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Date posted: November 30, 2006
By Margo Sabella for MIFTAH

Have we ever thought that perhaps the real crisis in the world today is a lack of genuine leaders - people in whom we can trust to not only speak out against injustices, but actually attempt to right wrongs? We forget that presidents and prime ministers are fallible, often falling into the trap of idealizing their role in our lives, often placing them on too high a pedestal so that we are sure to be disappointed with the results when they inevitably fall from grace.

So why has the person that embodies leadership become more important than the act of leadership itself, than policy-making, than diplomacy, than nation-building (in Palestines case)? Not to trivialize it, but being a president, a prime minister or a minister is just a job, with huge responsibility; therefore, those in power must acknowledge the trust they were given in order to govern properly and should not use their positions for personal gain.

Sadly, politicians seem obliviously ignorant to this reality or willingly turn a blind eye. They insist on going about their daily business forgetting that it is the voters that put them in that job in the first place and that it is to them that they are most accountable. They have attempted problem solving in secrecy, excluding the population that instated them, and silencing the voices of intelligent ordinary citizens whose experience and expertise, as well as moral conscience, should be taken into account when making decisions that inevitably affect the lives of the very people that politicians claim to serve.

The problem that ails most people in power, in Palestine, at least, is that they are condescending towards their constituencies. They claim that we do not understand the intricacies of politics, of negotiations or of diplomacy. That is a terrible mistake that Palestinian politicians have made throughout our modern history; if you ask any Palestinian what she thinks of anything, you will get a sophisticated political analysis. Decades pass and the same outspoken, fiery people are in the game, but with the passing of each year, their passion seems to have become lukewarm and their bellies seem to have expanded, symptomatic of the fat cat syndrome that has come to symbolize people in power everywhere across the Third World and indeed in the civilized West; corruption is not exclusive to the Middle East or Africa, but thats a topic for another time.

A mark of a good leader is one that is able to see that time has run out on him, that it is time to pass the torch, so to speak, and bow out of the political limelight with grace and dignity. Yet, in the Middle East, leaders remain leaders way past their expiration date, because they think they are indelible; that if they go, all else will fall apart and crumble into the sea. They have such high opinions of themselves that they do not see beyond the tips of their noses that they are actually a large part of the problem and in no way constitute even a minuscule part of the solution. Opposition is unacceptable and the budding of a new wave of promising leaders is quashed as soon as it dares to rear its head.

We see whats going on; ordinary citizens are not gullible and understand that it is the privilege and power that come with leadership that people actually crave for. Leadership is not an Armani suit and tie, Italian leather shoes and suitcases. It is not bullet-proof Mercedes or an army of bodyguards. These are just the pretty trappings of leadership, but they do not make a leader and do not attest to his essence. And yet it is the lure of the spotlight that sometimes seems to be the motivating factor for people in influential positions and power itself become the ultimate goal rather than a means to an end. This is most clear from the body language of politicians in television interviews, which more often than not belies the sincerity of any grand declarations that they may make in public.

Watching Hamas politburo chief, Khaled Mashal, in a recent press conference in Cairo left no doubt in my mind that it is the limelight and the hunger for power and control that matters to him most, not the fate of the Palestinian people as he would have everyone believe. Unfortunately, he is not alone; the previous Palestinian ruling party "Fateh" did not act any differently and those at the top of the hierarchy still walk around with the air that the Palestinian cause and the common good are less important than their personal interests, even worse, that the Palestinian cause should serve their interests instead of the other way around. Sure many of them have made personal sacrifices, but the fact that they demand some sort of recompense now for what should be offered voluntarily has diminished respect for them even more. Hamas and Fateh each believe they, and they alone, will deliver us from the evils of the occupation, when it is clear that it is their narrow self-interests that will lead us farther and farther away from a resolution and closer to the brink of collapse.

How then does an ordinary citizen reclaim a drowning nation-building process, watching what was once a promising society sinking deeper and deeper into despair? How do we challenge those in a dysfunctional government in seeing us as more than passive voters, easily manipulated in any way suitable to their purposes? Far more difficult, how do we shake them into realizing that they are part of the problem in order to start finding a solution?

The time is ripe for Palestinian society to reject all forms of factionalism and refocus our attention on the real issues at hand; a creation of an independent Palestinian state, free from Israeli occupation. All segments of Palestinian society need to be part of the solution and should not abdicate power to people who have failed us time and again, especially now when it is obvious that factional rivalries have clouded people's judgment to what is really important. Do we leave those holding the power to continue to disparage the integrity of the Palestinian cause or do we usurp power from under them? If we do not take steps to save ourselves from our own folly, who will? The bigger question that remains is how do we get out of this apathetic, tired mood we are in and make our leadership hear our demands?

Read More ...

By: Joharah Baker for MIFTAH
Date: 20/05/2013
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Date: 13/05/2013
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Date: 06/05/2013

Source: MIFTAH
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