'Intelligent discontent is the mainspring of civilization.' -- Eugene V. Debs

Thursday, January 22, 2009

then we must think to adopt this definition too 

The London Review of Books has posted an excellent selection of statements by contributors about the IDF assault upon Gaza. Perhaps, the following two excerpts will motivate you to read them in their entirety.

First, from the statement of Tariq Ali:

The war on Gaza has killed the two-state solution by making it clear to Palestinians that the only acceptable Palestine would have fewer rights than the Bantustans created by apartheid South Africa. The alternative, clearly, is a single state for Jews and Palestinians with equal rights for all. Certainly it seems utopian at the moment with the two Palestinian parties in Israel – Balad and the United Arab List – both barred from contesting the February elections. Avigdor Lieberman, the chairman of Yisrael Beiteinu, has breathed a sigh of satisfaction: ‘Now that it has been decided that the Balad terrorist organisation will not be able to run, the first battle is over.’ But even victory has its drawbacks. After the Six-Day War in 1967, Isaac Deutscher warned his one-time friend Ben Gurion: The Germans have summed up their own experience in the bitter phrase “Mann kann sich totseigen!” — you can triumph yourself to death. This is what the Israelis have been doing. They have bitten off much more than they can swallow.

In the interim between the drafting of Ali's statement and its publication, the Israeli Supreme Court has ordered the reinstatement of the two Palestinian parties for the upcoming election, but this decision does not refute the overall thrust of his argument.

Second, from the statement of Alastair Crooke:

We have to ask the West a question: when the Israelis bombed the house of Sheikh Nizar Rayan, a Hamas leader, killing him, his wives, his nine children, and killing 19 others who happened to live in adjoining houses – because they saw him as a target – was this terrorism? If the West’s answer is that this was not terrorism, it was self-defence – then we must think to adopt this definition too.

This was said to me by a leading Islamist in Beirut a few days ago. He was making a point, but behind his rhetorical question plainly lies the deeper issue of what the Gaza violence will signify for mainstream Islamists in the future.

Crooke concludes that the middle ground within Political Islam is eroding fast. The consequences for people throughout the world could be quite dire, especially for people in the US and Europe who remain sanguine about the ability to contain the violence to the Middle East.

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