|Al-Ahram Weekly On-line
26 April - 2 May 2001
|Published in Cairo by AL-AHRAM established in 1875||Current issue | Previous issue | Site map|
Delusions of peaceSir- Following the signing of the now infamous Oslo Peace Accords a new wave of revisionism hit the Arab world. It was only normal that politicians and laymen alike would reconsider the history of Arab politics in the preceding 20 years. Contemplating the post-Camp David era, defined in many ways by an "Egyptless" Arab regime, many were wondering what all the fuss was about? If after all those years, after all those dead and wounded, after the occupation of Lebanon, after all this animosity between Arab countries and peoples, the agreements reached between the Palestinians and the Israelis were not that different from those proposed at Camp David I, why did the Palestinians not sit at the negotiating table some twenty years ago?
The Arab countries must have all been misguided. If only they had listened to late President Sadat, people lamented, if only they had followed Egypt's path and sat down with the Israelis from the beginning, wouldn't it have saved lives? Wasn't the Arab world in the 1970s in a better position to exact concessions from the Israelis than it was in the 1990s? Wouldn't the politics of the Cold War have allowed the Arabs to get a better deal? Such was the logic often sounded in different Egyptian quarters.
Sadat might have been a man ahead of his times. And certainly Egypt is much better off with peace than it was with war. However, the shocking events that have ravaged the Middle East particularly since the outbreak of the Aqsa Intifada and the brutal war waged by the Israeli Defence Forces against the Palestinians, undiscriminating between PA troops and civilians, prove that the "culture of peace" is far far from digging roots in Israeli society. What is particularly shocking is the speed with which Israeli society and its government headed by the war criminal Ariel Sharon, reverted to the racist rhetoric of war. And even Egypt -- the first country to sign a peace treaty with Israel -- has not been spared.
As we celebrate the liberation and return of Sinai this week, let us not delude ourselves about the kind of peace Camp David and Oslo have brought the Arab world.
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