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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)
007 BASSAM TIBI (Feb. 09, 2003)
Article: Islamic Emails (Feb. 08, 2003)
ASPEKTE (Feb. 08, 2003)
Article: Palestine, Israel, and the Authoritarian State (Jan. 30, 2003)
DOUBLE SCHMITZ (Jan. 21, 2003)
Article: The Israeli Peace Front in the Ring (Jan. 09, 2003)
DER SPIEGEL (Dec. 17, 2002)

Israel, Dylan, and the Human Right
Anis Hamadeh, 14.09.03

It would not contribute to peace in Israel, if Arafat was expelled, said the international press and politics almost unisono. Why, asked networker Raja from England in an email, do the Israelis want to expel Arafat and not, for example, Hamas granddad Sheikh Yassine? (Because there is a chance for peace with Arafat, he suggests.) Neither would the shooting of projectiles from helicopters - in order to kill humans - lead to peace, say even Israeli politicians. The land-stealing wall would not be a measure for peace, and also the racist new marriage law. The continuation of the settlements, the occupation, random imprisonments, torture, demolition of homes, curfews, razzias, and the vexations at the checkpoints would not have much to do with peace, the press assured, as well as the fact that the Israelis don't contribute to the roadmap at all.

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

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

Germany guilty again?
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)


Translation follows Nach einer umfassenden und langfristigen Beobachtung der deutschen Öffentlichkeit seit dem Elften September (siehe Anis Online: Statements, Artikel, Essays, Ozzy Balou, Bambus, Rooms) wurde unter anderem festgestellt, dass die Demokratie in Deutschland durch gesellschaftliche Ausgrenzungen erschwert wird. Diese werden unter anderem begünstigt durch die Priorität von jenseits der Kritik stehenden Antisemitismus-Definitionen einer bestimmten Gruppe (z.B. im Fall Karsli).

Diese Priorität ist dogmatisch, insofern sie von außen nicht anfechtbar ist, und sie steht im Verdacht der Ideologienähe, da sie erstens - wie gezeigt werden konnte - in unserer Öffentlichkeit regelmäßig und unwidersprochen angewendet wird und da sie zweitens in einem Zusammenhang steht mit ungeahndeten Menschenrechtsverletzungen eines bestimmten Staates. Dies kann insbesondere in Deutschland nicht geduldet werden, da die Ablehnung einer Gruppe als Sündenbock zur Erreichung gesellschaftlicher Einigkeit das schlimmste Verbrechen des Nationalsozialismus gewesen ist. Daher muss speziell den Deutschen klar sein, dass sie eine namentliche Mitverantwortung an gesellschaftlichen Ausgrenzungen tragen. Eine Missachtung dieser Verantwortung, aus welchen Gründen auch immer sie geschehen mag, stellt eine Schuld dar. (20.02.03)
(German original)

The German Press in the Snuggle Corner
Anis Hamadeh, 15 Feb. 2003

The German press does not have an easy time these days. How did it struggle over the solidarity with our liberating power shortly after September 11. The USA? Heroes that were. For months this rumor was being reported. Not only was the self-censorship of the US press openly talked about, it was co-experienced by the Germans. They wanted to show that they are compassionate. That was the main issue.

And today? Today the wind has turned. Criticism of America is not only allowed, no, the liberal press is topping itself with harsh attacks against America and its allies. It is (by right) called a war for oil and for the weapon industry. An initiative war. In the countries of Eastern Europe there is hardly any news coverage about the opposition and the peace movements, says the German press enraged. Powell's 'historical speech' ("We have new evidence!") was torn up and three German ministers today join the mega-demonstrations against the war. (Whether Frau Daeubler-Gmelin also participates was not reported.)

The German chancelor has now become a pacifist, even Markus Deggerich from Spiegel Online remarked in amazement. And the press asked itself how to deal with this. What about all those taboos which we have elaborated and cemented with much effort over decades? the chief editors wondered. A change of attitude was needed in order to suddenly argue for peace and to deny the hawks the unquestioned delivery of their authoritarians' bonus. What exactly is the issue that is to be questioned, anyway?

