The Arab media has, for over half a century or so, strongly condemned Zionist crimes against the Palestinians and other Arab peoples. It has in actual fact provided a hell of a lot of satire on Zionist brutality, which is fair enough. But is the Arab media still able to satirise Israeli barbarism with the same vigour after it has witnessed what Arab dictators have done to their own people? Isn't it a bit silly to bombard the Israelis with criticism and keep quiet about savagery against unarmed demonstrators?
An Israeli journalist remarked cynically about two decades ago that the Arab media can easily see a dust particle in the eyes of Israel, and can hardly see a log in the eyes of Arab regimes. In other words, the journalist wanted to expose Arab media hypocrisy, where it ignores the massacres committed by some Arab rulers.
Funnily enough, comparing the number of Arab people killed during the wars between Israel and Arab countries with the number of Arabs killed locally, one will notice that Arab dictatorships have killed more people.
I wonder what the aforementioned Israeli journalist would say after seeing what some Arab despots are doing to protesters. I am sure he might put pressure on the Israeli authorities to be harsher with the Palestinian and Lebanese in the future. Sadly enough, some Arab armies and security services have proved to be much more brutal than the Israeli army.
When Israel killed about 1,400 Palestinians during Operation Cast Lead against Gaza, the Arab media raised its voice, and thankfully drew world attention to Israeli atrocities. But when we compare the number of Palestinians killed in Gaza with the number of Arabs being killed these days by Arab dictators, we will be horribly surprised.
In fact, the Sudanese regime killed hundreds of thousands of its own people in Darfur. The so-called Janjaweed gangs in Sudan used to annihilate the people of Darfur like flies simply because the latter clamoured for their basic rights. An Arab satirist once commented that an Arab dictator would not accept the number of Palestinians killed in Gaza even as an appetiser!
Recently there were reports that deposed Tunisian president Zine Al Abidine Bin Ali ordered his air force to bombard a civilian area in the Al Qasrain region because the people there demonstrated against his regime. Thankfully, the army refused to carry out his order.
The ongoing Arab intifadas have shown that some Arab rulers can beat the Israelis at their own game. An Arab website recently carried an opinion poll asking readers: ‘Who will be a killioneer?' Sure enough, Muammar Gaddafi of Libya won the day. Not only did he kill a lot of his own people but also almost flattened many Libyan cities. It brought to mind western cities flattened by Hitler's forces during the Second World War.
Take Ali Abdullah Saleh of Yemen. WikiLeaks has revealed that his ‘chairmanship' gave the green light to American aircraft to bombard civilian areas to quell a local revolt. Add to this, of course, his brutal handling of the Yemeni revolution.
Other Arab despots are reported to have asked their security forces to aim their guns at protesters' heads. Have you ever seen an Israeli officer torturing a Palestinian civilian to death in the street for everybody to see? Definitely not. Many of us have seen that in some Arab towns lately.
It is true that Israel is forcing an embargo on Gaza, but I do not think that the Israelis are preventing the Palestinians from getting their daily bread, whereas the security services in some Arab countries stopped cars carrying food from entering certain areas. Nor are the Israelis cutting off electricity, telephone and other communication services from houses, hospitals and schools.
It has been reported that the security services stopped nurses and doctors from treating the injured during certain Arab demonstrations as a punishment for rising against the ruling regime. The thugs contracted by the police to help quell protests went even further. They shot at ambulances.
Unlike in some Arab countries, Arabs living inside Israel can organise sit-ins very comfortably. And when the Israeli police intervenes, they never beat demonstrators to death. And if we compare how Israel treats Shaikh Raed Salah with the way some Arab dictators treat their opponents, we will be horribly surprised, as the Israelis are very much less brutal.
It is true that Israel used internationally prohibited ammunition during Operation Cast Lead, but some Arab despots used some chemical stuff to disperse demonstrators.
Israel can always claim it is facing an enemy, whereas Arab dictators are facing their own people. Let us end with a succinct verse from the late poet Omar Abu Risha: ‘‘No one can blame a wolf when it preys on a sheep if the shepherd himself is the enemy of the cattle''.
Dr Faisal Al Qasim is a Syrian journalist based in Doha.