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Friday, October 21, 2005

Words and their meanings

I wonder why Ha'aretz changed the wording in its news story on a Palestinian teenager killed for throwing Molotov cocktails from "IDF kills Palestinian suspected of throwing Molotov cocktails at Israeli cars" to "IDF kills Palestinian suspected of fire-bombing Israeli cars". I guess bigger words justify bigger measures... I wonder what the next change in wording will be...

In other news, "Israeli officials call for changes in Syrian rule" (here some explanation from those who insisted that "Israel" had nothing to gain from toppling Assad's regime would prove helpful).

I will post most of the article, for fear that our beloved left-wing (sic) Ha'aretz might change the wording (call me a conspiracy theorist but I will still not take any chances, this is not an article to be missed). My comments are in red. Read on, fellow sheep (at least USA and "Israel" assume that that's what ALL of us without exceptions are):

Israeli politicians from the left and right on Friday called for changes in the Syrian leadership, after a United Nations probe concluded that the plot to assassinate former Lebanese prime minister Rafik Hariri must have had the approval of Syrian security officials, backed by the collusion of their Lebanese counterparts. If you fail to notice the newly-found love from the innocent, dovish Israelis towards the Lebanese, then you are, beyond any doubt, an anti-Semite, as the ADL and Simon Wiesenthal Centre would rush to conclude.

...

"I think there needs to be change in Syria," said Vice Premier Shimon Peres, adding that the United States and France should take the lead in deciding on an international response to the findings. Guess what, Israelis love the Syrian people too, and don't want to see the people suffer under Assad's regime!

Referring to Syrian President Bashar Assad and his relatives in positions of power, Peres told Israel Radio: "If it is true that the government is involved in the murder, this will shake up the rule of the Assads." He added that it is "not natural or acceptable" for a family representing a small minority to rule Syria in what he said was a brutal fashion. On the other hand, of course, it's OK for the representatives of "a majority to rule [the Occupied Territories]" (including pre-1948 Palestine) in a "brutal fashion".

The UN report stopped short of pointing a finger at Assad or his inner circle [so there "needs to be regime change in Syria"], but accused Syria of failing to cooperate [yeah, I guess that's a crime far worse than "Israeli" human shield practice, to name on example...] and said the plot to kill Hariri in a car bomb must have had [why exactly??! Because Syrian intelligence services are beyond a doubt more sophisticated and better functioning than CIA and Mossad...] the blessing of Syrian security officials. The report includes a single reference to Assef Shawkat, Assad's brother-in-law and the Syrian intelligence chief.

According to one witness, Shawkat forced a man to tape a claim of responsibility for Hariri's killing 15 days before it occurred. And of course, we can't find out who this "one witness" might be.. The precaution goes under "protecting" the individual (from the alleged Syrian ghosts roaming the country). Let's just say that there is "one witness" and according to him Assad's brother-in-law forced a video-taping... Does anyone notice that this sounds just as cheesy as the "Jund el Sham" videotape...

...

Likud MK Yuval Steinitz, chairman of the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, called for regime change in Damascus.

"As far as I am concerned... and here I have a dispute with some of the people in the security establishment, it is not just an American interest but a clear Israeli interest to end the Assad dynasty and replace Bashar Assad," he said. And of course, that interest excludes USA and "Israel" from the list of suspects, because logically speaking, the Hariri assassination worked against the idea of ending the Assad dynasty...

Ephraim Halevy, former chief of the Mossad espionage agency, said it was not necessary to prove a direct involvement by Assad. But it's anti-Semitic to argue that "Israel" is responsible for Hobeika's [or some other figure's] assassination without any proof. When it's about "Israel" there ought to be proof, otherwise it's anti-Semitic. The Syrians must now be wishing that they were Jews...

"The head of the Syrian pyramid is Bashar Assad," Halevy told Army Radio. "I don't think... there is any doubt that this was an extensive and coordinated operation that was planned for many months. Lots of people from the Syrian elite were involved." Halevy seems to know more than that "one witness" knows. Maybe he would like to volunteer some information. Or could it be that he has the Jews-know-it-all-and-are-always-right-and-if-you-disagree-then-you're-an-anti-Semite complex?
The rest of the article is full of unsignificant regurgitations, so I will not post it for reasons of time and space.


