Omar of Jordan, whose blog I cited yesterday has a long question up at his blog. Here is my interlinear answer.
Omar, we are pretty much on opposite sides of this particular issue, but I detect in your questions, even though they are fairly rhetorical (i.e., whose answer is obvious), some opening to a serious response. So here it is. I welcome your response.
But…they are fighting Israel, whoever they are!
I’m not allowed to thank Allah when I see an Israeli ship sinking in the sea, because I have to be more aware of what’s going on behind the scenes. I’m not allowed to thank Allah when I see Israelis who slaughtered my brothers in blood hide in shelters like dogs, because when I do, I’m an idiot who agrees on killing the Lebanese people. I’m not allowed to open that ancient box of dignity and have a look (without touching) at something that I really miss when I hear Hassan Nasrullah’s speech inviting me to have a look at that burning thing over there after uttering all the logic and the sense in the world, because if I dare to do that, I’ll become an oblivious Iranian agent. If I dare to raise my hands and ask Allah to help my fellow Muslims in their fight against that devil called Israel, then I’m a Syrian informer.
Before I commit any of these grave mistakes, can you please have some sympathy on me and try your best to enlighten me before it’s too late, can you please explain to my humble and slow mind how it’s better to repeat after Bush and Rice, how it’s better to give Israel a green light and to tell her that it’s the right thing to do, it’s not your resposibilty after all, it’s only a Shiite adventure. I’m finding this a bit hard to swallow, why should I curse the one whose fighting my enemy? Or maybe I shouldn’t have considered it my enemy in the first place!
Maybe that’s the case. As your opening Arab proverb states, one of the signs of a fool is mistaking an enemy for a friend. The inverse applies as well: mistaking a friend for an enemy.
Try a thought experiment. We are in 1900. The Arab world has, for a century now, awakened to realize that European culture has far outstripped them in technology, and they are on the defensive even in their own lands. Efforts at reform, starting with Muhammad Ali in the early 19th century have all failed. A new round of efforts known as “Arab nationalism” have begun. And all of a sudden, you start getting Jews from Europe coming to Palestine. They come because the Europeans are racists and anti-Semites. They have the secrets of modernity — both technological and cultural — and there is little love lost between them and the Christians they flee.
They could be your ideal allies. With them to help, you need not go to your real enemies, the European Christians, who have waged war with you for centuries and who even now, threaten to turn you into colonies. You can get all the information and insights you need from these Jews.
What if your people (Muslim Arabs) had treated them with your celebrated hospitality? My guess is, that the Arab world would not be the economic and political disaster area it is today, with the failure not only of Arab nationalism, but now the rise of Islamic theocracy, whose handiwork we can see in the Iranian’s treatment of their own sons in their war against Iraq, in the Taliban throwing acid in the face of women who do not wear the veil, and the massacre of populations — Christian, animist, Muslim — in the Sudan.
And again please, what’s so bad about Syria and Iran that is enough for me to stand with the US against them?
I’m not sure how to answer this. My guess is that you would have a very difficult time sustaining your blog in either place. You have picked two of the most oppressive regimes in the world (barring, of course, North Korea which is actually starving its people to death). Let me return a question: will you side with anyone who’s “on your side” (i.e., Muslim and fighting Israel) no matter how cruelly they treat your own people?
In other words, explain to me how important it is to consider Hezbollah a terrorist organization because it’s nothing but a Syrian tool. I for one never heard Al Assad expressing his ambition about conquering Amman, but again, he must be bad, because you know it’s impossible that our leaderships stab Lebanon in the back for nothing!
I have a little difficulty understanding what is apparently a lot of sarcasm. Correct me if I misunderstood.
1) Hezbollah is not a terrorist organization because it is a Syrian tool (actually, it’s more an agent of Iran than Syria, but it’s also independent). Hezbollah is terrorist because it teaches hatred that urges genocide, because it celebrates and participates in suicide terrorism (i.e., targeting civilians). And like most terrorist organizations, it terrorizes most and most often the very people among whom it exists and for whom it pretends to speak.
2) Assad and “Greater Syria”: I am astonished that you are unaware of Syrian designs on Jordan. Jordan, Israel and Lebanon are all part of “Greater Syria“, and the ambitions of the Syrians for your country are a major dimension of the politics of the last 60 years (including “Black September“). Surely you are aware of the Syrian occupation of Lebanon for the last half a century. That was foreplay.
