Arabs show they’re not defined by the Palestinian issue. Now, the world must prosecute their case

RASHMEE ROSHAN LALL December 8, 2017

Nearly two years ago, I wrote a blog recording my scepticism about an overseas Iraqi man’s insistence that Arabs and Muslims were sick of being defined by the Palestinian issue.

That was in April 2016. At the time, I admit I didn’t buy my interlocutor’s argument that Arabs have moved on from the Palestinian issue, that “we are more than that” and that in any case, “we are 350 million Arabs, the Palestinians are just 4 million”. It seemed to me that he was being unnecessarily harsh in using Palestinians’ numerical irrelevance to underline the extent to which Arabs were now preoccupied with other issues.

On Friday, December 8, two days after Donald Trump announced US recognition of #Jerusalem as #Israel’s capital, my interlocutor seems a truth-teller of sorts, an insightful reader of the moods of his people.

Some governments in the Arab world have expressed shock and horror over Mr Trump’s provocative decision to recognise Jerusalem without offering Palestinians even a crumb of comfort the US will champion statehood for them. But the official Arab response has largely been rhetorical. At least so far.

Muslim opinion too in much of the world has been scathing about Mr Trump’s move but at least until now, there hasn’t been the uncontrollable fury one might have expected. Obviously, fury is not the answer and it’s to be hoped, there is a calm sense of purpose instead. Of course, it’s yet to be seen what Friday properly brings. It may be a big day in terms of protests. But until late on Thursday, it seemed as if Arabs were not prepared to bet the farm on the Palestinian issue, mostly because their governments have been fairly reticent.

In some ways, it is good that the Palestinians’ plight is no longer just an Arab issue. It should be a world issue. One that mobilises people and governments all over the world.

The Palestinians are victims of a gross injustice and the world must unite to prosecute their case.