For the German press reality is something told to them by someone they put their trust in. There is no other way to explain (or to generate, respectively) the homogeneity in our media landscape. For a long time they had trusted in the Americans, because they were of the opinion that events would in any case all have their origins in New York, Washington, or Hollywood. And now the journalists are a little uncertain. This although the German press would really have deserved a break, as it had spent a huge amount of energy for months on fighting and ousting the liberal politician Juergen Moellemann and with him all anti-Zionist voices. But the world is ungrateful. Again the press has to reconsider things, for the wind is blowing critically towards the US today.

The high amount of public USA criticism has a further effect: Jews and Israelis feel a bit uncomfortable about it. The USA - say the Israelis - are fighting terrorism, just like us. If you are anti-American, we will fear that anti-Semitism will break out again, too, like a nasty plague. But no, said the German press in embarrassment, trying to calm them, you know exactly that we would never be anti-Israel, whatever Israel may do. So in order to evoke the trust of the Jews and Israelis, and also because of feelings of guilt towards the USA, the German press agreed to grant the Jews and Israelis special considerations, as a compensation for their criticism towards Bush. It is observable that the Americans and the Israelis argue very similarly, so criticism has to be carefully weighed and has to show why it is valid for some and not for others. So the press balanced the issue and said: we will give you ten anti-Semitism articles every week, and we will also let Sharon be. Moreover, we meanwhile believe ourselves that the Arabs and the Muslims are going too far with their anti-Semitism. D-i-d-n-'-t-t-h-e-y-l-e-a-r-n-a-n-y-t-h-i-n-g-o-u-t-o-f-t-h-e-w-a-r-? This is the snuggle corner of the German press.

During the last weeks there had been relatively little Palestinian violence, but not little Israeli violence. There is a frightening rumor today that the Israelis, due to the ongoing anti-Semitism, are aiming at a final solution for the Palestinians. Sometimes war is inevitable, says Paul Spiegel from the Central Council of the Jews in Germany. His prime minister Ariel Sharon, too, the politician who is most controversial in international law, just feels more secure with nuclear war heads. The press, at any rate, kept its word and was silent. But what could we write instead, they wondered. That the EU is paying the anti-Semitic terrorism, answered Ilka Schroeder, a militarist legislator for the EU in Brussels with a polemic ideological vocabulary, and she demanded, among other things, to pay this EU money to the Israeli army. (www.ilka.org, press statement No. 03/2002). Now this goes a little too far, smiled the editors of the "tageszeitung" (taz), but we can publish the first bit alright. The other newspapers also concerned themselves with neutralizing the fears of the Jews and the Israelis. They paid attention that nothing went public which could please the omnipresent Nazi, for he could take it to be anti-Semitic. So much they are paying attention that they continuously make it an issue and thus make it public, which will probably please this very Nazi. (e.g. Sueddeutsche Zeitung today: "Anti-Semitic threatening letters to Ude").

The fear of threat, of attack, and of rejection... A friend once told me that his mother had subjectively felt threatened by him. In order to deal with this she lied to the police and tried to bring him out of society because of an alleged violence and feeble-mindedness. Factually, she only had a bad conscience inside, my friend said, and that she had difficulties in accepting criticism by anyone. This is what a subjective feeling of being threatened can also lead to. It can also lead to human rights violations, to war, and to the double standard. It can even lead to a leader cult, as was known as soon as in the first half of the 20th century: "All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger." This said Hermann Goering in 1946 in Nuremberg; he was found guilty in all charges and sentenced to death by hanging and escaped this situation with cyanide.
(German original)


(Feb. 14, 2003) On the Sharon case in Belgium, Daniela Weingaertner writes in the commentary "Dialogue would be more important" ("die tageszeitung" taz, today) that the persecution of Sharon's severe war crimes is not opportune for political reasons. Weingaertner is worried about the "crop-damage" (Flurschaden) and the "controversial lump sums of the EU for the Autonomy Administration", but not about the observance of the human rights. She separates these things and by doing so supports in an exemplary way extreme authoritarian and violent behavior:

