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A memo to American Muslims,
October 16, 2001 6:17 PM   Subscribe

A memo to American Muslims, in Muqtedar Khan's Column on Islamic Affairs, A Return to Enlightenment. "Muslims, including American Muslims have been practicing hypocrisy on a grand scale." "While we loudly and consistently condemn Israel for its ill treatment of Palestinians we are silent when Muslim regimes abuse the rights of Muslims and slaughter thousands of them. Remember Saddam and his use of chemical weapons against Muslims (Kurds)?. Remember Pakistani army’s excesses against Muslims (Bengalis)?. Remember the Mujahideen of Afghanistan and their mutual slaughter? Have we ever condemned them for their excesses? Have we demanded international intervention or retribution against them? Do you know how the Saudis treat their minority Shiis? Have we protested the violation of their rights? But we all are eager to condemn Israel; not because we care for rights and lives of the Palestinians, we don’t. We condemn Israel because we hate 'them'".
posted by semmi (38 comments total)

 
i agree with the piece
posted by rabbit at 6:19 PM on October 16, 2001


A very good piece, even if it assumes Israel shouldn't be.

But who in the Arab world will even have the opportunity to read it? Sort of like preaching to the choir.

P.S: In the future, post a smaller excerpt.
posted by ParisParamus at 6:39 PM on October 16, 2001


Picky picky ParisParamus. Nice post, period.
posted by y2karl at 6:42 PM on October 16, 2001


Extroadinary. Socrates once noted that the unexamined life was not worth living. His wife said that the examined life was bullshit too. But this is a blast of fresh air.
posted by Postroad at 6:45 PM on October 16, 2001


ParisParamus--it assumes Israel shouldn't be

No, it doesn't.

In the future, try to become truthful.
posted by NortonDC at 7:14 PM on October 16, 2001


nortondc: parisparamus is too busy fault finding in the content, presentation and importance of others posts to be bothered with the truth.
posted by quonsar at 7:19 PM on October 16, 2001


wow. if only this message of honesty with self could speak to every group to which humanity identfies. if we all listen to this man's words, there just mite be a chance.
posted by danOstuporStar at 7:33 PM on October 16, 2001


I'll be sending this out at work... Dr. Khan reminds me of the Muslims I've met while living in Tunisia, Mauritania, Cameroon and Saudi... gracious leaders.
posted by Kami at 7:36 PM on October 16, 2001


I also wonder how many Muslims will actually read what Khan has to say. And I would venture that almost nobody in the souk is going to hear a word of this.

But, you know ignorance is definitely a two way street. How many Jews, and Gentiles who support Israel, are aware that Palestinians are not necessarily Muslim (in fact a good portion of them are Christian) and that they were dispossessed of homes that their ancestors had lived in for generations when Israel was founded? And how many of them will go out on a very shaky limb defending Sharon's right to murder Palestinians as necessary for "self defense".

Way too much blood is spilled and way too many facile excuses are made by both sides.
posted by MAYORBOB at 7:37 PM on October 16, 2001


Yes, Paris seems to have misinterpreted one point from the article, but can we please just post a correction without an insult? At least give someone a few chances to earn verbal abuse first. Yes, it was a long excerpt, but also a very good post.
posted by joemaller at 7:40 PM on October 16, 2001


Quonsar: no thanks for your attitude. I sincerely apologize for misreading a passage of that article. The writer said no such thing, and I am sorry.

A great piece. I just hope the writer doesn't have to travel with a bodyguard, etc.
posted by ParisParamus at 7:43 PM on October 16, 2001


joemaller, given a time machine I'd redo the last line as "In the future, try to tell the truth." Criticising the post instead of the poster is a goal of mine.
posted by NortonDC at 7:49 PM on October 16, 2001


How many Jews, and Gentiles who support Israel...

