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Ramzy Baroud: Ample Hope for a Year to Come

New Year’s Ruminations: Ample Hope for a Year to Come

By Ramzy Baroud

It’s an old habit with me to sign off my messages in the days preceding the New Year by expressing: ''I pray that the coming year will bring peace and justice to our troubled world.'' Despite disappointing experiences, I persist, because hope is essential. It is like air and water.

I look at Iraq and cannot help but appreciate the human tenacity. 2004 was a calamitous year for the Iraqi people. Their death toll is climbing despite the promised security; their fate remains chained to an American tank and “administered” by the pronouncements of a cruel American war general.

Yet, amidst the chaos, mass funerals and blown-up homes, I gaze at Fallujah and carry on with my wish that “the coming year will bring peace and justice to our troubled world.”

At first glance, the happenings in Palestine seem evocative of hopelessness and despair: An Israeli wall continues to swallow the remains of the state Palestinians hope to attain. The livelihood of Palestinian farmers is squandered with every new and mammoth section of the wall, which Israel erects on their land. Death among Palestinians, especially children, breaks new records every day. Yet one reads in the American media that it is all the fault of the victim and that Israel wishes to make peace. The problem, we are told, lies in the Palestinian political culture. Only democracy and transparent semi-presidential elections can bring peace and an end to the conflict.

Palestinians should elect a president for a shadowy political body that neither has the legitimacy nor the territorial sovereignty to carry out the will of the people. Although it defies all logic, we are expected to believe that democracy under military occupation is possible. What is more, it is a splendid opportunity for peace.

But with every uprooted tree, there is a farmer holding tightly to its roots; with every inch of confiscated land, there is an old man kneeling to the ground, sticking his fingers deep into the soil and refusing to part; with every fallen child, there is another child coloring a flag. Just when Ariel Sharon hoped that his policies had forever silenced every call for peace and reconciliation, Arabs, Jews and volunteers from all over the globe like Rachel Corrie flocked to Palestine, shielding school children with their bare chests, defying curfews and chanting for peace and justice.

Because of this and more, I am hopeful.

I am hopeful because the rules of the game are changing.

Wars that were designated to ravish and destroy a land and its people are espousing unity and igniting an awakening among the forces of good all over the world. The corporate media’s attempt to dictate the discourse is increasingly challenged by our desire to confront the lies of the spin-doctors, the warmongers and the like. With the violations of women’s rights, children’s rights, and labor rights, there is an equally robust desire to restore them.

Is it not enough that when Venezuelans restored their elected popular President Hugo Chaves to power after the failed attempt to sabotage the country’s democracy, many raised Palestinian flags while celebrating his return? Is it not enough that during the funeral of President Yasser Arafat, flags representing countries all over the world wavered in solidarity beside the hundreds of Palestinian flags?

True, there is an abundance of reasons that would justify our sense of anguish and fear as we cast our eyes toward 2005, but there is certainly ample hope to carry us through the turmoil and trial of another year. And so with confidence I will proclaim it once again;

“I pray that the coming year will bring peace and justice to our troubled world.”


— Ramzy Baroud is a veteran Arab-American journalist and editor in chief of and head of Research & Studies Department at English.

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