By Abdulateef Al-Mulhim, retired Commodore of the Royal Saudi Navy.
February 7, 2011.
I have, since childhood, been hearing about an invisible thing called the Israeli conspiracy.
It is always said that Israel did this and Israel did that. What is worse is when I hear that Israel is planning to do that. So, if we already know what Israel is planning to do, then why not either stop it or avoid it.
The biggest conspiracy I heard regarding the Arabs and the Israelis is the humiliating defeat of June 1967. The Egyptians blamed everybody but themselves for the defeat. They insisted on speaking about why some planes came from the north and not from the east. They insisted that they were American Navy planes attacking Egypt. Did not the military analysts hear about evasive maneuvers, or did they expect the air force to fly like commercial airlines by taking the shortest and direct routes.
It turned out that the Egyptian forces were commanded by Gamal Abdel Nasser who only held the rank of major. Hours before the Israeli attack, all air defense sites were told to be on hold because Field Marshal Abdulhakim Amer’s plane was in the air.
So, it was not an Israeli conspiracy that defeated the Egyptians, it was the poor planning and having a tired army coming back from Yemen tasked to go to a war that even Nasser did not know how to manage.
That was Egypt in 1967, but what about the Egyptian uprising of 2011? Was it the Egyptians or outside forces? The Egyptian leadership used to call Al Jazeera the match box. The channel’s media center in Qatar is so small that people used to wonder why regional leaders were worried about such a small media building, one that is small as a match box.
It turned out that the Egyptian authorities had Al Jazeera on the top list of places to close. There was also no Israeli media center and Israel has no interest in seeing an unstable Egypt. Thomas Friedman once said that Al Jazeera should have been established in Egypt, not Qatar.
Egypt is a country whose media should have been at the front of providing information. However, Egyptians living inside the country and abroad are glued to foreign news outlets. Let us not doubt the Egyptians in their sincere request for change. We cannot accuse 80 million Egyptians of being toys in foreign hands.
To this day, I see Arabs blaming Israelis for young Arab drug addicts, their poor education, the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait, bad roads, corruption, lack of democracy, unemployment, 9/11, the division of Sudan, the upheaval in Tunisia and the unrest in Egypt. If Israel can do all these things, then the Israelis are either super humans or we simply enjoy blaming others for our failings.
The books of history indicate that the Arabs would have been able to get back the Golan Heights, Sinai, the West Bank and all the 1967 boundaries if Gamal Abdel Nasser made just one phone call to Israel and admitted defeat two days after the June 1967 war. And fewer Palestinians would have been scattered all over. But, we the Arabs never admit defeat.
The Arab world is in a state of unrest nowadays. Egypt is the largest country in the Arab world with 82 million people. If it shakes, then the whole Arab world will shake.
It is not time to point fingers at either the West or Israel. Each country has an agenda to benefit its people. Arabs must think what is best for their people, not their leaders. Israel did not open a European bank account for Zine El-Abidine Ben Ali. He did, and where did the money come from? Israel did not hide the billions of dollars in Iraq used by Saddam Hussein while the Iraqis were starving. Saddam did.
You can agree or disagree, Israel is a country that has the best education system in the Middle East and a per capita income of more than $28,000.
The Arabs and Muslims must get rid of the notion that the whole world is conspiring to destroy them. The Arab world is rich in raw materials, rivers, fertile land, wealth and educated people. We must concentrate on education, health care, infrastructure, transparency and open channels between the rulers and the ruled.
It is very sad to see Iraq, one of the richest countries in mineral resources, water and educated people, having millions struggle like refugees. It is also sad to see Yemen wasting 40 percent of its water resources to grow qat, just as it is sad to see a country like Lebanon that has the potential to be an attractive tourist spot being fractured because of vested interests, not national interests. Why have we failed to solve the flood problem in Jeddah with all the time and money our government has allocated for the city?
Linda Heard wrote an article in Arab News on Nov. 8, 2010, titled “Israel is digging its own grave”. Yes, the Israelis are digging a grave. But for whom is the grave being dug for? I am sure it is not for the Israelis.