I would like to see the facts on this from an objective source. I have been told that a good deal of real estate was purchased by Jews in the early part of this century. Plus, hundreds of thousands of Arabs still live in Israel. At least to me, the claim of mass expropriations by Israel seems pretty shakey.
posted by ParisParamus at 7:56 PM on October 16, 2001


ParisParamus, I don't know how objective you consider a group of Israeli Jews who are interested in securing real peace in Israel, but you can read their take on it here:

http://www.jppi.org/statement_53rdnakba.html

Virtually all of the texts that I have read on the subject of the establishment of Israel makes mention of the driving of Palestinians off of their lands. This was done either by the Haganah or organized gangs of Zionist extremists like the Stern Gang.

Of course neighboring Arab governments were going to welcome the dispossessed into their midst and they ended up placing most of them in the refugee camps which served as the recruiting grounds for the PLO and the various Palestinian splinter groups. But that is a part of the story that Khan referred to in his article.

Why would mass expropriations by Israelis be any shakier than mass expropriations by those cultured and sophisticated Germans of Jews?
posted by MAYORBOB at 8:48 PM on October 16, 2001


Why would mass expropriations by Israelis be any shakier than mass expropriations by those cultured and sophisticated Germans of Jews?

1. Because I give more credit to the ethics of Judaism than to the Nazis.

2. For the reasons I mentioned above

3. Because until the founding of Israel, a large percentage of Palestine had been barren for centuries.

4. Other reasons....
posted by ParisParamus at 9:09 PM on October 16, 2001


Although the account is common, most men live as if they had a private understanding.

Heraclitus
posted by y2karl at 9:37 PM on October 16, 2001


"1. Because I give more credit to the ethics of Judaism than to the Nazis."

As do I, but remember the people who forced the Palestinians off their land were not rabbinical scholars. If anything, they were glorified gangsters or freedom fighters take your pick. Ethics, and even greed, had little to do with what was done to the Palestinians. It was pure, cold calculation that a land with more Jews in it than Palestinians in it would be a land easier for the Israelis to govern.

2. "For the reasons I mentioned above." Which are fine, but your saying that "someone told" you is hardly what you could call documented fact. and you did sort of challenge me to come up with a cite, which I did. Ball's in your court. And I'm not denying that a portion of the Palestinian population stayed put and enjoy Israeli citizenship (and in fact, some of their Jewish neighbors assisted them in staying). But the vast majority did leave and their departure was caused by the aforementioned actions of some of the Zionist extremists.

3. "Because until the founding of Israel, a large percentage of Palestine had been barren for centuries." And your cite for this fact is? And even if it were true, would it justify the forceable dispossession of barren land owned by Palestinians?
posted by MAYORBOB at 9:38 PM on October 16, 2001


I would offer the following links in response to the one posted above: MYTH, Jews stole Arab land is a section of the larger Myths & Facts Online A Guide to the Arab-Israeli Conflict by Michael Bard. He's clearly pro-Israel and partisan, but so is the organization linked to above. Feel free to tell me why he is wrong.

This discussion is now somewhat of a tangent to the post....
posted by ParisParamus at 9:38 PM on October 16, 2001


Mitchell Bard. Oops.
posted by ParisParamus at 9:40 PM on October 16, 2001


Our self-love can less bear to have our tastes than our opinions condemned.

François, Duc De La Rochefoucauld
posted by y2karl at 9:45 PM on October 16, 2001


Is that the "foucauld" my ex-girlfriend (French) refered to rather frequently?
posted by ParisParamus at 9:55 PM on October 16, 2001


Eh? Foucault?
posted by sylloge at 10:21 PM on October 16, 2001


No, your girlfriend is referring to Michel Foucault, Paris.

But, Paris, really...3. Because until the founding of Israel, a large percentage of Palestine had been barren for centuries....you need to stop getting your information from such blatant propaganda as your "myths exposed" link. The myth of the "land without a people for a people without a land" is one of the most ludicrous and longest-since debunked. American apologists for Israel love to tell you how Jews acquired land peacefully and legally, but Israelis are more likely to know that their orchards and fields fed Palestinians for hundreds of years before they were there. Here is a personal piece by one with no Right of Return. Here is a handy list of hundreds of destroyed villages that weren't "barrenness."

