Friday, December 15, 2006

All the problems of the Middle East go back to 1948?

Recently Swiss journalist Pierre Heumann interviewed the editor-in-chief of Al Jazeera, Ahmed Sheikh, a man of Palestinian origin. Here is a short extract from that interview (thanks to Ratna Pelle)

(Ahmed Sheikh:) In many Arab states, the middle class is disappearing. The rich get richer and the poor get still poorer. Look at the schools in Jordan, Egypt or Morocco: You have up to 70 youngsters crammed together in a single classroom. How can teachers do their jobs in such circumstances? The public hospitals are also in a hopeless condition. These are just examples. They show how hopeless the situation is for us in the Middle East.

(Pierre Heumann:) Who is responsible for the situation?

(Sheikh:) The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is one of the most important reasons why these crises and problems continue to simmer. The day when Israel was founded created the basis for our problems. The West should finally come to understand this. Everything would be much calmer if the Palestinians were given their rights.

(Heumann:) Do you mean to say that if Israel did not exist, there would suddenly be democracy in Egypt, that the schools in Morocco would be better, that the public clinics in Jordan would function better?

(Sheikh:) I think so.

(Heumann:) Can you please explain to me what the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has to do with these problems?

(Sheikh:) The Palestinian cause is central for Arab thinking.

(Heumann:) In the end, is it a matter of feelings of self-esteem?

(Sheikh:) Exactly. It's because we always lose to Israel. It gnaws at the people in the Middle East that such a small country as Israel, with only about 7 million inhabitants, can defeat the Arab nation with its 350 million. That hurts our collective ego. The Palestinian problem is in the genes of every Arab. The West's problem is that it does not understand this.

I have seldom read anything quite so fatuous. In the second half of the nineteenth century and the first part of the twentieth, numerous Arab, Turkish, and Iranian reformers bemoaned at length the state of their countries, the backwardness of the people, the despotism of their governments, the sclerotis afflicting every element of their societies, from religion to education to politics to trade to their legal systems. Universally, they expressed wonderment at the extraordinarty progress the infidel nations of Europe had made while the Islamic world basked in an unwarranted belief in its own eternal supremacy. Students and diplomats travelled to Europe and returned home dismayed, and wrote in books and pamphlets of their dismay. They told of how Europeans had parliaments that made laws suitable for social change; of how kings were constrained by constitutions; of how universities transmitted the most modern forms of leaning; of how scientists made daily discoveries concerning the nmatural world and the heavens; how medicine was changing people's health; of how courts handed down justice; and they made a sharp contrast between this dynamism and the sluggishness that had overtaken every inch of their own world. Not only that, but the Europeans were steadily colonizing the lands of Dar al-Islam. The shock at finding such a great disparity was exacerbated by the long-standing conviction that God's will was being carried out through the spread of Islam and would be completed in the eventual dominion of that faith in every corner of the earth. To find that a people utterly despised in the Qur'an and the Traditions, abetted in many places by that most debased of all infidels, the Jews, had advanced so far beyond the Muslims as to make it unlikely the latter would ever catch up or ever surpass the world of unbelief again was a massive blow to the collective ego of Arabs, Iranians, Turks, and the other peoples of the Islamic realm.

The repsonse to this varied. To begin with, secular reformers like Malkum Khan in Iran or the Young Turks within the Ottoman empire argued that Muslims had to break free from the stifling burden of tradition that had been preserved by the religious establishment. With time, new laws were made based on Europen law, schooling was refashioned along Western lines, universities were established and modern disciplines were taught in them, books were translated from French, English, and German, military standards were overhauled by instructors and advisors brought from Europe, constitutions were drafted and in some places adolpted, parliaments were brought into being. As this process got under way, some religious reformers got into the act: men like Jamal al-Din Afghani, Muhammad Abduh, and the latter's disciple Rashid Rida agreed that Islam had fallen behind, but believed that things would only improve when Islam was reformed from within, in the conviction that the Qur'an, the Traditions, and the shari'a still held the answers to men's problems. During the 1920s, Rashid Rida set out a doctrine that would eventually send all this effectively into reverse. 'Abduh had expounded the notion of a return to the ways of the first three generations of Islam, the Salaf, but had seen this in a reformist fashion. Rida turned Salafism (as this movement came to be known) into something stultifying: Muslims had to restrict themselves to the world of the 7th century, had to reject Western ways, and had to revive Islam, not so much to reform it, as to make it greate again by fighting back against Western influences and modern thinking.

