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The Freudian Slip of Mansour Omar El-Kikhia

To Mustafa Ben 'Amer: The ultimate expression of Libyan decency, and the unassuming and quiet father of the politics of meaning in Libya. To Basheer al-Sa'adawi, who tempered his uncompromising vision of a free and united Libya with his principled pragmatism, and, thus, made his unique and gallant contribution to the birth of the Libyan nation. To Ali Owriath: I was a very young lad the first time I met him, but I still remember his cheerful and intelligent Libyanism. To Edward Said, the brave and the brilliant. To Samiha Khalil, or rather Umm Khalil, the splendid example of the long struggle of Palestinian women for their motherland, and for justice and peace. To Uri Avnery, the highest expression of the true Jewish spirit that seeks justice and peace and delights in compassion and charity. To Noam Chomsky, the Mosaic voice of our age, and the closest a contemporary man comes to the complete conscience.

"It seems to me that the search for confrontations, aside from revealing a kind of intellectual bankruptcy, a failure to have found effective politics, may also become a manipulative and coercive tactic. I think it often does. It becomes the kind of tactic which attempts to bring people to a certain degree of commitment, not by having it grow out of their own understanding and experience in the realities of the world, but, as the result of a situation which often does not reflect the realities of society. That is manipulative and coercive, and I think also dangerous. I think it is the proper kind of tactic only for a movement of an elitist and authoritarian sort.
                                                                                           Noam Chomsky

One thing must be made clear at the outset. The purpose of this article is not to give aid and comfort to those who are indifferent to the patriotic calls for human rights and the rule of law. I must, therefore, warn that the illiberal and arbitrary voices of reaction may misuse my specific analysis of the political practices of one man in order to frustrate the sincere efforts of many loyal Libyans who lend themselves to the natural rights to dissent and associate. What is worse, political feudalists, who are wet behind the ears in matters of human rights and the rule of law, may misappropriate my arguments so as to discredit my Libyan compatriots in the United States and elsewhere in the world. The governing cadre needs to understand that the commitment of Libyan expatriates to the sovereignty of their motherland and the well being of their people is not open to question. Indeed, the rights to dissent and associate are absolute, and it is either wrong or disingenuous to use the argument of national interest to explain away these rights. What is open to question, however, are the means we choose to exercise these rights. We cannot, for example, associate with just anyone, regardless of whether their values and interests are in clear conflict with the basic values and interests of the Libyan people. For whenever we do that, the argument of natural interest becomes valid. We must be careful not to throw the baby out with the bath water. No one of us has more right than the others to claim that their ends justify their means. It is the means that determine the ends. Not all roads take us to the same city. Certain roads take us to certain places, but not to others.

I was asked twice before to publish my opinion of Mansour Omar El-Kikhia's work, his doctoral dissertation and his book, which Mansour himself describes as neither "pro-Qaddafi" nor "anti-Qaddafi," but I declined. Mansour, after all, is a friend of many of my friends, and a fellow Libyan American to whom I owed special courtesy. I knew of his questionable associations, but I thought they were his cross to bear. Then came his statement that some Palestinians were worse enemies to their people than the Israelis ever were. Duty, then, made silence impossible.

In a statement published on Libya News List, on March 24, 2001, Mansour Omar El-Kikhia wrote:

"...Abu Nidal Movement ... killed more Palestinians than Israeli bombing ever did..."

Mansour Omar has no time for the facts, but his contempt for the truth has nothing to do with his haste. His own personal pursuits compel him to play the game of rhetorical arguments. He is plain and "practical." He is not one to gamble with clear opportunities, let truth be damned. Let the pigeons worry about the plight of the Palestinians, about peace and justice, Mansour Omar would rather argue. Lenni Brenner, a Jewish American historian, tells us of a little encounter between Professor Zvi Ankori, the commander of the Haganah force which occupied Dir Yassin in the aftermath of the massacre, and an unnamed Israeli, who was one of the veterans of the terrorist group Irgun which committed the orgiastic murder. The encounter took place in 1982 at the scene of the crime, since it has been the habit of the Irgun terrorists to hold their shameless reunions in Dir Yasin in celebration of their great victory.

"I went into 6-7 houses," said Ankori. "I saw cut off genitalia and women's crushed stomachs. According to the shooting signs on the bodies, it was a direct murder" ... "what," asked one of them, "you had time to lift the dresses and seek for genitalia?" "I won't argue," said Ankori, "I just thought that the young generation of today should hear what I had to say."1

Unlike Professor Ankori, Mansour Omar still wants to argue. Here is his grotesque and cruel hyperbole one more time: "...Abu Nidal movement... killed more Palestinians than Israeli bombing ever did..." It is possible that Mansour will make things worse and hide behind the context, but no context can save this belligerent and false statement from itself. His statement, I may add, has an intriguing similarity to another statement made by Martin Peretz, the militant Zionist and the Editor-in-Chief of the New Republic. "... [T]he Arab national character," wrote Peretz, "tends towards violence and incitement and that thousands will be massacred if the PLO ruled in the West Bank."2

The evidence suggests that Abu Nidal is one of those who are infected with the moral contradiction of using despicable means in the service of a just cause. He is not, however, the effective goblin, the lethal weapon, which the propaganda machine of the real deadly goblins made him to be. Why, I wonder, are the Israelis quite unhappy with Abu Nadal since he, in the words of Mansour Omar, killed more Palestinians than they ever did? Do you think it is jealousy, since killing more Palestinians is a pleasure and distinction that the Israelis would have liked to keep exclusively for themselves? I mean, how could any one in their right mind say what Mansour Omar has said? The number of the barbaric atrocities committed by the militaristic Zionists against the Palestinians is too large to list in this limited space.

