I have often written here about the problem of demopaths” — people who have no respect for the human rights of others, but complain bitterly about others not respecting their human rights. Recently a the head of the radical Islamic Movement‘s northern branch spoke at Haifa University at the bequest of the Muslim students there.
Sheikh Raed Salah, the leader of the Islamic Movement’s northern branch.
Photo: Ariel Jerozolimski
In order to prevent violence, Jewish students were excluded from the talk.
One student, however, slipped in unnoticed and reported back to the rest of the world. With his permission, I post his remarks. (HT: Steve Antler)
A Case for Democracy
One of my father’s favorite jokes is the following. A man is driving down highway number one, when his wife calls and says in great concern, “darling, the news channel has reported that there is a crazy maniac driving in the wrong direction on highway One!” The man laughs and answers, “One maniac? I see at least a hundred!”
Listening to the ongoing criticism about Israel, I sometimes feel like the man on highway number one. While attempting to drive with its fellow nations down the road leading west, all Israel can see looking out the window in its warm and humid middleastern highway, is the license plates of countries racing by, turning their backs on every western value imaginable, and honking their horn towards the one country that at present time rejects the tendency in the Middle East to shoot protestors to death on the street or insist that women travel with a male guardian.
Sheikh Raed Salah, leader of the Islamic movement’s extreme northern branch spoke at the University of Haifa today, and toyed with this rather worn out mantra. The University that has learned its lesson from previous Jewish-Arab riots has raised concerns for the safety and peace of its students, and thus decided to separate the two camps. I must note that after witnessing the heated spirits on both sides, I found myself grateful for this rather superficial and seemingly absurd separation.
The result of the separation was the following. A large corridor filled with members of every political group from within the Jewish student body, waving flags, pounding on the floor and making every effort to disturb the speakers in the downstairs hall. One protestor told me, that if Salah has achieved one good thing in his speech, it was the momentary “shalom Bait”, peace and unity, between the Jews. Any other day, this student body would be divided into camps and parties identifying with Yisrael Beitenu to Chadash, and anything in between. Today they stood united. Amazing how far a slight delegitimization of one’s right to sovereignty can go.
To get into the assembly hall, where no seat has been left empty in light of this festive occasion, one had to merely prove that he’s, well, Arab. Guards and security companies funded by the University physically stopped Jewish students from approaching the doors, creating a human shield around the Sheikh who then had the luxury of calmly condemning the undemocratic violation of his freedom of speech by this academic institution, a representative of the mouth-shutting, minority-oppressing, human-right abusing, State of Israel.
After standing amongst my fellow students, all wishing to be a fly on the wall of the large Zefadia assembly hall, I decided to muster every bit of persuasion and deceit I had in me, and sneak into one of the chairs in the back of the room. And there I was, the only Jewish fly on the wall during Raed Salah’s speech.
First spoke the leader of the IQRAA student organization affiliate with the Islamic movement. As soon as the Allahu Akbar chants died down, he yelled into the microphone, that this is a time that calls for courage and strength. “The University of Haifa does everything in its power to pose obstacles and hardships on the Arab student, from the moment of enrollment and at every stage until graduation.”
The kosher fly that I am, I was rather curious to hear these remarks. Since I know for a fact that the audience consists of Arab students who received a podium and microphone in one of the largest assembly halls the University has to offer, who are protected by several security companies while skillfully bashing the institute that provides them, who quite often receive full scholarships and free dormitories, who are (rightfully) entitled to an additional thirty minutes after my time is up in every exam, I was very curious to discover that the appropriate reaction to this remark was to clap in unity and end with a spontaneous reciting of praise to Allah.
It’s not clear whether Nir is being intentionally naïve here, or he really was surprised. What he witnessed with the insatiable appetite for “rights” that demopaths possess. “Rights,” even affirmative action rights — the extra 30 minutes in the exam — are not enough. Rights are based on the principles of equity. These Islamists and their audience want dominion. So you cannot expect appreciation for what a democratic state offers them. Rather, they’ll usurp your language of rights and complain that theirs — not yours — are still being violated.
