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Jewish Sorrow Justifying the Sorrow of Others
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What the power of Islam is based on
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En quête d'un sourire
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Fatwas Part Sixty-Seven
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Fatwas: Part Forty-Four
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American Religious Refuge From Communism
Fatwas: Part Twenty-Three
MATIERE A REFLEXION
The reason I wrote this article

 

Published in Arabic in Sunday ,August 06,2006

 

Talking in retrospect about the beginning of the Palestinian Uprising known as "Intifada of the stones", a friend of mine showed me a picture published in an Egyptian newspaper depicting a Palestinian small child chasing an Israeli soldier armed to the teeth. The Israeli soldier is seen running away giving his back to the child, who is throwing stones at him. Commenting on the picture, everybody who saw the picture expressed fascination with the courage of the Palestinian child and the cowardice of the Israeli fighter who is running away from a small child who has but a few stones. The caption below the picture was even more extremist than the article associated with it. I kept silent. They asked me to comment.

"One of our cultural problems," I said, "is that we are so much into self- worshipping that we fail to see anybody else worth any consideration. We have monopolized virtues for ourselves and denied them to others. If we have an enemy, then he is the Devil incarnate, full of absolute evil, with no room or chance for any good. We always see one side of the picture, our side, that is, if there are others with us in the picture. If there is nobody else in the picture, we only see the bright and comfortable side, and ignore the other side which nonetheless must be known, diagnosed and treated."

"If anything," I told them, "the picture of the Israeli soldier, armed to teeth, running away from a Palestinian stone-pelting small child, expresses more than anything else the nobility of the soldier, who could kill the child or at least intimidate him by shooting bullets around him without injuring or killing him. Yet, despite his ability, he didn't do it, which shows how noble he is. This, gentlemen, is the side you haven't seen in the picture. You have only seen what you liked, but failed to see what you disliked. Your hatred for Israel urged you to forget the Quran's command to observe justice when talking about others, even if they were enemies: "Let not the hatred towards a people make you avoid being just. Be just, for it is closer to righteousness" (Quran 5: 8)."

 "So, you're defending Israel," they retorted.

"This," I replied, "is another feature of a cultural disease you are suffering from: rejecting and escaping treatment by attacking your doctor using many techniques to avoid the sound diagnosis he gives you. We are not talking about the maze of the Arab-Israeli conflict, but about a specific point in this conflict, captured in this picture, which is the subject of our discussion. You know that, but you don't want to be confronted with your own deficiencies, so you attack the friend who tells you about the shortcomings of your thinking. All you see in your opponent is the devil, and you see yourselves, in return, as infallible angels. You keep looking for all the flaws of your enemy; you even turn his merits into demerits; yet at the same time you see yourselves as absolutely good. This way you reject any reform, because reform begins when a disease or flaw is acknowledged, and you don't seem to be ready for this yet."

One of them smiled, and told me: "You said we see our enemy as nothing but a cursed devil, having no goodness whatsoever. There is no doubt that Sharon is our chief opponent. Can you see anything good about him after he did what he did to Arabs?"

"This, too, is a unilateral view, and your perspective of him as your enemy," I answered. "You have made your absolute judgment that he is a horrible devil. This couldn't be farther from objectivity. Nobody can be absolutely good or absolutely evil. Every soul has been designed by God to be partially evil and partially good. This law applies as much to the best humans, prophets, as it does to anybody else. If you want to know your bad side, ask an enemy of yours who thinks in your unilateral way. He will say the same thing you are saying about Sharon. But if you ask your mum, she will praise you excessively, as per the proverb "A monkey is as beautiful as a deer in the eye of his mother."

"If you want to know the good side of Sharon ask his Israeli countrymen who elected him and whom he serves in his political position. Our problem in political thinking is that we are lazy and want the international community to do our job for us. We think that the rulers of the world must work for our best interests, and not the interests of their peoples. In the event of interest intersecting or enmity, we loathe our enemy because he works for the best interest of his country and people. We are mad with Sharon because he serves his people honestly. What is more sarcastic is that those who are supposed to serve us and defend our interests, the Arab rulers, are only interested in serving themselves. Yet, we applaud them and instead of cursing them, we curse Sharon. Sharon has not killed as many Palestinians in wars as King Hussein did. Nor has he tortured Palestinians the same way the Palestinian Authority and Arab regimes have. Palestinians in Israel enjoy rights that have never been enjoyed by their Palestinian kinsmen in the West Bank or Gaza Strip, or even fancied by Egyptians in Egypt or by any other Arab citizen in his home country. Palestinians in Gulf countries cannot acquire the citizenship of these countries no matter how long they may stay in them. Even if born there, they will remain alien for their lifetime. This applies too to other Arabs who are born in Saudi Arabia but always remain foreigners. This never happens in democratic states, including Israel.

"There is no question that there are some Israeli excesses in treating some Arabs. This is expected in a war that has been going on for more than fifty years amid mutual hatred between the two sides. Suspicion, fear, caution, unpredictable suicide bombs are all behind these excesses. But how do you compare them to the countless cases of humiliation, exploitation, suppression and coercion suffered by every Arab citizen in his own country. When Palestinians gained autonomy, hundreds of thousands living in Israel were expected to move to the West Bank and Gaza Strip, but this did not happen. You know why? because they were better off under the rule of Sharon than the rule of Arafat, Abbas, or Dahlan."

A heavy silence wrapped the place. It was obvious that I reminded them of their agonies. The talk took a consoling turn, and they all started to cite griefs and calamities, draw comparisons and make speculations about looted millions, tell strange stories about people tortured in jail and the addiction of the upper class young men and women to heroin and opium. I asked them about the role of Arab media in exposing these disgraces. "Arab media," I said, "are focused on attacking Americans and Israelis, directing the feelings of fury and frustration to an external enemy instead of directing them towards the local enemy, which is the real enemy."

Why doesn't Al-Hurra American satellite channel play this role?", they asked.

When the United States thought about establishing Al-Hurra (the Free) Channel, Arab regimes and advocates of terrorism were caught by horror. Yet despite all the facilities and financial assistance given to Hurra, the American channel turned into something similar to a local Lebanese channel, without any impact.

"Is that all the US, the superpower of the world, can do?" they asked.

Finding no answer, I wrote this article.


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