Horace said: "Anger is short madness." It is, however, craft and not anger, a misguided and dangerous craft, that led Mansour Omar to come up with this kind of unbridled vitriol, characteristic, not of people like him, but of imbecile windbags. There is indeed a method to this madness. You see, Mansour Omar is in cahoots with the devil, and the name of this devil is Daniel Pipes. Yes, the same silly bigoted Pipes who is a committed member of the lunatic fringe of Zionism, the fascist movement that was founded by Valdimir Jabotinsky, the godfather of Begin and Shamir, and the rest of them, who, in their turn, are the godfathers of Pipes and the like. It was none other than Mussolini who told David Prato, who was to become Chief Rabbi of Rome, that:

"For Zionism to succeed you need to have a Jewish state, with a Jewish flag and Jewish language. The person who really understands that is your fascist Jabotinsky."3

To give another example of Pipes' political heritage, we need only to remember that he is an ideological soul mate of Yitzhak Shamir who, according to Lenni Brenner, "created the Stern Gang that proposed a war-time alliance with Adolf Hitler and the establishment of a totalitarian Jewish state."4

Pipes continues to be true to his political heritage, he thus wrote:

"Western European societies are unprepared for the massive immigration of brown-skinned peoples cooking strange foods and maintaining different standards of hygiene...All immigrants bring exotic customs and attitudes, but Muslim customs are more troublesome than most."5

Now, this same Daniel Pipes includes Mansour Omar in the editorial board of The Middle East Quarterly,6 which Kurt Holden, quite rightly, identified as Zionist. In his article, ‘New U.S. Zionist Quarterly Attacks Other Mideast-Oriented Journals,' Holden gives us examples of the true mission of Mansour Omar's quarterly.

"And who might those authors be?" asks Holden. "In the first issue there will be an interview with Martin Indyk, the former AIPAC official who presently is President Bill Clinton's top adviser on Middle East affairs, and Princeton Professor Emeritus Bernard Lewis, an "Orientalist" writer and scholar whose son, Michael Lewis, just happens to direct AIPAC's super-secret opposition research section, which supplies accommodating academics, writers and journalists with material to smear any of their rivals who happen to be among the majority of Middle East specialists who express doubts about the value of the Israeli connection to the United States. The Lewis article, Pipes told Near East Report, will explain 'why Turkey is the sole democratic Muslim state.' "7

Some democracy this Turkey is. On the day I wrote this paragraph, the number of hunger strikers who died in protest of the inhuman conditions in Turkey's political prisons had reached seventeen. Some democracy indeed.

Perhaps I should mention that the website of the
Middle East Quarterly is housed at The Israeli Investor Network, Inc. In addition to Pipes as the Chief Editor, a number of other Zionists, and Mansour Omar, the editorial board includes the name of Faud Ajami, the creepy professor who holds tight to his pants while he runs behind the lunatic fringes who want to save us from ourselves. Pipes, I admit, may be telling the truth when he says that he has little use for conspiracy theories. He likes to shoot his victims in clear daylight. Here is some of what he has to say.

In his barbaric article, 'US must firm up Israel's will,' which he published last year (December 26), he wrote:

"It [Washington] should take steps that discourage potential enemies from starting a conflict with Israel, something best done by helping rebuild Israel's deterrent capabilities. Washington should urgently adopt four policies:

1. No more Israeli territorial concessions. This shift is needed at least for some years, to help stanch the Arab perceptions that Israel is a weak state, pleading for terms. The short-term goal is not to solve the Arab-Israeli conflict, but to enhance Israeli deterrence capabilities.

2. Encourage Israel to appear fearsome. It would have a huge impact, were American leaders to call on Israel to reinstate its tough old policies, whereby it punished enemies for assaults on its persons and its property. The goal, again, is to prove that it is not demoralized.

3. Maintain Israeli's military edge. While US politicians glibly repeat this mantra, their willingness to sell arms to some of Israel's potential enemies (notably Egypt, but also Jordan, Saudi Arabia, and several Persian Gulf emirates) vastly enhances Arab military capabilities and so makes war more likely.

4. Bind Israel more tightly and consistently to the United States. Washington from time to time permits an ugly, one-sided anti-Israel resolution to pass the Security Council.

Another problem concerns the US government's sometime treatment of Israel and its opponents as moral equals. This sends a signal of Israeli isolation and might encourage warmongers. This approach of bucking up the Jewish state may sound like an unlikely one for Washington to pursue, but a dramatic reversal in policy usually seems unimaginable before it actually happens."8

And he says he does not believe in conspiracy theories. Nothing new. Pipes is a veteran warmonger. In 1983, a Washington Post reviewer wrote that Pipes shows "a disturbing hostility to contemporary Muslims...he professes respect for Muslims but is frequently contemptuous of them." Pipes, said the reviewer, "is swayed by the writings of anti-Muslim writers...[the book] is marred by exaggerations, inconsistencies, and evidence of hostility to the subject." Last year Pipes wrote in The Jerusalem Post: "The Koran is not 'a product of Muhammad or even of Arabia,' but a collection of earlier Judeo-Christian liturgical materials stitched together to meet the needs of a later age...A few scholars go even further, doubting even the existence of Muhammad."9

On a radical pro-Israel website, Pipes warns that "as the population of Muslims in the United States grows, so does anti-Semitism." He does not limit this claim to Arab Muslims alone. In
Commentary, Pipes wrote that "Iranians and Pakistanis, to take two groups of non-Arabs, are at least as widely conspiracy-minded and as anti-Semitic as, say, Tunisians and Kuwaitis." In Canada's National Post, Pipes used his smoke to turn on the fire alarm: "Following Marxism, Leninism and Fascism comes Islamism..." he wrote, "Islamism is a ...phenomenon that has the power to do mischief...right here in Canada." In response to a suggestion that American Muslim voter registration drives are a positive development, Pipes wrote: "I fail to see how conducting voter registration drives implies the Islamists are not 'bad.' The CPUSA [Communist Party USA] also staged registration drives, and for similar reasons."

Following the arrest of two Arab graduate students on a flight bound for Washington, D.C., (the airline later apologized for the incident),10 Pipes supported this practice of religious and ethnic profiling. According to the
Baltimore Sun, Pipes said: "It seems well worth it in order to keep would-be terrorists off guard." In the same article we read that Pipes "defended the close monitoring of Arab passengers, arguing that 'the record shows over the last generation that the great acts of violence are coming from the Middle East...' " In The Nation, Edward Said wrote that Pipes is one of a group of anti-Muslim pundits who seek to "make sure that the '[Islamic] threat' is kept before our eyes, the better to excoriate Islam for terror, despotism and violence, while assuring themselves profitable consultancies, frequent TV appearances and book contracts."11

In 1996, Pipes attacked the Council on Foreign Relations for publishing a newsletter that he accused of "giving voice to Muslim fundamentalists." American Muslims recall Mr. Pipes finger-pointing following the bombing of the Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City. (Pipes now admits that he was wrong on this point.) As The
Village Voice noted: "Leaping directly into hysteria was the right-wing Daniel Pipes...who told USA Today...'People need to understand that this is just beginning. The fundamentalists are on the upsurge, and they make it very clear that they are targeting us. They are absolutely obsessed with us.' "12 Talk about the pot calling the kettle black.

