Monday, February 27, 2006
Checkpoints to make life hard - Lina's Angel Dorothy tells us more
Dear, dear Friends,
One last message before shutting down this email address for 5 weeks.
Today Lina had an appointment for a follow-up at Hadassah hospital Ein Karem. Spouse and I drove to Kief el-Hares to collect her and her parents for the drive to the hospital.
We had a super day, as far as concerns Lina. The surgeons are very pleased with her progress, so much so that they decided that this would be her final visit with them, and that she should graduate to follow-ups with a pediatric nephrologist.
The appointment with the nephrologist was arranged quickly, thanks to the transplant unit’s one-of-a-kind marvelous coordinator, Hani Steinberg. Additionally, the gentleman who has offered to fill in for me in driving the family, also came to meet us at the hospital. He seems to be a very fine person, with a genuine desire to see to it that the family is not left unattended. This was very important for me, because although Lina is doing very well, she is far from being out of danger. Her immune system remains very low due to medications that she is taking, so that going to the hospital by public transport is not advisable. Moreover, the doctor and Hani both reminded Fareed and Amina that should Lina have even the slightest fever, they must contact the surgeons immediately (who will advise in such an event).
But Lina, who will be 4 years old on March 26, knows nothing of such matters, and is a happy and vivacious little girl. Such a contrast to the thin, weak child that she was prior to the transplant.
We capped the several hours at the hospital with lunch on the way home, at a restaurant in Abu Gosh. A real treat.
All in all, a very satisfying day, from the standpoint of our day with Lina and her parents.
But it was far from a perfect day.
On the way to the hospital, we experienced the new checkpoint ordinance that decrees that Palestinians (even with permits to enter Israel) are prohibited from entering Israel except at checkpoints designated for Palestinians (some 11 across the West Bank and the Jerusalem ‘envelope’). We adults all knew that we might encounter one of the ‘for-Israelis-only’ checkpoints, but wanted to see what would happen. The new edict decrees that Israelis and Palestinians must use separate (and by no means equal) checkpoints to enter Israel from the OPTs. And this is true, even if the Palestinians are being transported by Israelis in cars with yellow (Israeli) license plates. Israelis can apparently use also the checkpoints designated for Palestinians, at least when transporting them, but Palestinians cannot use checkpoints designated for Israelis.
The first indication that we would come face to face with the regulation was a new sign just before the checkpoint advising us that this was an Israeli-only checkpoint. The sign is in Hebrew and Arabic only, which is unusual, since all other signs on Road 5 are also in English. The sign first welcomes travelers to the Trans-Samariya crossing. The next line advises that the crossing is restricted to Israelis only, and is prohibited to all who are not Israelis, including persons being transported. The sign then defines "Israelis" not only as citizens or residents of the state, but also as tourists or anyone entitled to immigrate to Israel under the Law of Return. In other words, Palestinians are the only excluded—excluded from using roads in Palestine, excluded from entering Israel through checkpoints designated for Israelis and everyone else, except for Palestinians.
After photographing the sign, we then proceeded to the checkpoint. I have passed through this checkpoint dozens and dozens of times over the past few years with Amina and other Palestinians in the car. Usually I have not been stopped. The soldiers look at me, an elderly occidental lady, and wave me on, without paying much attention to whom is sitting next to me or in the back of the car. Today, even though we were 2 elderly occidentals in the front—myself and spouse—the soldier scanned the whole car, then asked for IDs, and then informed us that Palestinians could not cross, and that we would have to turn around and go back miles and miles out of our way to cross into Israel.
In our case, all ended well. The soldier was a decent sort. After he heard our story and that we were headed to Hadassah Ein Karem hospital, he said he’d try to help. This involved his phoning the DCO (District Coordinating Officer) and getting permission to let us through, as an exception. The soldier informed us that if the DCO refused, we’d have to go the round-about way. After about ½ an hour, permission was granted. But this was a one-time thing. And the fact that we got through today does not make the policy right.
In addition to the checkpoint, new apartheid measures are cropping up almost daily in the Salfit area of the West Bank—fences fences and more fences, for one. Sniper towers, for another. And the latest addition is gates at the entrances to villages, gates that soldiers can close at will. Moreover, some villages that previously had 2 or 3 entrances, have had all but one blocked, which means that a person living at the end of the village where access has been shut off might have to travel kilometers to exit his/her village. APARTHEID is clearly increasing, as are signs of Israel’s non-intention to return any of the West Bank to the Palestinians.
But making life difficult and miserable for Palestinians is not the way to happiness for them nor security for Israelis. As Fareed forlornly remarked today, all this pressure on the Palestinians will in the next elections drive them to vote for Alqaeda.
Sunday, February 26, 2006
Nahida Izzat - Why defend God and Islam? And Why now?
It is the winning of the religious Islamic party Hamas in the Palestinian elections that actually prompted this dialogue; it all started with my response to my dear friend Greg’s response to an article I sent to him.
Gradually, I felt the need to shed some light on certain issues. Hence I felt the urge to start writing.
I will try to focus on issues within Islam that I believe are seriously misunderstood by non-Muslims. Some of these issues have surfaced through the apparent understandable anxiety of my dear atheist friends in their initial reaction to Hamas’s victory.
But before I start defending Islam or talking about God; please don’t ever think that I am trying to preach or convert anyone here. I really don’t like preaching or moralising, as I am absolutely terrified of saying things and failing to live up to them. Also I am petrified of the deadly disease “I am right and all others are wrong”… (I mean…arrogance) creeping in causing a real downfall of morality and forming a barrier to understanding.
Therefore I welcome with an open heart all responses and criticisms to my letter, as this will only help me understand and appreciate the views of others. Also at this point I’d like to ask you to persevere with me as I appreciate that the topic that I’m discussing might not be one of your favourites!
Here and now, I just am, I try to live what I believe; however, when my faith is misunderstood I feel the need to try to clarify it, because my faith (like many Muslims) means everything to me. Simply and frankly my faith is my only reason for….being. Otherwise I would have been gone long ago.
(Even though- I have to admit- deep down in the bottom of my soul I’d like everyone to experience and enjoy the feeling of closeness to God; purely because there is nothing, no joy, no happiness, no pleasure that can be compared to it. It’s really the ultimate bliss … it is heaven). But anyway that is not why I am writing. I will start by explaining the core of the Islamic faith, by that I mean the belief in God. And here, I am going to draw on my own personal experience just to give you a taste of the magnitude and importance of the concept of God in the Islamic society.
I started asking questions and thinking about the world and later on about my very own existence, and about God, at a very young age. As a toddler I was fascinated by my surroundings, the trees, birds, flowers, people, but more so the sky, how vast! How beautiful! How perfect! It was always urging me to look at it, at first to admire and then to question.
As I grew older my fascination grew deeper, I started to look for meanings and explanations, trying to make sense of what’s around me. “What is all this? … Why is all this? … Who am I? ... Do I really exist? … How and why can I comprehend the fact that I exist? …. Why am I here? … What is the purpose of my life?”
Endless questions burned in my little head.
I thought and contemplated for many years; and while many of my friends were playing I used to be drawn into this world of mine searching for meanings and answers. The only valid explanation for me was that there must be a perfect designer, a mastermind, an intelligent power behind all. If anything is to have any meaning at all; this was the only conclusion that I always arrived at. Later on, and as I went through certain experiences I came to feel God in the real sense. God was as real -if not more- than my own reality.
If faith and the concept of God provides a logical explanation to my existence, and if it helps me understand myself and the world around me in a rational manner, if it can give me a sense of fulfilment, contentment and satisfaction, if it enables me to survive adversities of life with minimum trauma and more patience, grace and sanity, if it fills my soul with love, joy, peace and tranquillity, if it makes life more fun, more enjoyable and my experiences more real and intense; then how and why should I complain?
After all, there is nothing to lose and everything to gain.
As far as I know, no one can prove that God does not exist, logically, there is a possibility no matter how slim -or huge- that there is a God, if that is the case; I through my faith would have lived a happier life and most likely a happier after-life.
It’s a win-win situation! My logic concluded.
As a teenager I started looking into different religions, I read about all major religions and for a while I was attracted to many concepts of Buddhism, but Islam appealed to my reason and intellect more. It made more sense because of the utter simplicity, clarity, and its ability to unite the seemingly contradictory concepts such as: faith and knowledge, mind and soul, science and religion, material and spiritual, logic and emotion, political and moral, economic and ethical. Everything just blends so effortlessly, smoothly and beautifully.
Moving from the personal to the general, many young people in Islamic and non-Islamic societies go through similar experiences, those who embark on the path of searching for God, or start a journey of hunting for meanings of their lives find in Islam a revolutionary way of thinking. It demands a reformed way of living and working for a better world, an ideal world.
The emphases on equality, liberation, and social justice are also landmarks that can’t be missed by the seeker. Hence faith becomes inseparable from the daily life of Muslims. Faith is life.
We surrender to the sword of Islam; that irresistible, most tender sword that strikes the mind, invades the heart, and captures the soul.
That’s maybe why Islam-despite the very negative publicity- is still the fastest growing religion in the world.
