NOT much was expected from the joint OIC/Arab League summit held in Riyadh on Saturday to discuss the blood-soaked tragedy underway in Gaza. And sure enough, the presidents, princes and potentates that hold sway over the Muslim world lived up to expectations, with no clear action plan emerging to stop the massacre.
As the Muslim world’s rulers discussed the matter in a luxurious conference centre, the hungry, destitute and bloodied people of Gaza — dazed after burying their loved ones and neighbours day after day — waited for the next Israeli missile to strike.
In Riyadh, there were calls for a ceasefire and condemnation of Israeli violence, but beyond that little of substance, as the Palestinian president demanded an end to this “genocidal war”, while urging the US to use its good offices to ask Tel Aviv to stop the Gaza slaughter.
It is unlikely that those who matter in Washington or Tel Aviv will heed this request. Algeria, on the other hand, wanted Muslim and Arab states to suspend ties with Israel, while Iran recommended a boycott of Israel and the designation of the Israeli military as a “terrorist group”.
There were few takers for these proposals. It is indeed tragic that despite the murder of over 11,000 Palestinians in the Israeli onslaught, the high and mighty of the Muslim world — with their standing armies, tens of billions of dollars and vast economic clout — could not even agree to a common framework that would clearly communicate to Israel and its powerful backers that the massacre of Palestinians must stop.
If Israel were to be convinced by strongly worded statements and impressive conferences, the Palestine question would have been solved decades ago.
Meanwhile, the extermination of the Palestinian people continues, as the world looks on, as if tuned in to some grisly reality show — the livestreaming of a virtual genocide. Israel has upped its attacks on Gaza’s hospitals, all in the name of getting Hamas.
In the eyes of the Jewish state and its staunch defenders, slaughtered Palestinian babies appear to be a fair price to pay to avenge Israel’s wounded pride in the aftermath of Oct 7. Yet even some of those who had rushed to be by Israel’s side after the Hamas attack are beginning to have second thoughts; the French president has said Tel Aviv must stop killing “babies and women”.
Sadly, those who have the power to stop this butchery are either aiding Israel’s bloodthirsty campaign, or making weak entreaties for the massacre to be toned down.
However, hundreds of thousands of common people, with no political power but with great moral clarity in Sana’a, New York, London and other cities, are demanding an end to the massacre. Will the callous global elite listen to their voices?
Published in Dawn, November 13th, 2023