The Weekly Standard, Pipes offered a glowing review of the infamous anti-Muslim book "Why I Am Not a Muslim." The National Catholic Reporter called that book "the literary equivalent of hate radio...literary warfare against Islam," useful only to those "interested in returning to the polemical past to do battle with Islamic believers." Pipes called the book "quite brilliant" and "startlingly novel." "This religion would seem to have nothing functional to offer," remarked Pipes. In a review in The Wall Street Journal of a book that called for dialogue with the Muslim world, Pipes objected to the fact that the author: "...fails to ...consider the implications of growing Muslim populations in the West. [The book], in other words, provides a little guidance to the Islamic threat."13

This same Pipes has nothing but high praise for Mansour Omar's book. He begins his brief review, or rather write-up, of the book by telling his readers that "the author comes from one of Libya's most illustrious political families." He then praises the author's "fine intelligence" and compares his book to "Kanan Makiya's brilliant analysis of Iraq in
Republic of Fear." Pipes concludes his false advertisement with a bang. "In brief," wrote Pipes, "this is by far the best book ever written on the Qadhahafi era."14

It is no accident that another promotional, though somewhat balanced, pitch of the book was written by Ray Takeyh, who wrote: "In the process, he [Mansour Omar] has produced the most lucid and balanced account of modern Libya in years."15 Now this one Takeyh is a Fellow at The Washington Institute for Near East Policy. The institute has an Anti-Arab and Anti-Muslim mission and its members include Ze'ev Schiff, of the Israeli newspaper
Ha'aretz, and Ehud Ya'ari, from Israeli TV as Associate Scholars, as well as Lt. Col. Yossi Baidatz from Israel Defense Forces as a Visiting Military Fellow, among other Anti-Arabs and Anti-Muslims. The board of directors, for example, includes the names of notorious Anti-Arab and Anti-Muslim militarists such as Jeane Kirkpatrick, Richard Perle, Mortimer Zuckerman, and Martin Peretz.16 Indeed, the same Peretz who on June 4, 1982, the eve of the Israeli invasion of Lebanon, told Benny Landau, of the Israeli newspaper Ha'aretz, that the Palestinian problem "is beginning to be boring," and the fate of the Palestinians will be that of a "crushed nation like the Kurds ..."

Pipes and Takeyh have their own reasons to like Mansour's book. For them, it is a welcome, albeit poor, addition to the disgraceful library of neocolonial Orientalism. It is a continuation of the racist myth that Islamic Arab culture can be understood in terms of the political career of one "bad" man. The first Arab Muslim bogyman was the prophet Muhammad, peace may be upon him. Now, it is either Nasser, or Khomeini, or Arafat, or Abu Nidal, or Saddam Hussein, or Bin Ladin, or Omar Abdul Rahman, the old blind man, who was used by the CIA to recruit Muslim bodies to fight, not for democracy and prosperity, but for the American strategic interest in Afghanistan, and who, after the American victory, became indispensable, and was thus entrapped and thrown into prison. The Clintons, who pardoned four convicted criminals for the votes of the Hassidic Jews of New York, and a fugitive from justice, upon the request of Israeli officials, did not have the decency to pardon a blind man who is approaching his seventies, and who paid his dues to the United States. I find Mr. Abdul Rahman's political ideas quite disagreeable, but the idea of a seventy year old blind "terrorist," who continues to be a threat to the national security of the United States, borders on the comical, if not on the obscene.

I hope it is obvious that I do not mean to suggest that Nasser, or any of the other Muslim bogeymen mentioned above, is the equal of prophet Muhammad. No man is. The question here has nothing to do with these men, whether they are "good" or "bad," but with the methodological mischief of the political midwives of Mansour Omar. Orientalists like to use a simple formula. They control the conditions. For them, the complexities of the various Islamic realities, the certainties and uncertainties, as well as those of history in general, are operational nuisances, a sheer noise that must be ignored. This way, they reduce history to a clear struggle, a holy war, between the Muslim Villain and the "Western" Superman. While the Muslim Villain is nothing but raw power with no law and no art, the Dionysian without the Apollonian, the "Western" Superman is all law and higher sentiments, a godlike whose "manifest destiny" is to save the world from itself. This formula ignores one crucial fact. Since Islam is a Western religion, and since modern Western civilization, in more ways than one, is an extension of the golden age of Islamic civilization, Islam cannot be viewed as the "natural" antithesis of the "West."

In the Preface to his book, Mansour Omar tells his readers that his book falls into a special category that is neither "pro-Qaddafi" nor "anti-Qaddafi." He then writes: "My purpose is neither to condemn nor to condone but only to give a true political, economic, and social portrait of a country that is sorely misunderstood." Now, the measure of Mansour's success in meeting his goal is not the issue here. Nor is there any problem with the politics of the book, which is commonplace and, therefore, of little, or no interest, to serious political scientists. It is not the politics of Mansour Omar that is at issue here. The question is whether the book is scholarly meritorious and, thus, worthy of the high praise it received from people like Pipes and Takeyh. Unfortunately, the honest answer to this question is, "no." Indeed, the book is nothing more than an incoherent pile of old news, trite ideas, idiosyncratic reliance on rumor and folk psychology, as well as feeble attempts to engage in analysis, all patched together in a most inconsistent fashion. The book follows the Orientalists' lousy method of what I call rhetorical reductionism. None of the rigorous and technical methods of political science were used, nor are we given the benefit of a deep and meaningful insight on what went wrong. Here are a few specific examples of the serious demerits of the book.

The inconsistencies are many but the one that hangs out the most has to do with his views regarding the political conditions during the monarchy. For example, on page 39, he attributes the demise of the monarchy to its refusal to pay attention to the demands of the opposition to "terminate the American and British 'occupation' [the quotations marks are the author's] of the country and open up the political system for use in representation and freedom of political action and speech." He then continues: "Despite the students riots of 1964, in which four students were shot dead by security forces ... the Libyan government continued to be oblivious to this emerging popular discontent ..." Now, compare this to what the same author says on page 145. "During the monarchy, Libyans had semi-independent political institutions and laws that guaranteed a degree of political participation, individual freedoms, rights to property, and most important of all, a right to congregate and dissent." These are two different monarchies, the one killed students because they participated in demonstrations, not "riots" as Mansour Omar craftily called them, the other gives the "right to congregate and dissent." You may think that truth lies somewhere in the middle, but, whatever this means, that is not what Mansour Omar says.