God is central:
Is it not only reasonable then to assume that secular ideology might not fulfil the needs of a deeply religious society; God lies at the core of the society of faith, while denying God is an essential part of the secular.
Most socio-dynamics in an Islamic society stems from that belief; starting with God-man relationship, ending with man-nature relationship, including all what is in-between, i.e. the boundaries of personal freedoms, and extents of responsibilities in the man-man relationship.
That is not to say that it is a rigid society; on the contrary, in fact flexibility and ongoing debates to advance understanding and tolerance are well noticeable characteristics within those societies. There is no hierarchy system in Islam so that it allows every knowledgeable, educated Muslim to become part of and to openly contribute to these ongoing debates.
Another very important point here is the fact that within Islam there are main beliefs and ethics that all Muslims agree with such as belief in God, equality, justice for all, and brotherhood of mankind, also there are differences that stem from man’s understanding, interpretation and adoption of ideas that are deemed to be of less importance, and that can be employed in specific cultures for their own specific needs.
It’s very important to notice here that many cultural practices might be the cause of wrongly condemning Islam, yet Islam’s teachings might oppose explicitly these practices. What comes to mind here is the example of forced marriage in the Pakistani culture that is in total contradiction with the most explicit teaching of Islam.
Religion and the state:
It might be true that if a religious ideology actually takes state power it can lead to corruption and abuse, but that’s not unique to religious ideologies alone; It also includes secular ideologies, communist ideologies, and most obvious capitalist ideology…etc. We all remember the Soviet Union and the persecution of all religious minorities; secular France and the ill treatment of its ethnic minorities…etc. It is presumptuous to say that if a religious ideology takes state power that it will inevitably oppress and dominate with dictatorship and violence. Any leadership, regardless of ethnic or religious ideologies, can fall victim to the corrupting force of power. Why is there a need to single out religious ideologies as the factor most likely to lead to corruption and dictatorship?
Some people might give the example of Israel as a proof of the corruption and immorality of religious states. Israel is truly a state for Jews but I am not sure at all that it’s a religious state, there are religious political parties but as I understand it they are a minority, the vast majority of Jewish people in “Israel” are non-religious, secular, and atheists (according to their own research).
Also when Zionists abuse the fact that Jewish people are entrusted with a great message to all mankind and use it for their own self-interest, it’s not the fault of the message, the messenger nor the faith that they should become selfish, arrogant, greedy and exclusive that they want the land only for themselves.
When some Christians use the pure message of love taught by Jesus (peace be upon him) to justify the crusades or the invasion of Iraq or Iran, it’s hardly the fault of Jesus is it?
Muslims behaving badly:
Coming back to Islam, when Osama Bin Laden for example uses the Quran’s permission of self defence, to justify his deeds, and his hatred for Western hypocrisy and injustice, its surely not the fault of the Quran where in it there are indeed verses that talk about self defence, but very clearly and undoubtedly emphasizing that we should never aggress or transgress.
"O believers, be you guardians of justice, witness for God. Let not your dislike for a people move you away from being equitable; be equitable - that is nearer to being God-conscious." (5:8)
“To those against whom war is made, permission is given (to fight back), because they are wronged; and verily, God is most powerful for their aid; (They are) those who have been expelled from their homes in defiance of right, (for no cause) except that they say, our Lord is God”. (22:39-40)
"God commands justice, the doing of good, and liberality to kith and kin, and He forbids all shameful deeds, and injustice and antagonism: He instructs you, that ye may be reminded.” (16-90)
"No soul shall be made to bear the burden of another." (35:18)
“The recompense for an injury is an injury equal thereto (in degree): but if a person forgives and makes reconciliation, his reward is due from God; for ((God)) loveth not those who are wrong-doers”. (42:40)
"Fight in the cause of God against those who fight you, but do not initiate aggression. God does not love transgressors." (2.190)
"If they seek peace, then seek you peace. And trust in God for He is the One that heareth and knoweth all things." (8.61)
“Ye who believe! Stand out firmly for justice, as witnesses to God, even as against yourselves, or your parents, or your kin, and whether it be (against) rich or poor: for God can best protect both. Follow not the desires (of your hearts), lest ye swerve, and if ye distort (justice) or decline to do justice, verily God is well-acquainted with all that ye do. Thus, have We made of you a nation justly balanced, that ye might be witnesses over the nations, and the Messenger a witness over yourselves.” (2-143)
“Show forgiveness, speak for justice and avoid the ignorant.” (7:199)
“It may well be that God will bring about love (and friendship) between you and those with whom you are now at odds.” (60:7)
Prophet Muhammad, Peace be upon him, once famously declared "Verily I was sent to this World to define (and live by) the Generous Temperament." According to him, the codes of Generous Temperament (makarem elakhlaq) are seven: “Pardoning those who have oppressed you, Giving to those who have deprived you, Connecting with those who have shunned you, Benefiting those who have abused you, Counselling those who have deceived you, Forgiving those who have maligned you, Forbearing with those who have angered you.”
The root of the word Islam is Salam, which is one of the Holy Names of God. Salam is Arabic for Peace. The meaning of the word Islam is beautiful as Islam is Arabic for bring into Peace.
The word Salam is used for greeting others. Saying "as'Salam alaikum" to someone means "Peace be upon you!" When a Muslim greets another person with "Peace be upon you," the greeter is in fact proclaiming a contract of Peace with the other person. Hence, if the greeter has non-peaceful intentions towards the other person, he would be engaging in hypocrisy, which is one of the Major Sins in Islam!
When a Muslim greets another Muslim person with "as'Salam alaykum," it becomes obligatory for the other person to respond to the greeter and complete the contract with "wa'alaikum as'Salam," which is Arabic for "and upon you may Peace be."
Based on the teaching of Muhammad, the practice of Islam, the Religion of Peace, revolves primarily around the codes of the Generous and Benevolent Temperament. Applying the codes of the Generous Temperament is called in Arabic -Jihad al-Akbar (Higher Struggle) -which is the Major Struggle in the never ending inner war against one’s arrogance, greed, and selfishness.
It’s not the fault of the teaching when some people’s minds are poisoned with feelings of injustice, humility, and helplessness that lead them to inflect harm upon others. It’s not the ideology that drives people to do wrong; rather it’s their limited, imperfect interpretation that is tainted with their personal experiences, psychological tendencies, circumstances and human flaws and imperfections.
But in all honesty and from my experience working with secular people as yourselves (I’m referring here to my friends members of Liverpool Friends of Palestine) I found in all of you a God-centre-ness that is lacking in many people of faith. By that I mean within you my dear wonderful friends - that I grew to admire and love so much - there is a noble driving force towards justice equality and perfection, there shines within you a desire to establish an utopian society, a thirst for the ideal ultimate good; and from my humble perception I can only see the divine within you even though you might not recognise it and even deny it.
By the divine within you I mean: In Islam man is created in the image of God (not at all in the physical sense, as God is Unique, and there is nothing like unto Him/Her as God has no gender, God is above all our perceptions). It means that our innate nature is modelled to long and desire to live by God’s attributes and characteristics, to long for perfection for God is Perfection. To long for justice; for God is Justice. To long for love; as God is Love. To long for peace; for God is Peace…etc. So your innate nature is so pure, unspoiled, and well-preserved that you are yearning and working to live by those Godly attributes.
Democracy and Freedom of choice:
Back to the Palestinian issue, if the world’s support for human rights in Palestine is conditional and dependent on the Palestinians denouncing their religion and ideological beliefs, cultural heritage, and social traditions and adopting a new set of beliefs, alien values and social behaviours that matches what it deems acceptable (i.e. extramarital relationships, homosexuality, prostitutes, etc…); that means the world is denying them a most basic human right, the right to think, and live within a chosen ethical code.
We have to come to common grounds of accepting that each culture and civilization has its own unique structure that depends very much on a huge heritage and millennia of accumulated experiences, understanding this and respecting it is vital for the future peaceful existence of human race. Trying to standardise and sum up humanity in the form of Western civilisation is a grave mistake. We can’t simply assume that what is good and right for western culture is the norm, nor we can accept that it is superior to that of other cultures, and for me this is a BASIC HUMAN RIGHT.
So please don’t panic if the whole of the Muslim world choses at any point in the future to live by its Islamic values.
"And their affairs are (conducted) through consultation among themselves." (42:38)
You can start panicking if they start treating people with injustice and began oppressing and abusing their power; in that eventuality I’ll be panicking with you and campaigning with you to stop the injustice and oppression; as it’s a well known Islamic principal that it is better to live under a JUST NON-ISLAMIC GOV. or leadership than living under a corrupt Islamic one.
Please remember that what might seem to the outsider as restrictive in our Islamic culture is viewed from within as constructive and that’s simply because we have the family’s best interest at the heart of society, and we put it before the individual, without ignoring the rights of the individual. Our society is not the sum of the individuals, rather it’s a very strong network of families and extended families, the result is very well-bonded social fabric. We also see that we are all born free but our freedom ends where and when the freedom of the other starts. If we choose freely to have some restriction upon ourselves (like modest dress code, abstinence from consuming alcohol or self-discipline in sexual behaviour) in order to have better human relationships what harm is there in that? Islamic society is not a selfish one.
