APRIL 19 2016
For decades, Middle Eastern dictators have covered for their brutal behavior by claiming that they are the truest defenders of the Palestinians—even as, in the case of the current Syrian regime and its allies, they focus their energies on slaughtering Arabs to defend their own interests. Meanwhile, writes Hanin Ghaddar, Palestinian leaders remain silent when it comes to the ongoing conflict in Syria, even when other Palestinians are the victims:
Palestinians are once again being used as fig leafs to cover regional political agendas, and they have nothing to say about it. In the name of Palestine, Hizballah is fighting in Syria, Yemen, Iraq, and soon elsewhere. “The Road to Jerusalem” now passes through Zabadani, Qalamoun, Aleppo, and other Syrian cities and towns. In the name of Palestine and the Palestinians, massacres are being committed and people are dying of hunger.
Since the beginning of the Syrian crisis, most of the Palestinian factions in the West Bank and Gaza have either thrown their weight behind Assad (the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine and the West Bank-based Arab Socialist Baath party) or taken a passive neutral position (Fatah). Hamas tried to support the rebels, but then quietly backed off to a more neutral position. . . . [T]he Palestinians’ silence in the face of human-rights violations and crimes in Syria has drastically changed the way [other Arabs] see [them].
The whole issue of Palestine hasn’t gained international momentum because of being a just cause or because of the suffering of the Palestinian people. It has reached this level because Arab dictators realized long ago that it would serve as a perfect excuse to oppress the opposition and all voices of change and democracy in their countries. “Palestine” became the sacred word to justify oppression, political agendas and conflicts. . . .
While it is demanded that Syrians side with the Palestinians at every turn, the Palestinians are not required to support the Syrian people. When they do, they support the Syrians individually, never as a group or through a communal initiative. Not only that, Mahmoud Abbas has recently expressed support for Russia’s military intervention in Syria, including air raids used to prop the regime. And no one objected.