by Mordechai Kedar
Read the article in the original עבריתThese days, the state of Israel is celebrating sixty five years since its re-establishment, one thousand nine hundred years after the destruction of the second Temple and expulsion of the Jews from their land. The Jewish people experiences one success after another, and despite the difficult starting point of a cruel war, the wars that came afterward, the political trials and tribulations, and economic difficulties, Israel is a success story in every way. A well-developed democracy, free press, high quality of life and the world's longest life expectancy.
Read the article in Italiano (translated by Yehudit Weisz, edited by Angelo Pezzana)
The Arab world, on the other hand, is going backwards. Going? Running! Sliding down the slippery slope into a quagmire of boiling fire, blood and tears. And unlike in the past, it is difficult now for the Arabs to blame foreign forces for the tragedies that are afflicting many Arab countries: Iraq, Egypt, Libya, Syria, Yemen, Tunisia, Bahrain and more. Today, whoever blames Israel for the troubles in the Arab world is seen as delusional, as someone who is living in an old-fashioned black-and-white film.
This critical situation causes Arab intellectuals to search for the guilty party within the Arab world, within the culture and the behavior of their people and their governments. Basil Hussein is not one of the most famous of Arab publicists, and it may even be that this is not his real name. From the few articles of his that have been published in recent months on the Internet, one may assume that he lives in Iraq, and is perhaps of Kurdish origin. His penetrating words are worthy of being disseminated, and we bring here a translation of two of his articles that were posted in recent months in the liberal Internet site Elaph (my comments in parenthesis, M.K.).
The first article was published on the 10th of April with the title: "Indeed, we are a bloody people". In the article it is written:
"Indeed, gentlemen, we are a bloody people. Don't be surprised when I say that we are a bloody people and don't try to find excuses for the fact that we are a bloody people. Our words, our actions and our speech - all prove that we are a bloody people. The color of passion and lust is red, but everything that leads to blood is like a green traffic light.
We are a bloody people: our tragic celebrations are bloody. Don't forget that even our names are blood and only blood. Is there not one among us, one of our flesh, whose name is "Qadhaf al-Dam" ("bloodletting", the name of Qadhaffi's tribe, M.K.)? And we also have "Covenant of Blood". And perhaps your memories fail or do you make yourselves forget: Isn't it we who for tens of years grieved and still yell "with spirit and with blood" (we will redeem you, O ..., M.K.) then are we not worthy of the description 'bloody people'?
Go to the mosques, to the Shi'ite centers and to the monasteries, listen to the words of the speakers on the podiums, people who act as if G-d doesn't draw them near to him except with letters of blood, with words of blood, with expressions of blood, with prayers of blood. Their cries, their howls, their curses - all is blood and only blood. Some of their beards are colored with blood, with rivers of blood, instead of musk and amber. And after this you deny that we are a people of blood?
When I watch television, I see that the most common words are 'This one is Sunni and that one is Shi'ite", "this one is a Kurd and that one is an Arab', 'This one is Muslim and that one is Christian', 'this one is Druze and that one is Berber', 'This one is a Copt and that one is Nubian' (an African people that lives in southern Egypt and northern Sudan, M.K.) , 'this one has citizenship and that one does not', 'this on is a city dweller and that one is a Bedouin', 'this one is an infidel and that one is something else', 'this one is white and that one is black', should I count the names for you? But the important thing is 'kill, kill, because you will only enter paradise by shedding blood'.
I know that Islam is (a religion of, M.K.) peace, and our prophet is peace, the Qur'an is peace and our blessings are peace, the greatest evening for us (the night of al-Qadr, 27 Ramadan, the night when the Qur'an descended, M.K.) is peace, and permit me to remind you that this night is "peace until the dawn" (Qur'an, Sura 97, M.K.). Therefore I shout to you: insane ones, bathing in blood, where did this culture of blood come from? Where did all of this fanaticism and hatred of life, of ourselves, of others and toward the world come from? How have we turned into a people of blood?
And whoever does not speak in the language of blood, we tell him: "O my son, you are a traitor because you deny the blood, and therefore your punishment is the guillotine. Forward march." Even hypocrisy is not hypocrisy if it is not soaked in blood. Our money does not increase unless we trade in blood. You will not become an exemplary leader unless you shed a sea of blood. Woe to you unless you do this, otherwise you'll regret it. Gentlemen, pardon me, the time has come for us to admit that we are a people of blood.
Be happy and rejoice my friends, because the grave of the murderer Hulagu (the Mongol who destroyed Baghdad in the year 1258; his name is the source of the word hooligan, M.K.) has been destroyed; he and his dark history have fled from our land because he has become a dwarf, a student (of ours, M.K.) in bloodshed. Believe me, no one except for you remembers his story, when the people of blood are spoken of. I commend you for climbing the pile of skulls in order to gain protection, because even the vampires flee from fear of you. What description is more fitting than a 'people of blood'?
I don't know whether to laugh or cry, because I've begun to fight blood with blood. You ask how? Because my pain has turned to blood; I weep about the blood that I see. I toss and turn on my bed of pain out of fear for the nation and I vomit blood from disgust. Don't blame me for fearing Allah but hating blood."
This is the end of the article as it was published in the Elaph site. The readers who responded totally agree with the writer, and add additional indications of the culture of blood. One of them writes: "Unfortunately this is the reality. All that we see around us is blood, and even our dreams are bloody. The sad thing is that you don't see anyone trying to change the situation. No one tries to show that life is better than we imagine, if only we knew how to value it and live our lives differently, without bloodbaths. There are many good things in life, but unfortunately we don't see them and don't value their significance."