Wednesday, October 12, 2005

The True Nature of Anti-Americanism in the Muslim World

The True Nature of Anti-Americanism in the Muslim World
By Ghanim Khalil


Very recently, President Bush sent Karen Hughes to tour Muslim nations in the Middle East for a bid to combat anti-Americanism 1. That she has failed miserably is no surprise to anyone with a mild knowledge of her two predecessors under the same administration who also failed (Charlotte Beers and Margaret Tutwiler). We hear the term Anti-American all the time when the issue is the Middle East and the wider Islamic/Muslim world. But what does the term really entail? The assumptions of this term include an ideological hatred of the United States of America. Those who remind us that this irrational ideology is growing to alarming rates often express the sentiment “were damned if we do and damned if we don’t”. But this tells us very little about today’s nature of anti-Americanism in the Muslim world, other than that “they” hate “us” and “we” must deal with “them”.

The relationship between the Muslim world and the US is a one way highway where power injects from West to East, North to South and no matter how much the East and South complains of the most evident forms of exploitation visible today (military/political/economic) they will be perceived as nothing more that mobs of monolithic ingratitude towards the superior “developed” nations who want only to fix their problems and enlighten their minds. Fixing and enlightening the Muslim world is the main goal, we are told, of the US quest in the Middle East where combating anti-Americanism is only one element. It comes as a shock to many Americans that such noble aspirations of the most powerful nation in the world is everyday being rejected by “them” when it seems “they” need it more than anyone else. Worse than their ingratitude is their irrational abhorrence to America and what she stands for.

Certainly, the shock itself is also displayed on the one way highway alongside power, from West to East, North to South and no matter how many Eastern and Southern scholars, intellectuals, human rights advocates, politicians and religious leaders point out that it’s not Western (read American) ways of life that causes them to rise up in opposition but Western (read American) foreign policy towards them, they will still be called “irrationally” anti-American. The foundations of the American myth being that not only are “they” inferior to “us” but “they” are also ungrateful and irrational towards “us” and this is how “we” can explain “their” hatred for “us”. This is the cultural thesis we hear about all over the media, pulpits, and political offices of the US.

What is overlooked, and with important reasoning, is that the “underdeveloped” status projected on “them” by Westerners has its roots in Western colonialism and imperialism, realities of the “ancient history” as Carter called it that many Americans could care less about. The important reasoning mentioned above, from the point of view of those in power here, is that it does no good for them to talk of the “root causes” of anti-Americanism in the Muslim world from a historical point of view. Instead they concentrate on it from a cultural point of view and posit “root causes” which ignore Western exploitation (military/political/economic) and emphasize racial/cultural Eurocentric mythologies from the 19th century. “They” hate “us” because of “our” values. “They” hate “us” because “they” hate our freedom.

After the military failure of unifying Iraq and the diplomatic failure of Karen Hughes, President Bush had no choice but to declare that “we” are fighting an anti-American enemy he calls a soon to be “Islamic Empire” lead by Muslim extremists.2 This myth, workable only on the gullible and ignorant, is the new form of self-aggrandizement necessary to protect the cultural myths for the purposes of American exploitation (military/political/economic). The absurdity of such a myth being adopted sincerely by many Americans despite the fact that it is truly irrational is astounding. That the Muslim world, itself plagued by extremist violence and hopelessly divided politically, economically, militarily, and religiously, is somehow supposed to constitute a potential (but in Bush’s mind certain) empire of terror, is revealing in the scope of its imagination and dangerous in its scope of hatred for the Muslim “Other”. Many Americans will incorporate this imaginary demon into their fearful worldview and swallow the xenophobic attitudes and assumptions it carries, all while portraying Muslims as nothing less than seeds of the irrational forces of evil.

Many of the politicians, religious ideologues, alarmist media personalities, and military-intelligence analysts in the US who speak of the growing anti-Americanism in the World (the most psychologically crucial being the Muslim world) speak with already embedded assumptions relating directly to the humanity of the “Others”, and in this case, the Islamic “Other”. The truth about the nature of anti-Americanism really depends on which angle you chose to look at the issue (historical or cultural). However, the fact is that many people in America use the label to repel healthy criticism of American foreign policy in the world. The dilemma arises when we find out that Muslims also eat McDonalds and drink Coke, are increasingly mimicking Western/American styles of fashion, are more versed in Western thought than Westerners are in Islamic thought (they know the West from their own works), absolutely love American television game shows and sitcoms, and recognize the West (and America specifically) as hubs of economic opportunity. Despite the many myths Muslims also have about the West and America, it becomes clear that Muslims cannot be generalized and placed into a category (anti-Americanism) without being engaged and heard. When they are engaged and heard, as Hughes’ recent experience can testify, they will all say the same things, “we don’t hate America, we hate American foreign policy.” Not surprisingly, they are not alone in expressing this obvious point about American-Muslim relations. This is what the Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity, a group formed by ex-U.S. intelligence officials, wrote to President Bush on February 8, 2003:

It is widely known that you have a uniquely
close relationship with Israeli Prime Minister
Ariel Sharon. This presents a strong disincentive
to those who might otherwise warn you that
Israel's continuing encroachment on Arab territories,
its oppression of the Palestinian people, and its
pre-emptive attack on Iraq in 1981 are among the
root causes not only of terrorism, but of
Saddam Hussein's felt need to develop the means
to deter further Israeli attacks.3



Along similar lines another group of former diplomats and high ranking retired officers (DMCC – Diplomats and Military Commanders for Change) released a statement in June of 2004 stating: “The United States suffers from close identification with autocratic regimes in the Muslim world, and from the perception of unquestioning support for the policies and actions of the present Israeli Government. To enhance credibility with Islamic peoples we must pursue courageous, energetic and balanced efforts to establish peace between Israelis and Palestinians, and policies that encourage responsible democratic reforms.”4 A most interesting argument against the cultural “they hate our freedoms” thesis is the following two statements of the Defense Science Board from within the Pentagon itself. In a 1997 DSB study experts found that “Historical data show a strong correlation between U.S. involvement in international situations and an increase in terrorist attacks against the United States.”5 Three years after 9-11 another report by the DSB stated: “Muslims do not hate our freedom, but rather they hate our policies… The overwhelming majority voice their objections to what they see as one-sided support in favor of Israel and against Palestinian rights, and the long-standing, even increasing, support for what Muslims collectively see as tyrannies, most notably Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Pakistan and the Gulf states… Thus, when American public diplomacy talks about bringing democracy to Islamic societies, this is seen as no more than self-serving hypocrisy.”6 This is far closer to the truth than what many Americans believe.

The true nature of anti-Americanism can only be historically explained. The cultural arguments are nothing more than veils meant to keep Americans from thinking for themselves and thus promoting the American empire out of ignorance and fear. Therefore, the real problem is what is expressed in a very important book written by Ziauddin Sardar and Merryl Wyn Davies titled, Why Do People Hate America? The authors write that,

It was one of our central arguments that at
the heart of relations between America and the
rest of the world stands a problem of knowledge.
In precise terms, we call it the problem of
‘knowledgeable ignorance’: knowing people, ideas,
civilisations, religions, histories as something
they are not, and could not possibly be, and maintaining
these ideas even when the means exist to know differently.
Knowledgeable ignorance is a term applied to the Western
view of Islam and Muslims in particular.
It refers to more than general negative attitudes
and ideas; it defines the way in which such
attitudes are built into an approach to knowledge,
a body of study and expertise called Orientalism.7



Knowledge about the Islamic “Other” is crucial in reversing the tide of cultural superiority expressed in moral terms and political threats. Only after you know a people can you truly face them and speak your piece. Otherwise you are speaking your piece to an imaginary “them” created in your mind. One requires a single example to put things in a better perspective. If America had undergone Muslim colonialism and imperialism and then experienced national freedom only to realize that they are free only up to a certain degree, that neo-imperialism of a Muslim empire now overshadows them, watching their every move and placing upon itself the “right” to intervene in any changes that take place which it doesn’t approve of, would Americans stand for this balance of power? What if they then opposed the Muslim empire in various ways (peaceful and not) and were labeled all sorts of things from ungrateful to irrational, would Americans accept this logic? What if extremist groups from amongst an exploited America then started to terrorize Muslim countries and peoples all over the world, would Americans who are neither extremist nor approving of the Muslim empire then capitulate to the argument of a Muslim leader who announces that you’re “either with us or against us”? If the tables were turned, no American would stand for what Muslims have undergone for the past few centuries under Western dominance. No manner of the Muslim empire’s cultural explanations of why Americans oppose them would be acceptable. Americans would do what many Muslims are doing today and that is exposing the historical roots of the problems between Muslims and America. Enter the true nature of anti-Americanism.

Other Sources besides the footnotes:

Anti-Americanism according to Wikipedia.org (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anti-Americanism); Norman Daniel’s Islam and the West (Oxford: One World, 1993); Edward Said’s Covering Islam: How the Media and Experts Determine How We See the Rest of the World, (Vintage Books, US, 1997); William Blum’s Killing Hope (Common Courage Press, U.S., 1995); Andrea Lueg’s The Next Threat: Western Perceptions of Islam (Pluto Press, U.K., 1995); Rene Guenon’s The Crisis of the Modern World (Suhail Academy, Pakistan, 1999); Ziauddin Sardar’s Postmodernism and the Other, (Pluto Press, London, 1998); John Esposito’s The Islamic Threat: Myth or Reality? (Oxford, 1995); Bruce Lawrence’s Shattering the Myth: Islam Beyond Violence (Princeton, 1998); Ahmed S. Moussalli’s Islamic Fundamentalism: Myths and Realities (Ithaca Press,1990); Joseph E. B. Lumbard, The Decline of Knowledge and the Rise of Ideology, in his edited: Islam, Fundamentalism, and the Betrayal of Tradition, (World Wisdom Inc., U.S., 2004); Noam Chomsky’s Deterring Democracy, (Hill and Wang, New York, 1992).


Joseph G. Rahme, Ethnocentric and Stereotypical Concepts in the Study of Islamic and World History, The History Teacher, Vol. 32, No. 4 (August 1999): 473-474; Robert Jervis, Understanding the Bush Doctrine, Political Science Quarterly, Vol. 118, No. 3, Fall 2003; Scott McConnell, Among the Neocons, The American Conservative, April 21, 2003. (www.amconmag.com/04_21_03/cover.html); Robert D. Crane, The Muslim Challenge in America and the World, Islamic Inst. for Strategic Studies, U.S., 2000; Norman Podhoretz, In Praise of the Bush Doctrine, Commentary, September 4, 2002.

1Dan Murphy, US begins new pitch to Muslim World, Christian Science Monitor, September 28, 2005
2Tom Raum, Bush Warns Militants Seek to Establish Empire, AP, October 6, 2005
3Memo for President Bush, Feb 8, 2003,
4Diplomats and Military Commanders for Change, Statement, June 16, 2004
5‘Response to Transnational Threats’, Defense Science Board, DoD, 1997
6‘Report of the Defense Science Board Task Force on Strategic Communication’, Defense Science Board, DoD, 2004 or see:
7Ziauddin Sardar and Merryl Wyn Davies, Why Do People Hate America?, Disinformation Company Ltd., New York, 2002, p. 11- 12. The phrase ‘knowledgeable ignorance’ was taken from Norman Daniel’s Islam and the West (Oxford: One World, 1993).


Ghanim Khalil is an author, activist, former U.S. Marine and National Guardsman, and is a current student majoring in History

Sunday, October 09, 2005

"Israel also has a large stake in the success of a democratic Palestine. Permanent occupation threatens Israel’s identity and democracy [????? I guess "temporary" occupation is OK....]. So the United States continues to challenge Israeli leaders [by increasing aid] to take concrete steps [like building the wall and increasing aid in response to settlement activity] to support the emergence of a viable, credible Palestinian state. As there is progress towards security [of "Israel" only], Israel forces need to withdraw fully to positions they held prior to September 28, 2000 [of course, the '67 war was started by Arabs]. And consistent with the recommendations of the Mitchell Committee, Israeli settlement activity in the occupied territories must stop [so let's increase "aid"...] As violence subsides [for "Israel"], freedom of movement should be restored, permitting innocent Palestinians to resume work and normal life [but it is permissible that those same innocent Palestinians be shot while hanging laundry or playing on the roofs of their houses, and it is permissible that they rot in the camps with little water and food, while "Israel continues to turn parts of the West Bank into resort towns and tourist centres, and other parts into waste dumps...]. The United States can play a crucial role but, ultimately, lasting peace can only come when Israelis and Palestinians resolve the issues and end the conflict between them [yup, pure genius]."

Source: The National Security Strategy of the United States of America, Sept. 2002.

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