Sunday, October 24, 2010

“Arab” may soon become passé in defining that world ....

"... The “no’s” refer to a dramatic Arab summit in Sudan in 1967, when, after Israel’s crushing defeat of its neighbors, Arab states declared “no” to peace with Israel, “no” to negotiations with it, and “no” to recognition of it. Nasser, the Egyptian president, was the standard-bearer of a secular nationalism whose moment had ended with that war; today, Iran is, by choice or default, the scion of a generation of opposition politics that now alone bears an indelibly religious stamp.
In a region once convulsed by a potpourri of ideologies — from unreconstructed Maoists to millenarian Salafists — no one is left standing save Islamist movements, from Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood to Hamas in the Palestinian territories to Hezbollah, perhaps the most formidable. Be it opposition to Israel, to autocratic Arab regimes, or to the plethora of injustices visited on Arabs, the Islamists are the only ones with a broadly popular message and an ardent following, with a fleeting exception or two.
Their ascendancy is not new; for a generation, they have eclipsed their secular and leftist predecessors, whom they often act (and sometimes speak) like. But the legacy of their virtual monopoly on opposition is becoming more and more clear. They have reinterpreted conflicts — between Arab and Israeli, East and West — and have highlighted the degree to which the very notion of identity has shifted in the Arab world; so much so that “Arab” may soon become passé in defining that world. And with a politics bereft of ideology beyond faith, they have narrowed the avenues for change in a region whose inhabitants desperately want it. These movements often exude a canny pragmatism. Islamists in Turkey, Egypt, Lebanon and the Palestinian territories have all embraced electoral success; in time, they may even reinforce a democratic body politic. But on issues from poverty to Palestine, they have imposed a paradigm of morality, ethics and occasional absolutism that tends to neglect society’s most pressing problems or turn them into unrequitable anthems.....
“Radical” is a word journalists often deploy. So is “militant.” They are shorthand and, as such, do little to describe what today’s Islamist opposition really represents. “They are radical only in the sense that they reject Israeli hegemony in the region,” said Karim Makdisi, a professor at the American University of Beirut. Indeed, Hezbollah long ago set aside enforcement of social conservatism in Lebanon, for the sake of unifying its diverse constituency. While 25 years ago it called for an Islamic state along the lines of Iran, it is now firmly part of the prevailing sectarian order. Like the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt and the Justice and Development Party in Turkey, it helps represent a rising middle class. “They are not against the state at all,” said Elias Khoury, a Lebanese writer and critic. “The only thing is that they want to dominate it in their own way.”
Their greatest legacy may be on the Arab-Israeli conflict, in which both Israel and its Islamist opponents have inexorably moved away from a struggle between competing nationalisms and toward a historic clash of religions — more messianic, more grounded in identities as Muslims and Jews and, in that, more dangerous. Bringing the sacred into the debate makes compromise altogether more difficult. Jewish fundamentalism against Islamic fundamentalism, Mr. Khoury called it: “That is a sign of catastrophe, and this is the situation we’re in now.”..."

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

"Jewish fundamentalism against Islamic fundamentalism, Mr. Khoury called it: “That is a sign of catastrophe, and this is the situation we’re in now.”..."

Israel supports the Saudis, the Saudis support Al Qaeda and everyone else is scared shitless.