There's no need for a history of Salafism here, but it was this style of Islam that started to win followers through organizations like the Muslim Brotherhood and the Mawdudist movement in India and Pakistan, and it was this deeply traditionalist approach that stood waiting in the wings while Arab, Turkish, Iranian and Pakistani nationalisms ran their course. As nationalism, whether through Nasserism in Egypt or the Ba'athist Party in Syria and Iraq or the state-sponsored Aryanism of Pahlavi Iran stumbled and broke down, the Islamists were ready to make their bid for power. How far they have advanced since the Iranian Revolution in 1979 is manifest everywhere today: al-Qa'ida, Hamas, Hizbullah, Tablighi Jamaat, Hizb al-Tahrir, and dozens of other groups, some terrorist, some politically radical exponents of Salafi Islam, have embarked on a last jihad against the West.

In Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states, wealth beyond the dreams of avarice has been squandered on spreading deeply conservative Wahhabi Islam throughout the world, or in building palaces for princes on a scale unprecedented in the history of the world. Politics, education, the law, culture itself have all been boxed inside the restrictive practices of the shari'a. Everywhere else, the Muslim world remains economically, educationally, religiously, and politically behind the rest of the planet. When the oil money runs out, the theocracies and monarchies will still stay be in place, and things will get progressively worse.

What has any of this to do with Israel? Theodore Herzl was a babe when the first glimmerings of Islamic backwardness pierced the clouds of centuries of tradition. Things were already bad back in 1848, one hundred years before the state of Israel came into being. But everywhere you go in the Islamic world, you find the same complaint: put things right in Palestine (i.e. drive out the Jews and create a radical Palestinian state) and suddenly all those problems dating back to the 19th and 18th and 17th and 16th centuries, those years of stagnation and lost enterprise, those centuries of incuriosity about the wider world, that long interregnum during which the glories of the Islamic Middle Ages were allowed to fade into obscurity and lie forgotten — all those problems will go away. Palestine will become a world-class economy, Saudi Arabia will become a world-leader in political and educational freedom, Egypt will build industries to match those of China, Iran will become a haven for political and religious refugees.... And that nasty, filthy, 'shitty little country', Israel, with its Nobel prizes, its world-ranking universities, its vibrant democracy, its tolerance, its dynamic cultural and social life, it respect for human life — that will be gone, and we will all be able to breathe peacefully again. It stands to reason, doesn't it?


Anonymous said...

When you look at the tetragrammaton (YHWH) upside down in the hebrew text why does it resemble the arabic word for god — ALLAH???
You can find the symbol by searching on google for the words “hebrew tetragrammaton”.
Why has the word ALLAH always been used in the arabic bible and not Yahweh/Jehovah??


Open above links to see Hebrew tetragrammaton symbol then view upside down

ﷲ (Arabic)
الله (Arabic)

The 99 Holy Names and Attributes of Allah Almighty:

