May 3, 2008
Distortion of Truth
Editorial: Distortion of Truth
Khaled Al Maeena , Arab News
3 May 2008
Did we hear it right? Did US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, in London for a major meeting on the Palestinian situation, really attack Arab states for not doing enough to help the Palestinians? Incredibly, yes.
What hypocrisy. What gall. The US has done more to harm and oppress the Palestinians than any other state apart from Israel — and still does so. She herself has been intimately involved in that story of injustice. As secretary of state, she has been in the driving seat of US policy toward Israel for the past three years. During that period, did the US cut its massive bulwark of financial, military and political support for the Israelis, which enables them to withstand international demands for a meaningful and just peace? No. Did it stop using its veto at the UN to block condemnation of Israeli oppression, most recently the devastating blockade of Gaza? No. US policy over which she in part presides has continued to support the Israelis wholeheartedly, permitting them time after time to keep the peace process in limbo.
Arabs are not going to be lectured by the Americans of all people about not doing enough for the Palestinians.
For Rice to suggest that Arab states should concentrate on how much they can do for the Palestinians, not how little, is especially offensive. Arabs have done more than anyone else to keep Palestinian hopes alive, unlike the US. Over the years, Arab states have shouldered the financial and military burden of supporting the Palestinians. Billions upon billions of Arab dollars, dinars, dirhams, riyals and pounds have been spent directly and indirectly helping them. The idea that Arab governments sit down to work out how little they can do for the Palestinians is a downright fabrication, a slander. The fact that a number of Arab states have not paid up financial pledges to the Palestinian Authority for this year is wholly irrelevant. The year is not yet half way through. The money will be paid — and, in the case of Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Algeria, has already been paid.
The implicit suggestion that Arab support for the Palestinians is all words and no action is deliberate distortion of the truth. It is an attempt to divert attention from the reality that the Bush administration’s peace process will not work.
Oxfam, not an Arab body, has this to say about what Rice could have done for the Palestinians: “Words are not enough. They must be followed up with decisive, immediate action by Israel and the international community to reverse the effects of the… blockade of Gaza, which has diminished its 1.5 million people to a drip-feed existence.” One word from Rice will do it.
When Arabs see US putting pressure on Israel to make concessions, when they see US action not words, making a Palestinian state a reality, then they may be inclined to listen to US moralizing about the situation. Till then, less twisting of the facts and a little more honesty would go a long way to recoup American credibility in Arab eyes.
Khaled Al-Maeena is Editor-in-Chief of Arab News [which was voted recently as the Middle East’s leading English language daily ], Senior columnist, Asharq Al-Awsat, Al Madina, Urdu News, Gulf News. Khaled Al-Maeena is a well-known businessman, journalist, editor, PR consultant and media personality in Saudi Arabia. He received his education in several countries including the United States, Britain and Pakistan.
Among many of his media and diplomatic achievements was that he represented Saudi Arabia at several important summit meetings in the Arab World; the Arab summits of Baghdad and Morocco, for example. He was a member of diplomatic delegations to the People’s Republic of China and Russia, after relations with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia were established with them. He led the Arab News team throughout the Gulf crisis and is accredited with being the first person to bring newspapers back into liberated Kuwait.