Another reader adds: "Unfortunately blood is pleasing to our palate; we live in an ocean of blood. The article is a wonderful lament that describes our bitter situation well. All of the other nations have unity and coalesce, while our countries fall apart and are torn to pieces. These are words of mourning over the destruction of our unity."
A female reader writes: "How long will we continue to pay for the sins of others? How long will we continue to be victims of those who lust for death and hate life? How long will we remain silent in the face of an ignorant minority that controls our minds, our futures and our possessions? How long will we remain a nation that runs after illusions (the belief in Paradise, M.K.) and hates progress? Thank you, Dr. Basil, because you have told us that we live in a cemetery for the living. We are confounded by the developed world, and sink more deeply every day into a tragedy of blood". Another reader draws the writer's attention to the fact that besides Layl al-Qadr which is a night of peace, the rest of the 364 nights of the year are nights of blood.
Dr. Basil Hussein explains why the Arab world has become an ocean of blood in a different article, that was published on the 20th of February this year entitled "A Society of Hatred":
"It is difficult to deny the fact that the level of hatred is increasing among Arab societies. Moreover, we have an industry that has turned hatred into an art. I was amazed, and it could be that many intelligent people were shocked together with me, at the level of hatred, resentment and hostility which exists in the political, religious and cultural arenas and at all levels, so much so that moderation has become a fault, the voice of wisdom has become treason, excessive hatred has become a good thing and it has become desirable to trade in it. Therefore Imam Mahmoud al-a'zali (who died in the year 1111 CE, M.K.) said that simple people can be more intimidating than the sultan.
Ibn Khaldun (philosopher of history who died in the year 1406, M.K.) said that public battles are common in times of Ideological inferiority and cultural stagnation. This profound scholar was right. Indeed, we live in an age of ideological inferiority, and it is a wonder that this is happening within an era of revolution in the areas of knowledge, science and information, and that especially in such an era we have become a backward society and illiteracy is very widespread. We are also experiencing ignorance with many characteristics and many aspects, and therefore we have become ignorant even regarding love of the homeland, and instead of worshiping Allah and loving the homeland we have become worshipers of the idols of the sect, the tribe, the ethnicity and all of the various identities and narrow loyalties.
We are no longer true Muslims who are commanded to do good and recognize the multiple aspects of humanity, which is a way of life where people respect each other (Qur'an 49, 13, M.K.) and live together in peace, without bickering, or being alienated from each other or hostile to one another. We have not become members of modern civilization like the rest of the cultured world and we have not become united, despite the fact that I believe wholeheartedly that Islam is a civil religion, because the original Islamic state is the religion of a city-state (for example the Greek Polis).
We have changed from a united nation to a nation torn apart, scattered and crumbled, just as the concept of nationalism has become a ridiculous idea, a vulgar word.
O, how backwards we have become. We are a society that has not boarded the train of progressive society, and therefore we wander in a path among insignificant matters because we have begun to delude ourselves that these are important things. As a result of this we have suffered the greatest of defeats and have become an insignificant society that lusts for trivial things but makes great mistakes, despite the fact that we are supposed to be a nation of readers. We are a nation of ignoramuses who don't read or write. Just to remind you: the number of Arabs who don't know how to read and write is a hundred million. The average time that an Arab spends reading is 6 minutes per year, contrasted with 200 minutes that a person in an advanced country spends. Therefore we are excluded from history, and the others play with us however they like.
Why are the creations of the giants of Arab culture in the twentieth century not present in the public arena, in the scientific and cultural arenas, which are dominated by transitory values and polluted by the (foreign, M.K.) flood? Why, why, O why? Indeed, we have become a nation without a future, without wisdom, without a living conscience, without philosophers, without leaders and without intellectuals. We have succeeded in creating only hatred, and the arrows of hatred that we shoot, return upon us and we are impaled in our inner parts."
This ends the words of Dr. Basil Hussein. It seems to me that he needs no interpretation, because his sharp words are a commentary on the psychological condition of the public at large that surrounds him. The combination of a culture of hatred with an uncontrolled desire to see blood flow, is a fatal combination, primarily for the Arab domain. Foreign powers (Iran, Turkey, the West, M.K.) are pulled into the oblivion, the collective mental vacuum that Dr. Basil describes,without knowing what a black hole they are getting themselves into.
The Arab failure to establish a legitimate governmental framework emphasizes the contrast with Israel, and the obvious success of the Jewish people in establishing the state of Israel, developing it and preserving it as a lily among the thorns of the Middle East.
Dr. Kedar is available for lectures
Dr. Mordechai Kedar (Mordechai.Kedar@biu.ac.il) is an Israeli scholar of Arabic and Islam, a lecturer at Bar-Ilan University and the director of the Center for the Study of the Middle East and Islam (under formation), Bar Ilan University, Israel. He specializes in Islamic ideology and movements, the political discourse of Arab countries, the Arabic mass media, and the Syrian domestic arena.
Translated from Hebrew by Sally Zahav with permission from the author.
Additional articles by Dr. Kedar
Source: The article is published in the framework of the Center for the Study of the Middle East and Islam (under formation), Bar Ilan University, Israel. Also published in Makor Rishon, a Hebrew weekly newspaper.
Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the author.