Unfortunately, propaganda is a lot easier to come by on both sides. But I'd recommend a whiz through this pamphlet by Jews for Justice in the Middle East. If you're ready for more serious stuff than this, now there is a younger generation of Israeli historians who write the truth instead of Zionist mythology. You could read Benny Morris' Righteous Victims (Knopf, covering 1881-1999) or Birth of the Palestinian Refugee Problem, 1947-1949 for fully-footnoted material that blows your "myth-debunker" out of the water.

Cheers.
posted by Zurishaddai at 10:22 PM on October 16, 2001


The October issue of Harpers is a good read on the current condition of dispossessed Palestenians. Well written and unbiased, it is all the more effective given the respectability that Harper's has as a magazine.
posted by samishah at 10:30 PM on October 16, 2001


Christians in Islamic countries targeted
To extend that train of thought.
posted by HTuttle at 10:47 PM on October 16, 2001


Denying that Palestinians were dispossessed is like denying the holocaust. It happened.

The thing none of you seem to realize is that ordinary Arabs spend half the day complaining about themselves-- it's not new inside the Arab world to complain about leaders, policies, etc. But Arabs are loathe to bring these opinions to the forefront because they either can't (for fear of imprisonment) or won't because of the natural human desire to blame problems on "the other." This is where the article has its greatest power.

But the fact remains that virtually nowhere else in the world in 2001 do you have such a clear-cut case of injustice as the Palestine/Israel conflict. Every country has internal racial problems. Virtually no other country has their people suffering from a foreign occupier for the past 30 years. No other people have their entire identity denied by a world blinded by a powerful group of people. No other people have their struggle maligned and distorted and marginalized like the Palestinians. No other modern population has suffered as much, except for maybe the Jews.
posted by chaz at 1:10 AM on October 17, 2001


Chaz -- tell it to the Kurds, the Tibetians, and the Timorese, to name a few of the biggies (to say nothing of all the tiny groups of native peoples scattered about the Western hempisphere.)

Howabout this: nowhere else in the world is the media and Western opinion so fixated on the plight of roughly 3 million people.
posted by Mid at 6:38 AM on October 17, 2001


Hemisphere. I think the hempisphere is something you smoke.
posted by Mid at 6:46 AM on October 17, 2001


chaz, here are some more people who 'have their struggle maligned and distorted and marginalized'. The Palestinians are not alone.
Saharawi's (living in refugee camps for the past 25 years, without resorting to terrorism), east timor, burma, tibet, the kurds.
How can Islam inspire thousands of youth to dedicate their lives to killing others?
Perhaps, islam is used as a justification for violence against violent oppression.
posted by asok at 7:00 AM on October 17, 2001


how about this: instead of being a muslim who decries the abuse and oppression of muslims, or a christian or decries the abuse and oppression of christians, or anyone who decries abuse and oppression of anyones like you, let's all just be people who decry the abuse and oppression of people. it's much simpler, and you don't have to really keep track of who's who.

i don't know why i care though. once i conquer the planet, you'll all be abused and oppressed anyway.
posted by tolkhan at 8:14 AM on October 17, 2001


very informative discussion, thankyou folks.
posted by adnanbwp at 9:39 AM on October 17, 2001


I think the hempisphere is something you smoke.

Must be tough to know which end to light ... rolling sounds easier tho ;)
posted by walrus at 10:27 AM on October 17, 2001


"would it justify the forceable dispossession of barren land owned by Palestinians?"

Whenever I hear about land 'ownership', I am reminded of the American Indians. They 'owned' pretty much all of North America, but they have since been 'dispossessed' by the (so far) greatest civilization in existence...

And, I'm sure most 'natives' could say the same thing, no matter what part of the world they are in.

The point is, civilization marches on, with or without permissions from primitives.
posted by eas98 at 11:59 AM on October 17, 2001


I am reminded of the American Indians

Maybe the American Indians can follow the Zionist model and reestablish their military hegemony over N. America in another several hundred years...

civilization marches on, with or without permissions from primitives

That sounds like racist and genocidal mania to me. Are you really saying that by your current, year 2001 standards of "civilization," that today if North America were still inhabited by a Native American population, you'd support an ethnic cleansing campaign to remove them so that white people could live there? I've never actually met someone who believes that. Maybe you should acquaint yourself in more detail with what you're actually endorsing. Not pretty.

