September 22, 2011
“We will be a democracy among the guns,” he told me once. And yes, he said then, he loved the United Nations.
In Ramallah yesterday, they didn’t love the UN but they understood its uses. Quite a few shopkeepers, all men of course, even suggested that they wanted Barack Obama to veto a Security Council vote on “Palestine’s” statehood, since this would finally prove to all Arabs that America was not their friend. No one suggested that Obama, who so blithely declared a new relationship with the Muslim world in Cairo and called for a Palestinian state by 2012, might – in the spirit of Woodrow Wilson – courageously support a vote for “Palestine”, albeit at the cost of his re-election. But then again, that would be fantasy, wouldn’t it?
In the streets, there were drums and recorded martial music and children who climbed on the tired lions, and youths who plastered the walls with posters showing an American fist holding the scales of justice. “Palestine’s” golden tray was empty, of course, Israel’s filled with the usual statistics (750,000 Palestinians detained since 1967, more than 6,000 Palestinians in Israeli jails, Israel in full control of more than 50 per cent of the West Bank, 519,000 Israeli settlers in 144 colonies in the occupied “Palestine”…). It was a kind of jamboree, which Majdi summed up rather well, although not so bravely that he wanted to give me his family name.
“These people are celebrating without knowing the outcome of the UN vote,” he said. “We have to wait these two days to see if we should celebrate. Oslo was a waste of time – the only one who won was Israel. They only had 100,000 settlers here in those days. But American mediation has been a nonsense. They interfere in other Arab countries and support revolutions – but when it comes to Palestine, they don’t care.”