Al-Ilaah (The Deity)
Ar-Rabb (The Lord)
Al-Waahid (The One)
Al-Ahad (The Singular)
As-Samad (The Self-Sufficient)
Al-Hakeem (The All-wise)
Al-Haleem (The Most Forebearing)
Ar-Rahmaan (The Most Beneficent)
Ar-Raheem (The Most Merciful)
Al-Barr (The Generous)
Al-Kareem (The Kind )
Al-Jawwaad (The Bestower of Good )
Ar-Ra`oof (The Kind )
Al-Wahhaab (The Bestower)
Al-Hameed (The One who is Praised)
Al-Afuww (The Forgiving)
Al-Ghafoor (The Forgiving)
Al-Ghaffaar (The All Forgiving)
At-Tawwaab (The Oft-returning)
Al-Quddoos (The Holly)
As-Salaam (The Peace)
Al-Alee (The High)
al-A`laa (The Highest)
Al-Muta’aal (The Exalted)
Al-Mannaan (The Bestower)
Al-Jabbaar (The Compeller)
Al-Mutakabbir (The Suprime)
Al-Khaaliq (The Creator)
Al-Baari’ (The Originator)
Al-Musawwir (The Shaper)
Al-Mu’min (The giver of Security)
Al-Muhaymin (The Everwaching)
Al-Qadeer (All Powerful,The Able)
Al-Lateef (The Most Subtle,The Kind)
Al-Haseeb (The Reckoner)
Ar-Raqeeb (The All-wacher)
Al-Hafeedh (The Guardian)
Al-Muheet (The Encompassing)
Al-Qahhaar (The Subduer)
Al-Qaahir (The Irresistible)
Al-Muqeet (The Powerful)
Al-Wakeel (The Disposer of Affairs, The One Who is Relied Upon)
Al-Wudood (The Loving)
Al-Fattaah (The Judge, The Opener)
Al-Malik (The King )
Al-Maalik (The Master & Owner )
Alladhee Lahu Al-Mulk
(The One to whome belongs the Dominion)
Ar-Razzaaq (The Provider)
Al-Hakam (The Judge)
Al-Adl (The Just)
Jaami`un Naas (The Gatherer of Mankind)
Al-Hayy (The Living)
Al-Qayyum (The Sustainer)
An-Nur (The Light)
Al-Qaabid (The Taker)
Al-Baasit (The Extender)
Ash-Shaheed (The Witness)
Al-Mubdi` (The Starter)
Al-Mu’eed (The Recaller,The One Who Repeats Creation)
Al-Fa`aalul Limaa Yureed
(The One Who Does What He Wills)
Al-Ghanee (The Self Sufficient, The Rich)
Al-Mughnee (The Sufficient)
Al-Mubeen (The Clear)
Ash-Shaakir (The Recognizer & Rewarder of Good)
Ash-Shakoor (The Appreciative)
Al-Qareeb (The Close)
Al-Mujeeb (The Answerer)
Al-Kaafee (The Sufficient)
Al-Awwal (The First)
Al-Aakhir (The Last)
Adh-Dhaahir (The Manifest)
Al-Baatin (The Inward)
Al-Waasi'` (The Vast)
Al-Haadee (The Director)
Ar-Rasheed (The Guide)
Al-Haqq (The Truth)
Al-Atheem (The Most Magnificent)
Al-Majeed (The Most Glorious)
Al-Kabeer (The Most Great)
As-Samee’ (The All Hearing)
Al-Baseer (The All Seeing)
Al-‘Aleem (The All Knowing)
Al-Khabeer (The All Aware)
Al-Azeez (The Mighty)
Al-Muqtadir (The Omnipotent)
Al-Qawiyy (The Most Powerful)
Al-Mateen (The Most Strong)
Al-‘Afuw (The Oft-Pardoning)
Al-Ghafoor (The Oft-Forgiving)
Al-Ghaffaar (The Most Forgiving)
Badee’us Samaa Wati Wal-Ard ("The Originating Creator" of the Heavens & The Earth)
Al-Kaafi (The Sufficient)
Al-Waasi’ (The Vast, Extending, A Bounding, Far Reaching, All Sufficient)
Al-Jameel (The Beautiful)
Ar-Rafeeq (The Gentle)
Al-Hayee (The Shy)
As-Sitteer (The Coverer)
Al-Qaabid (The Constrictor)
Al-Baasit (The Munificent)
Al-M’utee (The Giver)
Al-Maani` (The Preventer)


Terrorist School Teacher Arrested, as reported first onCNN

NEW YORK- A public school teacher was arrested today at John F. Kennedy
International Airport as he attempted to board a flight while in possession of a ruler, a protractor, a set square, a slide rule and a calculator.

