Wednesday, January 04, 2006

The tragedy of the New Year and the Arab-Israeli conflict

New Year always promises more grief, not good news
Arab American Media Syndicate Jan. 2, 2006
By Ray Hanania

Some people see the New Year as an opportunity to start again. But I think it is the worst time of the year for most people.

First, there is a clear recurring pattern that takes shape.

At the end of the year, we are pushed by businesses and by the media to spend money. Lots of money. On gifts and on cleverly marketed "end-of-year sales."

On top of all that, most people tend to celebrate the end of the year holidays by eating. Americans, especially. We gorge ourselves with food. We consume food at a record pace. And it’s all junk food, too. More junk food is eaten at the end of the year than at the beginning.

And then, the New Year’s Eve arrives. Happy New Year! Auld Lang Syne (Old Long Ago). Celebrations. Hope. Cheer. So, we make New Year’s resolutions, only to break them in the aftermath of the New Year’s binge.

Most New Year’s resolutions are broken. For good reason. Most people promise to do things that common sense normally begs us to do all year, but we don’t. We make them to feel good. Not that we expect to fulfill them.

Sometime in the middle of January, all that good cheer and optimism comes back to haunt us. It hits us like a brick, or maybe like a stone, depoending on where you live.

Hangovers. Indigestion. Weight gain. Record setting personal debt. Most New Year’s resolutions are about losing weight and saving money.

January is also one of the coldest months of the year for many. Cold only adds to our misery.

Diets and debts make people angry. But the New Year piles on all kinds of other, unresolved challenges. In reality, at the beginning of the New Year, people are angrier, meaner, grumpier and out to punish someone. Anyone.

And nowhere are those unresolved challenges more imposing than in the Middle East, between Palestinians and Israelis are always looking to blame someone else for their troubles.

Take the Palestinians, please!

Why would the Palestinians hold elections in January?

American’s hold their primary or political party elections at the end of February (local offices) and in April (national offices.) But the big American elections are always in the Fall, in November. That’s because some genius political consultant recognized a long time ago that people are happier BEFORE the holidays start, not after.

I know Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas wants a good excuse to delay the January 25 elections. The terrorist organization Hamas, which is feeding on extremist Israeli policies, is threatening to gain power as each new election is held. Abbas’ own political group, Fatah, is divided between the greed of the older generation and the greed of the younger generation.

There are a lot of big Mercedes at stake, and contracts and jobs that fat-cat Fatah activists could give to their relatives if they win office.

Abbas doesn’t get very good public relations advice. He has a lot of freelance spokespeople who go around the country telling us why things don’t work, but they never offer solutions on how they can make things better. My favorites are former "Legal Advisers" Diana Bhutto and Michael Tarazi.

Well, instead of delaying the elections in order to hold on to power by blaming Hamas, Abbas should just blame the negative New Year trend. Have elections in the summer when people are happier – which is a relative word, but still in a better mood than they would be in January.

Angry voters vote against things. Happy voters vote for things.

And then there is, as the American’s say, "the 300 pound gorilla" of Israeli politics, Prime Minister Ariel Sharon.

Clearly, it was a big, happy end-of-the-year meal that moved Sharon to act out his melodramatic political adventures.

He broke from the Likud Party and launched a new one called Kadima. The names of the party don’t really matter. They could have been named "Your Marbles" or "My Marbles." But I don’t blame Sharon for leaving Likud.

Who wants to be partners Benjamin Netanyahu, the only Israeli leader who is grumpy all year round, not just at the beginning of the New Year?

Good move, Ari. But you should have done it after the New Year, not before. Israelis are people, too. They are going to be angry, and one mistake on your part and they’ll jump all over you.
Sharon has better PR people. They know how to spin good and bad news to make it all better. Of course, they always look great against the always terrible public relations failures of the Palestinians.

Arabs hate Sharon for many reasons. But I think Sharon’s biggest problem is his lifelong difficulty with managing his weight. He eats too much.

People who eat a lot usually have personal problems or are haunted by ghosts and memories of bad things.

Sure enough, just as he was stuffing himself this Hanukkah, he had a stroke. Israeli doctors found a small hole in Sharon’s heart and they ordered Sharon on a diet. (There was a rumor going around that Netanyahu was sending Sharon eight fat Turkeys for each day of Hanukkah.)

Like a diet’s really going to make a difference for Sharon. Sharon hasn’t been the best partner for peace with the Palestinians and it’s not going to get better. People on diets are the grumpiest people around.

Of course, the positive side of Sharon’s problems is that Israeli doctors discovered that Sharon really does have a heart.

But Palestinians will just say that’s more Zionist propaganda.

Happy secular New Year.


No comments: