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At least somebody has noticed

Posted by Helen Tuesday, February 06, 2007 ,

As the so-called quartet in charge of peace in the Middle East, that includes the EU, the United States, Russia and the UN, run around calling for the creation of a Palestinian state, the people of what is already in existence, Gaza, have noticed that what is going on there does not help their cause.

"What is happening now is damaging our reputation and our standing with Arab public opinion and with Arab officials," said Mkhaimar Abusada, a political scientist at Al Azhar University in Gaza. "My feeling is that Arab support for the Palestinians is beginning to evaporate. Arabs are looking at us as fighting ourselves now, not the Israeli occupation, and Arab officials are saying that we're not very serious about establishing a state."

Ahmed Abdel Rahman, a former adviser to Yasser Arafat and a member of Fatah's Central Committee, said that "the Palestinian national enterprise is in danger now."

Daoud Kuttab, a Palestinian analyst who teaches at Al Quds University here, said: "This fighting affects everyone's morale. We always felt we had this one big asset, our social unity as Palestinians, but to see it shredding, with lives being shed without much concern, is horrible."

Since the Israelis pulled out of Gaza in the autumn of 2005, Kuttab said, "there has been a lot of hopelessness and frustration and disappointment, with people thinking they can solve everything with a rifle." The political and diplomatic impasse, he said, has fostered violence, with Fatah and Hamas not even sure why they are fighting each other.

"Unfortunately, power and violence do produce results in this part of the world," Kuttab said. "Talk of peace and nonviolence doesn't get us very far, unfortunately."
All of that is true. Nor is it particularly surprising that Palestinians are thinking of moving to Jordan (and some, possibly, to Israel).

Two points occur to me. One is that violence does not simply happen - people cause it. Guns do not kill - people who use them kill and the same is true about bombs. Is there, therefore, some reason why the Palestinians cannot stop fighting each other but turn their attention to building up their state. After all, let's face it, the Jews did it despite the constant attacks from outside.

Secondly, I cannot help wondering as I often do about the lack of public outcry. Innocent civilians, teenagers, women and children are being killed and wounded. Why do we hear so little about it? Do we not care about the Palestinians after all?