It’s time for you to wake up, it’s time for you to realize what the Iranian and the Syrian devil is preparing for you, it’s time for you to understand that fighting Israel is not helping the Palestinians nor the Lebanese, it’s time to realize that anybody threatening Israel by any means is not helping the Palestinians and not serving the common Arabic interests which I have no idea what it is!
Since you have basically presented my position (although in a fairly simplistic way), I can only assume that the above was meant to be sarcastic. Let me just make two points here, starting with your closing question about the “common Arabic interests.” It seems to me that can go one of two ways: either the common Arab interest is the honor of the Arabs as strong and virile so that Arab leaders can strut on the stage of history, no matter what the cost to their own people, or it is the creation of states in which justice rules fairly and commoners have dignity.
If you want the former, then destroying Israel is important. If you want the latter, then allying with Israel is important. The pursuit of Arab honor (as defined by an elite who do not hesitate to exploit and sacrifice Arab commoners in search of their goal) has doomed the Palestinians to misery, to imprisonment in “refugee” (really concentration) camps, to statelessness, to occupation.
In 1967, for example, after the disastrous Six-Days War, the Arabs had a chance to get the entire West Bank and Gaza for a Palestinian state, free over a million Arabs from the yoke of Israeli occupation (and humiliation). Instead they proclaimed the three No’s of Khartoum, which effectively said, “our honor [i.e., Arab League leaders] is more important than the freedom and well-being of the Palestinian people.” No one consulted the Palestinians. They were the designated sacrificial victim on the altar of Arab “pride.”
The point here is that “that ancient box of dignity” you would be happy only to look at has been poisoned. Your people (Arabs, Muslims) have so feverishly pursued one notion of honor that they have destroyed the very meaning of honor. As a result, they eagerly seek to play the victim before the whole world — look at what these wicked Israelis are doing to us! — when no honorable warrior would play the victim; they kill daughters for getting raped; they grind the faces of their poor and then blame Israel. This is not honorable. This is not dignified.
For some, it doesn’t need much analysis, wait for you bastards’ point of view, and simply follow. It’s not the same for me.
I’m for not simply following someone else’s point of view too. Take your own stance.
In your opening remarks you seek to avoid rejoicing over your enemies damage, a term called Schadenfreude in German, and, I believe, Shamtan, in Arabic. It is an important emotion to avoid, for as your proverb points out, if you mistake your enemy for your friend, you may, taking his enemies as yours, be rejoicing over your real friend’s suffering.
In your title you say, “But… they are fighting Israel, whoever they are!” Well who are they? And are you prisoner of “my enemy’s enemy is my friend” at all costs? Are you aware that Hezbollah is out to turn Lebanon into a Sharia state and impose dhimmitude on the Christians (and the “lax” Muslims) there? Do you care? Does it matter to you that Christian Lebanese are cheering the only people who stand a chance of breaking the yoke of terrorism on those among whom terrorists live.
Listen to the words of a Lebanese Christian, your friend’s enemy and your enemy’s friend. You can dismiss the Christian Lebanese as fascist if you want, but they are no less fascist than your Islamic and “Arab nationalist” movements.
For the millions of Christian Lebanese, driven out of our homeland, Thank you Israel, is the sentiment echoing from around the world. The Lebanese Foundation for Peace, an international group of Lebanese Christians, made the following statement in a press release to Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert concerning the latest Israeli attacks against Hezbollah:
We urge you to hit them hard and destroy their terror infrastructure. It is not [only] Israel who is fed up with this situation, but the majority of the silent Lebanese in Lebanon who are fed up with Hezbollah and are powerless to do anything out of fear of terror retaliation…
The once dominant Lebanese Christians responsible for giving the world the Paris of the Middle East as Lebanon used to be known, have been killed, massacred, driven out of their homes and scattered around the world as radical Islam declared its holy war in the 70s and took hold of the country. They voice an opinion that they and Israel have learned from personal experience, which is now belatedly being discovered by the rest of the world.
Ask yourself if you don’t care what your allies do… as long as they attack Israel. Ask yourself if, when your friends, Arab Muslims, say “line up against the Jews and the Christians in a zero-sum war, our side right or wrong, you want to simply follow.