Sunday, February 27, 2011

Politicians as mercenaries

Arab MKs must beg forgiveness for Libya visit
Salman Masalha

Politicians as mercenaries

The whole world is watching the misdeeds of the Libyan tyrant. Muammar Gadhafi spares no instrument of repression: He dispatches planes to sow death indiscriminately and sends African mercenaries to slaughter his own people. Gadhafi knows, deep within, just how small he seems in the eyes of the world, but cannot shed his role as megalomaniacal tribal despot.

The entire world saw him stand before the camera, in his robe and turban, with his Green Book. He lectured loudly, as befits the leader of Libya - the country he sees as "leader of the world." He spoke approvingly of the modes of response used by other world powers on the level of Libya, such as Russia, the United States, China and Israel.

I will not dwell on the hypocrisy of the West with regard to the events in Libya, which are obvious to even the naked eye.

I shall instead speak of Arab hypocrisy here, closer to home. The hypocrisy of the Arab Knesset members and public figures who a few months ago went to grovel before the Libyan despot.

They returned to Israel to boast and publish, in Arabic, their stories and pictures from the thrilling meeting with the "king of kings" and other such hyperbole a la MK Ahmed Tibi (United Arab List-Ta'al ).

All the Arab parties, organizations and ethnic-religious communities were represented in the delegation there. MK Mohammad Barakeh of Hadash, Hanin Zuabi and Jamal Zahalka of Balad, Talab al-Sana of United Arab List-Ta'al and a motley crew of people of lofty status and groveling spirit. They all came before him, bowed and shook his hand. He inspected them from behind dark glasses before seating them at the edge of his tent and lecturing them on demographics.

Former MK Azmi Bishara, who after fleeing Israel became a commentator on the television station of another little tyrant, also sought shelter in Gadhafi's tent. But because he too is a small megalomaniac he would not agree to join a delegation of Israeli Arabs.

He wanted a separate audience, he longed to talk to Gadhafi as one megalomaniac to another. Bishara is no different than most hypocritical Arab intellectuals, merely the loyal servant of despots as long as their regime is strong.

Then all of a sudden, when Gadhafi's regime was began to fail, Bishara remembered the Libyan people. Typically, he never said a word about the injustices of Syria's despotic regime, which for decades has been repressing freedom-loving citizens. Here's what Syrians think of Bishara's hypocrisy: "Doesn't the Syrian people deserve the freedom and rights that he enjoyed in Palestine, thanks to his Zionist enemies?" questioned Subhi Hadidi, a Syrian intellectual living in exile in Paris.

The truth is that Arab intellectuals of Bishara's ilk are like carrion-eaters. Like a pack of hyenas they wait on the sidelines, seeing which way the wind in the Arab political jungle is blowing; they watch the fall of a tyrant and then swoop in to grab a portion of "glory" from the body's remains.

All the Arab public figures who went to Libya were as political mercenaries in the service of Gadhafi the tyrant. They should now publicly express remorse and beg forgiveness, first from the Libyan people and next from the Arab citizens they purport to represent.

A public accounting is not only necessary but would also show that they have learned their lesson and intend to mend their ways. If not, Israel's Arab citizens should turn their backs on them and toss them in the garbage, just as Arab nations are rising up against their corrupt leaders. And the sooner, the better.
Published: OP-Ed, Haaretz, February 27, 2011

For Hebrew, press here
Read also: Libyan Junk(et), April 2010

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Welcome Back to History

Islam, like other imperialist ideologies, still needs enemies to flourish. Enemies have served Islam in the past as fuel for its wagons. Without enemies Islam declines and stagnates...

Salman Masalha ||

Welcome Back to History

For centuries the Arab world has been living in chronic sickness. One basic reason for this sickness is the mixture between Islam and male tribalism. The male Arab tribal codes that are deeply rooted in the Arab societies and still affect the Arabs these days prevail equally in monarchies or dynastic regimes and so-called republican regimes. This is why you see presidents bequeath their regimes in particular to their sons, not their daughters, as in the case of Syria and as was planned to occur lately in Egypt before the Egyptian people took to the streets. It’s worth noting that the only Muslim countries in which women have been elected and have served as heads of states are non-Arab countries, such as Turkey, Pakistan, Indonesia and Bangladesh.

