Refreshing Voice of Arab Self-Criticism

Syrian journalist Faisal Al Qasim draws a valid lesson from the Shalit exchange deal.

Excerpt:

Even the Arab press has given his ordeal huge coverage forgetting of course the ordeals of thousands of Arab “Shalloots” both at home and abroad. It is no wonder then that Hamas leaders have remarked sarcastically more than once that wherever they go in the Arab world, Arab officials ask them about Shalit with great enthusiasm. We have all seen how the deposed Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak and others worked for months on end to secure Shalit’s release, but to no avail.

I am sure some are asking now what is meant by “Shalloots”. Is it a derivative of “Shalit”. The answer is no. I am trying here to play on words to show how great the difference is between the Israeli Shalit and the so-called Arab “Shalloot”, which means in Arabic “shabby or seedy shoes”. This colloquial Arabic word is, in actual fact, a metaphor for run-down cheap things.

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It is quite great to see over a thousand Palestinians released from Israeli prisons, but it is very sad that this huge number of detainees will be exchanged for a single Israeli soldier. Isn’t it very humiliating for all Arabs politically and morally?

It is no wonder at all that Israel is releasing a large number of Arabs for one person. It must have seen the Arab armies and security services opening fire randomly on Arab demonstrators as if they were a swarm of flies or a herd of livestock just because they went out clamouring for their basic rights. Have you ever seen an Israeli force shooting Israeli demonstrators with great ease? Of course not. In actual fact Israel sent its aircraft to Uganda years ago to help free Israeli citizens kidnapped by Palestinians there. And so, as long as we, Arabs, do not respect ourselves nobody will ever respect us, and we will always exchange thousands of Arabs for one single Israeli.

We are crossing our fingers that the new Arab revolutions might one day liberate Arab people from despotism and turn them from “Shalloots” into “Shalits”.

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