"(...) So the Sharon law-suit will, despite the now attained juridicial intermediate victory, remain without results. For this meagre result the diplomatic crop-damage is unproportionally big. The ice-cold silence between Israel and Belgium does already biase the relations of Israel with the whole European Union. This although there would be a lot to discuss - for example, it has to be clarified whether Israel will start again with its payments to Palestine in the former scope and whether the controversial lump sum support of the EU for the Autonomy Administration can thus be stopped. In view of the explosive global situation such a dialogue is indispensible. Threats of law-suits are not promotive of creating a readiness for dialogue."
(German original)


(09 Feb. 2003) The prize-winning German weekly newspaper DIE ZEIT once again has launched one of its celebrated (or notorious, respectively) full page antisemitism articles in the current edition. Part 6 of the "Zeit" series "Islam and the West", in which also renowned authors like Professor Nasr Abu Zayd and Dr. Navid Kermani have participated, bears the title: "The imported hate. Antisemitism is widely spread in the Arab World. This although it contradicts Islamic tradition." The oevre was written by the known populitologist and inventor of the "Leitkultur" (leading culture) Professor Bassam Tibi from the University of Goettingen, who, in his lucrative capacity as an educated alibi-Muslim, and with a surprising lightness, manages time and time again to first insult all Islamic, then to denounce it, and finally to give it sound advice. Exactly like in the presented title: hate, antisemitism, contradiction.

There are three representative quotations in bold letters on the page, firstly: "Islamists and neo-Nazis are united through the belief in a Jewish world conspiracy. The 'anti-Zionism' of radical Muslims in reality hardly differs from the National Socialist ideology." In the second it says that during the Middle Ages everything was alright: "Only in the twentieth century Muslims learned to regard the Jews as enemies - with extra lessons from Europe." And thirdly: "Since September 11 many warn against the 'stereotype enemy Islam'. But the anti-Semitic motif of the assaults goes completely unrendered in the discussion."

The article starts with the appearance of neo-Nazi functionaries at a seminar of violent Islamists and ends with the Jewish newspaper Juedische Allgemeine which recently has 'rightly' complained about Germany not wanting to see much or to know at all about the 'anti-Semitic dimension of September 11'. In between you find a joining of sentences, in which - as if we would deal with a mere atmospherical text - nothing substancial is uttered contentwise other than what the title said. Namely that the Arabs and Muslims have adopted anti-Semitism from the Nazis and that they are changing into Nazis more and more.

The Jews, by contrast, in Tibi's article turn out to be true model pupils, poor victims, and mistaken well-wishers. As the editor of a publication celebrating the controversial Professor of Islamic Studies Bernard Lewis, Tibi mentions the Israeli Martin Kramer, who lives in Tel Aviv and who notes the fact "that the tremendously high valuation of Islam exceptionlessly bases on the research results of Jewish scholars." :-) So, basically, the Arabs should show gratefulness towards the Jews instead of nazifying themselves like on anti-Semitic September 11. Tibi quotes the politologist Schlomo Avineri from Jerusalem: "Jewish Islamic Studies have always wanted to give Islam a better image, because in view of European anti-Semitism they were looking for prop in an oriental identity." Could such a people ever be an oppressor? A human rights violator? A people that has suffered so much etc.

Yet, when an Arab (or scholar of Islamic Studies) reads such preposterous allegations he or she should not get angry and react cool, for anger on anything remotely connected to Jews is anti-Semitic, as you know, and is punished with social exclusion. Now dear German press, see what kind of junk is coming about with all your philo-Semitism. You could at least have had this thing fixed by a real PR guy, then it would not have gotten so conspicious and clumsy. Why don't you read the "tageszeitung" (taz), they have today also dealt with violent Islamists, but in a journalistic way. ("Never sought the dialogue" by Ralph Ghadban, taz 08.02.03, http://www.taz.de/pt/2003/02/08/a0109.nf/text) In any way, I do not appreciate, if the ZEIT creates such connexions between internationally renowned personalities, who had also written for this series, with such a product placement. Regards to the ZEIT editors and good luck furthermore with keeping the status quo!
(German original)

