April 26, 2018 Special Dispatch No. 7443

Israeli Druze Intellectual: The Syria Crisis Exposed Nothing More Than The Failure Of Arab Leaders And The Illusion Of Arab Solidarity

April 26, 2018
Syria | Special Dispatch No. 7443

On March 2, 2018, Salman Masalha, an Israeli-Arab intellectual of Druze origin,[1]published an article in the Dubai-based Al-Hayat daily that harshly criticized the Arab leaders' response to the civil war raging in Syria, which is currently in its eighth year. Masalha claims that the Arab leaders aren't lifting a finger to alleviate the crisis in Syria and are unwilling to take in Syrian refugees, but are instead waiting for the international community to deal with the disaster there. This, he says, reveals their shameful failure to deal with the problems in their own Arab region and proves that the Arab slogans and Arab solidarity are nothing but an unfounded illusion. He adds that "every Arab who retains a shred of human dignity" should be "ashamed of belonging to this wretched nation and its leadership."

Dr. Salman Masalha (Image:

The following is a translation of his article:

"There is no morality in the politics of the superpowers, and all the more so where wars are concerned, especially when they take place in distant arenas. In such a situation, self-interest dictates policy, and these interests – even when couched in honeyed words – are ultimately economic interests. The people and their fate are not taken into account in the calculations of profit and loss of the superpowers' policymakers.

"For example, let us examine the recent statement by Russian General Vladimir Shamanov in the Russian parliament.[2] He stated that the Russian army had brought 200 types of new Russian weapons [systems] to the battlefields in Syria, to test them. The general added that these experiments proved the efficacy of the Russian weapons, which will increase the sales of Russian arms worldwide and advance the Russian economy. We are aware that the Russian economy is based solely on the military industries and that Russia has nothing to export to the world other than its military products. What this means is that the Russian war in Syria is an [just] an opportunity for the Russian Czar [President Vladimir Putin] to try out the new Russian weapons. What is true of Russia in this sphere is also true of the U.S. and of the other powers. As I said, there are no morals in politics.

"That's how Syria, with its ethnic and religious complexities, became an arena for disputes and tugs of war [between parties with conflicting interests], and a testing ground for the regional and international forces. In its calls on the 'international community' to intervene to bring an end to the Syrian tragedy, the Arab leadership expresses only its own shameful national failure to deal with what is happening in its own Arab back yard.

"If there really and truly was a thing called 'Arabism,' meaning strong connections [of solidarity], those same [leaders] and those like them wouldn't be calling on the 'international community' to interfere so as to bring an end to these massacres and acts of slaughter. If these [leaders] were real Arabs, connected to one another by strong bonds, they would have intervened themselves to stop the slaughter of their own people. Are they not leaders of countries that have tremendous armies? So how is it that in a situation like this they stand with their arms folded and charge the 'foreigners' from the international community to intervene and solve their problems? Why don't they do what they are asking the international community to do?

"And furthermore, note the difference between the way the other [non-Arab] world treated the refugees who knocked on its gates and the way the Arabs treated the refugees, who are supposedly fellow Muslims. Is it not the case that the refugee camps are only to be found in Arab and Muslim lands? What about the millions who migrated to Europe? Those millions are not living in refugee camps, but are being absorbed into European cities and becoming citizens there. Only in the lands of the Arabs and the Muslims, such as Jordan, Lebanon, and Turkey, are the Arab [refugees] crowded into disgraceful camps. And what does this mean? It means one thing – that the Arabs and Muslims are not [really] taking in the refugees, unlike the European countries, which are 'infidel' [countries] according to the ideologies by which they [the Arabs and Muslims] have been educated from birth.

"This state of affairs, which is obvious to all, does it not mean that what is referred to as 'Arabism' is nothing more than a baseless illusion? And furthermore, when a regime that attributes Arabism to itself, such as the Syrian regime, is helped by foreign Russian planes to murder those who are meant to be its 'citizens' or 'its people,' does that not mean that what is supposed to be a single people is not a single people at all?

"These truths that are obvious to us mean that every Arab who retains a shred of human dignity should be ashamed of belonging to this wretched nation and its leaders, of every stream, who have long been feeding [the nation] empty slogans. Long decades of chewing over slogans achieved have nothing for the Arab citizen. What have these slogans yielded after all those decades? The Arabs have become groups of people with nothing that unites them, who wander aimlessly in a world that is becoming a political, social, cultural, and moral desert.

"The Arab world has become an testing ground for the superpowers, and the Arabs have become the aimlessly wandering guinea pigs who can't find a way out of their crises. These are truths that are obvious to all and cannot be hidden or swept under the carpet."[3]



[1] Salman Masalha, who holds a Ph.D. in Arabic language and literature from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, is a poet, essayist, translator and publicist, writes in Hebrew and Arabic and advances a critical discourse with respect to both Israel and the Arab world. See MEMRI reports: Special Dispatch No.6061, Israeli Druze Intellectual: Arab Spring Passed Over Monarchies Because They Are Better Suited To Nature Of Arab Societies, May 31, 2015; Special Dispatch No.6127, Israeli Druze Intellectual: The Israel That The Arabs Call 'A False Entity' Is The Region's Most Stable, Advanced Country, August 6, 2015. Special Dispatch No.807, Israeli Arab Author: The Arab Man is the Problem,The Arab Woman is the Solution, October 28, 2004.

[2] Vladimir Shamanov is head of the State Defense Committee in the Duma, the lower house of the Russian parliament.

[3] Al-Hayat (Dubai), March 2, 2018.

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