By Mowahid Hussain Shah
Mideast today is roiled by conflict including, but not limited to, Daesh, Libya, Syria, Kurds, Egypt, Bahrain, Saudi v Iran, Yemen, Iraq, et al. But underlying at its core is a single issue that refuses to go away despite multiple diversionary attempts to present it as one of many. Like Banquo’s ghost, which haunted Shakespeare’s Macbeth, the Palestinian specter continues to cast its long shadow on the Mideast and beyond.
The other evening, a major event took place at a historic Washington, DC Presbyterian Church. This church is helping refugees and immigrants. It was the US Presbyterian Church that founded Lahore’s famed FC College in 1864. Its 2016 report, Israel-Palestine: For Human Values in the Absence of a Just Peace, “notes the grave danger [of] Israel government policies privileging a narrow form of Zionism” and that the “Israeli government routinely destroys Palestinian homes, wells, businesses, and farms.”
The meeting gave voice to the disinherited by honoring Church activists in America who took a stand against the occupation and oppression of Palestinian territories and people. It urged that the attitude, “never again to us”, be expanded to “never again to anyone else.” Downtown Washington witnessed a counter-narrative against the fiction being floated that Palestine doesn’t matter any more.
A volcano is waiting to erupt, with warnings not heeded. Ancient Romans dismissed occasional rumblings of the dormant volcano, Mount Vesuvius, until one day, in 79 AD, it erupted and decimated Pompeii.
Astute observers argue that, but for the inflaming element of Palestine, there would have been no 9/11. This point has been suggested by no less a person than Michael Scheuer, who headed the CIA’s bin Laden unit.
Militancy has now metastasized, reaching deep into Africa’s interior, Niger.
Iran – despite its verifiably corroborated compliance with the nuclear deal – gets pummeled by neocons and the Arab Establishment. Is it because of the nuclear deal? Or is it because of Iran’s pro-Palestinian activism, which negates and frustrates concerted attempts to downplay the issue?
Mind control as a methodology to manipulate public opinion has been evident at least since the days of Dr Joseph Goebbels, Hitler’s propaganda czar. It was also evident in the USSR where Communism was foisted on a pedestal as a secular religion.
Mass media lends itself to mind control, which has a sophisticated role in the US, too, where there is near-uniformity of perspective on the Israel-Palestinian question, aided and abetted by media, academia, think-tank punditry, Congress, and Hollywood. A one-sided narrative predominates. Routinely, then, the plight of the Palestinians is painted in menacing colors, while concurrently whitewashing others. The fairness doctrine is hit for a six.
Uniformity is not counter-balanced by purposeful Muslim community unity, which has been found strategically wanting. It has oscillated between pusillanimity and bellicosity. Its incapacity to strike a balance has left little space for meaningful discourse.
To dub the Mideast as intractable means giving up. The need of the hour is for a transformational figure like the Afrikaner leader, F W de Klerk, who pulled the plug on apartheid, and averted a bloodbath. The alternative is too dire to contemplate.