Thursday, January 4, 2007

Bless Their Little Hearts...

Leave it to the Middle Eastern media leader al-Jazeera to clearly explain the true reason behind all of the tension within the Islamic world.
Pierre Heumann of the Swiss weekly Die Weltwoche spoke with Al-Jazeera Editor-in-Chief Ahmed Sheikh in Doha.

Pierre: Mr. Sheikh, as the Editor in Chief of Al-Jazeera, you are one of the most important opinion-makers in the Arab world. What do you call suicide bombers?

Sheikh: For what is happening in Palestine, we never use the expression "suicide bombing."

Pierre: What do you call it then?

Sheikh: In English, I would describe it as "bombings."
Seeing how the "bombing" was the result of a suicide, why not call it such?
Pierre: And in Arabic?

Sheikh: Literally translated, we would speak of "commando attacks." In our culture, it is precisely not suicide.
So what precisely is the semantic difference between a "commando attack" bombing done by, say, remote control and a "commando attack" bombing done by suicide self-detonation? Sounds like it's about time to get out the ol' hip-boots.
Pierre: But instead a praiseworthy act?

Sheikh: When the country is occupied and the people are being killed by the enemy, everyone must take action, even if he sacrifices himself in so doing.

Pierre: Even if in so doing he kills innocent civilians?

Sheikh: That is not a Palestinian problem, but a problem of the Israelis.
If terrorists are killing you and your loved ones, naturally it's your own fault.
Pierre: You're avoiding the question.

Sheikh: Not at all. When the Israeli Army attacks, it kills civilians...
And the exploding granny is a classic example of what they consider a "civilian" to be.
...An army should be able to distinguish between military and civilian targets.
Moral equivalence alert: Terrorists who intentionally try to kill civilians and purposely blend into their own civilian population to them as human shields is, according to this logic, no different than the Israeli army which goes to great lengths to try to precisely get only those terrorists.
Pierre: You come originally from Nablus: a city that was occupied by the Israelis in 1967. In 1968 you left your homeland to study in Jordan. When you say that, is it the Palestinian in you speaking, who regards Israel as the enemy, or the journalist, who is dedicated to finding the truth.

Sheikh: The journalist.

Pierre: So your personal background has no influence on your work?

Sheikh: When I'm in the newsroom, I forget my personal background. I set aside my political convictions. The news story is sacred for me. One cannot change it. One has to broadcast the story, as it is. Unchanged.

Pierre: Still, I have trouble believing that you leave out your personal history in assessing a story.

Sheikh: You're right. It's not always possible at work completely to separate oneself from one's personal background.
John Kerry couldn't have flip-flopped any better.
Pierre: You sound bitter.

Sheikh: Yes, I am.
Comforting to know that he can keep his emotions in check and remain unbiased.

Now we get to the crux of the problem.
Sheikh: In many Arab states, the middle class is disappearing. The rich get richer and the poor get still poorer. Look at the schools in Jordan, Egypt or Morocco: You have up to 70 youngsters crammed together in a single classroom. How can a teacher do his job in such circumstances? The public hospitals are also in a hopeless condition. These are just examples. They show how hopeless the situation is for us in the Middle East.

Pierre: Who is responsible for the situation?

Sheikh: The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is one of the most important reasons why these crises and problems continue to simmer. The day when Israel was founded created the basis for our problems. The West should finally come to understand this. Everything would be much calmer if the Palestinians were given their rights.
Actually the Muslim rejection and hatred was in full swing decades before 1948, so the reasoning doesn't follow.
Pierre: Do you mean to say that if Israel did not exist, there would suddenly be democracy in Egypt, that the schools in Morocco would be better, that the public clinics in Jordan would function better?

Sheikh: I think so.
And the beheadings in the Philippines by Islamic terrorists is because of Israel, too.
Pierre: Can you please explain to me what the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has to do with these problems?

Sheikh: The Palestinian cause is central for Arab thinking.

Pierre: In the end, is it a matter of feelings of self-esteem?

Sheikh: Exactly. It's because we always lose to Israel. It gnaws at the people in the Middle East that such a small country as Israel, with only about 7 million inhabitants, can defeat the Arab nation with its 350 million. That hurts our collective ego.
There you have it - no democracy, human rights, peace, justice, love, or freedom because their feelings are hurt.
Sheikh: The Palestinian problem is in the genes of every Arab. The West's problem is that it does not understand this.
There, there; maybe the west can give everyone a cookie and a hug, and everything will be better, mmkay?

(via lgf via Tim Blair)

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