My Mideast Punchlines: VR for Victory!

Palestinian prisoners have ended their hunger strike. This came after the International Red Cross agreed to resume facilitating an extra family visit each month which had been called off for budgetary reasons. Although Israel itself made no concessions, the Palestinians claimed a victory. The hunger strike, which reached 40 days, ended just before the start of the Islamic month of Ramadan.

In their virtual reality, Arabs always claim victory from the jaws of defeat. I was among the first journalists to reach the 1973 Yom Kippur war ceasefire lines at Km 101 (101 km from Cairo). The Egyptian 3rd army was surrounded,  and was about to be annihilated by Arik Sharon until Henry Kissinger stepped in. The US secretary of state felt the only way there could be eventual peace was if the Israelis stayed their hand and allowed President Anwar Sadat to call himself the ‘hero of the crossing’ (of the Suez Canal), a semblance of victory that would have rung somewhat hollow had his army been totally destroyed. Remarkable prescience, Mr Kissinger. However, it might not work with the Palestinians. As ex-Israeli foreign minister Abba Eban once famously said, ‘the Palestinians never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity.’

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