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| STATEMENTS (4) |
Dec 2002 - Sep 2003
Article: Israel, Dylan, and the Human Right (Sep 14, 2003)
Article: Review of R. Masmoudi: "The Silenced Majority" (April 23, 2003)
Article: Germany guilty again? (April 06, 2003)
MEDIA CRITICISM (Feb. 20, 2003)
Article: The German Press in the Snuggle Corner (Feb. 15, 2003)
JUSTICE MORE IMPORTANT (Feb. 14, 2003)
007 BASSAM TIBI (Feb. 09, 2003)
Article: Islamic Emails (Feb. 08, 2003)
ASPEKTE (Feb. 08, 2003)
ANTI-MUSLIM STICKER (Feb. 04, 2003)
Article: Palestine, Israel, and the Authoritarian State (Jan. 30, 2003)
DOUBLE SCHMITZ (Jan. 21, 2003)
ELIAS, DUERR, CIVILIZATION (Jan. 19, 2003)
Article: The Israeli Peace Front in the Ring (Jan. 09, 2003)
DER SPIEGEL (Dec. 17, 2002)
Anis Hamadeh, 14.09.03
But what is it then that the Israelis want? There must be some kind of meaning to all this violence. "When Israelis will no longer have the feeling to be afraid of terror on a daily basis, then the military measures will decrease with time", explained Natan Sznaider in the German newspaper Frankfurter Rundschau on Sept. 13, 2003. But it is those military "measures" which lead to terror to begin with, this is known even to the liberal Frankfurter Rundschau. After all these years and decades, the Israelis, too, know the effect of their acts of violence - and the occupation is violence. They know that they are moving further away from peace with this. Never in history have the Palestinians shown so much goodwill and never have they made so many concessions.
For some observers it seems as if Israel simply was an irrational brutal perpetrator. Israel and many Jews are fighting against this image, for instance in the song "Neighborhood Bully", which Bob Dylan wrote in 1983 to justify Israeli violence. In the song it reads: "Well, the neighborhood bully, he's just one man / His enemies say he's on their land. / They got him outnumbered about a million to one, / He got no place to escape to, no place to run. / He's the neighborhood bully. // The neighborhood bully just lives to survive, / He's criticized and condemned for being alive./ He's not supposed to fight back..." (The whole lyrics at www.bobdylan.com/songs/bully.html)
People who know Palestinians, Arabs, and Muslims a little, also know that these lyrics do not really refer to them. Dylan has no idea about Palestinians at all and he does not need them for his statement, anyway. The song shows the Israeli myth, in which the Israeli is criticized, only because he "knocked out a lynch mob". Every maniac is given a license to kill him, says the song. And that he has got no allies to really speak of. He would have obsolete weapons (!). And this despite the fact that the Israeli has turned the "crumbs of the world" into wealth and disease into health. What has he done, asks Dylan, to wear so many scars? Does he change the course of rivers? Does he pollute the moon and stars? Especially these last remarks demonstrate that Dylan does not even think about Israel doing harm to real people. Instead, he wonders what the Israeli might have done to the rivers, the moon, and the stars.
The whole scenario bases on the terrible experiences of the persecution of Jews in Germany. It has little to do with Palestinians or Muslims, but results from the Shoa. The undigested hatred against Jews is being projected on Palestinians and Muslims, for the Nazis were beaten in 1945 and sentenced in Nuremberg. The Jews got a state on an inhabited area. But this time they did not let others hurt them, not like time ago with the Nazis. In this way, Israel in its control drama tries to win World War II in retrospective.
The valiant militant bearing of Israel belongs inherently to the idea of the state, like Susanne Knaul from the left German paper "die tageszeitung" (taz) wrote on Aug. 2, 2003: "Israel is not a state like all the other states, but a state, the existential right of which bases on providing an asylum, if necessary, for all those who are persecuted, because they are Jews. As long as antisemitism exists, Israel must exist as a Jewish state." She did not write who defines all this, because this is not her problem.
