By Khaled Almaeena
29 July 2014
For those Arabs born in the early 1950s no decade in their history passed off without any major event. The 1956 invasion of Suez by Israel, Britain and France referred to as the tripartite invasion. The June 1967 war in which a large chunk of Arab territory was seized by Israel. The October 1973 war in which the Egyptians challenged the myth of Israeli invincibility and had it not been for an active U.S. support the final outcome would have been totally different.
The June 1982 invasion of Lebanon, the siege of Beirut and the massacre of Palestinians in Tal Al- Zaatar by Phalangist and Israel forces which caused a worldwide revulsion. The 1990 invasion of Kuwait by Iraq that once and for all shattered the façade of Arab unity. Then came events of Sept. 11, 2001, which shook the Arab world. The Arab Spring followed and while masses expected some respite it was not to be. Libya, Yemen, Syria, and Iraq are still in turbulence.
The latest crisis to test our will is the invasion of Gaza and the merciless bombing of a defenseless population. Never before have I witnessed such hatred coming from people who themselves were victims of mass pogroms and a horrifying holocaust. More astonishing were the depraved and psychotic utterances of various sections of the U.S. media, AIPAC members and ignoble lawmakers, who could not even pinpoint Hoboken on the map let alone Gaza, ask for its destruction.
But let us not blame others for our plight. What were we doing for the past 40 years? Dictators held sway. They would use the security element as an excuse to increase their hold on a population that just wanted to live.
The Arab people witnessed instability, suffering and oppression not only from external sources like the 2003 invasion and dismantling of Iraq but chaos and disorder was caused even from within. Added to this was a loss of dignity and morals of the Arab people.
There were no role models and the absence of spiritual guidance hardened those that were once good people. Empathy gave in to callousness and mercy to cruelty. Not thankful that dictators were finally gone, people in these countries fought ferocious and bloody battles to establish their writ.
These states have become fiefdoms with warlords controlling patchy areas. The economic structure has been totally demolished and there are many who wish that the old regimes stayed. Tolerance and acceptance of diversity is frowned upon and society has become polarized.
And yes there are voices raised by many good people who are tolerant and want to live in a multicultural society without losing their religion but their sane voices are not heard today as many were killed by Jihadist and extremists who are inspiring people to join them. Human life has become worthless.
Bands of young men roam across countries killing and looting in the name of religion and they are also forcing on all strange views of religion that have no connection with Islam.
I have said it before, and am saying it again, there seems to be a total paralyses and inertia as we watch wave after wave of disasters being heaved towards us. We are more focused on internal fighting and interfaith abuse. Sunni, Shia, liberal, Wahabi, secular and all kinds of labels are being stamped on each other.
The killing of people from other sects and gloating about it on YouTube and social media has become a daily feature.
All in the name of spreading the work of the Lord as if He wants us to do it that way. And condemnation for these barbaric acts by many segments of the Ulema or learned scholars has not been strong enough.
On the contrary tweets praising such inhumane acts are on the increase. Unfortunately the authorities have not made laws to criminalize racial and religious abuse. Our humanity is ebbing and we are in the process of losing our soul. Kindness and empathy are no longer part of our character.
A young woman wrote to me “the Arab world has lost its soul.” The daily scenes of carnage, bloodshed, horrors within our own society by brother against brother and with no end in sight make me agree with her.
Khaled Almaeena is a veteran Saudi journalist, commentator, businessman and the editor-at-large of the Saudi Gazette. Almaeena has held a broad range of positions in Saudi media for over thirty years, including CEO of a PR firm, Saudi Television news anchor, talk show host, radio announcer, lecturer and journalist. As a journalist, Almaeena has represented Saudi media at Arab summits in Baghdad, Morocco and elsewhere. In 1990, he was one of four journalists to cover the historic resumption of diplomatic ties between Saudi Arabia and Russia. He also traveled to China as part of this diplomatic mission. Almaeena's political and social columns appear regularly in Gulf News, Asharq al-Aswat, al-Eqtisadiah, Arab News, Times of Oman, Asian Age and The China Post.