The Arab states continue to be apoplectic over the Gaza war, at least apoplectic in public. This is true even though some of the most significant of these states secretly cheered Israel on and certainly did nothing to help their Hamas brethren fight or recover. Yes, I know they have pledged, this country, this many zillions and that country, that many zillions. Welcome to the world of the forked tongue as both routine chat and high rhetoric.
The big royals and small, plus all of the colonels and petty politicians, who run Arab Islam have gathered this week in Qatar, the second richest per capita principality in the world, according to the CIA, the richest according to the IMF. The Qatari sheikhs own al-Jazeera and they also host a U.S. military base. Sometimes they tow the American line, more recently they are on the radical side of the Arab street. There are 350,000 native citizens and, at least as of last year, 800,000 laboring and foreign non-citizens, mostly from India. Maybe there are less now, due to the depression in oil prices. But there is no change in their status: they are without rights.
In any case, the big news event of the Qatar gathering was the arrival of Omar al-Bashir, the president of Sudan, who is a fugitive from the International Criminal Court which has a warrant out for his arrest on charges of genocide. Now, genocide is a serious accusation to have made against a head of state, particularly one who is being welcomed by an Arab summit that is so concerned about human rights. Well, no, that is not quite accurate. The summiteers are not concerned about human rights in their own countries or very much, for that matter, in each others' countries. But do any of you doubt that Bashir is guilty of genocide? Do any of you doubt that hundreds of thousands (three, maybe four hundred thousand) of African Muslims have been murdered by Arab Muslim hordes deployed by Khartoum to kill, rape and pillage.
The Arabs are moved only by the plight of the Palestinians. This is true. It is, in fact, a truism, so obvious that one should be embarrassed even having to argue it. And why the plight of the Palestinians? Because their condition can be blamed on Israel and--make no mistake about it--on the Jews, the Jews the world over.
The New York Times, playing its inherited role as opponent of Jewish peoplehood, has now brought some credibility to the accusations of reckless killing against the Israeli military. My friend Ethan Bronner published a piece in the Times detailing charges made by a few soldiers against the commands of their officers. Actually, they were not as shocking as Bronner insinuated. Alas, unintended tragedies and often even intended tragedies happen in every war. And they happen especially in wars where one side fights from within civilian life, which is how Hamas fought in Gaza. A few days after Bronner's initial dispatches he wrote another article reporting on the army's inquiry into the initial charges. It read to me like Bronner actually believed the army in its rebuttal. What convinced me was the presence in the narrative of an old pal of mine, a deputy commander of the reserve battalion that fought in Gaza, Bentsi Gruver. In fact, he was not for the Gaza engagement. He was rather against it. You may say that it was predictable that I'd believe him.
And I also believe that Israel, with America and England and Australia, are probably the most ethically constrained militaries in the world. Of one fact I am absolutely certain: the leaders of the Arab world are welcoming a mass murderer into their midst. And, instead of turning him over to authorities in the Hague, they are welcoming him because he is an Arab who is killing black Africans.
Of course, the Arab world is in a mess. No one believes anyone else--and for good reason. The Saudis are saying that they are giving Israel, maybe, ten minutes to accept their peace proposal, which is to say their ultimatum. Or else.