The book, not just in spirit but in letter as well, is an example of Orientalism at its worst. On page 139, Mansour Omar writes: "One can consider Qaddafi to be an illegitimate child of Nasser's revolution of July 23, 1952. Arab culture, while recognizing illegitimate children, does not equate them with legitimate children regarding inheritance. Arab history is full of flamboyant figures born out of wedlock who have sought through a variety of means to prove themselves far superior to their legitimate brothers, fathers, and even tribes. One such person was Antar ibn-Shadad, whose courage and nerve have assumed mythical proportions in Arab literature. Qaddafi can be seen in these terms."

I am curious to know the names of ten, or even five, "flamboyant figures born out of wedlock" of whom "Arab history is full." I also wonder, what does it mean to be an illegitimate, or, for that matter, a legitimate child of a revolution? In fact, there is no such thing as an illegitimate child. Legitimacy is not a birthright, and children who are born as a result of illegitimate acts of intercourse are not illegitimate. This is one of the great meanings of the splendid romantic epic of Antar, and not the bizarre twist which Mansour Omar gives to the story. The story of Antar is a beautiful expression of the romantic spirit of the true Arab, who values justice, and who does not think that our station in life is determined by the accident of our birth. It is a story about individual freedom, and it is a story about the high sentiments of justice and love. We learn from this beautiful Arab tale that the great defects are those of the heart and not of the circumstances of our birth. And in spite of its tragic end, it is a story of hope and reform. The tragic end, the story meant to teach us, should have not taken place. It is also a story of how women, Arab women, can be true in love and brave; in the same way the beautiful Abla was true in love and brave. That is the true soul of the tale, which, lest we forget, is great poetry that surpasses the epics of Homer. J. W. Mackail, former Professor of Poetry in the University of Oxford, who was a true scholar, not an Orientalist, included two of his lectures on Arab poetry in his,
Lectures on Poetry, which was published in 1911. Here is how he concludes 'Arabian Epic and Romantic Poetry,' the second of these two lectures:

"The scene of the death of Antar, alike by its romantic incidents and its epic magnificence, is not inferior to anything in Homer or the Icelandic Sagas. The poisoned arrow, shot across the river at midnight by a blind archer; the retreat through the desert, led by the dying hero's heroic wife mounted on his horse and dressed in his armour; the last stand in the pass; the dead man sitting all night on his motionless steed propped on his terrible spear, the thirty pursuing horsemen not venturing to approach him: all this, for splendour and concentration is unsurpassed by any death-scene in literature."17

Compare this to Mansour's Omar's account of the meaning of the same epic.

On page 167 (note 15) Mansour Omar writes: "Omar Pasha Mansour el-Kikhia, one of the founders of modern Libya, was asked why he accepted independence for Cyrenaica without Tripolitania and Fezzan. He replied: "A free man is in a much better position to help a slave become free than another slave can."

Never mind that Mansour Omar insisted on calling his father "Omar Pasha," and never mind that he did not tell his readers that this Pasha is the father of the author. This failure to disclose his relationship to "Omar Pasha" is not inconsequential. In the absence of potential danger to themselves or others, authors are required to reveal whatever relationship they may have to the people they mention in their works. And never mind that the use of the analogy of the "slave," and "freeman" is not altogether innocent. I cannot, however, remain civil without passing the roots of this analogy in silence. What is important is that the author would rather agree with his father than consider the facts. He is a good son, and that is admirable. However, he could have expressed his respect and affection for his father, but questioned the false claim that the Libyan people of Tripoli and Fazzan lacked the spiritual and moral fortitude to gain independence on their own. Mansour Omar, unwittingly or with design, has maintained the raw parochialism that is behind every treacherous call for separatism. Last year,
the Economist, a colonialist weekly, used the same false claim to wave the flag of separatism in the face of the Libyan people. To be fair, on page 93, Mansour Omar warns against "separatist tendencies [that] lie dormant." Still, in the light of his agreement with his father on this issue, it is not clear that Mansour, who also favors the old federal system, which came to end in 1964, cannot be convinced that this "dormant separatism" is more of an opportunity than threat, something which in time can be put to "good" use.

Obviously, there is a perception that the eastern part of our country, Benghazi in particular, is subjected to irresponsible and misguided discrimination these days. This discrimination, should it exist, is not a discrimination against Cyrenaica, since Cyrenaica, Tripolitania, and Fazzan are nothing but geographical expressions. We are one people and a discrimination against any part of Libya is a discrimination against all of us, in the same way the violation of the rights of a single Libyan is a violation of the rights of all Libyans. The experience of the war of independence has taught us that we are one people, and it is a happy thing that we are. I happen to be from the eastern part of the country, and I am proud to say that the "independence" of Cyreniaca, for all it is worth, was the result of the resolute resistance of the rest of the country against the British mandate and the French occupation of Fazzan. It is this resistance that made the British believe that it would be easier for them to pacify Cyerniaca, in the service of their interests, than to deal with the people of Tripolitania and Fazzan. They were, of course, wrong. The Libyan people in Cyreniaca let the British and their Libyan clients know that they would rather answer the call and join the civil resistance that was taking place in Tripoli than to live in a disgraceful peace. We are all from Benghazi, and we are all from Tripoli, and we are all from Sabha, and we are all from Misrata, and we are all from Derna and Sirt, and we are all from Gheryan and Zwara, and we are all from Tubrug, and every bit of the Libyan soil is our soil.

