10 January 2004

I just finished reading Thomas Friedman's 1989 Beirut to Jerusalem and then went online looking for other material written around the same time, almost a generation ago. The Roots of Muslim Rage, written by Bernard Lewis for The Atlantic in 1990, still rings true.
The struggle between these rival systems has now lasted for some fourteen centuries. It began with the advent of Islam, in the seventh century, and has continued virtually to the present day. It has consisted of a long series of attacks and counterattacks, jihads and crusades, conquests and reconquests. For the first thousand years Islam was advancing, Christendom in retreat and under threat. The new faith conquered the old Christian lands of the Levant and North Africa, and invaded Europe, ruling for a while in Sicily, Spain, Portugal, and even parts of France. The attempt by the Crusaders to recover the lost lands of Christendom in the east was held and thrown back, and even the Muslims' loss of southwestern Europe to the Reconquista was amply compensated by the Islamic advance into southeastern Europe, which twice reached as far as Vienna. For the past three hundred years, since the failure of the second Turkish siege of Vienna in 1683 and the rise of the European colonial empires in Asia and Africa, Islam has been on the defensive, and the Christian and post-Christian civilization of Europe and her daughters has brought the whole world, including Islam, within its orbit.

Lewis also talks about what happened that eventually resulted in the alliance of the Left with Islamic radicalism:
German philosophy, and particularly the philosophy of education, enjoyed a considerable vogue among Arab and some other Muslim intellectuals in the thirties and early forties, and this philosophic anti-Americanism was part of the message.
After the collapse of the Third Reich and the temporary ending of German influence, another philosophy, even more anti-American, took its place -- the Soviet version of Marxism, with a denunciation of Western capitalism and of America as its most advanced and dangerous embodiment. And when Soviet influence began to fade, there was yet another to take its place, or at least to supplement its working -- the new mystique of Third Worldism, emanating from Western Europe, particularly France, and later also from the United States, and drawing at times on both these earlier philosophies. This mystique was helped by the universal human tendency to invent a golden age in the past, and the specifically European propensity to locate it elsewhere. A new variant of the old golden-age myth placed it in the Third World, where the innocence of the non-Western Adam and Eve was ruined by the Western serpent.

This is just a taste -- there is much more; the article is divided into 2 pages and I highly recommend reading the whole thing.

07 January 2004

The Qaddafi factor: "Turning Western moralizing on its head, Qaddafi stated that 'there are, however, some practices in Europe which we cannot accept, like boxing, wrestling and bull-fighting. These are disgusting practices.'"
Qaddafi is a weirdo, but a smart weirdo. Watch this guy.
Most substantively, however, Qaddafi was critical of previous Euro-African agreements. "What is called 'partnership' or five plus five, Francophone Africa, Anglophone Africa, and Barcelona are colonialist projects. The African continent is one whole unit. We cannot accept it divided up under any name or project."

The remarks were all the more eyebrow raising since Libya is thought to want to join the Euro-Mediterranean partnership process, of which the 1995 Barcelona accord is the foundation.

European Commission head Romano Prodi, who's been serving as a sort of unofficial sponsor for Qaddafi in his dealings with European states, was not amused. Earlier in the year Prodi had tried to sponsor a Qaddafi tour of Europe but it was cancelled for lack of enthusiasm on the part of the host states. After Qaddafi spoke, Prodi stated that he was "strongly disappointed" by the Libyan's remarks, which went "against everything he had told me in private when we had our meeting" earlier during the summit.

Surely Prodi can figure out that Qaddafi, like Sadat seeking an agreement with Israel, has to position himself vis-a-vis the Arab world and can't be seen to be too much on the "other" side.
Guardian Unlimited | Special reports | Democrat hopeful walks with God in 'Bible belt': "Mr Dean said he prayed daily and had read the Bible from cover to cover. Asked about his favourite book in the New Testament, he named Job (the story of a religious man whose faith is tested by God through suffering). An hour later, he admitted his mistake - Job is in the Old Testament."


05 January 2004

BBC NEWS | Africa | Somali Muslim group bans condoms
: "Islamic leaders say they have outlawed condoms in Somalia, where the vast majority of the population is Muslim.

The umbrella Somali Ulema Council has said it will use Sharia (Islamic) Law, including flogging, to punish those selling or using condoms.

The council is responding to a United Nations-funded campaign to raise awareness about Aids being aired by a local radio station.

Sheikh Nur Barud, the chairman of the Ulema Council, told a public meeting that the use of condoms will increase adultery and those promoting its use deserve punishment."

04 January 2004

Palestinian Media Watch - Homepage: "They [the Jews] came to take Palestine, that is Tel-Aviv, Jaffa, Haifa, Acco, Ramle. All these cities belong to Palestine,' one youth explains...'We must expel all Israelis from Palestine. Because Israel - there is nothing called 'Israel' in the world. The Israelis [came] from Holland, America, Iran.'
Children interviewed on PA TV last week state clearly and without reservation that Israel has no right to exist, and that their goals for which they're willing to sacrifice their lives is Israel's destruction and the expulsion of all Israelis.
None of this is surprising to anyone who has been paying attention to what goes on in the PA educational system and its educational TV. Israel is erased from PA maps, schoolbooks and historians deny Israel's history and right to exist, and educators at all levels teach that Israel is a foreign colonial implant.
Despite PA claims to the contrary, its textbooks continue to delegitimize Israel and dismiss it as a foreign occupier: "Palestine faced the British occupation after the First World War in 1917, and the Israeli occupation in 1948." [National Education, Sixth Grade, p. 16]. Children are taught that all of Israel is part of "Palestine". For example: "Among the famous rocks of southern Palestine are the rocks of Beersheba and the Negev." About "Palestine's" water sources children are taught: "The most important is the Sea of Galilee..." [Our Beautiful Language, Grade 6, Part A, p. 64; National Education, Sixth Grade, pp. 9-10].
Such messages of delegitimization have been affirmed by Prime Minister Ahmad Qurei. He is on record as rejecting the idea of Israel as a Jewish state. "President Bush said that Israel is a Jewish state, which is a cause for our concern. This should not have been said." [Al-Nahar-Lebanese and Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, June 15, 2003].
PA affiliated historians frequently appear on educational TV to reinforce this message. Just last week historian and educational TV host Dr. Isam Sisalem reiterated what he has said on numerous broadcasts, that Jews " . . . have no history or connection to this land" iut and are nothing but a "cancer" planted by Britain to control the Middle East.
In the same educational broadcast last week, another historian resurrected The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, the infamous anti-Semitic forgery citing it as one of the foundations of the First Zionist Congress in 1897."
Incoming, outgoing trains to Jammu suspended : HindustanTimes.com: "All incoming and outgoing trains at Jammu railway station were suspended following a terrorist attack on Friday evening in which four security personnel and two terrorists were killed and nine others injured."