Originally published in The National. Reprinted with permission.
Dear Palestine, I am sorry I cannot help you this time either.
I apologise for the non-existence of my support; my excuse is not the credit crunch but the crunch of my conscience. I am sorry that I cannot condemn the attacks because Hamas has killed four Israelis and so I cannot claim that this war is not just. I am also sorry that I cannot confess publicly that it is excessive; at best I can probably say – on every other day – that “an end to the hostilities in next few weeks would be recommended”.
I am also sorry that I cannot send you doctors and nurses, syringes and morphine, not even gauze bandages and antiseptics, as we are told that the Rafah border crossing is closed. We have spoken to the Egyptians and they will come back to us soon. You have to be patient and understand their concerns.
We cannot force them to bear the cost of looking after the refugees until they, together with Hamas, Fatah, Israel and a group of international observers, agree on a framework to manage the crossing. It’s not personal, you have to understand, but the logistics of security.
Dear Palestine, I am sorry I am jaded. Blame it on Nasser, yes the dead one. You really shouldn’t have banked on him and his revolutionary army, who never had a plan.
Blame it also on the division among your children, their factions and their ever-so varying flag colours. Blame it on Yasser Arafat’s disorienting legacy, and Mahmoud Abbas’s newfound bureaucratic vanity. And you can also blame it on Ahmed Yassin’s resistance fantasy and Khaled Meshaal’s lies and lack of strategy. The Hamas leader, in fact, often reminds me of Mohammed Saeed al-Sahhaf, Iraq’s always gung-ho information minister before the invasion in 2003.
Blame it also on the lack of a unified Arab identity, let alone a credible and effective lobby. We all should have done more; we all could have done more. Blame it on the weakness of the Arab states, their tribal mistrust, their pettiness, and their lack of vision. Blame it, too, on their lack of shame and honour.
Blame it on the offices of the Israeli representatives; on the foolish Arab agents of peace and pragmatism who offered all before receiving any indication of what they could hope to achieve in return.
Dear Palestine, you can also blame it on 9/11 and Osama bin Laden. You can blame it on George W Bush, and soon you will be able to blame it on Barack Obama. You can blame it on both, Tony Blair the protestant British Prime Minister and Tony Blair the Catholic official Envoy of the Quartet on the Middle East. You can blame it on Gordon Brown’s lack of interest in you. You can blame it on the European Union, on Nicolas Sarkozy and Angela Merkel; you can even blame it on the Czechs, who have just taken over the presidency of the EU.
You can blame it on the Jewish settlers, on Ariel Sharon’s unilateral disengagement plan, on Ehud Olmert’s last action as Israel’s prime minister, on Ehud Barak’s comeback and Tzipi Livni’s Clinton-esqe ambitions. Blame it on the looming Israeli election.
Dear Palestine, blame it on Iran, which claims it is your ally but really supports you in the same way that the Soviet Union once supported the Egyptians and Iraqis. And don’t forget to blame it on the United Nations, which can’t even agree on a ceasefire resolution.
Dear Palestine, blame the lack of Chinese support on yourself; you do not have the gold, nickel, copper, tin or iron ore of Zimbabwe, nor do you have the forests of Cameroon. And, don’t blame the lack of Russian support on Vladimir Putin alone, because I know the Russian president Dmitry Medvedev doesn’t want to help either – not because either wishes you harm, but they are just too busy squabbling over Central Asia with China and Eastern Europe with Nato and the EU.
Dear Palestine, blame it on the coincidental conjunction of Hanukkah, Christmas and the Islamic New Year. It must have been most annoying for the Israeli Defence Force to see Santa’s sleigh pulling up in Gaza and people welcoming him at a mosque; such harmony should not be permitted.
Dear Palestine, blame it on all who watch you bleed, from your sons to your enemies and everyone in between. You are like Lebanon, another Arab state that has enemies within its borders and beyond them who will not permit her to exist as a nation in peace and prosperity. Your only hope may be celestial; angelic saviours yet to reveal themselves.
Dear Palestine, weep not for those whose blood has irrigated your farmlands, but for the emptiness, futility and lack of hope that the offspring of the fallen of your raped lands must feel.
Dear Palestine, forgive us not – for we don’t care.