Addressing the General Assembly of the United Nations on November 10, US president George W. Bush did something that no US president has ever done: he used the word “Palestine” to describe the emasculated Palestinian ‘state’ that the US and Israel would like to set up in the West Bank and Ghazzah as part of a ‘peace settlement.’ Bush said that the US is “working towards a day when two states – Israel and Palestine – live peacefully together within secure and recognized borders”.
Until now, the use of “Palestine” had been vetoed by Israel because Palestinians use it for all of Palestine, not just the area that the Israelis are prepared to let them have, and also because it implies full statehood, equal with the zionist state, which is not what the zionists have in mind. Now, however, with the US being criticised all over the Muslim world for the murderous bombing of Afghanistan, and worried that its puppet regimes in the Muslim world will fall if anti-American feeling gets out of control, Washington has evidently decided that the way to mend fences is to respond to longstanding Muslim complaints that it is utterly biased in Israel’s favour.
Unfortunately for the US and Israel, Muslims are unlikely to be fooled by such cosmetic moves, especially at a time when, on the one hand, US aircraft are bombing Afghanistan “into the stone age”, and on the other Israel is trying to do something not very dissimilar to the Palestinians. Even while the US is trying to sweet-talk Muslims, Israel is behaving even worse than usual in occupied Palestine, and the US – despite vocal condemnations – is doing nothing effective to reign the zionists in. In the last two weeks of October alone, after the assassination of Israeli minister Rehavam Ze’evi on October 17, the Palestinian human-rights group LAW reported 62 Palestinians killed.
Muslims are also too well-informed to be fooled by the US’s version of a Palestinian state, which is no more than the glorified municipal authority offered in the Oslo ‘peace accords’, and further undermined by Israeli manipulations and Yasser Arafat’s concessions at various stages of the peace process since then. This is a Palestinian state in which the borders, main roads, major towns, Jewish settlements and large parts of policy are all controlled by Israel. The Palestinians are expected to be grateful for the autonomy to do little more than organize their own trash-collection. Even if some Palestinians were willing to accept that as the price for ‘peace’, however, none now trust either the Israelis or the US enough to make any agreement with them.
The sudden American focus on Palestine is also based on another misconception: that Palestine is the main cause of the Muslims’ anger with the US. In fact, the main cause of Muslim anger is much harder for the US to address: it is the US’s role as a hegemonic world power convinced of its right to exploit and manipulate all the world’s peoples, all its societies, all its institutions and all its resources for its own interests and purposes. The West claims that all those who oppose it are intolerant, aggressive and determined to impose their will upon others; in fact it is the West itself that is incapable of co-existing alongside any other worldview and social order, indeed alongside anyone who refuses to accept its superiority and give allegiance to its supremacy.
Muslims, however, cannot be forced to accept a subordinate role. Blessed by Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala with his Divine Guidance for the correct ordering of human society on earth – even if we have not proved very good at understanding and realising that guidance – the Muslim Ummah cannot be forced to bow down before any other power. The fact that the power confronting us is itself so fundamentally flawed, and so arrogant and hypocritical in its dealings with the rest of the world, merely makes it easier for us to recognise our imperative: to liberate our societies from Western dominance and to strive to establish Islamic societies, institutions and governance, and thus to demonstrate that we do indeed have the basis for the best possible patterns of human life.
If the West wants to convince us that it wants to address our grievances, all it has to do is leave us alone; what we need is the freedom in our own lands to deal with our problems and difficulties by ourselves, for ourselves: not diplomatic manoeuvres over Palestine. That, however, would require a total reversal of the nature of the West.
Mr. Iqbal Siddiqui is Editor of Crescent International and Research Fellow at the Institute of Islamic Contemporary Thought.