Islam and male Arab tribalism constitute a toxic mixture. Especially when there is a lack of a fundamental principle, the principle of self-reckoning. The absence of such a principle leaves no way to acknowledge and correct mistakes and sins made by an individual, a leader or a society as a whole.

The combination of Arab tribalism, Islam and the absence of self-reckoning makes all Arab regimes oppressive ones. This has been the case throughout Arab history since the beginning of Islam. In fact, Islam is an ideology of Arab imperialism. For this reason Islam has needed enemies since its advent. In order to solve inner tribal disputes among the Arab tribes, Islam sent tribal warriors to fight other nations outside the Arabian deserts promising them food, goods and Garden of Eden etc. This ideology was behind making the Arab Islamic empire.

The dispute within the Arab Islamic empire since the rise of Islam has been a tribal one mixed with the issue of so-called religious kinship legitimacy - the close kinship relationship to the Prophet’s tribal branch.

With the rise of the non-Arab political and military powers within the Abbasid Caliphate in the 9th century and until the fall of Baghdad into the hands of Hulago in the year 1258, the Arab World went into a state of stagnation that has lasted until the present. Almost 1,000 years of stagnation. This period includes nearly four centuries of the Ottoman Empire.

After the First World War and the decline of the Ottoman Empire, in the Sykes-Picot Agreement the Arab World was divided between European colonial powers, mainly France and Britain. A few decades later, and in the wake of the Second World War and the retreat of the colonial powers, Israel was founded in Mandatory Palestine, recognized and supported by both the Soviet Union and the Western powers.

During the Cold War the oil-rich Middle East became a major arena for wrestling between the West and the Communist bloc. The Cold War split the Arab World into two orientations.: the pro-Western regimes on the one hand and on the other the so-called national “socialist” regimes, influenced by the Soviet Union and headed mostly by military officers who took power in some parts of the Arab World, such as Egypt, Syria and Iraq. Both the Arab monarchies and the republican regimes have been oppressive and have never brought any kind of well being to the Arab nations.

The policy of the United States has always been hypocritical and never really meant all the slogans about freedom, democracy, human rights and the like. On the contrary it has supported dictators and corrupt tribal leaders in the Arab World. America’s thoughts have focused on oil. The stagnation of all parts of the Arab and Islamic World continues. This was in the background of the Shi’ite Islamic revolution in Iran against the oppressive regime of the Shah, who was supported by the West.

The rise of the ideology and the power of the Islamic mujahidin in Afghanistan fighting the Soviet Union’s hegemony and the communist influence was a proxy war launched, supported and funded by the USA and its allies, mainly Saudi Arabia. The defeat of the Soviet Union in Afghanistan brought the decline of the Soviet Union and communism in Europe and most of the rest of the world.

After the end of the Cold War and the fall of Berlin Wall, a naïve discourse emerged in the West led by Francis Fukuyama’s approach proclaiming the end of history and the triumph of Western liberalism. This naïve approach has faced an immediate and opposite response.

Empires need enemies, as I noted above. Once the Soviet enemy disappeared, there were thoughts in the West about finding a new enemy. This new enemy is Islam and Islamic imperialist ideology. And this is the real meaning of Huntington’s “clash of civilizations”, in response to Fukuyama’s “end of history”.

Along with the Shi’ite Islam that took power in Iran, the Sunni Islam that the West used in deploying the mujahidin against the Soviet Union is now a Golem turning against its founder in the West. This brought the Islamic terror that led to the September 11 attacks.

It should be taken into account that since its beginning and by its deep theological nature Islam, which was founded in the Arabian Peninsula on a Judeo-Christian background, has been focused on Judeo-Christian theology. This is why you can hardly find Islamic writing concerning other faiths beyond the Judeo-Christian cultures.

