CAIRO: As the Ahly-Ismaili football game ended last week in a shameful confrontation between the fans of both clubs, the situation among the Arabs, was no less shameful, at a time when Israel is forging ahead with its barbaric scheme of Gaza’s “glorious destruction, according to an Israeli military spokesman, “gloriously destroying the hope of the Arab masses in any unified Arab stance.
Football fans and Arab governments aside, global public opinion has been engaged in protests everywhere against Israel’s bloody massacre of defenseless Palestinian civilians, children, women and the elderly in Gaza. TV channels worldwide have been broadcasting the atrocities committed there every day. People have taken to the streets in demonstrations and newspapers have carried headlines harshly criticizing Israel, yet the Arabs have still not reached a unified stance.
Paradoxically, the game between Ahly and Ismaili kicked off with a heartwarming scene in solidarity with the Palestinians. All the players in both clubs wore the same t-shirt embossed with the phrase “Gaza is in Our Hearts. But at some point during the match, the pro-Palestine slogans gave way to an assortment of insults and verbal abuse.
Such insults are no less vulgar than what we’ve been seeing in Arab newspapers and satellite channels since the beginning of the Gaza massacre. Just as the football fans had forgotten their solidarity with Palestine and began exchanging insults, Arab countries also forgot the bloodshed in the Gaza Strip and started hurling their media grenades at other countries.
This was the Arab world’s best exit strategy from the complete paralysis that has afflicted it: whoever fails to face Israel must now face the rest of the Arabs, accusing them of their inability to end the Israeli massacre at a time when the world is preoccupied with the global economic crisis and the Christmas holidays.
Disregarding its own religious teachings, Israel launched its brutal attack on the Sabbath and continued doing so without Arab intervention for a whole week from Saturday to Saturday. As it continues its aggression throughout the third Saturday, benefiting from the shedding of warm Palestinian blood drops and the cold blood of the US, whose President George W. Bush is content with watching Israel “exercise its right to defend itself refusing to lift a finger except to impede an imminent UN Security Council ceasefire resolution last week.
The brutal operation in Gaza coincided with an incident which turned France upside down, when a hospital failed to give one patient the necessary attention in time, leading to his death in the ambulance. The French Minister of Health was quick to address public opinion about what appeared to be a case of negligence – not a brutal assault that left over 700 dead and over 3,000 injured. She immediately launched an inquiry and announced the result the following day on public television.
Between the time the French patient died in the ambulance and the time the French Health Minister appeared on TV the next day to announce the outcome of its ministry’s probe, dozens of children were killed in the Gaza Strip with no access to an ambulance, let alone a building we can call a hospital in the true sense of the word.
Meanwhile we are busy attacking each other. The Palestinian Authority accuses Hamas, which accuses Egypt, which accuses Hassan Nasrallah, who accuses Saudi Arabia, which accuses Syria, and so on. All of them are entangled in a vicious circle, like children singing the song of the horse in the cupboard, but the cupboard needs a ladder and the ladder is at the carpenter’s and the carpenter wants a nail and the nail is at the blacksmith’s but the blacksmith wants an egg . until all of us, football fans and Arab governments, ended up where the egg is!
Mohamed Salmawyis President of the Arab Writers’ Union and Editor-in-Chief of Al-Ahram Hebdo.