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Uri Avnery': "Islam is the Solution"

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    Islam is the Solution Uri Avnery Gush Shalom - Israeli Peace Bloc FIRST, AN apology: I am not going to write about the Wikileaks. I like gossip as much as
    Message 1 of 1 , Dec 6, 2010
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      "Islam is the Solution"
      Uri Avnery
      Gush Shalom - Israeli Peace Bloc


      FIRST, AN apology: I am not going to write about the Wikileaks.
      I like gossip as much as the next (wo)man. The leaks provide a lot of
      it, interspersed with some real information.

      But there is nothing really new there. The information only confirms
      what any intelligent person could have worked out already. If there is
      anything new, it's exactly this confirmation: the world is really
      managed the way we thought it was. How depressing.

      Four hundred years ago, Sir Henry Wotton, a British diplomat, observed
      that "An ambassador is an honest man sent to lie abroad for the good
      of his country." Since then, nothing has changed except that the
      ambassador has been joined by the ambassadress. So it is quite
      refreshing to listen to what they say in secret messages home, when
      they don't have to lie.

      That said, let's move on to more important things.

      THIS WEEK'S ELECTIONS in Egypt, for example.

      Years ago, the story goes that a Soviet citizen went to the polling
      station on election-day and was handed a sealed envelope to put into
      the ballot box.

      "Aren't I allowed to see who I am voting for?" he asked.

      "Of course not!" the stern-faced official retorted indignantly, "In
      our Soviet Union, the elections are secret!"

      This could not happen in Egypt. First of all, because Egyptians are a
      very humorous people. If told that their elections were secret, they
      would burst out laughing.

      Second, because they so obviously are not.

      On one of my visits to Anwar Sadat's Cairo, I had the chance to
      witness an election day. It was a jolly occasion, more a medieval
      carnival than a solemn fulfillment of democratic duty. Everybody was
      happy.

      Visiting a polling station in a village near the Giza pyramids, I was
      struck by this atmosphere of jolly cynicism. No one even pretended
      that it was serious. Good-humored soldiers guarding the locale
      volunteered to help old women in choosing the right ballot and putting
      it in the envelope.

      I am not sure whether this good humor has been retained under the
      Mubarak regime, but the results are the same. Media editors, all
      appointed by the government, prevent any criticism of the government.
      Opposition activists are arrested well before election day (if they
      are not in prison already). The government party is a sorry joke. No
      one seriously pretends that the country is anything but a
      dictatorship. The upper classes like it that way, not only out of
      fondness for their privileges but also out of a genuine fear that
      under democracy, their country would elect a fundamentalist religious
      regime, with burqas and all.

      ALL OVER the Arab world, this is a real dilemma. Free elections would
      bring fundamentalists to power.

      During the last century, secular nationalism was in vogue. In many
      Arab countries, nationalist movements sprang up. Their model was the
      great Ataturk - a revolutionary renovator as no other. He suppressed
      Islam, forbade the fez for men and the hijab for women, replaced the
      Arabic with the Latin script, fostered Turkish nationalism instead of
      the Ottoman Islamism.

      This, by the way, was a model for many of us, who aspired to replace
      the Jewish religion and Zionist pseudo-nationalism with a healthy
      Hebrew territorial secular nationalism. The son of Eliezer Ben-Yehuda,
      the renovator of the modern Hebrew language, also proposed replacing
      the Hebrew script with a Latin one.

      In Turkey, the Ataturk revolution is now threatened by the upsurge of
      a rejuvenated Islam. In Israel, the new Hebrew nation is under siege
      by a fundamentalist, aggressive Judaism. All over the Arab world, the
      situation is worse.

      To put it bluntly: secular nationalism has not delivered. It has
      brought no real independence, no freedom, no economic and
      technological breakthrough.

      In the economic sphere, no Arab country has succeeded in doing what
      has been done by Japan, South Korea and even Malaysia, and what is
      being done now by China and India. The successful Israeli example is
      near at hand and increases the frustration.

      The dream of a secular pan-Arab union, as envisioned by Gamal
      Abd-al-Nasser and the original Ba'athists, is in tatters. So is the
      dream of Arab independence. Almost all Arab countries are backward
      American clients and dance to the American tune. A whole generation of
      Arab leaders has spectacularly failed.

      The most recent example was Yasser Arafat. He created a Palestinian
      national movement that was proud of its non-sectarianism. Christian
      Arabs played a significant role in the Palestine Liberation
      Organization. George Habash was a Christian physician from Ramallah,
      the Christian Hanan Ashrawi is one of the most articulate Palestinian
      spokespersons.