Islamic Emails
Anis Hamadeh 08 Feb. 2003

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:

Beginning from about 610 A.D. Muhammad received the Qur'an and became a prophet. As the years went by it became clear to the people from Medina and from Mekka that a new era with a new culture and language and legal system had dawned and that all this manifested in the prophet. So they started memorizing and writing down whatever Muhammad said and did, for they knew it would be an important guidance and legend for later generations. But how could they preserve the exact wording of what Muhammad said? You must know that the Arabs at that time were very accurate about texts and wordings. So they invented and developed the hadith and the khabar systems, hadith for the information from the prophet, and khabar for other historical information. The structure was basically the same, only in hadith they had to be even more precise as it was the second-highest ranking source of jurisprudence and jurisdiction. A single hadith consists of two elements: the message (matn) and the chain of transmitters (isnad, stressed on the long "a" vowel). Thus a hadith basically has a form like this:

Yahya bin Sa'id al-Ansari said: Muhammad bin Ibrahim al-Taimi said: 'Alqamah said: 'Umar said: the Prophet said: "Actions are to be judged by their intentions".

Five people are in the chain of authorities here, this is the first part, the isnad, then follows the message. If it was not for the chain of transmitters, there would not be much of a parallel between hadith and emailing. But when you forward a message to your friend and when your friend forwards it further you create a chain of transmitters which is even more precise than the one in hadith.

Nice for a chuckle, you might think, but think about it again. We are not talking about anecdotes here, this is about the way we deal with information in general, this is epistemology. The hadith technique is reviving in email communication. The interesting bit is the authenticity of the chain. Because of the technical circumstances people hardly doubt the originality of the chain of transmitters and their identities. Of course email identities are not completely safe and can be highjacked, but the same holds true for hadiths. Some of them are controversial and some were simply made up in later times. Such is life. In the general discourse, however, this is not a major issue or obstacle. We also have the expectation that the text of a forwarded email is authentic, and why shouldn't we? In case of doubt we can even ask the earlier chain members. Here is an example of forwarding:

Newspaper E said: journalist D said: politician C said: peace activist B said: opinion leader A said: "Let's sign this statement."

Differently from email forwarding, the chain of transmitters in hadith normally consists of people from different generations. One of the main motivations for hadith was to preserve the words through time. Thus the above Arab chain needed more than a hundred years to be generated. In forwarding, on the other hand, the chain of transmitters serves the purpose - in the cases it serves a purpose at all - to trace a message back to the originator and to pass on authorized information in no-time.

This is possible since the the virtual public was invented with mailme persons. Mailme persons (or even mailme celebrities) are networking people like journalists or politicians or artists who have a publically known email address and thus a public identity (including reputation etc.) similar to the hadith transmitters then. Of course they do not all share the same discourse, as hadith transmitters did, but the analogy seems to make sense for example in peace networking where idealistic motivations prevail.

It is a recognition system and part of the augmented public we call the virtual world. Homepage messages are similar. You can quote them. This is no-tech communication in a high-tech mantle. Welcome, internet, to Islamic epistemology!
(German version)


----- Original Message -----
From: Anis Hamadeh
To: Nasr Abu Zayd
Sent: Saturday, February 08, 2003 12:35 AM
Subject: You on TV

Dear Professor Nasr Abu Zayd,

just saw you on TV in 'Aspekte' and read your new online interview http://www.zdf.de/ZDFde/inhalt/8/0,1872,2033032,00.html


Only the feature as such was not so good. They alluded to have found the "taboo" solution: the Qur'an is in reality neither from God nor from Muhammad, it is Tora and Bible rewritten for Arabs! Some freaky people with alienated voices in a darkened room said that in the feature. It was rather childish. Germans! I will probably write a statement about it.

Wow, you were on TV.

Salaam, goodnight,



(04 Feb. 2003) For some time there are bumper stickers sold in the USA. They say: "No Muslims - No terrorism" (see picture 1 below). The Washington Post reported on Friday ("Sticker Shock" by Al Kamen, page A25) that those stickers were sold at the Conservative Political Action Conference (see picture 2), openly first, then under the table. The Israeli peace activist Shraga Elam noted that we are obviously dealing with an Israeli import here. (see picture 3).