At a morning press conference, Attorney General Alberto Gonzalez said he believes the man is member of the notorious Al-gebra movement. He did not identify the man, who has been charged by the FBI with carrying weapons of mathinstruction.

"Al-gebra is a problem for us," Gonzalez said. "They desire solutions by means and extremes, and sometimes go off on tangents in search of absolute value. They use secret code names like 'x' and 'y' and refer to themselves as 'unknowns', but we have determined they belong to a common denominator of the axis of medieval with coordinates in every country. As the Greek philanderer Isosceles used to say, "There are 3 sides to every triangle."

When asked to comment on the arrest, President Bush said, "If God
had wanted us to have better weapons of math instruction, He would have
given us more fingers and toes."
(MUHAMMAD IN THE BIBLE),,31200-galloway_060806,00.html

Anonymous said...

How apt that Sheik uses the psychological term, "collective ego", that is hurt by their constant defeat in the fanatical attempt to annihilate the Jews and Israel. By looking at this from a psychological perspective the arabic psyche is explicitly showing a psychoanalytic ego defence mechanism of projection in that all the failings of the Moslem world are blamed on the existence of Israel which exasperates them even further by being so successful in all its endeavours compared to their nihilism. Just like the patient undergoing psychoanalysis the Arab world requires many hours of therapy before it can take its place among the enlightened liberal democracies of the world.


Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

Of course there is some nonsense talked. Arabs are not all the same, so it is total rubbish to suggest that Israel offends the Arab sensibility.

And of course, many Arabs will blame Israelis for every problem, no matter whether it is directly caused by them or not.

But given the number of Palestinian refugees in neighbouring countries, it is not an exaggeration to suggest that the whole region has not been affected by 1948. Palestinians in particular see the establishment of Israel as a rights issue - someone else came along and took what did not belong to them. They now see the wealth of Israelis living next to them and are understandably envious. I don't really see that is so difficult to comprehend.

Anonymous said...

Denis - Just discovered your blog. Congratulations. I've added it as a "favourite" on my pc. All best - Anthony

Anonymous said...

The previous comments' simplistic statement that in the establishment of the State of Israel, "someone else came along and took what did not belong to them", is at the core of the misunderstanding of the facts that is being perpetuated by the ignorant.
A common misperception is that all the Jews were forced into the Diaspora by the Romans after the destruction of the Second Temple in Jerusalem in the year 70 CE and then, 1,800 years later, suddenly returned to Palestine demanding their country back. In reality, the Jewish people have maintained ties to their historic homeland for more than 3,700 years.
The Jewish people base their claim to the Land of Israel on at least four premises: 1) the Jewish people settled and developed the land; 2)the international community granted political sovereingty in Palestine to the Jewish people; 3)the territory was captured in defensive wars and 4) G-d promised the land to the patriarch Abraham.
Even after the destruction of the Second Temple in Jerusalem and the beginning of the exile, Jewish life in the Land of Israel continued and often flourished. Large communities were reestablished in Jerusalem and Tiberias by the ninth century. In the 11th century, Jewish communities grew in Rafah , Gaza, Ashkelon, Jaffa and Caesarea.
The Crusaders massacred many Jews during the 12th century, but the community rebounded in the next two centuries as large numbers of rabbis and Jewish pilgrims immigrated to Jerusalem and the Galilee. Prominent rabbis established communities in Safed, Jerusalem and elsewhere during the next 300 years. By the early 19th century - years before the birth of the modern Zionist movement - more than 10,000 Jews lived throughout what is today Israel. The 78 years of nation-building, beginning in 1870, culminated in the reestablishment of the Jewish State.
Israel's international "birth certificate" was validated by Jewish statehood in the Land of Israel in Biblical times; uninterrupted Jewish presence from the time of Joshua onward; the Balfour Declaration of 1917; the League of Nations Mandate, which incorporated the Balfour Declaration; the United Nations partition resolution of 1947; Israels admission to the UN in 1949; the recognition of Israel by most other states; and, most of all, the society created by Israels people in decades of thriving, dynamic national existence.

"Myths and Facts, A Guide to the Arab-Israeli Conflict" by Mitchell G. Bard