Freedom of speech: Another aspect that might worry you is “freedom of speech and expression”. Again I can reassure you that it is granted through Islamic teachings, but it should not be abused as it is in some places, if freedom of speech will bring lies, slander or insults to create a society where rudeness is celebrated, lies are acceptable, and harassment is tolerable, then I can tell you now that it’s a freedom not welcomed by Muslims. We appreciate all forms of freedom of speech and expression as long as it does not transgress over the freedom of the other and within the framework of intellectual debates and honest research of truth and mutual respect of all.
Privacy is protected:
"Do not enter any houses unless you are sure of their occupant's consent.” (24:27)
“O ye who believe! Let not some men among you make fun of others: It may be that the (latter) are better than the (former): Nor let some women make fun of others: It may be that the (latter are better than the (former): Nor defame nor be sarcastic to each other, nor call each other by (offensive) nicknames: Ill-seeming is a name connoting wickedness, (to be used of one) after he has believed: And those who do not desist are (indeed) doing wrong.” (49:11)
“O ye who believe! Avoid suspicion as much (as possible): for suspicion in some cases is a sin: And spy not on each, nor speak ill of each other behind their backs. Would any of you like to eat the flesh of his dead brother? Nay, ye would abhor it...But be God-conscious. For God is Oft-Returning, Most Merciful.” (49:12)
“O ye, who believe! If a wicked person comes to you with any news, ascertain the truth, lest ye harm people unwittingly and afterwards become full of repentance for what ye have done.” (49:6)
In summary: “O ye, who believe, do not let one (set of) people make fun of another set. Do not defame one another. Do not insult by using nicknames. Do not spy on one another. Do not backbite or speak ill of one another." (49:11-12)
Minorities: In our Islamic heritage we have so much to ensure the rights of all minority groups; it’s a matter of uncovering, reclaiming and reactivating that legacy that has been frozen for many centuries.
In a Muslim society the minority groups are referred to as ahl eldhimmeh, a foreigner living in a Muslim land is called: dhimmi which means in Arabic the protected: under my dhimmeh, means under my protection that might give us a gesture of the importance of protecting and looking after minorities in a Muslim society.
A well-known saying of the prophet “Who ever harms a dhimmi harms me personally.”
I have to point out that one of the major concepts in Islam is that there is “no compulsion in religion or ideology” (2:256). And remember that throughout history, minorities of all ethnic, religious, and ideological background have lived peacefully in Muslim lands enjoying full rights and responsibilities. A glaring example is the Christian community living in Palestine for centuries with full rights. The keys of the Church of Resurrection are still entrusted to a Muslim family who look after the church. That was the Christian’s choice to reduce the tension between different Christian sects.
"O mankind! We created you from a single soul, male and female, and made you into nations and tribes, so that you may come to know one another. Truly, the most honoured of you in God’s sight is the greatest of you in piety. God is All-Knowing, All-Aware." (49.13)
Much of the unnatural hostility that we see in the news today stems from yet again the frustration of many ignorant young Muslims who are aggravated by the injustice inflected upon their brothers and sisters by the west in many parts of the world.
Economy, between socialism and capitalism: According to Muslim economists, Islam offers a highly developed system of wealth distribution that if applied can potentially eliminate poverty and prevent the accumulation of wealth in the hands of a few, yet it doesn’t deprive the individual from attaining some rewards for his/her creativity and hard work. It strikes the balance between selfish capitalism and unrealistic altruistic communism. Having the financial world wrapped in ethical and moral practices bridges the gap between the rich and the poor, and leads to a more just and stable society. Also it’s a system that has at its core the concept of zero interest.
“God will deprive usury of all blessing, but will give increase for deeds of charity: For He loveth not creatures ungrateful and wicked. Those who believe, and do deeds of righteousness, and establish regular prayers and regular charity, will have their reward with their Lord: on them shall be no fear, nor shall they grieve. O ye who believe! Be God-conscious, and give up what remains of your demand for usury, if ye are indeed believers.” (2: 276-278)
"And from within their wealth there is acknowledged right for the needy and the destitute." (51:19)
“If the debtor is in a difficulty, grant him time till it is easy for him to repay. But if ye remit it by way of charity, that is best for you if ye only knew." (2:280)
“Woe to those that deal in fraud, Those who, when they have to receive by measure from men, exact full measure, But when they have to give by measure or weight to men, give less than due. Do they not think that they will be called to account?” (83:1-4)
The Prophet has said:
"He is not a believer who eats his fill when his neighbour beside him is hungry"; and: "He does not believe whose neighbours are not safe from his injurious conduct."
Why don’t we see this happening now in Islamic societies? It is not happening because we don’t really have a proper Islamic society. What we have are puppet governments that have no interest in applying Islam, because their interests will be severely jeopardised if Islamic principals are to be applied. And as a whole, Muslim societies generally speaking make most of the “developed” world that was and still is the battlefield of the capitalist imperialist world. Also illiteracy is still very high in those countries, and understanding and living by Islam is not possible with lack of knowledge. That also might explain the lack of practice of Islamic principles in many Muslim societies and the absence of various original values in the daily life of many Muslims today. Despite that fact there is still so much intuitive genuine love and admiration for Islamic principals and for its prophet and teacher Muhammed even in those societies.
Women’s issues: If your worry is about discrimination against women under Islamic societies, and the anticipation that women will be forced to cover their heads or will be prevented from driving; we ought to be far more worried and in fact alarmed by Secular France’s real actions when forcing Muslim women to take their head scarves off or be banned from work and education. I wonder which of these cases deserves our attention. And which of the two cases requires our campaign to protect the human rights and freedom of choice of women?
Freedoms and equality are not necessarily granted under secular regimes: Secular Tunisia, France, and Turkey all prohibit Muslim women from exercising their freedom of choosing to wear a head cover in work places, schools and universities.Islam clearly values and protects women’s rights, if you’re still not sure, some research might be worth doing. And please do not rely in your research about Islam solely on the media, because just as they have given a one-sided view on the Palestinian-Israeli problem, they give – to a greater extent – a misinformed view on Islam. (Remember to include Muslim women’s views in your request for truth).
“Whoever works righteousness, man or woman, and has Faith, verily, to him will We give a new Life, a life that is good and pure and We will bestow on such their reward according to the best of their actions”. (16-97)
When talking about women’s rights, again we – Muslims - must be allowed to deal with the ills of our societies in our own way, own time, and through our own research; all we need is time to transfer the inherited fundamental values into the realm of understanding and then practice. No one should try to impose any pre-tried solutions upon us, because your problems are different, your history is different, your present is different, and your attitudes are different…
Women in Europe needed to rebel and go through their feminists’ struggle to gain some rights and some freedoms, that doesn’t imply that we should take a carbon copy of their experience and transfer it to the rest of the world.
We have a different history and different reality; at the time of the peak of oppression of women in Europe; Muslim women were prominent figures of society, scholars teaching in major mosques and universities, doctors, poets…etc.
We appreciate that - like all societies - we have problems, some small and some big; how we choose to resolve these problems however should be entirely ours, it should not be forced upon us.
The relationship between western feminists and fellow men is one of competitiveness and confrontation, not in our society though… we like to deal with men in a less aggressive way, and we see them as companions, brothers, husbands, and friends. When they transgress we like to be more wise and gentle in bringing them back to their senses.
Western feminists in the past tried solving their problems through the approach that the only way to be equal to men is to be like men, act like a man, dress like a man; from our perspective this is the big downfall of the feminists in the west. They couldn’t hold on to their own femininity in their struggle, without realizing that by doing so they were saying that men are better.
It has been pointed out to me however that many feminists today do not hold the above views as a way of women’s liberation, and that they realise that they don’t need to change at all as women, because they don’t have a problem (good for them). It is men who have the problem. That might be true, but again from an Islamic perspective men and women are humans, both have the vulnerability of falling prey to inflicting injustice, and mistreating of each other, man may be to a greater extent (because he is physically stronger - but not necessarily emotionally, intellectually, or spiritually – stronger).
If one party is guilty of injustice we can find a means of solving the conflict through education and dialogue. The main idea is that we are not enemies of men, we are their complementary partners and twin-halves.
“The Believers, men and women, are protectors one of another: they enjoin what is just, and forbid what is evil: they observe regular prayers, practise regular charity, and obey God and His Messenger. On them will God pour His mercy: for God is Exalted in power, Wise.” (9:71)
“If any do deeds of righteousness, be they male or female - and have faith, they will enter Heaven, and not the least injustice will be done to them.” ( 3-124)
“Then shall anyone who has done an atom's weight of good, see it! And anyone who has done an atom's weight of evil, shall see it.”(99:7-8)
“It is He Who created you from a single soul, and made its mate of like nature, in order that he might dwell with her (in love).” (7:189)
“For Muslim men and women, for believing men and women, for devout men and women, for truthful men and women, for men and women who are patient and constant, for men and women who humble themselves, for men and women who give in Charity, for men and women who fast (and deny themselves), for men and women who guard their chastity, and for men and women who engage much in God’s praise; for them has God prepared forgiveness and great reward.” (33:35)
Please note, the numbers after some quotations are their correspondence verses from the Qur’an.