      Arafat himself was a practicing Muslim. Often, even in private
      conversations, he would excuse himself, disappear for a few minutes
      and return unobtrusively, while his assistants would whisper to us
      that the Ra'is was praying. Yet he never tired of assuring everyone
      that the future State of Palestine would be free of any religious
      domination.

      As long as he was alive, political Islam remained a minor influence,
      and not because of any repressive measures.

      ALL THIS is history. The Sunni Hamas ("Islamic Resistance Movement")
      and the Shiite Hezbollah ("Party of God") are becoming the models for
      masses of young people all over the Arab world.

      One of the major reasons for this is Palestine.

      If Arafat had succeeded in founding the free and sovereign State of
      Palestine, the texture of Arab politics would have changed, not only
      in Palestine itself but in all Arab countries.

      The rise of Hamas in Palestine is a direct result of this failure.
      Secular Palestinian nationalism has been given a try, and has failed.
      The Islamic revolutionaries are appealing to a people deprived of all
      national and human rights, with no alternative in sight.

      As the Wikileaks show (here I go, mentioning them after all) not one
      single Arab regime gives a damn about the Palestinians. That is
      nothing new - indeed, Arafat created his movement, Fatah (`Palestinian
      Liberation Movement"), in order to liberate the Palestinians, first of
      all, from the cynical Arab regimes, all of which exploited the
      "Palestinian Cause" for their own ends.

      But the depth of cynicism revealed in these conversations between Arab
      potentates and their American masters borders on outright betrayal.
      This will increase the already massive frustration not only in
      Palestine, but in all Arab countries. Any young Egyptian, Jordanian,
      Saudi or Bahraini (to mention only a few) must be acutely aware that
      his country is led by a small group for whom the preservation of their
      personal power and privileges is vastly more important than the holy
      cause of Palestine.

      This is a deeply humiliating insight. It may not produce immediate
      results, but when hundreds of millions of people feel humiliated, the
      effects are foreseeable. The older generation may be used to this
      situation. But for young people, especially proud Arabs, it is
      intolerable.

      I am very sensitive to this kind of feeling, because at the age of 15
      I felt the same and joined the "terrorist" Irgun ("National Military
      Organization"). I just could not stand the sight of my leaders
      kowtowing before the British rulers of my country. Putting myself in
      the shoes of a young Arab of similar age now in Jeddah, Alexandria or
      Aleppo, I can just imagine what he feels. Even Ehud Barak, that
      veteran Arab-fighter, once said that if he were a young Palestinian,
      he would join a terrorist organization.

      Sooner or later, the situation will explode - first in one country,
      then in many. The fate of the Shah of Iran should be remembered by
      those who speak - in secret documents - about the "Iranian Hitler" who
      is on the verge of obtaining a nuclear bomb.

      THE FRUSTRATION about Palestine is the immediate cause of this
      humiliation, being manifest for all to see, but the feeling itself
      goes beyond one single cause.

      Secular nationalism has signally failed the Arabs. Communism has never
      taken root in the Islamic world, being by its very nature inimical to
      the basic tenets of Islam. Capitalism, while attractive to some, has
      also failed to solve any of the basic problems of the Arab world.

      The Islamic revolutionary movement in its many forms promises a viable
      alternative. It is no fluke that the Egyptian dictatorship forbids the
      use of the slogan "Islam is the Solution" - the simple and effective
      slogan that unites the Islamic opposition in all the countries. There
      is a gaping vacuum in the Arab world, with no one there to fill it -
      except Islamism.

      FOR THE US, this is a huge challenge. Obama seemed to have perceived
      it, before he was swallowed - head and body - by the American
      political routine.

      Everybody seems to be talking about the Decline of the American
      Empire. It's all the rage. What's happening in the Arab world may
      accelerate or slow this process. The creation of a sovereign, free and
      viable State of Palestine - with the electrifying effect this would
      have throughout the Arab region, indeed the entire Islamic world -
      would slow it considerably.

      Judging from these leaks, this seems very far from the minds of
      American statesmen and stateswomen, such as they are.

      For Israel, the outlook is even grimmer. The prospect of a
      fundamentalist Arab world, with a completely new and popular set of
      leaders, surrounding us on all sides, with the power of America (and
      its Jewish lobby) declining ever more, is a frightening prospect
      indeed.

      If I were responsible for Israel at this moment, I would worry about
      this much more than about the Iranian bomb.

      Fortunately, this is not an inescapable danger. Israeli policy can do
      a lot to avert it. Unfortunately, we are doing the exact opposite.

      To those who chant "Islam is the Solution", our answer should be: "A
      just Peace is the Solution".

      *********************************************************************

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