Yaba Yaba

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Riad Ali: time to make a choice

with 13 comments

I have tremendous respect for Riad Ali. Calling for critical reflection within your community is always hard, it is ten times harder in times of violent conflict. Riad is for me the counterpart of Amir Pastuer and Itamar Shapira.

A Palestinian moral-ethical debate on the status of the suicide bomber never took place. The saboteur was and remained a shahid, with all of the positive attributes that the word carries in Islamic terminology. [..]
A similar process happened with Hezbollah. If before 2000 the organization could have had the benefit of the doubt and claim it is fighting Israeli occupation of Lebanon, today it is clear to see that its war is against Jews wherever they may be. You have to be deaf in order not to hear the voice of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad as it emerges from Nasrallah’s throat, and naive in order to believe that the purpose of the arsenal Nasrallah has accumulated is the release of prisoners and the liberation of the Shaba Farms. [..]
This is the time to address the Arab citizens of Israel, and tell them that the time has come for them to decide where they stand. And they should do so for their own sake, and not for the sake of the Jews. For the sake of the values they want to instill in their children. For the sake of retaining their intellectual dignity. [..]
I am not at war with the Jews, nor with the people of Israel. I have an argument with the Jews, and I have an argument with the State of Israel. On one point I do not argue, and that is the right of the Jewish people to their own independent state. To the best of my understanding, this war, as with the intifada, has to be judged from this perspective.

Arab citizens of the state who truly believe in the principle of two states for two peoples and those who believe in a democratic liberal society must ask themselves if the Islamic ideology that is leading the war today against Israel and the West in the guise of a war against the occupation and heathens is representative of their ambitions. We must separate the pain and sorrow for the innocent victims from the purpose of the war, as seen by those who lead it – in the West Bank, Gaza, Lebanon, Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan, and in any place where people seek to liberate land in the name of Allah.

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Written by yishaym

August 9, 2006 at 1:13 pm

13 Responses

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  1. Jez, I suspect that we agree on more than we realize. We both seem to detest injustice globaly and act against it localy. The rest is fine print.

    By the way, I don’t think Israel can claim the ‘only democracy’ title anymore. Ahmadinijad was democraticaly elected, whether we like it or not. So was Hannia, and needless to say – Seniora. The fact that I’m not thrilled with their politics (excluding Seniora), to say the least, doesn’t allow me to delegitimise them.
    Ahmadinijad recently said to an interviewer (forgot the name, appologies) that ‘the time of the bomb is over’. If I was in the drivers seat, I’d hold him to it, and invite him for a cup of coffee.


    August 17, 2006 at 2:12 am

  2. Perhaps we have different visions of what a democracy should be. As I said, there is no perfect democracy on this earth, in my opinion. That is not to say I don’t believe in democracy. Elections are one thing, but they are not the most important aspect, far from it, of democracy. Elections are necessary in a democracy, but if you have elections and then ignore the will of the people (as in GB) or disregard the rights of parts of the population (as in most western democracies), no amount of elections will make you democratic. I think it is also obvious, that a democracy should represent all those living on its soil, and not simply one portion of the population.
    In that sense, I find the Lebanese model to be the most democratic (even if on the ground, there is no doubt a long way to go). Lebanon is neither a Sunni, Shi’ite nor Maronite state. Culturally and linguistically, it is an Arab country, but a sizeable portion of the population don’t define themselves as Arabs (etnically or even linguistically). Of course, given the violent past (in which Israel is far from being neutral), there have to be constitutional safeguards to protect this diversity. Ideally, I would like to see that kind of multi-ethnic and multi-faith society flourish not only in the ME but also here in Europe. I think Britain, despite the Queen and the Anglican Church, is such a society and should integrate other faiths further. Maybe even keep the monarch as defender of all faiths! France, on the other hand, is a hypocrisy, and I say that as a Frenchman. French Republicanism is a religion no better than any other. It is a smokescreen for ethnic and religious diversity and only creates more tension than it solves.


    August 17, 2006 at 8:14 am

  3. Oh, I think we agree on what a democracy should be. Perhaps Denmark is a good example, although in day-to-day life even they are not immune to racism. The question is more about the minimal requierments for entering the club, no-one in the Middle East is ready to run for president yet.

    Lebanon is admirable. To survive the kind of pressure its getting from east, north and south, it really must be a very strong democracy.


    August 17, 2006 at 9:34 am

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