I have called Mansour's book an "incoherent pile," and I should give at least one example of the chaos. On page 133, he concludes his paragraph with a statement about the change of the lunar calendar. Suddenly, in the next paragraph, he begins to discuss the military nature of what he calls "the second cultural revolution." He concludes this paragraph with the following absurd statement, which, I am sure, is like music to Pipes' ears. "Today," writes Mansour Omar, "General [not Colonel] Gaddafi can muster an army reserve of over half million people." Now, this statement could be true if every weaponless diabetic Libyan man, between the ages of forty and fifty-five, who also has high blood pressure and an extra forty pounds of fat, is counted as a soldier. The point of Mansour's absurd statement is to support the claims of his friends that Libya is a serious military threat to Israel and its friends in the region. One cannot help but be reminded of the false claim that Iraq had the fourth largest army in the world, and the consequences of this claim on the Iraqi people. Indeed, on page 97, we encounter the
only map of Libya in the book. The map shows nothing but military installations throughout the country. It was simply identified as the map of Libya in this way: "Figure 5.1. Libya." The reader looks in vain for a reference in the text to Figure 5.1 as such, and one can only guess why the author decided to include the map. Nor are we given the source from which the map was borrowed, and therefore, the interested reader will not be able to examine its accuracy. The map, and thus its source, cannot be high secrets, for if they were, our author would not have been able to have access to them.

I can only make a quick reference to Mansour Omar's weird assertion, on pages 119-120, that the Arabs, and not Israel, were responsible for the destruction of Lebanon, among other idiosyncrasies. Here, as almost everywhere else in his book, he wants to have it both ways. For example, he makes a distinction between Lebanon as a democratic and pluralistic society, where Arab intellectuals could freely and peacefully fight their ideological wars, and Lebanon as a political battleground where Arab regimes settled scores. This is a distinction without a difference. The intellectual pluralism of Lebanon was, for the most part, a reflection of the political wars between Arab regimes. With a very few exceptions, the Arab intellectual in Lebanon was not entirely independent from Arab regimes. Money was not the milk of politics only, but of the press as well. He, then, attributes the destruction of Lebanon to the interference of Arab regimes in the political life of the country. That is, he attributes the destruction of Lebanon to its "pluralism." He is wrong. There is little disagreement that Israel was behind Lebanon's civil war, which led to its barbaric invasion and systematic destruction of that beautiful Arab country. There is so much literature on how Israel caused the civil war in order to accomplish its objectives in Lebanon, and the author cannot claim ignorance of the facts. He needs to read nothing else but what some Israeli authors wrote against the insanity and barbarism of Israel's "war" in Lebanon. On the hills outside of Beirut stood Ariel Sharon. He looked down at the unspeakable havoc he wrecked, and with vengeful glee said: "What a shame, it was a beautiful city."

I do not mean to cavil and fuss, but a book that receives the same high praise that Pipes, Takeyh and others bestowed on Mansour's book, must, at least, meet the elementary requirements of satisfactory style and correct grammar. Unfortunately, the book under discussion is infested with stylistic errors and grammatical mistakes. Here are a few examples. On page 5, he talks about an "eclectic mixture of ideas," as if there are mixtures that are not eclectic. To say an "eclectic mixture" is as redundant as saying a "female woman." On the same page he writes: "What Ghaddafi borrowed from the ideas ... are evident..." The grammatical mistake is obvious here. Since the subject is "what Ghaddafi borrowed," and not "ideas," he should have written, "is evident," and not "are evident." On page 144, he manages to make two mistakes in writing the following three words: " ...a some profound understanding." The first mistake is semantic. You cannot say "some profound understanding." Profundity is not quantifiable, a thing is either profound or not. The second mistake is syntactical. You can either say "some substance" or "a substance, but not "a some substance." In the same page he writes: "Since 1951 the Libyan state has been ruled by two regimes, neither of which has succeeded in ruling the Libyan people." Go figure. Never mind that he leaves the distinction, that is, if there is one, between the idea of "state" and that of "regime" unclear; and never mind that he does not tell us what does it mean to say that a state is ruled by a regime, the problem with his statement is that a regime cannot be a regime and not succeed in ruling the subjects of its dominion. On page 67, he writes: "As long as Libya had no discovered natural resources, it was immune to many of the problems that ..." This is an oxymoron, "no discovered natural resources" are not natural resources. He then goes on to argue that it would have been better if the oil had been left undiscovered. The oil, however, had been discovered, which makes the whole discussion absurdly moot. Perhaps I should also mention that the punctuation has a lot to be desired. For example, on page 77, he writes "Unfortunately in the past, expert advice..." Here is the correct punctuation: "Unfortunately, in the past, expert advice..." If he wanted to avoid the use of commas, he should have not done this at the expense of correct punctuation. He could, for example, have written: "It is unfortunate that in the past expert advice..."

That is not all, and I have not even scratched the surface. My quick review, however, has no other purpose than to show that the book is quite sophomoric and not worthy of the great reviews which Pipes and others have given it. That does not mean that Mansour Omar does not have the talent to write good books. I do not know that, and I have no right to jump to any conclusions. It only means that the book in question is not as good as Pipes would like us to believe. Nor do I mean to suggest that the serious flaws of the book reflect on Mansour's character. To question his character in this way, or any other way, should raise doubts about my character and not his. Those who know Mansour Omar better than I do tell me that he is a nice fellow once you get to know him. They are good and honorable men and I have no reason not to believe them.

According to Mansour Omar, on page 143, if Islam has "a magical hold" on you, and the main traits of your character are "shyness," "indecisiveness," and "austerity," then you are a Libyan. This Orientalistspeak should bring us right back to Pipes, who describes us as "brown-skinned" terrorists, who cook "strange foods" and bring nothing exotic to this country.

The silly bigot. What does being exotic, whatever that means, have to do with political discourse? Since when have exotica become a necessary requirement for having equal rights under the law? And what, we may wonder for the sake of argument, is exotic about the American Hassidic Jews? Is the fact that the leaders of this good community bribed Hillary Clinton so as to pardon four of their own convicted criminals make them more exotic than their Muslim counterparts? What, we may also wonder, is exotic about New England Puritans who have laid the foundations of this great country? And what is exotic about those who leave New York City to take away the land of defenseless people, with a gun in one hand, and a Fascist interpretation of the Old Testament in the other? I mean the human hyenas, the praying mantises that feed on whatever the Israeli Army leaves behind, the occupiers, the so-called settlers. "Brown-skinned," Pipes says, never mind that the prophet Moses, peace be upon him, was brown-skinned. According to Pipes, your taste in food, whoever you are, determines whether you should belong to this great nation or not. It is his favorite menu, and not the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, which matters for him. How despicable and little minded. Mr. Pipes' theory is the first political theory that rests on culinary principles of rights.