Beyond the veil
My modest dress that you see
As a sign of oppression
Is for me the symbol of ultimate liberation
It urges you to look beyond the veil
To peel the skin
To peep through the physical
The limited… the confined
Straight into the essence
The infinite … the boundless
It’s a glaring statement
I am more than just a body
I am a mind… a heart… and a soul
Don’t just stop there
At the door… come in
Get to know me
For what I really am
It gives me contentment
And great satisfaction
With my femininity
It gives me dignity
As I refuse to be portrayed
As a sex object
It gives me privacy and protection
From all undesired attention
For my intimacy I only share
With the one I love
Does that make any sense to you?
You might or might not see this (below) as relevant to what we are talking about but I think it is relevant:
Anarchism can coexist beautifully along with supreme order, and that’s actually what’s happening in the model of the universe, beneath all the apparent chaos that we see there are mathematical laws that govern all.
The universe is built upon two major concepts:
Balance and harmony and that translate in human terms as justice and peace.
Symmetry and repetition don’t exist in the universe, heterogeneous societies and unique beings are the equivalent of that in human life.
The second law of thermodynamics, energy moves in one direction, so should wealth in human civilisation.
Just like the cosmos from the smallest of its particles to the largest, we can only experience absolute freedom only when living in utter surrender.
Beauty is an original quality of the universe, morality and kind deeds are the translation in human language.
The continuous eternal dance of subatomic particles between existence and annihilation resembles our experience of nearness and remoteness from The One Most Loving.
The motivator of all movement and action in both the universe and human life, and what lies at the core and essence of both is pure unconditional love.
With all my love Nahida
Nahida Izzat was born in a village northwest of Jerusalem (Beit Exa). She became a refugee during the Six Day War in 1967 and currently lives with her husband and three children in England. She has a university degree in Mathematics.
Gilad Atzmon - Re-Arranging the 20th Century part 2: Deceptive Cadence
Though there is a clear tendency amongst some major Western institutes to impose the personal as a political message all in the name of liberty and humanism, it is rather crucial to mention that this very political apparatus achieves exactly the opposite effect. Politically, it silences the very personal.
Once the personal becomes political, the singular voice loses its importance and authenticity disappears. Once a society willingly endorses discourse based on a ‘correct’ collective empathy, first, the so-called ‘empathy’ is reduced into a mere ‘call’ rather than a vivid sensation, but most importantly, the voice of the genuine sufferer fades into the void.
In other words, within the Western liberal apparatus the singular voice often gets lost. If humanism is indeed a universal value, then the particular and singular becomes a public asset, the victim serves an instrumental role, he conveys a universal message. Once the personal becomes political, morality becomes a private-like discourse of righteousness. Rather than a general ethical abstract rule grounded on a true reflection, we would start to hear some ad hoc, self-centred and half-baked moral arguments. This may explain why rather occasionally, yesterday’s victims turn into today’s oppressors. For instance, it may explain why it didn’t take the Jewish State more than three years after the liberation of Auschwitz to ethnically cleanse 85% of the Palestinian indigenous population. Seemingly, the Jewish State has never matured enough to ethically endorse the moral lesson of the Holocaust. The reason is simple: as far as Israel is concerned, the Holocaust has never been realised as a general abstract ethical insight. Instead, it was grasped solely from a collective Judeo-centric perspective. The personal pain was properly politicised. A humanist would expect that young Israeli high school students who visit Auschwitz and confront their ancestors’ suffering would tend to empathise with the plight of the oppressed, and would identify with the Palestinians who are caged behind walls and starved to death at the hands of a nationalist racist regime seeking Lebensraum. Indeed the truth is shocking, less than a year after their visit to Auschwitz those same Israeli youngsters join the IDF, outwardly, they learned their political lesson in Auschwitz. Rather than taking the side of the oppressed i.e., Palestinians, they apparently willingly endorse some SS Einsatzgruppen tactics.
Deir Yassin, a few hundred metres away from Yad Vashem's imposing monument
But it isn’t only the Palestinians who happen to suffer from the politicisation and industrialisation of the Holocaust personal narrative. Once the Holocaust had become ‘the new Jewish religion’, it was the real, genuine victim who was robbed of his own intimate personal biography. The very private disastrous narrative has now become collective Jewish property. The real singular Holocaust survivor, the one who lived the horror, has been robbed of his very personal life experience. Similarly, within the extremist militant feminist view, which refers rapist qualities to the entire male gender, the genuine female rape victim is losing her voice. She is fading into the mass. Within the radical feminist political discourse the rape victim isn’t special at all: if all men are rapists, all women are victims.
Finkelstein’s ‘Holocaust Industry’ teaches us that once world Jewry adopted the Holocaust as its new institutional communal bond, the Holocaust was rapidly transformed into an industrial affair. The real victims were left behind. The funds and reparation money that were allocated for their recovery and the restoration of their very human dignity one way or another found its way to some Zionist and Jewish organizations. Somehow, this makes a lot of sense. Once the personal Holocaust narrative has become a collective political faith, almost everyone is entitled to be an ordinary disciple or even a priest. Consequently, we are now entitled to deduce that within the politicisation of the personal narrative, no one is left to own a biography. We are left with a collective ecstasies mindset that draws its power from a set of communally shared floating personal accounts.
Going along with the hermeneutic line of thought we may conclude that the political becomes personal.
The Political is Personal, The Crucial Role of Jewish Neurosis
The bizarre emergence of the so-called Israeli ‘3rd generation’, young Holocaust post- traumatic Israelis, is exactly that. It is a form of a new collective religious worshiping. To be a 3rd generation is to join a belief system. To be personally traumatised by a past one has never entertained. It is to assimilate within a heavily orchestrated political precept. In fact, the 3rd generation are locked within a vicious trap that leads towards total alienation: the more those young Israelis who were born a few decades after the end of the last great war claim to be traumatized by the Nazis, the less the rest of humanity can take them seriously. The less they are taken seriously, the more those young Israelis feel deprived of minimal human dignity and respect. The more they are deprived, the more they are fixated onto their new politically imposed notion of trauma.
In a way, this is exactly the path towards religious isolation. The so-called ‘3rd generation’ are entangled within a narrative that leads towards a form of total alienation, a clear detachment from any recognised human cultural environment or reality. It is the religious zeal i.e., trauma, that shapes that reality. One would expect that this form of collective neurosis would mature into a cultural separation wall between Jews and others. Surprisingly enough, not only did this not happen, if anything, it is the other way around. The Jewish discourse is integrated as a central part of Western consciousness. While some Jews would insist upon liberating themselves from the Holocaust burden that imposed a clear stain of hopeless impotence on their collective identity, the Western political system needs the Holocaust and the Jews to be the carrier of its narrative. Furthermore, the West needs the Jewish neurosis. It is the myth-like shaped narrative that facilitates the political and the commercial hegemony in a world that loses its contact with any genuine abstract categorical ethical thinking. The Holocaust is taking the shape of a belief system and the traumatised Jews are serving as its altar.
From a Western perspective, the Jews have an instrumental role in maintaining the liberal fundaments filling it with some devastating vivid poetic expressionism. This may explain why Holocaust denial laws are imposed in several countries, especially in countries where Zionist and Jewish lobbies’ influence is relatively minor. The Israeli scholar Yeshayahu Leibovitch, himself an observant Jew, noticed many years ago that the Jewish religion is dead, and that the Holocaust is the new religion uniting Jews around the world. I am inclined to agree that the Holocaust is now shaped as a religion. It is there to replace an anthropocentric ethical thinking. The Holocaust religion is there to rob the Western being of genuine ethical humanist thinking all in the name of humanism.
The emergence and the evolution of the Holocaust belief system is the subject I will try to explore next.
The Scientific, the Technological and the Religious
I would like now to look at the evolvement of three major 20th century Western discourses: the scientific, the technological and the religious.
The scientific discourse can be defined as a highly structured form of ‘knowledge seeking’. Within the scientific worldview, man confronts nature and tries to get to the bottom of it. The technological discourse, on the other hand, is far less concerned with knowledge gathering, it is rather orientated around the transformation of knowledge into power. The technologist would say, ‘It’s of no concern to me whether you are applying Newtonian mechanics or Einstein’s relativity theory, just make sure that you get me to the moon, (you may as well make sure that it doesn’t cost too much).’ On the face of it, both the scientific and the technological discourses set man apart from nature. Both discourses imply human detachment from nature. The reason is pretty simple, if man can get to the bottom of nature, then man must be somehow greater or at least a different quality to nature. From a technological point of view, if nature and the knowledge of nature are there to serve man, then man must somehow be superior to nature.
