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.
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.
"...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
"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
"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.
"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:
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
"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.
"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?
"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.
The close ties, which the state of Israel had with white South Africa, were no accident. The two syndicates were ideological soul mates.
"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.
"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.
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.
"...to 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?
"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."
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."
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, http://www.cair-net.org/misc/people/daniel_pipes.html
9 See WDP.
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, http://www.washingtoninstitute.org/staff/
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.