That Israel wants to win World War II in retrospective is a plausible and logical explanation, because back then the victim group had been weak and today the former victim group is strong. Today it could defeat the Nazis. The Israeli explanation, on the other hand, is Dylan's, it is antisemitism: the hatred towards Jews, and this only for their being Jews. This explanation indeed had a point to it during the Nazi period, for then antisemitism had been a real policy, and there had indeed hardly been any allies of the Jews, for also in countries other than Germany Jews had been made the scapegoat for all evil. They had been the blind spot in the conscience of the world. Only that this was almost sixty years ago.
Instead of dissolving this blind spot, it was shifted. Until today, the societies in many countries need a scapegoat to escape self-criticism, (not only in Israel, but characteristically there) and to assign everything that is not in order to the "other". In this constellation the human rights have no value, because the other is not conceptualized as a human being (moon and stars). Yet this "other"... is an illusion. (German version)
Review: "THE SILENCED MAJORITY" by Radwan A. Masmoudi, in: "What Is Liberal Islam?" Journal of Democracy Vol. 14/2 (http://www.journalofdemocracy.org), April 2003, pp 40-44.
A constructive article about the future of Islamic Civilization. In the beginning, Masmoudi explains the concept of Liberal Islam by calling it a movement and "a branch, or school, of Islam that emphasizes human liberty and freedom within Islam." He does not talk in party political terms here, but in terms of a liberal mentality, one that already exists and one which is gaining ground, as the author, founding president of the Washington, D.C.-based Center for the Study of Islam and Democracy (www.islam-democracy.org.), continues to indicate.
As points of reference he mentions "classical libertarians such as Frédéric Bastiat, Ludwig von Mises, or Friedrich von Hayek" in their capacities as promoters of "limited government, individual liberty, human dignity, and human rights." (p 40). On the next page, Masmoudi names some of the already existing liberal Muslims who he sees to fit the description. They are Tarek al-Bichri and Saleem al-Awwa (Egypt), Mohamed Talbi (Tunisia), Anwar Ibrahim (Malaysia), Fathi Osman, Aziza al-Hibri, and Abdulaziz Sachedina (United States), Shafeeq Ghabra (Kuwait), Abdelwahab El-Affendi (Sudan), Nurcholish Madjid (Indonesia), Ibrahim al-Wazir (Yemen), and Abdul Karim Soroush (Iran).
But why do they represent a silenced and "overwhelming" majority? Because, says Radwan Masmoudi, political power and control is with two minority groups which he calls "secular extremists and religious extremists" (p 41). Yet both have lost legitimacy, because of their controlling, repressing, and often enough violent character. And thus the majority of Muslims would "want to practice their religion faithfully, but (...) also want to live in the modern age; that is, they want a modern, moderate, and appropriate interpretation of Islam." (p 42).
The author sees the major impulses for a transition of Muslim societies in western pioneers. He writes at the end of his article: "The reformation of Islam will require freedom and democracy, and right now, the only place where we have them is in the West. It is for this reason that I believe reformation will begin in the West." Similar thoughts I remember from the Egyptian Professor Nasr Abu Zayd.
I share the attitude and the assessment of Dr. Masmoudi that such a social transition is due. I also see the advantage to benefit from the knowledge of western Muslims who have experienced more freedom. Yes I have such a notion of a liberal Islam where "faith and reason are combined" (p 42). I wonder only if "the international community needs to exert sustained pressure on the existing governments to allow more freedom, because it is in their own interest and in that of their societies." (p 43) It does, in fact, clash with his own Qur'anic claim of "La ikraha fi d-din", ("there can be no compulsion in religion." p 40). One could argue that the international community has nothing to do with religion, but this is not what Masmoudi means.
The pillars of liberal Islam for him are "Hurriya" (liberty), "Adl" (justice), "Shura" (consultation), and "Ijtihad" (rational interpretation). (p 41) And in this context he writes: "It is vital for the Muslim ummah today that the doors of Ijtihad -closed for some 500 years -be reopened." And yes yes, we liberal Muslims cheerfully greet you, Brother Radwan! Thus you are against "Taqlid", against the mere adaption of what the self-declared authorities say, and be they American.
