The quick deterioration of political, social, and economic order in most countries in the Arab world reflects a range of underlying tensions, problems and failures that have manifested themselves for almost a century, and most of them are self-made Arab failures. Every regime of the Arab world has proved a failure. Not one has been able to provide its people with realistic hopes for a free and prosperous future. The regimes have found no way to respond to their people’s frustration other than by a combination of internal oppression and propaganda to generate rage against external enemies. Were the people to resist, it would result in the same fate as that of the Palestinians, except the actions would be carried out by the tanks and bulldozers of the Arabs’ own despots.
In most Arab countries, the military has managed to steal the fruits of independence. Military commanders have become autocratic rulers and military discipline has become the rule of law. Its autocratic rulers, whether presidents or kings, give up their authority only when they die; its elections are a sick joke; half its people are treated as lesser legal and economic beings, and more than half its young, burdened by joblessness and stifled by conservative religious tradition, are said to want to get out of the place as soon as they can. Arab leaders are combining their personal interests with their invaders’ political goals. It is well known that Egypt is one of the most developed Arab states but even in Egypt, President Hosni Mubarak has been in power for 25 years by the help of fraud and “reforms”! Here not only the “president” but also the Egyptian people have the responsibility. Electoral apathy and insensitivity are among their main problems. Recent events also show us that most of the Arab states are not sincere about the Palestinian issue. Not only the Western world but also the Arab World does not give the necessary importance to the facts in Palestine. Despite so much Israeli aggression, there is no serious objection from the Arab World. This is an indicator that the Palestinians are alone in their tragic situation. It is similar with the Iraqi case. The Iraqi people are currently alone among the Arabs. These events have resulted in a downward spiral of terror, failure, fear, racism and hatred. Such feelings are deepened by a cultural infection that has spread across the Middle East: the deeply rooted conviction that every societal shortcoming can be attributed to a foreign plot or conspiracy and that every local problem is beyond solution without some action — perniciously withheld — by the United States or some other foreign power. The traditional concepts of domination and empire building go against the pillars of the new trend of history. The American “empire” already exists and the sun does not set over it. It is a new kind of empire that is represented by companies like McDonald’s, Microsoft, General Motors and similar ones, none of which require military dominance for their growth and sustainability. These companies also welcome and thrive on competition, contrary to the belief of traditionalists who perceive competition as a reason for domination. We have to change our own minds and societies and open them up, because as long as they remain closed they will decay. Our civilization reached its apex when it opened its doors to other cultures, translated their books, and took benefit from their intellect and philosophy. It flourished by participating in the development and progress of humanity and not by rejecting new ideas because they did not come from us. We should not reject everything that is not originally Arabic or try to twist it to look or sound Arabic as the Moroccan philosopher Taha Abdulrahman did when he claimed that Descartes’ famous conclusion “I think, therefore I am” came from the Arab saying “Look and you shall find.” Ancient slogans and illusions have made us live daydreams of our own making. These cocoons, which wear different masks like Arab nationalism, one Arab nation, Arab unity, and Palestine, are the primary reason we are distracted from our internal issues and problems. This practice has become harmful to the Palestinians themselves because they are deluded by it into believing that the Arab nation — which is itself an illusion — is standing with them in deed and word despite a half-century of only words and no deeds. Pan-Arabism that reached its climax under the late Egyptian President Gamal Abdul Nasser was merely a fantasy and an artificial front behind which Arab military dictatorships hid and under whose banner they repressed their peoples. It’s time for all Arabs to evolve from their 12th century mentality. We need to stop twisting reality to suit our ideologies. We need to stop believing and repeating what has always been said, and is popular amongst us, without examining the evidence or distorting it to a remarkable degree. Arab media criticize the West but they do not grasp that their own Arab leaders are the main ones to be criticized. What are the Arab leaders doing to stop the current events in Palestine, Iraq, or Lebanon? It is not fair for us to wait for the West to take a step before our own leaders do so. These issues are directly related to us and therefore are our responsibility. It would be foolish to think that the success or failure of Arab democracy is entirely dependent on political calculations made in Washington, DC. Such a notion, in addition to being false, denies 300 million of us the moral and political agency that is ours and ours alone.
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