It can be witnessed recently that Arabs and Muslims in the West are increasingly being discriminated. In the USA, at www.campuswatch.org, professors and universities were blacklisted who had too soft views towards Islam and a too critical attitude towards Israel. In the middle of November 2002, US president Bush had to distance himself from the statements of several conservative Christian leaders who had characterized Islam as a violent religion. And the writings of Fallaci and Houellebecq, which in parts are rather polemical and radical.

People express a kind of fear of the suspicious Muslims and Arabs. And there has to be somebody against whom the "monumental war between good and evil" is to be carried out. But the terror fear and the poetry of George W. Bush are not the only causes of this outgrouping: it is also because of Muslim criticism towards the West. The Arabs are often regarded to be continuously criticizing Israel without consideration of the holocaust (which was not caused by Arabs or Muslims). The explicit consideration of Israel's interests is dividing the world into those who are against racism, and those who are against anti-Semitism and racism. That means: no defamations, especially of Jews and Israelis. The effect is an unbalanced situation which promotes anti-Arab and anti-Islamic racism in free speech, a racism which is not terminologized with a concept of its own.
(German original)

   Picture 1: Anti-Muslim bumper sticker

   Picture 2: These bumper stickers were being sold at the Conservative Political Action Conference. (David S. Holloway -- For The Washington Post)

   Picture 3: Israeli version: "No Arabs -- No Terror Acts". This sticker was produced by the right radical Itamar Ben Gvir and was forbidden by the Israel AG several months ago. Still a t-shirt with the same slogan might be bought. (s.e.)

Palestine, Israel, and the Authoritarian State
Anis Hamadeh, Jan. 30, 2003

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?

Whatever confusion the Israelis may talk about, the result is a political shift towards an even more authoritarian and violently controlling government, a result which was made possible, among other factors, by the public world opinion that this unloved government mostly is the fault of those Palestinians who have no right to vote, as they are not Jewish enough. But no, this government was elected by the Israelis alone, and they knew exactly what they were voting for when they voted for Likud. Because shortly before the elections Sharon militarily attacked Gaza and killed human beings there without any urgent reason other than showing the Israeli voters that there will be severe violence when they vote for Likud. And they did.

Leaders of violent Palestinian groups had gathered and discussed the stopping of the suicide assaults, but Sharon destroyed this flower of hope himself: No, he said to both the Israelis and the Palestinians, we must continue suffering and killing. There were similar constellations when the Saudi-Arabian crown prince declared in the name of the Arabs that Israel will be accepted. Another flower of hope. Where are the Israeli counter-flowers? We have no Palestinians to negotiate with, the Israelis say, but there are many. The Palestinians missed their chance under Barak, they continuously say, but the Oslo solution still based on the supremacy of the Jews and their unquestioned control over the Palestinians, including military checkpoints and a fragmented country. Moreover, the human rights are even for people who missed all of their chances.

From the elections it became clear that the Israelis, who certainly have ways to make peace, choose war. The only possible reason for that I can think of is the trauma of World War II. The stereotypes about the Palestinians, t h e i r violence and t h e i r corrupt leadership, indicate that the Palestinians are not the basic enemy. They serve as a projection field and mirror for the controlling Israelis. The Americans had freed the bodies of the people in 1945, but not the minds, this is a world problem. "Not the demonstrators had freed the concentration camps" say the German Jews who are officially represented by the Central Council of the Jews, and they often reflect violent attitudes like this when they distinguish between good violence and bad violence.

Violent war basically is not about territory or oil or weapon lobbies or money, violent war is always a matter of the m i n d. The controlling entity in this war is Israel and not the Palestinians, so the Israelis have to be asked why they want all this violence. Even the international press and the politicians cannot much longer hush up Israeli violence, it has become too obvious that this is not what the Human Rights and the Geneva Conventions were made for. Why do the Israelis choose violence? Do they want to recreate the German situation in order to understand what happened under the Nazis? I see no other plausible reason. I think, much of the aggression is originally directed against the Germans, only that traditionally the Jews do not have any arguments with Germans. There had hardly been a resistance among Jews during the Nazi regime. It seems much easier for the Israelis to make trouble with the Palestinians.

