|Arabs will only begin to have faith in the US and the Bush White House when peace is brought to the Palestinians, security is maintained in Iraq, and American statesmen and women show more interest in real Arab domestic issues and democracy. To date, apart from promises to the masses, the US has not pressured Arab regimes for democracy. The Americans have also failed to portray themselves as honest brokers in the Arab-Israeli conflict, which is the cornerstone of grievances to the Arab majority. The real problem that the Americans fail to understand is not Arafat, nor terrorism, nor Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, but land and freedom for the Palestinians. Once that is secured, a majority of Arabs will start to trust America.|
The road to peace in the Middle East runs through Jerusalem, not Baghdad. Mixed feelings exist in the Arab world toward Iraq. Some are in favor of the post-Saddam order and American schemes, while others are overwhelmingly opposed. On the issue of Palestine, there is more of a consensus among the 200 million Arabs. Since September 2000, more than 5,000 homes have been destroyed in the Palestinian territories, while about 35,000 people have been left homeless in Gaza alone. Since his election in March 2001, Israeli premier Ariel Sharon personally saw to it that settlements in Gaza increased by 51%. The Occupied Territories currently suffer from 30-40% unemployment, and in Gaza alone it is over 50%. When the intifada broke out in 2000, the poverty rate was 21%, and by December 2002 it had increased to 60%.
In Gaza, poverty today is estimated at 80%. Due to terrible conditions, food consumption in the Occupied Territories has dropped by 25%, and half of the population currently lives off United Nations aid. Malnutrition among infants is 22%, the highest in the region, matched only in the Sahara Desert.
The Israeli Defense Army has generated losses in Palestinian infrastructure estimated at US$1.7 billion in 2002 alone. And that number is likely to increase, given the US alliance with Israel and its generous donation of arms and money. When former secretary of state Collin Powell announced his plan for "democracy in the Middle East" in late 2003, he promised $29 million to promote a democratic culture to the Arabs. Whereas at the start of 2004, the White House gave Israel $300 million in donations to "help combat terrorism".