Bearing in mind the rise of an Islamic party in Turkey after the Turkish people despaired of becoming part of the European Union, what we see now facing the sick Arab World is the rise of two non-Arab national powers: Persian nationalism anchored in Shi’ite Islamic doctrine in Iran and Turkish nationalism anchored in Sunni Islamic doctrine in Turkey. The two non-Arab powers are vying with each other for hegemony in the Arab World, and both of them are struggling against the Western powers’ hegemony in the region.

Islam, like other imperialist ideologies, still needs enemies to flourish. Enemies have served Islam in the past as fuel for its wagons. Without enemies Islam declines and stagnates. For this purpose, in addition to what was stated above, there is the continuation of the Israeli Jewish Zionist occupation in Palestine supported by Western Christian Powers.

This confrontation reminds Muslims of their struggle with Jews and Christian in Arabia during the first years of Islam. And in fact there are a lot of modern Islamic writings which try to shed religious light on the Israeli Arab conflict and try to find and emphasize the similarities between our times and those early Islamic times. This new-old theo-political confrontation will keep this oil-rich part of the world a tense place. Foreign powers are able to set fires in parts of this region, driving the Middle East to be the biggest consumer of Western, mainly American, military equipment, as well as a market for all other products. It’s worth bearing in mind that this part of the world does not produce or export any thing of value except what it pumps out of the ground.

It's Middle Eastern history in the making.

February 2011

Thursday, February 10, 2011

The American golem

The U.S. isn't interested in Mideast peace
Washington wants the region engulfed in flames; it just wants to control their height.
Salman Masalha

The American golem

It should be said explicitly: The United States is not interested in attaining peace in the Middle East. Peace in the region is not its top priority, and it has never corresponded with its interests.

These things might sound strange to anyone who is not sensitive to the mood in the region. Whoever believes the Arabic television station Al Jazeera is a mouthpiece of radical Islam, which endangers American interests, is invited to refresh his memory and update his imagination, because this radical Islam has actually been fostered by various American administrations.

A simple question should be answered: How did the populist channel find a home in the small emirate of Qatar, of all places? It is well known that the largest U.S. air base in the Middle East is located in Qatar. The WikiLeaks documents revealed that Qatar was a base from which American bombers took off for missions in Iraq and Afghanistan, and that it is now offering itself to the United States as a base for an attack on Iran - and even expressed its wish to take part in a war against Iran and bear most of the costs of maintaining the base.

What's more, the ruler of Qatar, in a meeting with U.S. Senator John Kerry in early 2010, even expressed understanding for the Israeli position and the feelings of the Israelis - saying the people of Israel cannot be blamed for not trusting the Arabs, as their country has lived under threat for a long time. This is the same Qatar that gave a royal welcome to President Shimon Peres, opposition leader Tzipi Livni and other Israeli officials.

These stories, along with the emir's ties with Israel, are not reported by Al Jazeera. But at the same time, this populist channel continues to smear other Arab regimes for their ties with Israel. Sound fantastic? Not necessarily.

All the Bin Laden videos somehow find their way to Al Jazeera. This is because this station has another designated role: undermining the Arab regimes and creating a state of chaos. The chaos is what corresponds with American policy, because Washington wants the region engulfed in flames; it just wants to control their height.

The flames in the Middle East serve the American economy. In this context, it is enough to mention the $60 billion arms deal signed with Saudi Arabia last year - the largest in U.S. history. The deal will provide tens of thousands of jobs within American industries.

Given this background, it is easy to understand Washington's interest in continued tension in the Middle East. The tension pushes countries to sign large arms deals, which produce tens of thousands of jobs in the United States. As such, the American interest lies in its continued policy of inflaming passions - through Al Jazeera as well - to perpetuate concern within the Arab regimes, whose existence depends on American support. Thus the United States can continue claiming that promoting arms deals with the wealthy countries of the Mideast stems from concern for the region.

That is why the White House is not making any effort to press Israel or promote Israeli-Palestinian peace, because this could advance peace throughout the region. Such a peace, from the perspective of the arms dealers, could leave industries idle and cause the layoffs of tens of thousands of American workers. This is how Al Jazeera actually serves as a tool in the service of the American pyromaniacs.

