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Palestinian detainees' hopes for freedom are dim

Samer Al Issawi's persistence to free himself from the shackles of Israeli arbitrary arrest is an admirable accomplishment. However, this case calls for reflection on the fate of others who are still held captive. Other topics: Muslim Brotherhood, friendship.

Palestinian prisoner Samer Al Issawi was finally able to win his freedom. After a nine-month hunger strike, he will be released from the Israeli occupation prison at the end of the year, said the columnist Hussam Itani in the pan-Arab daily Al Hayat.

Al Issawi was originally jailed for armed attacks on Israeli vehicles. In 2002, he was sentenced to 26 years in prison.

He was released in 2011 as part of a prisoner-exchange deal, but he was rearrested nine months later for violating his release terms.

In August 2012, he began a hunger strike in protest at his arrest. Last week, Israel agreed with him to end his hunger strike in return for a reduced jail term.

"The Palestinian man's persistence to free himself from the shackles of Israeli arbitrary arrest is certainly an admirable accomplishment," commented the writer.

"But it does call for reflection on the fate of others who are still held captive."

According to a recent report from the Al Dameer organisation, a member of the Palestinian NGO Network, there are 4,900 Palestinian detainees awaiting suspended freedom.

Samer Al Issawi's success in securing his release must not overshadow the many complications surrounding the Palestinian prisoner's portfolio.

As tremendous at it is, it remains an individual accomplishment that was the result of personal determination and courage as well as family and community support. Palestinian political institutions barely had any contribution to make to his cause, as they are overwhelmed with issues of their own.

The agreement over Samer's release was signed at a time when the Palestinian Authority was foundering on the formation of a new government following the sudden resignation of prime minister Salam Fayyad last month.

Adding to the confusion, the division between Hamas and Fatah continues to hamper any national project to put an end to the occupation and secure the detainees liberty.

"The biggest problem is that the Palestinian issue is dismantled into a number of sub-issues: refugees, detainees, settlements, the PA's funding, national dialogue, Gaza's siege, and so on," the writer added.

The Palestinian cause will not shrivel and disappear as Israelis had hoped through their schemes and policies, the writer noted.

However, invigorating the Palestinian political life requires more than individual feats of bravery. Acts such as Samer Al Issawi's hunger strike wouldn't have been necessary if it weren't for the total despair of Palestinian national action that has been flailing helplessly in the murkiness of Gaza and Ramallah.

Brotherhood's policy backfires

The Muslim Brotherhood had a golden opportunity to take its cue from the Turkish model. But it chose to go further to the right, aligning itself with Salafist movements and play the trump card of religion to win elections, remarked Egyptian satirist Bassem Youssef in an article in the Cairo-based daily Al Shorouk.

The Brotherhood chose to engage in religious one-upmanship with its rivals. Yet the same weapon was used against it. Many Salafists, including the Al Nour Party, have accused the Brotherhood of failing to apply Sharia, and sparking religious battles over economic matters. Some Jihadist leaders went so far as to accuse President Morsi of apostasy.

"Now, the Brotherhood is hurt by the same weapon it pulled on us, but with it Egypt is burning, too," the writer said. By using Salafists, the Brotherhood has turned the normal public life into a battle for survival where the Islamist project must emerge victorious. It's a battle where the party with the ultimate one-upmanship wins, and with this came hatred, disrespect to minorities and other cultures.

Without a clear distinction between religion and politics, one-upmanship over religion is limitless. Once you open that door, someone pretending to be more pious will appear and put you in a bind. The Brotherhood did it with Egyptians, Salafists did it with the Brotherhood, and the Jihadists did it with both of them.

Everything has a price but friendship

Everything in the world has a price except loyal friendship, wrote the columnist Imad Eddine Adeeb yesterday in the pan-Arab newspaper Asharq Al Awsat.

Friendship is priceless because in that relationship there are no calculations and figures.

A friend would go to the end of the Earth for you and sell his most precious things to pay off your debts, the writer said.

Friendship is like a "love story" in which each party commits itself to do all it takes to maintain the relationship, the writer noted.

A faithful friend is a rarity these days, he wrote.

Friendship overrules everything else, no matter the price one has to pay to defend it, according to the writer. He quoted the billionaire philanthropist Bill Gates as saying that "a faithful friend is the best share humans can invest in, no matter its price".

But when one devotes one's entire life on a friend who does not deserve it, it results in a catastrophe.

Such an experience, the writer observed, can be heartbreaking to an extent that it might lead a man to lose confidence in people closest to him.

Such a disappointment hits one like a bullet, and insurance companies, unfortunately, do not cover the damages due to betrayal of friendship, he wrote.

* Digest compiled by The Translation Desk


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