Seemingly, these two discourses dominated the 20th century Anglo-American intellectual discourse. And since it was the Anglo-Americans who dominated our universe at least since the end of WWII, we are entitled to argue that these two thinking modes have been dominating the entire Western discourse for more than a while. In other words, to be Western in the 20th century meant to think scientifically and to act technologically. Accordingly, growing up in the West would mean, first learning to admire the scientist and to worship science, then gradually learning to applaud and consume technological innovations.
Academically speaking, it was the positivist school that insisted that we should become more scientific and far less philosophical. Historically at least, it was the Vienna Circle, a group of philosophers and scientists who aimed at eradicating any traces of metaphysics out of the body of scientific knowledge. For the logical positivists, ‘logical rules and empirical data are the only sources of knowledge.’ Needless to say, logical positivism was an attempt to strike against the diversity of human reality. As some of the readers of this paper would hopefully agree: emotions, feelings and aesthetic pleasure can be equally as important as sources of knowledge and even scientific realisation, not to say insight. Nevertheless, the logical positivists wouldn’t agree, they were full of contempt towards quasi-scientific knowledge. Psychoanalysis, for instance, was like a red rug to a bull, it was totally unacceptable. Logical positivism wasn’t just an attack against emotional and spiritual expression, it was also a clear offensive on German philosophy. It was an unambiguous assault on German metaphysics, Idealism and early Romanticism.
In 1936, following the Nazi incursion of Austria, there were no positivists left in Vienna, due to their ethnic origin they had to flee. Most of them found shelter in Anglo-American universities. I do believe that the overwhelming positivistic tendency within the post-war English speaking academic world has a lot to do with the forced immigration of those Jewish-German positivists. And yet, America has never been a scientifically orientated nation. Not ‘many’ scientific revolutions took place on the other side of the Atlantic. America is the land of open opportunities and science was no doubt a great opportunity.
Rather than internalising the spirit of science, America was very efficient in transforming science into political and economic power. It was quick in allowing a bunch of exiled European scientists, most of them German Jews (as well as one Italian married to an Jewish woman), to build its first atomic bombs. It was very quick in embracing German rocket scientists who were enthusiastic enough to blast monkeys into outer space. The American intellectual world has never been too enthusiastic about abstract theoretical, not to say philosophical, questions. The very Germanic question ‘Was ist?’ didn’t really make it to the Anglo-American academic world. On the contrary, America has always been concerned with technological challenges. In other words, it is enthusiastic about the different mode of transformation of knowledge into power. America is all about technology, it is pragmatically orientated. Even within art, where America happens to contribute some major works of modern art and music, it didn’t take long before a market value was tagged. At the end of the day, it doesn’t really matter what you may know about the origin of knowledge as long as you drink Coke, eat McDonalds, buy a Charlie Parker album and dream of owning an original by Kandinsky.
It is within this very pragmatic approach that led to the rise of a new form of contemporary unique religious discourse. While the scientific and the technological approaches set man aside from nature, the new Western religion re-locates man deeply within nature. The new Western subject, very much like the rock and the tree, lacks any substantial sense of self-awareness or critical tendencies. Willingly and enthusiastically, the newly formed Western being tends to accept some readymade reality perceptions. Within this newly emerging mythological faith, Democracy is one God, the Holocaust is another. These two Gods support each other. Democracy is the blind praise of human liberty a la Natan Sharansky whom George W. Bush and Condoleezza Rice repeatedly quote. Holocaust, on the other hand, is the story of the ultimate persecution and everlasting revenge a la Simon Wiesenthal. Democracy is the matter, the noticeable and manifested glory with white houses and glass skyscrapers. The Holocaust is the spirit, the Holy Arc, that thing which you follow in the desert but can never enter, question or challenge. The Holocaust God is standing at the very core of the argument for democracy that allows the Anglo-Americans to insist upon ‘liberating’ the very few countries that still hold some energy resources or are found to be located strategically close enough to these resources.
As we can see, the two Gods, Holocaust and Democracy, are cleverly set in a complementary relationship. The message is clear: unless Democracy is in place, a Holocaust is inevitable. Apparently, Anglo-Americans are using democracy as a political argument to violently expand their economic global hegemony. The less we are convinced by the democratic goddess, the less we believe our elected politicians and their illegal wars, the more we are dependent on an external supernatural paradigm. Auschwitz is exactly that paradigm. It is the ultimate supernatural narrative in which ordinary human beings become killing machines. It is the Auschwitz narrative in which the most culturally advanced nation is becoming a willing executioner a la Daniel Goldhagen.
The Holocaust God is there to sketch the alternative doomed reality. But as bizarre as it may sound, it is democratic America that has been lethally applying science against innocent civilians for over six decades. Whether it is Hamburg, Dresden, Hiroshima, whether it is Vietnam or Iraq among many more places, the same story repeats itself: Anglo-Americans are killing en masse in the name of Democracy. There is always a clear valid moral cause behind their kill. Allegedly, lately they liberated the Iraqi people from the tyranny of the ‘Hitler-like’ mass murderer Saddam. Yet, it is crucial to mention that although the Americans and their puppet Iraqi legislators had enough time to collect more than enough forensic evidence to incriminate Mr Saddam Hussein, they were unable to do so. On the face of it, Mr Hussein’s charges in court are negligible compared to the charges that can be already established against Bush or Blair. Obviously, what is true about Saddam is applicable to the other ‘Hitler-like‘ Milosevic. As we happen to learn, for the time being, very little as been established to convict the former Serbian leader, a man who was repeatedly presented to us as a mass murderer. Again, I am far from being judgmental here, I just follow the legal proceedings against these two ‘Hitler-like’ ex-tyrants.
Here we come across the beauty and strength of religious belief. It is always flourishing in the regions of blindness. You can indeed love God as long as you cannot see him. You can join the party and hate Saddam as long as you know very little about him or Iraq. Worshipping and hatred alike are blind tendencies. Similarly, the strength of Auschwitz is due to its incomprehensibility. Auschwitz is feasible as long as it infeasible. Auschwitz is the modern-day burning bush, it is counterfactual. You can believe in it as long as you cannot comprehend it, as long as it doesn’t make sense, as long as it is beyond contemplation. Like a Holy Arc, you would follow it in the desert just because you aren’t allowed in. Auschwitz is the sealed sacred secret of the Anglo-American emerging religion. It is the unseen face of God delivered in a form of personal accounts. Once you question it, you challenge the future of Anglo-American life on this planet. Once you question Auschwitz, you become a modern-day Antichrist. Instead of doing that, you are highly recommended to kneel down and to approve the newly emerging burning bush mythology.
Within the Jewish orthodox apparatus history in general and Jewish history in particular are totally redundant. Simply, there is no need for such an intellectual endeavour, the Bible is there to set the Judaic thinking parameters. Judaically speaking, Saddam, Chmelnisky, Hitler and even Arafat are nothing but a mere repetition of the horrendous Biblical Amalek. With the Bible in place, there is no need to question the empirical and forensic validity of the different burning bushes and the Holy arcs. The Jewish belief is based on blind acceptance. To love God is to obey his rules. To be a Jew is never ever to question the fundaments. Apparently, there is no Jewish Theology. Instead, Jews have their Talmud: a collection of laws and rules. This perception is far from being stupid. It is rather logical and consistent. If God is indeed a supreme transcendental entity that exceeds any notion of space and time, then man is doomed to fail in comprehending him anyway. Thus, rather than philosophising on fundaments, Rabbis are mainly concerned with regulations. They are there to say what is Kosher and who is a sinner. Similarly, within the newly emerging Anglo-American religion, no one is supposed to raise questions concerning the Holocaust or WWII. Moreover, no one is supposed to ask what freedom, liberty, human rights and democracy really mean. The question of whether or not we are free beings is far too philosophical. Rather than suggesting an answer, we are confronted with the Rabbinical icons Blair and Bush who restrict of our freedom all in the name of freedom.
Let’s leave the Iraqis out. Are we, the so-called West, liberated? Within the new Israelite Western religion, blindness is the way forwards. On the face of it, the complexity of the WWII narrative with its contradictions and discrepancies just contributes to its magical, fantastic and supernatural qualities. We better learn to accept the Hollywood take on WWII rather than adopting some silly sceptical approach. Indeed, it is the contradictions and discrepancies that turn the Holocaust into a vivid human story shaped as a religion. It is the inconsistencies that turn the Holocaust into a modern-day burning bush. Let’s face it, you cannot see God but you can clearly hear the voice of democracy and freedom echoing from within the cloud of smoke. Indeed the political is what is left out of that which was personal at one time.
With their trousers halfway down I can see these three outlaws: Irving, Zundel and Rudolf, the three rightwing historical revisionists who happen to be locked behind bars. They are surrounding our precious shrine, rudely they are pissing over our emerging democratic miracle. Vulgarly, they question the validity of the personal narrative; foolishly they aim at establishing a rational, dynamic, lucid empirically grounded narrative based on forensic evidence. The three criminals are applying logical-positivistic methods. Pathetically, they follow the tradition of Carnap, Popper and the Vienna Circle. I wonder whether they realise that they happen to follow an academic tradition set by a Jewish secular Germanic school. Those ugly revisionists are aiming at truth-values, correspondence rules, empiricism. Shame on them, let them rot in hell. They fail to see that the West has moved forward. Listen you revisionists, you missed the train, we aren’t scientific anymore, we aren’t even technological. We are now deeply religious and we aren’t even theological about it. We are Evangelical, we take things on their face value and don’t ask me whose face is it. We want to believe. We are now religious and we will make sure that you do not interfere.