I do not agree with the narrow political program of "Islamists," because Islam, both in letter and spirit, is not a narrow political program. Nor do I like the way some American "Islamists" use American religious and cultural pluralism in the defense of their legitimate rights while their political program has very little room for pluralism of any kind. Of course they are not the only group that is guilty of this paradox, but this should not make it any less of a paradox for them. Two wrongs do not make a right. There is still one more nasty horn to the "Islamists" dilemma. Some "Islamists" like to use the meritorious argument that in the West, like everywhere else, a meaningful and effective exercise of the right to freedom of speech depends on the amount of money and power people have. This is true. Ironically, however, the political program of these "Islamists" themselves has no room for freedom of speech whatsoever, whether it is politically effective or merely therapeutic.

However, to say that Muslims, as long as they are true to their faith, are a threat to Western democracy is to distort both Islam and Western democracy. First, in Western democracy we have equal rights to believe, practice, and I daresay eat, whatever we like, provided that we follow the law. Second, once we consider the fact that in Western democracies, life, for the most part, takes place outside the political context, it becomes clear that the Muslims of the West, including "Islamists," are great examples of the good citizen. They are less likely to commit crimes, violent or otherwise, less likely to become alcoholics or drug addicts, less likely to have a divorce, their children are well-adjusted and more likely to do well in school, much better than other children of the same economic backgrounds, they are more likely to be good neighbors, good students and good teachers, and they are more likely to be honest practitioners of law and medicine. I have been to the homes of "Islamists," with whom I disagree in matters of political creed, and I have nothing but warm regard for the gentle attention they give to their children and spouses and for the silent pride they take in the honest ways they provide for their families. They are by no means perfect, and you find hypocrites and zealots everywhere, but most of them are good people who also like to have fun in their own quiet ways, that is, except when they play soccer and all hell breaks loose. They do not have to respond to my aesthetic pursuits, to my interest in music, clothes, and Western architecture and literature, for me to wish them well and to insist that they enjoy the same political and legal rights that others and I enjoy.

Daniel Pipes disagrees. Political and legal rights in the Unites States mean nothing to him. According to him, the true mission of the United States is to help Israel rock and roll in the West Bank and Gaza and wherever else it pleases. He thus wrote:

"Israel's unwillingness to protect its own interests presents its principal ally, the US, with an urgent and unusual burden: the need to firm up its partner's will. Never before has a democratic state presented an ally with quite the dilemma that Israel now does."18

The myth of democratic Israel, the critics of which are considered willy-nilly anti-Semitic, continues its spell. This is the same old dirty trick, disguised as a benevolent argument. We are expected to believe that only a commitment to the cause of Israel, in the way the lunatic fringes of Zionism defines this cause, can deliver the Muslims and the Arabs from their precarious predicament. The conclusion of this nasty scam is that we must abandon the Palestinians in exchange for freedom and prosperity. They promise you bread and roses and, in return, they want your soul. The same old poison in the same old honey. Israel, they want us believe, is an island of light amidst a sea of darkness, a free and democratic nation surrounded with tyrannical dictatorships, the brave and noble, but vulnerable, David standing up to the nasty Arab-Muslim Goliath. Unfortunately, this poisoned honey has found its way into the hearts of too many good men and women, including the good son of an outstanding man who gave his life in the service of his people, both Libyans and Palestinians, and who died with the cowardly fire of the lunatic fringe's jets. Unwittingly, the good son drank some of the poisoned honey and thus, in an error of judgment and not deed, attributed Israeli military superiority, not to the unconditional support of the United States, but to the "fact" that while Israel is a "democracy" Arab states, without exception, are not. In other words, the triumph of the state of Israel over the Arabs is a triumph of freedom over tyranny. There is no doubt that none of the Arab states is democratic, but is Israel really a democracy?

If by democracy we mean a creative tension between freedom and equality, then, obviously, the state of Israel is not democratic. The world of the Jew, as a free citizen in the state of Israel, is entirely different from the world of the Palestinian who suffers under the laws of the same state. On the other hand, if we view democracy as a calculus of power, a mechanism, a system of management within a certain syndicate, then Israel is a democracy in the same way white South Africa was a democracy.

In his book,
The Longest War, Israel in Lebanon, that warm and sanguine call for peace, the brave, or should I say the chutzpanik, Jacobo Timerman wrote:

"It gladdens me to have been able to say that Begin is naked. During my adolescence, during my membership in a Zionist organization in Argentina, and, back in 1944, when I joined a farming settlement near Parana devoted to teaching Argentine Jews how to work the land, we considered Menachem Begin a terrorist who murdered indiscriminately, a Fascist. It gladdens me to have come to Israel to confirm it, and to be able to tell him that he is naked.

Derech Haifa, the highway to the north, runs in front of my house. Every morning at seven o'clock a truck or a bus brings the Arab workers from the villages near Tel Aviv where they are authorized to live. They are preparing the soil to plant a row of palms. My city has a good administrator who is filling it with flowers and trees. The Arab laborers toil, rest, pull out their water bottles, their meals, go back to work, and then get into the trucks or buses to return to their homes. They leave behind a touch of beauty. Each time they leave, my city is more beautiful. Looking at them from my balcony, I can only relieve myself by vomiting for this Israel which wants to be like South Africa. The heat is terrible; vomiting does me good. This is South Africa."19

The close ties, which the state of Israel had with white South Africa, were no accident. The two syndicates were ideological soul mates.

Still not sure, here is, then, what Noam Chomsky has to say about freedom of speech in Israel.

"Censorship in Israel, however, is so severe that an Arab woman lecturing at the Hebrew University was denied permission even to publish an Arab-language social and political journal. The Arab press in East Jerusalem was seized by the authorities when it reported settler attacks against Arabs after a prisoner exchange. An Arab bimonthly was shut down permanently in 1983, and the censor closed an Arab newspaper in Jerusalem for three days when it published an obituary of two young Arabs who died in a mysterious car explosion in 1985. Three hundred fifty books are officially banned in the occupied territories, along with others known to him personally, Knesset member Matti Peled (an Arabist and retired general) reports, including Hebrew translations of Theodore Herzl's diaries, Isaac Deutscher's Non-Jewish Jew, books on Israeli military and political history, a translation of "To Live with Arabs" by Elie Eliachar, the dovish president of the Council of the Sephardic Community in Israel, a book on the religious West Bank settlers (Gush Emunim) by the well-known Israeli journalist Danny Rubinstein, among others. Art exhibitions are censored; a Palestinian artist was given a six-month jail sentence on the charge that the colors of the Palestinian flag appeared in the corner of a painting. Arab plays have repeatedly been banned on political grounds, and a Hebrew play by an Israeli jailed for refusing military service was banned in September 1985 "on purely political grounds," Dan Fisher reports. The Hebrew press is also subject to censorship—as well as extensive self-censorship. Journalists are not permitted by the censor to publish abroad material that has appeared in the Hebrew press. All outgoing mail and packages are subject to censorship, and may be opened freely by the fifty-eight people assigned to this task. Surveillance of telephone conversations is so extensive that the censor has intervened directly in telephone conversation, Knesset member Michael Bar-Zohar reports."20

So much for democracy and freedom of speech in the state of Israel.