To be successful with this attitude, however, is a fantasy. Nobody can win World War II in retrospective, because World War II is over. All the terrible things that happened cannot be reversed. We all have to face that. We also have to face that Jews are not better than other peoples by reason of their suffering or any other reason. This is nonsense. It is true that they suffered, but there is no glory to that and no special rights directed against third parties.

Whoever says that there is no hope is only talking for him- or herself. The press thinks that it must be government politicians who solve the conflict, but it will not be solved by any controlling entity. It will be solved when the peace people of all sides work together. It will be solved when the journalists realize that they can be a constructive part of society, showing the actual points of the conflict and collecting the positive approaches independently, instead of participating in the excitement of war. Peace will be possible when the Israelis stop saying "Ani lo mitaarev" ("I don't interfere").

The Israelis have shown with their catastrophic election that they are without orientation and that they need help. Even big Sharon is not happy. So let's help them! Let's give them the criticism they need to get away from World War II. They want it. They don't want to live on like this, nobody can believe that. The image of Israel in the world is not exactly flattering for the authoritarian Jewish state. And the image of Germany in the world will be damaged if Germany is silent about the violence of any authoritarian state or when it gives money to violent groups. Of course there are ways to make peace without ethnic cleansings. Even now. Of course.
(German version)


(Jan. 21, 2003) The German SUEDDEUTSCHE ZEITUNG today printed a text by Thorsten Schmitz with the title "The Double Sharon" on page 4, which starts as follows: "The attempt of the Palestinians to attain a state by violent means bestowed upon Israel a prime minister who without this violence would never have gotten to power. The no of the Palestinians to Ehud Barak's far reaching peace offer is the fundament of Ariel Sharon's power." The article then mainly deals with Sharon being successfully brushing up his image these days, away from the "bulldozer" and the Sabra and Shatila perpetrator, and towards the image of the grand-dad of the nation. In an uncritical or neutral way, respectively, Thorsten Schmitz remarks how Sharon succeeded in subsuming some Palestinian groups under the "axis of evil" and in not being reproved by the USA anymore for the continuing human rights violations. The Middle East conflict would not be about logic, a bored Thorsten Schmitz ends his word, but about the Israelis being afraid to lose their homeland and therefore trusting in a premier who suggests strength.

Thorsten Schmitz suggests here that not the Israelis are responsible for Sharon's election, but those Palestinians who are not permitted to vote :-) The illegal occupation and even the targeted governmental killings - Schmitz euphemizes them into "liquidations" - become neutral topoi; judged in this long commentary are only the violent Palestinian groups. No word about Sharon being wanted for the tribunal of war criminals by millions, no word about the persecution of Israeli peace activists, and no criticism on the war crimes except by using the passive tense: "The Palestinians kill almost every day and are killed almost every day." Killed by whom? The second passage "critical of Israel" goes that despite the liquidations, the affairs, the demolition of houses and the destruction of olive groves Sharon did not lose his popularity. So this argument centers around Sharon's popularity and not around his crimes.

Mostly, people abandon the judgement on the violent Israelis in the public discourse, because there were six million Jews killed by the Germans (sic!) in World War II. Therefore the Sueddeutsche Zeitung cannot criticize Israel, but it can criticize the Palestinians. And yet, Monsieur Schmitz did not say anything that would protect or support Sharon or that even could sweeten his election campaign. Oh no, not at all :-) The Americans said it, Thorsten Schmitz only reported it. (So not Schmitz has successfully polished Sharon's image these days.) This, by the way, is the current fashion in the German press: the double people. They keep their own opinions out of the discussion and give the authoritarians room to speak without contradicting them. In this process they project themselves into the worst of them, for that gives them a kick :-) Regards to the SZ editors!
(German original)