That is the entire U.S. doctrine in a nutshell. The problem with the doctrine is that the American golem may again turn on its maker. There is already evidence of this on the ground.
Published: OP-Ed, Haaretz, Feb. 10, 2011

For Hebrew, press here
For French, press here
For Italian, press here
Middle East
  • The Arab world's quagmire

    Only a society that can engage in introspection and self-examination can emerge from its dark past and march confidently to a different future. Otherwise, it will continue to sink into the same marshy swamp.

    Read more

    A Feeble Middle East

    The West learned on its own flesh that this region conducts itself by other codes. Iran has continued to entrench its standing by means of its religious ideology. The toppling of Saddam Hussein shattered the illusion of the existence of a unifying “Iraqi identity” and gave an encouraging shot in the arm to Iran, which is forging ahead.

    Read more

  • The decay in the Arab world

    With great sadness, it can be said that in the absence of a sane civil alternative, the Arab world will continue along this path.

    Read more

    Neither Arab nor Spring

    The vicissitudes that have, for some reason, been collectively dubbed the "Arab Spring" are neither Arab nor Spring. One can say that they are actually living proof of the identity crisis and reverberating bankruptcy of Arab nationalism.

    Read more

  • another title

Israel - Palestine
  • Our troubles come from us

    And so we have reached a situation in which every Arab is concerned with his own problems and everyone talks about what preoccupies him personally – that is, his own troubles.

    Read more

  • Never-ending tragedy

    The Israeli right, in all its forms, wants exclusively Jewish control over all of the Land of Israel. To the Palestinians who live in this space, it promises residency – temporary, of course, on condition that they keep their heads down, accept their designated status and behave accordingly.

    Read more
  • Solomon’s Mosque

    Religion, every religion, is the No. 1 enemy of nationalism. But under conditions of tension, such as tribal warfare, these polar opposites combine into a toxic soup that consumes all common sense.

    Read more

  • They see not, nor know

    The term "neutralize" is very popular with people who have served in the security and expulsion forces. The question to be asked is, What did the poet who spoke of "neutralization" mean in this plan?

    Read more

    For Jews only

    From the moment the pundits followed in the footsteps of the politicians, both large and small, they carried this noxious melody everywhere. They were part of legitimizing the illegitimate in Israeli politics.

    Read more

  • With yearning soul

    The Zionism that aspired to establish a "Jewish home" in the Jews' "ancient homeland" did not take into consideration the fact that the land was not empty. It thus adopted the principle of population transfer, based on the same ancient biblical tradition.

    Read more

    Rabbis of the Dry Bones

    Racism surfaces when a society loses its self-confidence and turns to seeking ways to defend itself against what is different and perceived as increasingly threatening.

    Read more

  • الحلم

    أنّي في سجن جدران بيضاء
    حيث لا يعرفني أحدٌ، وأصواتٌ
    تختفي في الرّدهات، وأضواء تستنشقُ
    جمجمتي اللّاهثة.
    تتمة الكلام

Press photo to Email



Site Archive

Selected Topics

  • The pit and the pendulum

    In those days, we did not drink four goblets of wine, because everything that gladdens the human heart is not a part of our custom.

    Read more

  • Welcome Back to History

    Islam, like other imperialist ideologies, still needs enemies to flourish. Enemies have served Islam in the past as fuel for its wagons. Without enemies Islam declines and stagnates...

    Read more

  • another title

  • Balkrishna Sama

    Man Is God

    He who loves flowers, has a tender heart.
    he who cannot pluck their blooms,
    has a heart that's noble.

    Read more

  • Martin Niemöller

    First They Came

    First they came for the Communists
    And I did not speak out
    Because I was not a Communist.
    Then they came for the Socialist
    And I did not speak out
    Because I was not a Socialist.

    Read More

  • Salman Masalha

    The Song About the Child

    Boston Gospel Choir

    Text: Salman Masalha
    Composer: Stephen Feigenbaum