There is something indecently naive when some Libyans, or Iraqis, collaborate with the ideological heirs of lunatic fringes of Zionism and call on the United States to continue its belligerent sanctions, which are wars by other means, against their own countries. The collaborates are following a Pipes dream when they believe that somehow these fascists may make exception and defend the human rights of the Libyan and Iraqi people, while at the same time are calling for the slaughter of the Palestinians. The collaborators seem not to know, or not to care to remember, that creating a rift between the West and the Arab and Islamic countries remains a central Israeli strategy, regardless of the political make-up of these countries. The sanctions against Islamic and Arab countries serve the interests of Israel in the following way. The sanctions will not be removed unless we pay the price that the state of Israel imposes on these countries. This nasty price is the abandonment of the Palestinians and the unconditional surrender to the militaristic will of the state of Israel that covets more Arab land and resources. In his book
Israel without Zionism: A Plea for Peace in the Middle East, published in 1968, the gallant and magnificent Uri Avnery who was, among other things, a former member of the Knesset, the Israeli Parliament, wrote the following.

"In the beginning of July, 1954, a man in a Cairo hotel turned on his radio and listened to a soft voice coming from Israel. What he heard was a code word ordering him to set in motion the plan he had brought with him to Egypt.

It concerned a small group of young Jewish Egyptians, recruited some time before by an Israeli intelligence officer who called himself John Darling. It was an efficient spy ring, well trained, one of the many which operate in all Middle Eastern countries and form an integral part of the omnipresent military preparedness.

What the group was now ordered to do was something quite unlike ordinary espionage. The idea was to plant bombs in American and British offices throughout Egypt, thereby creating tension between Egypt and the two Western countries. This tension was supposed to enable the Suez rebels in the British Parliament to prevent an agreement providing for the evacuation of the Suez bases, and also provide ammunition for those parts of American public opinion that opposed arming Egypt. It would also create a general state of confusion and disprove the thesis that the Egyptian regime was a stable and solid base for Western policy."21

That is the true mission of Pipes and his friends; and that is what the imposing of sanctions against every other Arabic and Islamic country is all about.

On December 16, 1955, all but one member of the United Nations agreed to add a new member to the group, a young small nation called Libya. Israel, which cast a vote of abstention, was the only unwelcoming member. The leaders of the apartheid regime in Palestine had their good reasons to vote that way. They knew that no Libyan government would be able to ignore the higher sentiments of the Libyan people. Indeed, four years before, in April 1951, Mustafa Ben 'Amer led the opposition against the efforts of the government of Muhammad al-Sagizli, the Prime Minster of the Emirate of Cyrenaica, to negotiate an agreement with Israel. The government had used that year of draught to justify its endeavor. Just the same, the popular opposition to the negotiation succeeded, and the Libyan people rested easy with their souls. No bread, let alone roses, would have made them abandon their moral obligation towards the Palestinian people.

To you, Mansour Omar, I say that it would have saddened Mansour Resheed a great deal to learn of the company you are keeping these days. He knew better. In the immediate aftermath of the Israeli war of aggression in 1967 he helped protect the lives of Libyans, who happened to be Jews, against angry demonstrators. He had no illusion that the leaders of the Libyan Jewish community had supported Israel, not just in sentiment, which would have been somewhat understood, but in deeds as well. He knew, however, that they were Libyan citizens just the same, and if the Libyan government at the time was indifferent to their illegal commitments, to the fact that these leaders were sending money to the racist Israeli syndicate, then the government was to blame for allowing them to violate the law. He instinctively knew that in a civil society there is no room for vigilantism. He also knew that when he fulfilled his duties towards his fellow Libyans in this way, he did not compromise his deep commitment to the cause of the Palestinian people. When Sadat took his hysterical flight and sold the Palestinians down the river, Mansour Resheed, who was at the time the Libyan ambassador to the UN, was shown on American TV burning the Egyptian flag in front of the Libyan mission in protest. When I called him to tell him that it was unbecoming of an ambassador to do so, he told me that he did it as a private Arab citizen, and not as an ambassador.

And it would sadden your good cousin, Nouri, the gentle and brave soul and the perfect Libyan patriot, to learn about the company you are keeping these days. He also knows better. Nouri has a great respect for the facts, and more than once he changed his mind to adjust his positions to the positions of the Libyan people. However, he remains true to his core values, and his commitment to social justice and a free and democratic society was never in question. He also knows that there is a higher national interest which transcends political conflicts, and that this national interest is not for sale.

There is a clear line that separates a vigorous and committed opposition, which is necessary for a free and just society, from national disloyalty, solidarity of values from bribery, and principled cooperation from quislingism. This does not mean that the higher national interest should be used to silence dissent. It simply means that the natural right to dissent must be tempered by the needs of the higher national interest as long as this interest is not defined in belligerent terms. We, Libyans, must agree on a number of national invariables, or else we will not be able to move towards the establishment of civil society. A civil society cannot take place in a vacuum or on shifting sands.

For the sake of Mansour Resheed, and for the sake of Nouri and the rest of your good family and friends, I kindly and respectfully ask you to reconsider your association with Pipes and his gang. It should not be a difficult thing for you to renounce Pipes' immoral commitments, unless, of course, you owe him unconditional loyalty. Nor will you be the first to disassociate himself from Pipes' racist ravings. Here is what a former director of Harvard's Center for Middle Eastern Studies (and one of Pipes' former instructors) had to say:

" speak for myself, I have been appalled frequently by his [Pipes] polemical stance on almost everything having to do with Islam, Muslims, or the Palestinian/Israeli issue ...The irony in [an article written by Pipes] is of course that Dr. Pipes and other radically and blindly pro-Zionist American Jews are much farther along the chauvinist and ultimately anti-American spectrum than are even radical American Muslims. Yet Dr. Pipes, despite his own apparently strong, even blind support for the Israeli state and its policies – even those policies that are attacked by thoughtful Israelis themselves as racist and oppressive – sees no incongruity in his condemnation of many Muslim Americans as a threat to the American state and democracy..."22

Is it too much to expect from you Mansour to do what Pipes' disappointed teacher has done, and that is to free yourself from the heavy burden of shame by association?