Rather than suggesting a preferable historical narrative, I aim at grasping what history is all about. What are the conditions of the possibilities of any knowledge of the past? I am not an historian and I am not intending to be one, I am interested in the conditions that shape the historical narrative. When it comes to the history of the 20th century, we are locked within a strict tale that was imposed on us by the winners. True, history is the tale of the winners and yet the winners were and still are: capitalist, colonialist and imperialists. The question to be asked is how come the European left that traditionally opposed the above, tended to blindly buy the twisted tale of those ‘colonialist’ ‘capitalist’ winners? I assume that the fact that Stalin was amongst the winners has something to do with it. The fact that the left was itself chased by Hitler is probably another reason. Yet, USSR is itself part of our past, Stalin is gone and Leftists aren’t chased by Hitler anymore. The European left is now entitled to think freely. Supposedly we are now at liberty to re-view our knowledge of the past, we are entitled to re-ask questions and to try to re-solve some major discrepancies to do with WWII. I am not talking here about a truthful historical account, because unlike David Irving and his bitter academic opponent Richard J. Evans, I do not know what historical truth is. But I do understand what narrative is and I even realise what consistency means. I argue that not only are we entitled to revise history, we must do so and I will mention two reasons: A). If the left or what is left of it, won’t jump into this boiling swamp, WWII history and Holocaust scholarship will be left in the hands of the European radical right (politically and academically). I tend to believe that at large, this is already the case. While left academics are mainly concerned with signalling out Holocaust deniers telling us what is right and who is wrong, it is the revisionists who engage themselves in detailed archive work as well as forensic scrutiny. B). Those who dropped bombs over Dresden and Hiroshima have never stopped killing in the name of democracy. They are now engaged in a murderous occupation of Iraq and they are even planning to expand to Syria and Iran. If we want to stop them, we better re-visit our past and revise our image of Anglo-American democracy. We must re-arrange the 20th century. For the sake of a better future we must revise the past.
It is rather clear that at least from an Anglo-American perspective Hitler wasn’t the enemy. Stalin, the Communist tyrant, was their real foe. Hitler had a very precise role. He was there to bash the eastern Communists on behalf of the West, he was there to flatten the Reds and so he did for a while. This may explain why no one in the West really tried to stop Hitler in the 1930’s. From an Anglo-American point of view, the moustached man fitted in rather nicely. It may explain why Hitler himself didn’t eradicate a third of the British army in Dunkirk. Why should he? These British soldiers were his allies to come. May I suggest that the fact that Hitler was actually serving Western interests explains why the Americans who joined the war in 1942, didn’t engage with him in a battle over central Europe until June 1944. Rather than fight Hitler in the main ground, they engaged in battles in North Africa and in Southern Italy. The reason is simple: They wanted Hitler to exhaust Stalin. They didn’t want to jeopardise his holy mission. Once Hitler lost his 6th Army in Stalingrad, the Western perception of Hitler’s role changed dramatically.
Once it was clear that Hitler was losing to Stalin, there was a necessity to keep the Reds as far as possible from the British channel. Though the Allies presented themselves as the liberators of France, in fact they were raiding the beaches of Normandy speeding up to stop Stalin in central Europe. This may explain the devastation the Allies left behind them in Normandy. Liberators hardly slaughter the liberated, Anglo-Americans are apparently different.
From mid-1943, the Allies enjoyed air superiority over Germany and yet, rather than dismantle the German army and it logistic targets, they concentrated on carpet-bombing German towns, killing hundred of thousands of innocent civilians with phosphorus bombs. After the war, Albert Speer was quoted saying that considering the Allies’ air superiority, a bombardment of German industrial infrastructure and logistic targets would have resulted in German military collapse in less then two months. I assume that the military reason behind the Allies’ carpet bombardment is devastatingly simple. The Allies didn’t want to disturb the German Army that was fighting Stalin. Meanwhile, the Allies had many bombs and they had to drop them somewhere. Around 850,000 German civilians died in those murderous military operations.
Anglo-Americans do believe in attacking their enemies’ soft bellies. This is why British and Americans arrived at the war with tactic bombers (Lancaster, B-17 and B24). Within the Anglo-American tactical philosophy, heavy pressure of civilian population would benefit the offender. This may explain the fact that it was Churchill who was the first to use Blitz tactics, launching a heavy bombardment on Berlin in August 1940. In fact it was that move that led Hitler to retaliate and to divert Luftwaffe efforts from Britain’s southern airfields to London and other populated British cities (September 7, 1940). Indeed, it was Churchill’s cold decision that saved Britain from a Nazi invasion (Operation Sea Lion). Yet, we should never forget that it was Churchill who brought German retaliation to the British streets. This fact hardly finds its way into British history texts.
Within the victorious narrative, the use of atomic bombs was necessary in order to shorten the war. Within the Anglo-American narrative, nuking Hiroshima and Nagasaki sounds almost like a humanitarian effort. Apparently, there is an historic chronological fact that doesn’t find its place into the English-speaking history curriculum. Two days after the Hiroshima bomb (August 6, 1945) the Soviets entered the war against Japan. It was that event which led the Americans to nuke Nagasaki just a day later. Clearly, the industrial liquidation of thousands of Japanese civilians was there to guarantee a rapid, unconditional Japanese defeat to the Americans and to them alone.
I tend to believe that the Holocaust narrative that is forcefully imposed on us all is there to silence some alternative interpretations of WWII events. I do believe that if we really want to stop Anglo-Americans from killing in the name of democracy we better re-open a genuine debate.
Stopping Bush and Blair in Iraq, stopping those warmongers from proceeding to Iran and Syria is a must. If history shapes the future, we need to liberate our perspective of the past, rather than arresting revisionists, we simply need many more of them. We must let go; we must Re-arrange the 20th century.
Saturday, February 25, 2006
James Petras and Robin Eastman-Abaya - The Caricatures in Middle East Politics
February 19, 2006
The centerpiece of the current explosive confrontation between Islamic and Arab protestors, political leaders and governments and the US and Western European regimes and publishers is rooted in Israeli efforts to polarize the world in its favor and to promote isolation, economic sanctions and/or a military attack on Iran. There are several key questions, which almost all commentators and analysts have failed to address. These include: Why did the “cartoons” get published in Denmark?
What is the political background of “Flemming Rose” the cultural editor of Jyllands-Posten, who solicited, selected and published the cartoons?
What larger issues coincide with the timing of the cartoons publication and reproduction?
Who “benefits” from the publication of the cartoons and the ensuing confrontation between the Arabs/Islam and the West?
What is the contemporary political context of the Arab/Islam protests?
How is the Israeli secret service, Mossad, implicated in provoking the Western-Islamic/Arab conflict, and how do the consequences measure up to their expectations?
A starting point for analyzing the cartoon controversy, which has been a focus for attacking Muslims and Muslim countries as intolerant of Western ‘freedom of expression’ is the long-standing role of Denmark as a major operation point for Mossad activity in Europe. Re-phrased: How could a tiny Scandinavian country of 5.4 citizens and residents (200,000 or less than 3% of whom are Muslim), renowned for fairy tales, ham and cheese, have become a target for the fury of millions of practicing Muslims from Afghanistan to Palestine, from Indonesia to Libya and into the streets of cities all over the world with significant Muslim populations? Why, after the bombing of Baghdad, the tortures of Abu Ghariab, the massacres in Fallujah and the utter destitution of the entire Iraqi and Afghan people…would Moslems turn their anger at symbols of Denmark from its tinned cookies to its Embassies and overseas business offices?
The story, presented with straight faces, by television news-people, is of, Mr. ‘Flemming Rose’, a crusading cultural editor of a widely read Danish daily newspaper who wanted to counter the growing ‘political correctness’ of Europeans about criticizing Moslems and which he compared to the ‘self-censorship’ he had witnessed in his native Soviet Union. The oddly named Ukrainian-born editor of the culture page of the Jyllands-Posten commissioned Danish cartoonists to submit a series of cartoons depicting the Prophet Mohammed as they (the Danish cartoonists) might imagine him. However four of the twelve cartoons selected for publication were illustrated by ‘Rose’s’ own staff including the most controversial ‘bomb in the turban’ one. Braving Denmark’s anti-blasphemy laws Mr. Rose published the cartoons on September 30, 2005 and the rest is history…
A huge world wide attack on the West’s “sacred right to free expression” erupted in the Moslem world with millions of shocked Europeans and North Americans rushing to defend their cherished freedoms in this ‘clash of civilizations’. Syria and Iran were prominently blamed for the stirring up of furious believers in the streets of Damascus and Teheran, Beirut and in the slums of Gaza. According to US Secretary Rice, "Iran and Syria have gone out of their way to inflame sentiments and to use this to their own purposes and the world ought to call them on it." The Pakistani and Libyan authorities allied to the US fired on demonstrators killing and wounding scores while numerous religious leaders were arrested. The Western governments urged their Arab and Moslem allies to prevent more attacks on Danish products and property and blamed those unable to quell the fury with complicity and instigation. All of this was over a series of cartoons, or so we are told.