"With the 'Facts of Life' Hans-Peter Duerr swings for the decisive strike against the critique of civilization of Norbert Elias", Magnus Schlette in the Frankfurter Rundschau today exults in a feuilleton book review. "By no means is modernity characterized by an increase of the control of emotional states ('Affektkontrolle')", especially in the area of sexuality. Due to the "loss of meaning of sexuality" there would be, on the contrary, a "new sexual freedom", especially in comparison to rural and less civilized groups. Duerr is said to have proven this in his many thousand pages long writing. While Duerr does not deny "the historical forming of the human" and an "instinct modelling" ("Triebmodellierung"), his credo is that modern man may be much more uninhibited than in traditional and value-oriented societies, because of the general loss of meaning and identity. The priority of theories, Duerr says in the analysis of Magnus Schlette, would be out, and the pathos of the knowledge about "how it really was", would be standard today, as it was formulated time ago by the historian Leopold von Ranke (who, actually, can in no way be regarded as free of theory).

All in all, it is a pleasing thing, when the research in this area continues, when new sources are analyzed and when new aspects are discussed. However, it seems exaggeratedly rejecting to me to blame Elias to have misused his sources and to have chosen his examples arbitrarily. The counter-examples, at least in the FR article, can easily be called arbitrary, too. Once the inhabitants of the Gazelle Penninsula in New Britannia are taken as an argument, another time it is Captain Cook and New-Guinea, then the talk is about a war ship in Honolulu in 1849. What remains is a general and allround relativism: Elias is rejected, but his concepts are adopted. The major theses of Duerr, i.e. that people in the modern society mostly do not meet as 'complete' persons, but only as "role-takers in unpersonal relationships of reciprocity", and that the difference between personal and unpersonal relations deserves more attention, refer to phenomena which constructively supplement Elias and develop what he has started. Apart from that we are evidently dealing with competitive sports here, rather than with science. (Jan. 19, 2003)
(German original)

The German original of this Statement was printed as a reader's mail in the Frankfurter Rundschau on Jan. 24, 03

The Israeli Peace Front in the Ring
Anis Hamadeh, Jan. 9, 2003

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.

It is even a kind of love that I feel for Uri Avnery who in 1933 emigrated from a small town in Germany that happened to be the place where I grew up myself. Without really having analyzed his life and work and political attitude, I feel a certain, irrational closeness. Uri was 1 against 119 in the Knesset once and has for a long time been a critical and fearless peace journalist. He founded the peace block Gush Shalom when he identified the labor-close Peace Now group as stuck, and he has contacts to the PLO. His political aim is a State of Israel next to a State of Palestine and thus peace. For the next election he is in favor of giving the labor candidate a chance. Although, or rather because Uri's work is constructive, he is harrassed and attacked by the govenmental forces. Latest news is that they tell him they want to cancel his Israeli citizenship.

Israel Shamir, on the other hand, I like and admire for his political visions and the consequential topicalisation of the equality idea. With the arguments in his articles he often convinces me where I am unsure. He is talking about realistic solutions in the sense of coherent solutions. Differently from Uri, Shamir favors the one state solution in which Palestine and Israel combine. Shamir also favors the communist party, because "this is the party with proven record of struggle for equality, a party that tries to reach people of all under-privileged communities, the only one that is against Jewish supremacy, and the only one that has a chance to influence the forthcoming political struggles."

He wrote that today in an interesting article with the shameful title: "The Hurt Pride of Uri Avneri". In it, Shamir criticizes the western Jews and Uri's generation in particular ("No return of refugees, no return of stolen property, no re-building of Palestinian villages"), and blames the Israeli establishment for the building of the Jewish State in 1948 because of all its entailments of injustice, of which it suffices here to mention the Deir Yassin massacre. When now Uri was insulted by one Mr. Liberman about the citizenship, Shamir got furious about Uri's identification with Israel and his aversion against communism or socialism. Quote Uri: "He (Liberman) has come here (to Israel) when everything was ready" (In his recent article: "Liberman's Supreme Soviet"). Shamir says, yes, Deir Yassin was ready.

