A New Low for the Clueless

Nigeria's president Goodluck Jonathan with Israel's Benjamin Netanyahu

by Adamu Adamu [email protected]

What does it take to change Nigeria’s foreign policy? A clueless president and a cell phone call from Benjamin Netanyahu; and you have a brand new centrepiece – for those looking for one. And it all came out at the United Nations Security Council deliberations on the application for Palestinian state.

The Palestinian proposal, which called for peace with Israel within a year, an end to the Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories by the end of 2017, an independent state of Palestine to be established within the 1967 Middle East borders—before Israel captured the West Bank, Gaza and east Jerusalem, and a just solution to all other outstanding issues, including the return of Palestinian refugees, failed to pass a UN Security Council vote on Tuesday. Eight voted in favour, two voted against and five, including Nigeria, abstained. And it was Nigeria’s abstention that defeated the Palestinian dream.

The two-state solution, which the Security Council voting had now negated, was no solution at all; but at any event Nigeria abstained from casting its vote for the resolution, not because it could ever have appeared to it as not a solution, but because of pressure from the United States and Israel—and, as usual, the administration, clueless and unconcerned, chorused its approval to the end. And it did so blissfully unaware that this attempt to create the Palestinian state will indeed have advanced their so-called two-state solution, which, by the way, is not necessarily—or even really—what these Likud Zionists want, much as it will in the end have proved counterproductive and inimical to long-term interest of the Palestinian people.

But it is not in its import: it is in what it symbolises that the Palestinian state is of values to its people. While Zionists can delay the realisation of the former, they cannot affect the effect of the latter on the people’s psyche, because even after partition, Palestine started off as state—the all-Palestine Government of September 1948 under President Amin al-Hussaini, which Gamal Abdel Nasser annulled in 1959. Then began the cynical attempts by the Arab regimes—the Baathists, the Nasserites, the Jamahiriyyin, and the anti-Communist royals—to control and frustrate the Palestinian struggle.  Since then, several plans have been proposed for a Palestinian state—a confederation with Jordan, a two-state solution, a recreation of pre-Israel Palestine to incorporate the entire area of the former British Mandate, that is, including the current territory occupied by the Zionist State. The 1974 Ten-Point Programme drew up a bi-national one-state, but the Algiers Declaration of November 1988 created a Daulat al-Filatin [the State of Palestine] as an interim measure.

In 2002, the Arab regimes whose oil money had subverted the Palestinian struggle proposed the recreation of a Palestinian state out of the Gaza Strip, the West Bank and East Jerusalem, with the 1949 armistice lines as borders of the new Palestinian state. This two-state sell out was accepted by the Palestinian Authority and the Arab League. And ten years later, with the November 29, 2012 UN General Assembly resolution upgrading Palestine to non-member observer status, a de facto recognition of the sovereign state of Palestine had indeed occurred. So the issue is not a lack of a basis for statehood for Palestine, it is whether the leadership to actualise it has arrived.

But its opponents have successfully turned it into a religious issue. About the only reason Christians support Israel, for instance, is simply because it is opposed by Muslims; but this is clearly an unscientific method for basing support or opposition. This may have been what led And it begins from the wrong premise that Palestinians are exclusively Muslim, which they are not: at least 30 per cent of all Palestinians are Christians—and they have probably suffered even more; or that Muslims are the only victims, but this is all too inaccurate, considering the fact that Christians have been killed by Zionist settlers; and, being generally more prosperous, have materially lost even more than Muslims in the tragedy; or that Palestinian refugees are only Muslims, while indeed on average more Christians have been forced to leave the Holy Land than Muslims; or that the Middle East crisis is between Muslims and Jews, which is not true; it is a conflict between Zionists, not Jews, ranged against Christians and Muslims.

This fact becomes even more obvious considering that, before the post-Islamic revolution rise of Hamas, almost all the most prominent and effective leaders of the Palestinian struggle have been Christian—Dr George Habash, for instance, started the struggle even before Yasser Arafat—as have Dr Wadie Haddad, Nayef Hawatmeh, Hanan Ashrawi, Constantin Zureiq, who, as the father-figure of the National Catastrophe, coined the term Nakbah for the Palestinian tragedy; and Professor Edward Said,  Greek Orthodox Christian, was the world’s greatest Palestinian intellectual.