The cultural editor, ‘Flemming Rose’, who soon tired of being surrounded by a team of Danish police and security to protect him from assassination and missing his daily jogs through his tranquil Copenhagen neighborhood, chose to seek safe haven in Miami, Florida (rather than his native Ukraine) among the Cuban exiles, Israeli sayanim*(see footnote) and Mah Jong-playing retirees as the drama plays on.
Denmark Center of Mossad Activity
Why Denmark? Could this crudely manufactured controversy have been generated on the pages of any major London or New York paper? Who would wish to put Denmark at the center of this ‘clash of civilization’ – appearing as a script from some grade B Islamophobic thriller?
An interesting chapter in former Israeli Mossad agent, Victor J. Ostrovsky’s book, By Way of Deception (1990 St. Martin’s Press), outlines the close relationship between the workings of the Danish intelligence services and the Israeli Mossad over decades:
“The relationship between the Mossad and Danish intelligence is so intimate as to be indecent. But it is not the Mossad’s virtue that is compromised by the arrangement; it’s Denmark’s. And that’s because the Danish are under the mistaken impression that because they saved a lot of Jews in World War II, the Israelis are grateful and they can trust the Mossad.”
The Mossad has the capacity to monitor the entire population of Arabs and especially Palestinians (presumably including those with Danish citizenship) through their special relations with the Danes:
“…a Mossad man monitors “all Arabic and Palestinian-related messages(among Denmarks Arab community) coming into their (the Danish Civil Security Service)headquarters…an extraordinary arrangement for a foreign intelligence service.”
The Danish Intelligence officers’ high regard for their Israeli Mossad office mates is apparently not, according to Ostrovsky, reciprocated:
“The Mossad have such contempt for their Danish counterparts that they refer to them as ‘fertsalach’, the Hebrew term for a small burst of gas, a fart…they tell the Mossad everything they do.” Pp. 231-232
In return for their servility, the Danes get valuable ‘training’ from the Israelis:
Once every three years, Danish intelligence officials go to Israel for a seminar conducted by the Mossad”… which generates useful contacts for the Mossad “while perpetuating the notion that no organization deals with terrorism better than they (Mossad) do.”
In the wake of the US debacle in Iraq and the world’s resistance to a massive ‘preemptive military attack’ or economic and diplomatic embargo of Iran, which could send oil prices to over $100 a barrel, Israel needed to turn the war of ideas on its head. It would make sense that a campaign, aimed to further whip up justifications to attack countries like Iran and Syria (Israel’s current enemy du jour), would emanate from one of the US strongest European ally in the invasion and destruction of Iraq and Afghanistan and whose national intelligence apparatus (so fondly known as ‘fertsalach’) would be eager to serve Israel’s interest.
Flemming ( or Flaming) Rose: Journalist with a cause
Given Mossad’s long-standing penetration of the Danish intelligence agencies, and their close working relations with the right wing media, it is not surprising that a Ukranian Jew, operating under the name of “Flemming Rose” with close working relations with the Israeli state (and in particular the far right Likud regime) should be the center of the controversy over the cartoons. “Rose’s” ties to the Israeli state antedate his well-know promotional “interview” with Daniel Pipes (2004), the notorious Arab-hating Zionist ideologue. Prior to being placed as a cultural editor of a leading right-wing Danish daily, from 1990 to 1995 “Rose” was a Moscow-based reporter who translated into Danish a self-serving auto-biography by Boris Yeltsin, godchild of the pro-Israeli, post-communist Russian oligarchs, most of whom held dual citizenship and collaborated with the Mossad in laundering illicit billions. Between 1996-1999 “Rose”, the journalist, worked the Washington circuit (traveling with Clinton to China) before returning to Moscow 1999-2004 as a reporter for Jyllands-Posten. In 2005 he became its cultural editor, despite few or any knowledge of the field and over the head of other Danish journalists on the staff. In his new position “Rose” found a powerful platform to incite and play on the growing hostility of conservative Danes to immigrants from the Middle East, particularly practicing Moslems. Using the format of an ‘interview’ he published Pipes’ virulent anti-Islamic diatribe, probably to “test the waters” before proceeding to the next stage in the Mossad strategy to polarize a West-East confrontation.
Political Context for Action
There is a great body of evidence demonstrating that Iraq war was largely a result of a massive disinformation campaign by civilian militarists in the Pentagon and US Zionists in and out of high places in the Pentagon and civil society, in coordination with the Israeli state, which wanted Iraq to be destroyed as a viable nation. There is no evidence that the major US oil corporations pressured Congress or promoted the war in Iraq or the current confrontation with Iran. There is plenty of evidence that they are very uneasy about the losses that may result from an Israeli attack on Iran.
The Zionist succeeded in their goals in Iraq: establishing a beachhead in the northern Kurdish enclave (‘Kurdistan’), and securing assets in the new “Iraqi” regime via Chalabi and others.
The major Jewish organizations mobilized to oppose any critics of the Zionist policymakers, predictably accusing them of ‘anti-Semitism’. Nevertheless, over time, FBI investigations, CIA reports and judicial indictments have pointed to key Israeli operatives and their domestic collaborators as Israeli spies. While Israel benefited from the Bush-Blair invasion in Iraq, the same cannot be said for the United States. As thousands of casualties mounted, and war spending skyrocketed to hundreds of billions of dollars, opposition to the war escalated.
Israeli strategic plans to extend US military operations to Iran and Syria faced major challenges, from within the US military and public and even sections of the mass media. Mossad assets in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal and elsewhere had to settle for puff pieces on Iran’s non-existent nuclear weapon threat, right after the same plot with regard to Iraq was exposed as a total fabrication. Another line of propaganda was needed to silence war critics and heighten animosities to the Islamists/Arabs in general and Iran in particular. This is where the “Flemming Rose”-Mossad operation came into the picture. The Islamic-hate cartoons were published in Denmark in September 2005 as Israeli and US Zionists escalated their war propaganda against Iran. The initial response from the Islamic countries however was limited. The story wasn’t picked up in the International Herald Journal until late December 2005. By early January 2006, Mossad “Katsas” (Hebrew for case officers) activated sayanim (volunteer Jewish collaborators outside of Israel) throughout Western and Eastern European media to simultaneously reproduce the cartoons on Feb. 1 and 2, 1006. One such sayanim operation would have been the decision by France-Soir Senior Editor, Arnaud Levy and Editor in Chief Serge Faubert, to publish the cartoons. The paper’s French Egyptian owner almost immediately fired the paper’s Managing Editor, Jacques Lefranc, who, according to an interview with CNN, had initially opposed their publications, without touching Levy and Faubert.
A strident campaign was launched in practically all the pro-Western mass media condemning the initial, relatively moderate Islamic protests, which had occurred between September to December 2005 and rapidly provoked the subsequent massive escalation, doubtlessly aided by covert Mossad operatives among Arab populations. Mossad’s ‘little farts’, the Danish intelligence fanned the fires by advising Denmark’s rightwing Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen not to give way by refusing to apologize as the pro-Western Arab regimes requested and even refusing a request for a meeting with a group of Denmark-based diplomats from Arab and Moslem countries to discuss the ‘situation’.
“Flemming Rose”-Mossad tried one more gambit – to further heighten East-West tension. He publicly offered to publish any Iranian cartoons which would mock the Holocaust in ‘his’ paper’. The senior editor of Jyllands-Posten, apparently belatedly caught on to “Flemming Rose” hidden agenda and vetoed the ‘offer’ and asked Rose to take a leave of absence. Rose left for Miami, not Tel Aviv – where his residency might raise suspicions about his claim to be merely an opponent of “self-censorship”. In Miami, he no doubt will have the protection of the locally based sayanin, armed and train for “self-defense” of threatened Zionists.
Sayanim – Defenders of Western Civilization
The sayanim, derived, according to Victor Ostrovsky, from the Hebrew word ‘to help’ are a huge world-wide network of Jews in strategic or useful places (real estate, mass media, finance, car dealerships etc…) who have been agreed to help in Israeli Mossad actitivies within their own countries. This has been ascribed to the supra-national loyalty sayanim offer to Israel, above and not always in the interest of their home country. According to Gordon Thomas and Martin Dillon, in their detailed biography, Robert Maxwell, Israel’s Superspy (Carroll and Graf Publishers, 2002), the notorious media mogul, Robert Maxwell, was a super-sayanim, providing cover, offices, political connections, money-laundering services and planted stories in the service of Israel at the Mossad’s beheast. Jonathan Pollard, the American Naval Researcher jailed for espionage, is another notorious sayanim. The activities of these ‘helpers’ really range from the spectacular to the more mundane and, according to Victor Ostrovsky, in his 1990 biography By Way of Deception, the sayanim represent a pool of thousands of active and inactive individuals who can provide services discretely out of loyalty to ‘the cause of Israel’ as defined by any current Mossad operation. The cynicism of this arrangement is clear: It makes little difference to the Mossad if an operation, such as ‘Flemming Rose’, jeopardizes the national and economic interests of the sayanim’s own country and , if exposed, might harm the status of Jews in the diaspora. The standard response from the Mossad would be: “So what’s the worst that could happen to those Jews? They’d all come to Israel? Great.” This recklessness clearly has ramifications for Jews who have refused to be recruited as Mossad helpers in affected countries.
