Hauwa Gambo: What the world desperately needs now (YNaija FrontPage)

It kind of answers the question as to why, these days, leaders continue to chose easy fame over hard-slog decisions. It explains why, from David Cameron to Jacob Zuma, this generation has the misfortune of being led by (wo)men of straw: leaders who lack core, who know not character.

If you had been paying attention to Israel-Palestine matters from 2000 – 2005, you’d have noticed something: in the clashes between the relentless enemies Palestine and Israel, the death toll stood at, more than 5000 for the former and 1000 for the latter.

But in the past three years, things have changed. They have changed drastically. In that period, this is where the number stands: 311 for Palestine and 20 for Israel.

Something certainly happened – its name is Mahmoud Abbas. The new chairman of the Palestinian National Authority decided that he wasn’t going to win the war for statehood by a series of bombs thrown at its closest “neighbor”, but by reason, morality and common sense.

Slowly, something has changed. Israel might be winning the battle – its temperamental prime minister constantly threatening fire and brimstone over anyone or anything that disagrees ever slightly with his opinions, including the American president – but Abbas is slowly winning something more important: he is winning the argument.

It is not an easy decision. For one, despite his well-received play last year for full membership of the United Nations, his country is no closer to that goal. It is also no closer to ending Israel’s 45-year occupation. His countrymen are now impatient – they are being asked to make self-sacrifices even where they are convinced of their rightness, yet they see the other side having a blast (pun intended): setting mosques ablaze, firing at civilians, continuing constructions in the West Bank despite an agreement to the contrary.

“They think we will respond with terror,” Abbas told TIME this week. “We will disappoint them.”

This is hardly about who is right and who is wrong in the understandable battle for a sense of identity between these two nations. I have always been ready to concede that Israel might be the right party. But sometimes being right and doing the right thing are two very different things.

I look at Abbas and I see a not-praised-enough man who is willing to do the right thing.

To a different degree, he calls to mind Germany’s Angela Merkel, that ultra-confident symbol who has chosen to be a leader rather than an international darling to save a EuroZone that is about to collapse. Her message should be a winner – don’t spend what you don’t have, don’t borrow more until you pay what you owe, clean up your own mess.

Instead, she is hated across Europe and the world, and caricatured in the media as the next Devil’s Incarnate since the world had Margaret Thatcher.

Like her, Abbas has chosen to be a leader rather than a popular hero to win a victory for his people that will outlive his generation. It is a long-term approach that has even gone so far as to win the conversion of a section of the violent Hamas, when its leader Khaled Mesgaal formally endorsed his approach – to negotiate with Israel and to follow a new tradition of non-violent resistance.

But when the 5 outdated sages of Oslo met this year to award the Nobel Peace Prize, guess who they gave it to? The European Union – a now ambivalent collection of angry countries whose leaders, from Greece to France have sacrificed making the hard, right decisions on the altar of winning elections.

Lord have mercy!

Think of what a right-thinking Nobel Committee could have done in acknowledging Abbas’ sustained, firm leadership: it would have giving moral authority to a man whose transparent wish is peace as the United Nations General Assembly votes on its application for non-member status on November 29.

These were the same set of people who awarded that prize in 2009 to a man whose only significant accomplishment was winning the presidential election of his country barely a year before.

It kind of answers the question as to why, these days, leaders continue to chose easy fame over hard-slog decisions. It explains why, from David Cameron to Jacob Zuma, this generation has the misfortune of being led by (wo)men of straw: leaders who lack core, who know not character.

Indeed, if there is one thing the Nobel Prize proved in the past week – it’s that our world has gone to the dogs.

Let’s not even talk about Nigeria – or I start weeping.

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Op-ed pieces and contributions are the opinions of the writers only and do not represent the opinions of Y!/YNaija.

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