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February 10, 2003

The Wonderful Meeting!

Dr. Mohamed Mosaad

Mohamed Mosaad comments on the recent Egyptian-hosted meeting of Palestinian factions, which ended in disagreement.

For the second time, the Palestinian factions meet in Egypt to discuss their future in a safe place (the Egyptian story), to unite their forces (the Palestinian story), to change the results of the Israeli elections (the Israeli story) or to halt the suicide bombings (everyone’s story). The Israeli objectors said Egypt has no right to intervene in their elections; some Arab analysts said it is a big mistake to gamble only on the Labor Party; and Arab masses said it is a new conspiracy to stop the glorious Intifada. All of them might be right indeed, but is this really what we can see in that wonderful meeting? And what should be important in this meeting at all? The big surprise in this meeting is that Egypt, and the rest of Arab politicians behind her, are so interested to talk to, and to influence, both Hamas and the Israeli people. In other words, Hamas and the Israeli people the most invisible entities in all Arab policies are finally recognized!

Nevertheless, may I humbly ask how would we, Arabs, talk to the Israeli people? Is it enough to promise them that we will beg Hamas to halt the suicide operations inside the Green Line till the end of their elections (first meeting) or for a whole year (second meeting)? For us it looks like a very “generous offer”, but guess what? The ungrateful Israelis replied by putting Sharon, again, in the Prime Minister's office. In fact they re-elected Sharon because they are so desperate. They had Barak once before, why should they now try Mitzna? What the Israelis need is simply an Arab peace movement, one, only one, demonstration for peace or at least a few articles addressing their hearts and supporting their peace activists. How can they appreciate that meeting if it was preceded by “Knight Without A Horse,” overwhelming anti-Semitic articles in Arab media, cessation of most of the common projects and the flourishing of the Anti-Normalization Front backed by Arab governments? Many Israelis elected Sharon not because they trust him, but rather because they don’t trust us!

Now let’s put ourselves in Hamas’ shoes. Egypt, which has been persecuting their mother organization, the Muslim Brotherhood, for many years, sending their peaceful activists to the military courts, comes now to receive Hamas members and make reconciliation between them and their national authority. Is it believable? Is it also believable that Arafat, who did not stop chasing Hamas and jailing them except after the start of Intifada, would be their partner? Anyway, let’s see the whole issue from a different angle. Who is responsible for the spread of Hamas discourse? Are not they, the Arab governments, including the PNA, spreading it through their ruthless media? Before asking Hamas to halt its suicide bombings, did Arab leaders stop the media praise of those operations? Is there no contradiction here? In fact persecuting Hamas while spreading its discourse was another stupid policy. Arab leaders had to do it the other way round, offering Hamas some tolerance and inclusion while suppressing their pernicious propaganda.

We should not underestimate the intelligence of Arab politicians. That wonderful meeting was not really addressing either Hamas or Israeli society. Nothing really changed in Arab policies. In fact the only change is that Arabs gave up the "peace process," and returned to the very old process of “conflict management”. That wonderful meeting was a part of this management, including, nonetheless, a small gamble on Mitzna. Arab strategists, especially after Camp David II, concluded that peace is not possible at least for the coming twenty years and maybe forever. Arab peace activities from this angle are only meaningless and worthless. The New Middle East, the common projects and the regional cooperation are all history. This is, unfortunately, the new reality in the sad Middle East.

The huge challenge is set there before us, Arab and Israeli peoples, can we defy this tragic reality and overcome our sadness and our anger to reach out each other, once again, and build up another reality based on peace and justice? Can we prove to ourselves and the whole world that the ancient great peoples of the Middle East who witnessed the birth of Judaism, Christianity and Islam, and who built all these magnificent civilizations, can’t be abused by a few stupid and opportunist politicians? It is we, only we, indeed who can build this peace, not Hamas and not the Israeli Prime Minister. Peace will not come when Hamas stops its operations. Peace will come when Hamas realizes that Arab masses are no longer supporting these operations. And peace will not come when Labor Party forms the government. Peace will come when whoever is in the Prime Minister's office is faced by Arab and Israeli masses demanding peace and working together for it.

Mohamed Mosaad



Dr Mosaad is an Egyptian psychiatrist, sociologist, educator and  peace activist. His is coordinator of the Abrahamic Forum,  and member of the Abrahamic Forum Council, an International Interfaith  dialog. He is a member of the Global Council of the United Religons Initiative URI.  He may be reached at .

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