Mossad War Propaganda and the “Cartoon Controversy”
Israeli leaders expressed their opposition to the Bush Administration’s diplomatic efforts to engage the European powers in the Iran negotiations. Automatically and without question all the major Zionist and Jewish organizations in the US (AIPAC, Presidents of the Major Jewish Organizations, ADL and others) unleashed a sustained national campaign to mobilize congress and their “friends” in the executive branch to take immediate military action or to impose economic sanctions on Iran. The Bush Administration however while in agreement, lacked public support in the US and among his European allies and their national electorates. The Mossad policy was to create a pretext to polarize public opinion between the Middle East (and beyond) and the West in order to escalate tensions and demonize Islamic adversaries to its Middle East hegemonis pretensions. “Rose” cartoons served the Mossad perfectly. The issue could be presented as a free speech issue, a conflict of “values” not “interests”, between the “democratic West” and the fundamentalist “totalitarian” (as characterized by Pipes-Rose) Islamists. Nothing could be further from the truth. Rose had solicited and selected the Islamic caricatures while his paper had rejected similar cartoons of Jesus Christ in an earlier context. The image of Rose as a “cultural iconoclast” - while working for a right wing daily whose daily fare was publishing anti-(Mid-East)immigrant “news stories” and favorable interviews with Zionists extremists - is prima facie not credible, although that image has been purveyed by all the major media outlets. While “Rose” initiated the international tensions, liberal and neo-con colleagues and his comrades in and out of the Mossad publicized his transgressions and provoked the ire of the Arab and Islamic world.
The cartoons, the subsequent insults and calumnies attacking the Islamic protestors and their secular allies throughout Africa, the Middle East, Asia and Europe eventually provoked major peaceful and then violent protests by millions of people. Visual images of violent protests and demonstrations were featured by the Western mass media, successfully creating the intended fear and apprehension against Muslim countries and minorities in Europe. Islamophobia gained momentum. Zionist propagandists in Europe and the US linked the defense of “free speech” issue to Israeli “security” policies. While the West turned its fury against the Islamic protestors, Israel blockaded Gaza and the US and Europe cut off all funding to the Palestinians, threatening the population with mass starvation for exercising its democratic right to elect its own leaders! “Rose’s” free speech charade revived the discredited ZionCon doctrine of “Clash of Civilizations”. Playing on European Islamophobia and the increasing sensibility of practicing Moslems and Arab nationalists to Western abuses, it is likely that Israeli psych-war experts pinpointed the “free speech” issue as the ideal detonator for the conflict.
The democratic electoral victory of Hamas – dubbed by Israel as a terrorist movement – accelerated Israeli efforts to convince Western governments to insist that regimes in Muslim countries repress the ‘irrational Islamic masses’ or face Western censure or elimination of aid. (The failure to crack down violently on demonstrators was presented by the media as official approval or instigation) The major US Zionist organizations were able to influence Secretary of State Rice into blaming Iran and Syria for fomenting the worldwide demonstrations, from Gaza to the Philippines. The Israeli strategy was to use European outrage to weaken opposition to a military attack or economic sanctions on Iran and Syria.
Beyond Religious Blasphemy
While most establishment analysts have narrowly focused on the cartoon as the source and target of the massive global demonstrations, in fact it is at best the immediate detonator of a whole series of ongoing events of much greater political significance. From the “shock and awe” carpet bombing of Iraq, to the mass torture and routine everyday humiliation in occupied countries, from the utter destruction of Fallujah (an American example as Guernica was for the Nazis), to Israeli devastation of Jenin and Palestine, from the everyday assassinations of Palestinians by the Israeli occupiers, to the smearing of the Koran with filth at Guantanamo, Israel, the US and Europe have attempted to demonstrate that no Moslems are safe anywhere- not in their schools, home, offices, fields, factories or mosques- and that nothing is sacred.
The reasons that millions are demonstrating against a caricature of Mohammed published in an insignificant Scandinavian rightwing newspaper is that this is the last straw – the detonator – of a series of deliberate violations of fundamental social and political rights of Muslim, Arab and colonized peoples. While the Western media have focused exclusively on the religious content of the demonstrators, almost every country, where massive sustained demonstrations have taken place, has been subject to recent Western intervention, large-scale pillage of raw materials and/or experienced the destruction of their secular rights: countries invaded, homes, schools, hospital, systems of health and clean water demolished, agriculture and natural resources looted, museums, libraries and archeological sites pillaged and mosques desecrated. The present condition for material existence has been a Western inferno for all the people (both secular and observant) living in Arab or Islamic countries. Now their most profound, historic, spiritual reference point, the prophet Mohammed – the most cherished religious figure – has been repeatedly trampled with impunity by arrogant imperialists, their media servants, aided and abetted by the Israeli state and its overseas ‘sayanin’ operatives. It is cynical to suggest that practicing Moslems could desecrate the figure of Jesus Christ with impunity when that too is forbidden by the Koran.
As the Israeli strategists well knew in advance, the vilification of Islam was not taking place in a political vacuum: The material conditions for an Islamic-Arab uprising were ripe: Hamas had swept the Palestinian elections, the US military were aware that they were losing the war in Iraq, Iran was refusing to capitulate, Bush was losing public support for ongoing and future Middle Eastern wars, AIPAC, Israel’s main political instrument for influencing US policy was under criminal investigation…Israel’s strategy of having the US fight its wars was boomeranging. There was a need to revive the political-military tensions which they had exploited after September 11, 2001 to Israel’s advantage: hence the “Flemming Rose” provocation, hence the coordinated, wide promotion of the act, hence the free speech agitation among Western ‘sayanin’, liberals, conservatives and neocon ideologues, hence the predictable explosion of protest, hence the ‘recreation’ of Mid-East tension…and the advances of Israel’s agenda.
Clearly the burgeoning confrontation is more than a religious or free speech issue, more than the crude provocations of an errant cultural editor coddled by the ‘little farts’ of a penetrated Danish intelligence agency. What is at stake is the deliberate racist stereotyping of Arab, Islamic and Third World people in order to sustain and deepen their oppression, exploitation and subordination.
The most pervasive, prolific and influential source of racist Arab stereotypes are Israel and its overseas (particularly US and European) academics, terror ‘experts’, psychologists at the most prestigious universities and think tanks, who have provided the “psychological profile” to torture, humiliate, provoke and repress the millions struggling for self-determination against colonial and imperial dominance.
Once again Israel and especially its overseas operatives have placed the expansion and militarist interests of Israel above the interests of the people of the US and Europe. “Is it good for the Jews?”: A criterion as defined by the Israeli state, has led to the blind alley of massive confrontations, deepening animosity between Arabic/Muslim peoples and Western regimes. What appeared so clever to the ‘Roses’ of the world and their Katsas and docile Sayanim, in provoking confrontation may once again boomerang: The uprisings may go beyond protesting symbols of vilification to attacking the substance of power, including the Arab and Moslem pro-consuls and collaborators of the Euro-American political and economic power. While the Mossad is very astute in infiltrating and provoking oppressed groups, it has been singularly inept in controlling and containing the resultant uprisings as the recent victory of Hamas demonstrates and the success of the Iraqi resistance illustrates. The next controversial cartoon may show Moses leading his people into the desert.
While the Mossad-provoked ‘free speech versus blasphemy’ controversy between the West and the Islamic peoples continues to deepen, Israel proceeds to impose a Nazi-like economic siege over 4 million Palestinians, intended to starve them into surrendering their democratic freedoms. Intended is the concise term, Gideon Levy, star reporter for the Israeli daily newspaper Haaretz (19/02/06) records Dov Weissglas, advisor to the Israeli Prime Minister, jokingly telling top officials “Its (the economic blockage – which may include electricity and water, as well as food) like an appointment with a dietician. The Palestinians will get a lot thinner but won’t die.” The Israeli officials “rolled with laughter”. As Levy points out “more than half of all Palestinians are already living in poverty…last year 37% had difficulties obtaining food… 54% of the residents of Gaza cut back the amount of food they consume…child mortality rose by 15%…unemployment reached 28%.” Planned pre-meditated mass starvation of a ghettoized population, jokingly discarded by its executioners as a ‘visit to the dietician’, is an exact replica of the internal policy discussion of the Nazi high command over the population in the Warsaw Ghetto. Israel’s capacity to impose and implement a genocidal policy has been greatly facilitated by the symbolic sideshow, which the Mossad-‘Rose’ orchestrated in Western Europe. “Cultural” conflict at the service of genocide – is hardly a clever ruse or merely a violation of Islamic sensibilities, it is a crime against humanity.