours of his infantile theories. He urged them, inter alia, to take two, three or four wives each, and to have lots of children. Not one of them had a word to say in reply.
It must be said loud and clear: Not only are such trips by Arab representatives to kowtow before Arab despots an insult to the intelligence, they also harm the just struggle of this country's Arab minority. Just by going to such places and saying what they say there, they are deepening mainstream Israeli society's rejection of the Arabs - the rejection against which they have been fighting a just fight for years. By not resisting the temptation to accept the invitations of Arab dictators, whoever they happen to be, they become tools of those dictators.
Astonishingly, those taking part in the junket included members of political parties like Balad, which brandishes the banner of "A state of all its citizens," and Hadash, which day in and day out emphasizes that it is a Jewish-Arab party. All of a sudden, all these MKs forgot that they have sworn an oath of loyalty to the State of Israel in the Knesset, and whom and what they are supposed to represent. They forgot that "all its citizens" means Jewish citizens, too. They forgot that a "Jewish-Arab" party includes Jews, too. They forgot all their fine and correct slogans and flew off to take shelter in the tent of the unknown.
Delegations like these reveal the civil, political and national immaturity of this country's Arab leadership. They point up the chronic emotional, social and political abandonment suffered by Arab citizens and their leaders.
This trip to Libya has exposed the wretchedness of the people who claim to represent and lead Israeli Arab society. Arab citizens deserve a better type of leadership - one that is serious and mature.