April 9, 2003


Palestinians stunned by collapse of Saddam's regime (KHALED ABU TOAMEH, Apr. 9, 2003, Jerusalem Post)
There was shock and disbelief in the West Bank and Gaza Strip Wednesday as Palestinians gathered around TV sets to watch US Marines and Iraqi residents knock down a giant statute of Saddam Hussein in Tahrir Square in central Baghdad.

"I'm stunned and appalled. I can't understand what is happening," said Rustum Abu Ghazalah, a 30-year-old shopkeeper in the center of Ramallah.

He and grim-faced fellow shopkeepers zapped from one Arab TV station to another with the hope of discovering that what they were hearing and watching was nothing more than a US-produced Hollywood film.

"This can't be true," grumbled Abu Ghazaleh. "Where are the suicide bombers? Where are the Fedayeen of Saddam? Where are the heroic Republican Guards?" [...]

"This is a sad day for all the Arabs and Muslims, particularly the Palestinians," said Nael al-Am, a 36-year-old grocery owner in Ramallah. He is one of the few merchants who still keep a large-size poster of the deposed Iraqi president. Friends describe him as a staunch supporter of Saddam.

"I invested a lot of money in buying a satellite dish and a new TV set because I wanted to watch the day the battle for Baghdad begins," explained the bearded shopkeeper. "I was sure that this was going to be one of the great battles of the century, where an Arab army would inflict heavy losses on theinvading crusaders. I feel as if a dagger has been stuck in my heart when I see American soldiers strolling in the heart of Baghdad." [...]

Older Palestinians said the events in Iraq are reminiscent of the Six Day War, when Arab radio stations and leaders told their audiences that Israel wason the verge of defeat. They said the TV appearances of the Iraqi information minister, who remained defiant till the last minute, insisting that everything was under control and that the enemy had been defeated.

"Sahhaf reminded me of [Egyptian radio propagandist] Ahmed Said, who during the 1967 war, told us that the Israeli warplanes were falling likeflies," said Abed al-Zamel, a 70-year-old retired schoolteacher from Silwad village near Ramallah. "Once again the Arabs have fallen victim to the lies of their leaders and media. We never learn from our mistakes. When the war erupted, I warned my sons not to watch Arab TV stations so they would not be disappointed and depressed when the truth eventually comes out."

These epiphanic scenes are why we should continue on with regime change in at least Syria and Libya--the point must be driven home, again and again, until it sinks in, that the tide of history has left the current iteration of Islam behind and that it must radically reform itself in order to catch up. The future belongs to free men, but there's no reason that should not include Muslims.
Posted by Orrin Judd at April 9, 2003 2:36 PM

Mr. Judd:Tough to call haters pathetic but if the shoe fits...Some radical Islamists who judge the world through a prism of ethnicity and religion may be having the epiphany you mention, I hope so. Which political culture, if not that of the west, could provide the setting for peace between christians,jews and muslims.The problem is that the pluralism of the west

is anathema to the rads and without the reform you speak about they are on history's long road to nowhere. We should encourage them toward this reform in every way, the first radical step has been taken.

Posted by: Tom C., Stamford, Ct. at April 9, 2003 4:03 PM

There's nothing to hide but the truth. Still though the islamists who view this will still harbor doubt and hate. I just proves once again that the regular non-iraqi doesn't care about the iraqi or the horrors they seen or endured, but only in the destruction of the west.

Posted by: buck at April 9, 2003 6:40 PM

And these are the folk for whom you wish a state? Sorry. Not a chance.

Posted by: Paul A'Barge at April 9, 2003 10:33 PM

A state is a burden that may force many Palestinians to be more realistic.

Posted by: Timothy at April 9, 2003 11:24 PM

Realistic? Perhaps, but that would depend on what they view as their goals.

As for hatred of the US, it will likely increase because the US and its allies have shown them up for what they are. And it ain't pretty. And they know it.

And while they might use the opportunity for self examination (a decidedly western trait, and thus "culturally insensitive" ), rage is most definitely the easier rout is.

Posted by: Barry Meislin at April 10, 2003 8:00 AM

Notice that this person was watching the news on a satellite dish... a freedom not enjoyed by Iraqis (at least up to yesterday).

Posted by: treasaigh at April 10, 2003 8:31 AM