The relationship between the opponents Israel Shamir and Uri Avnery is important to analyze. The world urgently needs the visionary power and passion for justice of Easy Shamir. On the other hand, I am with Uri, because I don't like the hurting style which only aggravates the democratic discourse and gives Gush and Uri hardly any possibility to answer. When e.g. Shamir respectlessly writes about "Uri's buddies and chums", then this is only destructive and shows an inspired writer who struggles with his own anger. Shamir is performing klassenkampf here, the class struggle, a very old concept, older even than the things he himself in Uri criticizes to be obsolete. One of the major errors of historical communism was the sentence: "Before the classless society there must be the class struggle." It fails exactly like: "Before the peace there must be war", and bears no more credibility since Gandhi's argument: "Be the change you want."

So how, Israel Shamir, do you want to install equality (or call it the classless society, if you want), if you stress and emphatically comment the class differences between you and Uri? Uri comes from a different background, and his identification with Israel may sometimes stand in his way, but there is no reason at all to use such a rude and associative language. I think Shamir is right in that the solution will be one state, but probably there will be two states in the beginning, before people can realize the inevitability of the one state solution.

This discourse, as painful as it may be for some individuals of the Israeli peace front, is necessary, and thus it is positive that Shamir raises these questions. Much more important in these days is to stop the Israeli aggressions against the Palestinians and to prevent further escalations in the Israel Palestine conflict. Polemics within the Israeli peace discourse simply is a waste of time, as pessimism is. Listen to this: "No to racism, yes to democracy! Is Israel the state of all its racists? Expelling the Arabs is expelling democracy! All the peace and human rights movements - among them Gush Shalom, Peace Now, Ta'ayush, Bat Shalom, Women's Peace Coalition and many others - share in this initiative, together with the Arab Monitoring Committee and all the Arab parties." This is what we need now. A peace front. No sectarianism. Because viewed from the perspective of the moon, Gush and Shamir and the spectrum between them, including the many Arabs who put trust in the opinions and abilities of these two parties in the ring, they are close in respect to their goals and their positions towards the government.


News from His Majesty DER SPIEGEL! In edition 51/2002 there is the unconspicious article "Crash of the Net Poets" by Anne Petersen and Johannes Saltzwedel. They explain in it why the web euphoria finally has to come to an end now, for all promising internet authors have failed completely. According to the article, reasons for the 'consumptive scene' are the lack of reading skills of the Germans (PISA, basically), on the one hand, and the fact that people online are writing 'without a publisher's reader and editing barriers', thus producing a 'universal stammering'. Not like journalists from a print medium, for example, but this goes unmentioned for reasons of modesty. The web artists would stand in front of 'Hamlet's question', for they are without bread and have a 'proud aversion against profit', because they want 'esthetical pioneer deeds'. So they could not have any success according to the standards of materialism. If, however, the web artist is someone who already has a lot of money, like e.g. Stephen King, then such web art jobs would be tolerated. And now people hardly want to publish on the internet anymore. Sad story, this.

By the way, on this SPIEGEL issue's cover there is a photograph of Adolf Hitler again. This time on the subject Stalingrad. In my view, there is no other medium in Germany that is able to reproduce the Nazi romanticism as beautifully as DER SPIEGEL. It surely has to do with the choice of colors, these red and brown tones have something homely about them, in this point the guys from the SPIEGEL are probably right. And them smart uniforms! A contemplating, fresh Hitler among his well-spirited officers is what the picture shows, in sunshine. You can cut the photo out and stick it into your poetry album... DER SPIEGEL has Hitler quite often on His cover page, you know. But Hitler was a charismatic person, too, who attracted many readers, uh, people. The last time that he was on the cover page was when the SPIEGEL warned against Herr Möllemann. Subject: playing with fire. At least the guys from DER SPIEGEL also warn from time to time, to make sure that they themselves have nothing to do with it. Regards to the SPIEGEL. (17 Dec. 02)
(German original)

On this subject in the Frankfurter Rundschau, Jan. 13, 2003, in Marc Schuermann's article "Akten, Akten, Akten", p. 14: "(...) The Spiegel would not have to bring photos of Hitler on the front page, that is getting boring, anyway."