Not allowing me a spare moment to contemplate, Sheikh Raed Salah rose to the podium, and the hundred and fifty students, rose in turn, loudly chanting the popular chorus, “Allah is great, Praise Allah.” Though I am willing to agree that Allah seems pretty great and deserves to be praised, I found very less matters in common with the Sheikh after hearing him speak. “The Israeli courts harass the Arab population, and abuse the Arabs rights,” he said. I cannot say that this is a very original remark, but I did find it curious since Raid Salah’s speach was actually approved by the University as a result of the legal advisor’s statement, that if the University won’t allow the speech, it will have to deal with a court order awarding Raid Salah this right. Apparently, neither that nor the presence of an Arab judge in the Israeli Supreme Court, a body that regularly emphasizes the constitutional importance of the freedom of political speech, have fooled Sheikh Raed.
He went on to stating the goals of the Islamic movement, describing each one in a very tangible way. A celebration with five million Palestinian refugees, an Arabic Haifa, Jaffa and Ramle, Arabic control of Al-Quds (Jerusalem) and the seemingly optimistic and universal prayer, “we all love life and wish to live a happy life”. Unfortunately, every statement of the movement’s mission ended with a rather bitter taste, at least in this fly’s mouth, since his Holiness always insisted that these will be his objectives and goals from now and until Doomsday, and if these are not achieved he (we- the audience) will be happy laying in a cemetery underground.
I find it interesting that he spoke of “loving life and wishing to live a happy life,” since that’s precisely a despised Jewish value that radical Islamists have contempt for:
Chief Palestinian Authority cleric Mufti Sheikh Ikrimeh Sabri stated, “We tell them, in as much as you love life, the Muslim loves death and martyrdom. There is a great difference between he who loves the hereafter and he who loves this world. The Muslim loves death and [strives for] martyrdom.” Saudi Sheikh Abd Al-Muhsin Al-Qassem in Al-Madina added: “The Jews preached permissiveness and corruption, as they hid behind false slogans like freedom and equality, humanism and brotherhood… They are cowards in battle… they flee from death and fear fighting… They love life.”
So my guess is that the good Sheikh is either worried about what the “outsiders” will say, or he’s pitching to an audience of already partially Westernized Arab-Israeli students. How many of them understood the inversion and how many were dupes of the demopath?
Indeed — and here’s a question I pose to all the Arab students at Haifa — how many of you understand that Israel treats you commoners better than any Arab country including some putative Palestinian state, and that when you join in the cheers about Allahu akhbar, you are enjoying the short-term rush of honor-shame asabiyya — sense of Muslim solidarity around the prospect of conquest — at the cost of your long-term well-being?
Or is the thrill of planning the destruction of your hosts right under their own noses — after all, the reason that the room was all-Muslim was because of the fear of violence (from Muslims) — just too delightful to pass up?
And so, as popular as it is to point the anti-democratic finger towards Israel, I feel examples like Sheikh Raed Salah can shed a small light on the only functioning democracy in the Middle East. Israel deals with its complexities, not by building more gallows in town squares for homosexuals to hang by (Iran, Saudi Arabia), outlawing political assembly (Libya, Palestinian Authority, Syria) or allowing the abuse of religious freedoms (Egypt, Iran, Iraq), but by allowing every voice to be heard, even that of Sheikh Raed Salah.
It sounds nice, but on one level this performance is a perfect example of Israel’s democracy rushing to its own destruction, like the rest of the crazy drivers in the parable.
- a legal advisor who interprets the law of civil rights in the strictest terms, to the disadvantage of the upholders of civil rights and the advantage of those who abuse them
- an administration that – to their later regret – allows the meeting to take place by excluding the Jewish students, who more than anyone need to know just what their fellow Arab students are up to,
- on the basis of a threat of violence the responsibility for which should have fallen on the shoulders of the Muslim student organization,
- and a gathering of enemies, known for spouting paranoid lethal narratives — the Jews are tunneling under the Dome of the Rock to destroy it, blood libels, IDF soldiers with honors made from the skulls of martyrs — and cheering to the same cries that ushered from the lips of suicide terrorists as they blew themselves up…
… this does not strike me as a recipe for a long-lived democracy. Rather, it seems like the process whereby a democracy commits suicide by following the road of self-destructive righteousness. Maybe those secular Israeli progressives have a thing or two to learn from the rabbis about the limits to self-negation.
To the Israelis: If you are not for yourselves, who will be?
To the Arabs: If you are only for yourselves, what are you?
If not now, when?
Update: MKs admonish Haifa U. over Salah speech