In their introduction to
Beyond Occupation: American Jewish, Christian, and Palestinian Voices for Peace, Rosemary Radford Ruether and Marc Ellis tell us what happened in the Palestinian village of Hawara in January of 1988. The Israeli Captain, Yossi Sarid, whose superiors ordered him to carry out the mission, gave the account of what happened.

"The soldiers shackled the villagers, and with their hands bound behind their backs they were led to the bus. The bus started to move and after 200-300 meters it stopped beside an orchard. The "locals" were taken off the bus and led into the orchard in groups of three, one after another. Every group was accompanied by an officer. In the darkness of the orchard the soldiers also shackled the Hawara residents' legs and laid them on the ground. The officers urged the soldiers to "get it over with quickly, so that we can leave and forget about it." Then, flannel was stuffed into the Arabs' mouths to prevent them from screaming and the bus driver revved up the motor so that the noise would drown out the cries. Then the soldiers obediently carried out the orders they had been given: to break their arms and legs by clubbing the Arabs, to avoid clubbing them on their heads, to remove their bonds after breaking their arms and legs, and to leave them at the site; to leave one local with broken arms but without broken legs so he could make it back to the village on his own and get help."23

The editors, then, continue:

"The mission was carried out; the beatings were so fierce that most of the wooden clubs used were broken. Thus was born the title of the article detailing this action, "The Night of the Broken Clubs."

Just months after the beatings, Marcus Levin, a physician, was called up for reserve duty in the Ansar 2 prison camp. When he arrived, Levin met two of his colleagues and asked for information as to his duties. The answer: "Mainly you examine prisoners before and after an investigation." Levin responded in amazement, "After the investigation?" which prompted the reply, "Nothing special, sometimes there are fractures. For instance, yesterday they brought a twelve-year-old boy with two broken legs." Dr. Levin then demanded a meeting with the compound commander and told him, "My name is Marcus Levin and not Josef Mengele [the infamous Nazi doctor], and for reasons of conscience I refuse to serve in this place." A doctor who was present at the meeting tried to calm Levin with the following comment: "Marcus, first you feel like Mengele, but after a few days you get used to it." Hence the title of an article written about the incident, "You Will Get Used to Being a Mengele."

I say to Mansour Omar, do not let them get you used to it. And I say in spite of Pipes and others, justice and peace between Arabs and Jews will, at the end, prevail, for "the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong."

And I say to Mansour Omar, our people, yours and mine, the beautiful Libyan people, are either brown or dark-skinned, and, therefore, Daniel Pipes does not like them. He does not even like their "strange food," and he calls him dirty. I hope, then, it is obvious to you, as it is obvious to every reasonable man and women, that as long as Pipes continues to commit himself to this most flagrant form of racism, no Libyan worthy of his name should associate with him. It is Pipes who forced this unpleasant choice on his friends and associates, and he leaves you no room to have it both ways. So you may want to do the right thing and explain yourself to every Libyan and Palestinian family that lost a life or a home to the Israelis. Then, and only then, can you reclaim your right to be a legitimate participant in the Libyan conversation.

Finally, you may wonder why I decided to withhold my name. Prudence and the advice of my good friends, and not fear, suggested that I do so. We must take Daniel Pipes for his word. The man has never concealed his belief that violence is a legitimate means for resolving political disputes. I do not want to give him the satisfaction of revenge, a revenge that would inflict unnecessary pain on my family and friends. The loud and empty heroism of the narcissist is not my thing, but when the call to justice and peace is clear, and the outcome is meaningful, I have no fear in my heart. Now, you may answer this article in whichever way you want, you may poison the well and you may change the subject, but your answer will be in vain unless you publish your resignation from the neocolonialist propaganda tool, the so-called
Middle East Quarterly, and publicly denounce the immoral political commitments of Daniel Pipes. Anything less than that is pure rubbish. The decision, of course, is yours and the soul is yours, and you may instead rest easy with the bread and roses.



1 Lenni Brenner, The Iron Wall: Zionist Revisionism from Jabotinsky to Shamir, Zed Books Ltd., 1984, p.142.
2 For references and other expressions of Peretz's racism see, Noam Chomsky, The Fateful Triangle, South End Press, 1983, pp. 280-284.
3 Ibid., p. 89.
4 Ibid. See back cover and pp.193-197.
5 National Review (11/9/90). See 'Who Is Daniel Pipes?' Consult this article (WDP hereafter) for the sources of some of the quotations cited in this article. The article is posted on,
9 See WDP.
10 Ibid.
11 Ibid.
12 Ibid.
13 Ibid.
14 Middle East Quarterly, June 1997.
15 The Journal of Libyan Studies, Volume 1, Number 1, Summer 2000. Perhaps I should mention that Ray Takeyh is in the Advisory Board of JLS. What is worse, while the Chief Editor, Youssef El-Megereisi, is a Libyan, he did not think it is important to invite at least one Libyan scholar to be a member of the board. Nicola Ziadah is the only Arab name.
16 See the rest of the staff of the Washington Institute at,
17 J. W. Mackail, Lectures on Poetry, Longmans, Green and Co., New York, 1911, p.152.
18 Pipes, 'US Must Firm up Israel's Will.'
19 Jacobo Timerman, The Longest War: Israel in Lebanon, Alfred A. Knopf, New York, 160-161.
20 Noam Chomsky, The Chomsky Reader, Pantheon Books, New York, 1987, pp. 352-353.
21 Uri Avnery, Israel Without Zionism, Macmillan, New York, 1968, pp. 115-116.
22 See WDP.
23 Rosemary Radford Ruether and Marc H. Ellis (ed.), Beyond Occupation: American Jewish, Christian, and Palestinian voices for peace, Boston, Beacon Press, 1990, pp.1-2.

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