In my view, the western countries find difficulties in living up to their virtues like democracy, freedom, or pluralism, especially in the foreign policies. There are cracks in this democratic ideal, especially a lacking outgroup behavior. Therefore it would seem adequate to decompose the concept of democracy and to name and re-evaluate its factors in Islamic terms. In our age of fast information the politically relevant discourses more and more overlap and approach and challenge each other. A transition in the Arab and Muslim societies can to my mind only interact with a transition in the democratic West. This will be a different kind of reform, but it is necessary. Just look at the UN!
Let's face it: we are still living in a world of classes, of bettermen and worsemen, be it on the level of international communities or of single societies. We need the common standard on all those different levels, this would seem to be a reformed Islam to me. In summary, I share most of this article's approach and ideals, while my own liberalism might stress the egalitarian element more; and maybe I set some more hope in internal processes, as the new media and the new policies are changing the world.
Anis Hamadeh, April 23, 2003
Anis Hamadeh, April 6, 2003
The worst idea that Germany ever implemented was the theory of races which had ended in the genocide of 6 million Jews. This horror became the incarnation, even the caricature of guilt. This is so until today, sixty years later. It is conspicuous that in no other conflict in the world the question of guilt is remotely as clearly answered as in World War II. In every other conflict one is referred to the complexity of the situation and warned against thinking in black-and-white. This holds true for conflicts between societies as well as those within societies. This is what every German child learns. The concept of guilt occurs to him or her in a non-relative form only in one single archetype, the one that Jews were murdered by Nazis.
Even the war of the US does not seem to be a clear case of guilt, although international law was violated. The leader of the opposition, for example, speaks about a "community of values" connecting between Germany and the USA and allegedly weighing more than the war. In respect to Israel, too, one speaks about a "special relationship", meaning that the ties between groups are stronger than international law. Therefore, our celebrated philosophers, like Juergen Habermas, formulate things like: "The reproach of anti-Semitism, no matter if it is spoken by right or not by right, relates to the injuring of a value orientation which by now is firmly established in our political culture." (Sueddeutsche Zeitung, June 7, 02, p.13)
It is no simple task to keep this "political hygiene" (Minister Clement). Let's consider, for example, the main official reason for the war, that Iraq violated UN resolutions. By reason of Israel also having continuously violated UN resolutions, the guards of the special relationship must pay attention that nobody will focus on this anti-Israeli argument in public. Thus only such journalists and politicians are admitted who do not deal with this embarrassing argument. For it is conspicuous that this plain fact is hardly mentioned in talkshows, in interviews and in articles. The Germans want to defend Israel so that there cannot be any guilt, i.e. Jewish suffering.
Thus due to the community of values and the special relationship the decade-long occupation of Palestine - often condemned by the UN - and the killing of Palestinian lives by order of the government do not constitute a clear guilt in the view of the German public (and of a big part of the official world). Similar to the US referring to Bin Laden, the Israelis refer to the suicide bombers and make them representatives of the opposing group. Firstly - say both the US and Israel - terror has to stop completely, then there have to be pleasant governments, then there have to be concessions also, and then some years have to pass, before a real peace can be achieved. And the Germans don't know what to say.
There is no aggression detectable between Germany and Israel. This is amazing, for the Germans had killed six million Jews. We could see how aggressively the US has reacted on September Eleventh. We can also see how aggressive the meanwhile right-wing extremist Israeli government has behaved with the Palestinians. Thank God they inflict their aggressions on the Arabs and not on us, foreign minister Joseph Fischer may think while being decorated with orders by Jews and Israelis.
