x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 18 January 2018

A Palestinian 'Holocaust'

An ongoing Palestinian "holocaust" targeting people, places and ideas sheds new light on Israel's ethnic cleansing policies, one Arabic language columnist argues in today's roundup. Other topics today: Yemen's presidential elections and Russia's immoveable president.

Ongoing Palestinian 'Holocaust' sheds new light on decades of Israel's oppressive politics

It took the distinguished Palestinian scholar, Nawaf Al Zaru, 15 years to finish his latest book, The Ongoing Palestinian Holocaust, an encyclopaedia-size opus that just came out in the Jordanian capital Amman, according to the London-based newspaper Al Quds Al Arabi.

In his review of the new release, Rashad Abu Shawar wrote: "Because the Palestinian holocaust targets not only human beings but also land, trees, heritage and civilisation, the author gave it a subtitle: The fabrication of 'Israel' and ethnic cleansing policies.

"And because the Palestinian holocaust did not end with the 1948 war, or the 1967 war, and because the Zionist genocide scheme … and displacement policies are still very much in effect - and will stay that way until the Palestinians are completely and definitively uprooted from the land of their ancestors - the Palestinian holocaust could only be described as 'ongoing'."

The 1040-page book is arranged in 14 sections, with several chapters under each section, complete with "irrefutable facts and figures," the reviewer said, in addition to photographs documenting the massacres perpetrated against the Palestinian people since the beginning of the conflict.

Al Zaru's book digs deep into the history of the Zionist movement, the reviewer wrote, way before the birth of Theodor Hertzel, the father of modern political Zionism, who pushed for, and succeeded in, the creation of the State of Israel.

The book reminds us that Napoleon had called on the Jews back in the 19th century to relocate to "the land of your fathers" as he moved his army to occupy Palestine, as part of his oriental campaign, the reviewer noted.

Al Zaru also takes time to flesh out the military and diplomatic role of Britain - as epitomised by the Balfour Declaration of 1917 - in "laying the foundation stone" for the creation of Israel, the reviewer said.

"It is Al Zaru's ambition to give the idea of the 'Palestinian Holocaust' the status of a universal truth," the reviewer said, "but one that is not limited to the murder of thousands upon thousands of Palestinians, rather one that includes such aspects as the altering and falsification of the identity of a people's land: Palestine."

Under the world's watch, he went on, and with complete immunity, Israel has been disfiguring the city of Jerusalem, which contains holy sites for both Muslims and Christians.

In this scholarly enterprise, Al Zaru was helped a great deal by his "close familiarity with the Zionist discourse," the reviewer said, as he speaks perfect Hebrew, which he picked up during his 11 years in Israeli prisons. After he got out in 1979, he worked as a journalist and developed his research skills until he became a reference on the Palestinian-Israeli issue.

Saleh may still disrupt Yemen's early election

"Yemen's Ali Abdullah Saleh has only 33 days left at the presidency after 33 years in power, as Yemenis are holding their breath for February 21, the day of the early presidential elections," noted the UAE newspaper Al Khaleej in its editorial yesterday.

The date has been agreed upon by the various political forces in Yemen, and has received the blessing of regional and international parties, the paper said. It is the date stated in "the Gulf initiative" that Mr Saleh signed in Riyadh in November. Under the pact, Mr Saleh would relinquish power in return for immunity.

Yemen has been rocked for months by Arab Spring protests, in which thousands of demonstrators called for Mr Saleh to step down, and many have been killed as a result of clashes with the security forces or pro-Saleh groups. A country that suffers from deep tribal polarisation, Yemen has been on various occasions on the verge of slipping into civil war over the past year.

"It is not easy for a president who stayed in power for 33 years to handle the prospect of leaving," the paper said. That is why some still fear Mr Saleh may look to push back the elections.

"Some believe that with what little power and following he still has, he might still be able to reshuffle the cards," the paper noted.

Putin will manipulate forces of Arab Spring

Vladimir Putin, Russia's prime minister, will be back in the Kremlin in a matter of weeks, and he's made up his mind that Iran and Syria are two non-negotiable "red lines" for his country, observed columnist Zouheir Qusaibati in yesterday's edition of the pan-Arab newspaper Al Hayat.

As he grooms himself for the presidency, Mr Putin is taking the side of Syria and Iran, not just as a way of holding on to his last two allies in the region, but also to exploit the two countries as "shields to block the gales of the Arab Spring from reaching his own backyard", the columnist said.

The Russian foreign minister, Sergey Lavrov, said this week that Syria and Iran are victims of the West's ill intentions, stressing that his country would oppose attempts to impose sanctions or launch a military attack against Iran, and will not tolerate foreign intervention in Syria.

This new escalation between Russia and the West - in an election year for Russia, the US and France - is symptomatic of a latent Cold War legacy, the columnist said.

As Moscow is starting to see "imperialist desires" re-emerge in the rhetoric of some western powers, it is also pressured from within by constituencies that miss the old glory of an uncompromising Russia.

* Digest compiled by Achraf El Bahi