I guess all Zionists don't boil it down to that fabulous might-makes-right-for-"civilization" argument you use, but, distressingly, I've heard just that from many, when pressed in argument.
posted by Zurishaddai at 5:45 PM on October 17, 2001


Let me remind you before slipping back to rhetoric and propaganda, the muslim author of the article says, "The Israeli occupation of Palestine is perhaps central to Muslim grievance against the West. While acknowledging that, I must remind you that Israel treats its one million Arab citizens with greater respect and dignity than most Arab nations treat their citizens. Today Palestinian refugees can settle and become citizens of the United States but in spite of all the tall rhetoric of the Arab world and Quranic injunctions (24:22) no Muslim country except Jordan extends this support to them."
posted by semmi at 6:23 PM on October 17, 2001


"I must remind you that Israel treats its one million Arab citizens with greater respect and dignity than most Arab nations treat their citizens."

Also, what about all the funds Israel has poured into the West Bank and Gaza over the years?

To all yoos who insist Israel is the evil, fascist terrorist, imperialist, mad state and the Palestinian Arabs are the wonderful, oppressed shlubs: show me a vibrant free market of ideas in the Arab world and I will take your claims seriously. For the moment, your claims can only be viewed as a branch of the same bullshit propaganda/fake history which keeps the Arab/Muslim world the political/economic hell it is; the same dangerous sewage which united the Arab world with the Wonderful Godless World of Soviet--remember that one?

The truth is that Israel is a little bit of Eden in a zone which is, by all objective, credible measures, an economic and intellectual toilet. Until you recognize this, you can have no credibility. Or perhaps, unless you recognize this, your values are those of the civilized world.

Israel has bent over backwards and into contortions to create a Palestinian state.

The Arab/Muslim world: #1 in masochism. #1 in sadism. #1 in worldwide BS production.
posted by ParisParamus at 7:28 PM on October 17, 2001


The Arab/Muslim world: #1 in masochism. #1 in sadism. #1 in worldwide BS production.

Ah yes, lest we forget, some people are inherently more civilized than others. I'm always getting hung up on that. We'll take the fact that your logic leads to justification of all sorts of heinous crimes as read.

The truth is that [much opinion follows].

Where are you going with this? If you know all of this to be a fact,
•that Northern Africa, the birthplace of algebra, algorithims, and other concepts is an "intellectual toilet" (which, I assume, is what tough nerds use to give swirlies),
•that a region taking in billions in oil money is an "economic . . . toilet,"
•and that Israel (a country torn by violence) is a "little bit of Eden" (try telling that to any recent victims of violence there),

stop wasting your time with the lesser beings who cannot see. Until we can free ourselves of the "values are those of the civilized world," we'll never be able to act civilly. Or something (I think you screwed that part up. No big deal-- that was at least original).

We can argue over what's true history all day. The beauty of the Internet is that I'm a Cambridge Don in history and you're a noted scholar of Israeli politics who's actually visited that country rather than pining away for a mythical "Eden." Since everyone here is brilliant, let's try to listen instead of yell (insight being more valuable than pedantry).

No one is right in the struggle in Israel. I don't think anyone here is trying to assert that. The problem is that no one is willing to back down. And this thread's a nice little synecdoche*, isn't it?

"What the dilly, East Timor?"

*If I didn't do it now, when would I ever get to use that word-- I'm sure it's misspelled, but who cares?
posted by yerfatma at 7:52 PM on October 17, 2001


•that Northern Africa, the birthplace of algebra, algorithims, and other concepts is an "intellectual toilet"

Not very relevant in 2001.

•that a region taking in billions in oil money is an "economic . . . toilet,"
By divine plan or oddity of circumstance, they have oil. But WTF have they done with the trillions Europe and the US has given them? And what would they be without such "foreign aid?"

•and that Israel (a country torn by violence) is a "little bit of Eden" (try telling that to any recent victims of violence there).

Unraveling at the edges, but it's still Eden compared to what surrounds it. Israel is probably the only place in the world where ther desert is getting smaller.
posted by ParisParamus at 8:06 PM on October 17, 2001


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