Or that the problem is one of religion. It is not—it is one between right and wrong—between a usurper and victim of usurpation, between an aggressor and a victim of naked aggression, the nature of which cannot be masked because it enjoys the support of the United States. While they lasted, settler-colonial, white-minority regimes in Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Angola and Namibia and in apartheid South Africa enjoyed that type of support, but it proved of no avail. And the world has been witness to the unravelling and the precipitate end of apartheid South Africa, where all talk of a two-state solution came to a dead end.

It is a disgrace for any nation to fall this low, and allow itself to be browbeaten into giving moral, political, economic, and diplomatic or any kind of support to the systematic dispossession of a people by another, thereby giving comfort to colonialism and to aggressors and usurpers of other people’s land—out of fear of the United States, or out of a falsely drawn religious justification that does a great disservice to Christianity by opposing the legitimate rights of the people of Palestine on its behalf and in its name and portraying it as a supporter of all Israeli outrage in the Holy Land, greatly embarrassing the Christian faith by casting it into the unenviable role of accepting and even gloating over supposedly non-Christian suffering; but the suffering is every bit Christian.

Before the creation of Israel in 1948, a third of Palestine’s Arab population was Christian; and places like Bethlehem, the birthplace of Christ [AS] and Nazareth, his boyhood home, were Christian-majority towns. Today, thanks to Israeli repression, the entirety of Palestine is only one or two per cent Christian, while the Christian population of Bethlehem and Nazareth is less than a quarter. And the population is dwindling further every day; and a father at mass explains:

“We are doing this mass to pray [to] God, because nobody is listening to us. Just God alone can hear our prayers and He alone can change the mind of all the people who are putting injustice on the Palestinian people. We are losing our land; the Americans are doing nothing for us; Europe is doing nothing for us; [it is] just God who alone can help us change the mind of everybody to give us back our own land.”

‘It may surprise you, but these are not the words of some Islamist fanatic, looking to sweep the Jewish people into the sea and create a medieval Islamic caliphate in Palestine. These are the words of Father Ibrahim Shomali, the Catholic priest of Beit Jala, near Bethlehem, as he celebrates an open-air mass [on January 18, 2013] in the beautiful Cremisan valley. His mass takes place every Friday, as a sign of protest against a planned extension of Israel’s separation barrier which will lead to the confiscation of yet more Palestinian Christian land.’

But here at home how horribly have things changed. It is now left with the shame of a subservience and absolute cluelessness by a leader whose predecessor could ignore and even publish US President Gerald Ford’s overbearing letter to an Africa that had come of age, but who would now be ordered around by a phone call from Secretary John Kerry and Benjamin Netanyahu, ought to be sufficient as cause for national embarrassment.

It has taken off at a tangent with an unwelcome departure that cannot be occasioned by any stretch of the national interest. It cannot be justified on the grounds of the maintenance of Nigeria’s territorial integrity, or the protection of any rights of our citizens, or the promotion of international trade or on the grounds of the defence of any moral or ethical values dear to the Nigerian nation-state.  Under this government, Nigeria is no longer a Frontline state for liberation, or for making common cause and fellowship with the world’s oppressed, a government that neither understands the world stage properly, nor its expected role on it. It is a government lacking in African territorial or pan-Third World patriotism and bereft of any sense of national honour or pride.

Gone are the days of the calling off of bluffs, when Black Sambo checkmated Uncle Sam on the moral ground. The difference of course was that General Murtala Mohammed was hostage to no one: unlike President Goodluck Jonathan who might be hostage to Israeli security advisers on the eve of an election year, with an election that might not be won fairly or squarely by the president’s ruling party. Jonathan has done his part of the bargain; it now remains to be seen whether those on behalf of whom he did his act will do theirs.

None of the above foreign policy goals have been enhanced, and all of them may have been directly or indirectly subverted. With his support for Israel, Jonathan has become a saboteur of his nation’s foreign policy which is founded on respect for, and defence of, the human dignity that Israel violates on a daily basis in Gaza, on the West bank and in Occupied Palestine. By taking his nation lightly and selling it ever so cheaply, he has become a violator of his oath of office. He has forever soiled Nigeria’s diplomatic record with support for Zionism.