And the Israelis go ahead. In the shadow of the war on Iraq they intensify the pressure on the Palestinians. Even though the German newspapers and politicians, due to the special relationship, mostly are silent about it, it is a known fact for the Germans that the Israelis go too far. Everybody is reading on the internet about the killed children and peace activists, about the curfews and the demolition of houses, the expulsions and expropriations, the military actions and the imprisonments. In order to still defend Israel, the German public must also get rid of Israel criticism. This is done by playing down and by being silent about Israeli violence and by the reference to the archetypical situation of guilt: to be against Israel be similar to being Nazi (anti-Semitism etc.). In this way people look for and find Hitler in the critics and the circle is closed.
The German mainstream can do that. It can also imagine to compensate for the guilt towards the Jews in this way. But it cannot prevent to become guilty towards a people again, the Palestinians, if it finds that it has been following an error. For as long as Germany is silent, other countries will also be silent. For Germany is an expert on guilt and thus it will pay attention... Only if the trust in the right-wing extremist Israeli government was disappointed, and if they found that in all this time they were not dealing with the security of Israel, but with the realization of a destructive ideology and with cherishing a control drama, then the German public would really have a problem explaining itself. It waits and sees. It says: well, the Americans disappointed us, but the Israelis would never do that. After all, they are victims. We can trust them. (German version)
JUSTICE MORE IMPORTANT
007 BASSAM TIBI
There is an intriguing parallel between communication in Islamic law and communication via internet. A parallel where no-tech meets high-tech. You can see it when you compare the structure of an email with the structure of a hadith (stressed on the long "ee" vowel), i.e. a legally relevant quote from the prophet Muhammad. Both serve the purpose of authorized message sending. But why the internet, you will ask, every letter does that. Of course every letter does that, but a letter is different, firstly because it is usually addressed to only one person or group, and secondly letters have no isnad. No what? OK, let's start at the beginning: ASPEKTE ANTI-MUSLIM STICKER
There is an intriguing parallel between communication in Islamic law and communication via internet. A parallel where no-tech meets high-tech. You can see it when you compare the structure of an email with the structure of a hadith (stressed on the long "ee" vowel), i.e. a legally relevant quote from the prophet Muhammad. Both serve the purpose of authorized message sending. But why the internet, you will ask, every letter does that. Of course every letter does that, but a letter is different, firstly because it is usually addressed to only one person or group, and secondly letters have no isnad. No what? OK, let's start at the beginning:
ASPEKTE ANTI-MUSLIM STICKER
Nobody seems to be happy about the Israeli election results. Not the Israelis, not the Palestinians, not the world, not the press, not the peaceniks. It was an anti-election, the international press wrote. The Israelis are desperate and have shifted to the "right-wing", although this was not what they wanted, they wrote. One third of the Israelis did not even vote at all, because they see no possible change. Only an external factor can bring change, the press writes, but who? Warrior USA? The Quartett? The UN? Old Europe? The extra-terrestrians? DOUBLE SCHMITZ ELIAS, DUERR, CIVILIZATION
If I was to name the three major Israeli peace activists, I'd say Uri Avnery, Israel Shamir, and Shraga Elam. Between Uri and Shamir there is a fight about principles going on, launched by Shamir in some articles, a fight which behind Shamir's polemics shows seemingly clashing and often contradicting attitudes, although both fight for peace and freedom in Palestine Israel. Both I call and always want to call friends in spirit. DER SPIEGEL
Nobody seems to be happy about the Israeli election results. Not the Israelis, not the Palestinians, not the world, not the press, not the peaceniks. It was an anti-election, the international press wrote. The Israelis are desperate and have shifted to the "right-wing", although this was not what they wanted, they wrote. One third of the Israelis did not even vote at all, because they see no possible change. Only an external factor can bring change, the press writes, but who? Warrior USA? The Quartett? The UN? Old Europe? The extra-terrestrians?
ELIAS, DUERR, CIVILIZATION
If I was to name the three major Israeli peace activists, I'd say Uri Avnery, Israel Shamir, and Shraga Elam. Between Uri and Shamir there is a fight about principles going on, launched by Shamir in some articles, a fight which behind Shamir's polemics shows seemingly clashing and often contradicting attitudes, although both fight for peace and freedom in Palestine Israel. Both I call and always want to call friends in spirit.