Al-Jazeerah: Cross-Cultural Understanding

Opinion Editorials, January 2011


Al-Jazeerah History


Mission & Name  

Conflict Terminology  


Gaza Holocaust  

Gulf War  




News Photos  

Opinion Editorials

US Foreign Policy (Dr. El-Najjar's Articles)




Palestine Looks Abroad for Rational Understanding

By Mahboob A. Khawaja

Al-Jazeerah, CCUN, January 25, 2011

“What one misses in Arab and Palestinian culture is a moral and intellectual standard by which truth and falsehood can be distinguished and according to which intellectuals act regardless of profit or patronage.”
We Palestinians must still reconcile ourselves with our history, and with the perhaps futile sacrifices of the past century. And  we must restore Palestine to its place not simply as a small piece of territory between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River but an idea that for years galvanized the Arab world into thinking about and fighting for social justice, democracy, and a different kind of future than the one that has been imposed on it by force and by an absence of Arab will.” (Edward W. Said, Peace and its Discontents, 1996)
Palestine is one but Palestinians are “scattered like seeds” describes the distinguish professor of comparative cultures and civilizations - Dr. Shaw Dallal, the portrait of Palestinian lives ruined by the global politics of the few. When people are dispersed by force of political violence, they encounter insurmountable challenges and seem to build–up the momentum for unity of ideas and ideals and strive with strength of faith for a just cause and survival under tormenting conditions as persist in Palestine for over 60 years after the establishment of the State of Israel. The Jewish homeland in Palestine is outcome of the British- American complacency to avoid accountability for the centuries of conscious persecutions of the Jews in Europe. There was a culture of anti-Jewish religious metaphor across the European world that spilled over to America while Europeans migrated to the new world. Ironically, Arabs are the only people and civilization that enjoys a history of extending human dignity and equal treatment to Jewish people in their homes and hearts. Today, Arabs are the victims of Israeli intransigence and cruelty in Palestine. They live under barbed culture as did the Jews under the Nazis. Perhaps, Jewish emigrants from Eastern Europe could not think to free themselves from the past except to sustain the Nazi culture of human atrocities and reshape Palestine with barbed wires walls and check points to reinvent the insanity of Nazism. What a strange co-incident of human history?  Nobody wants to learn from the lesson of history. Would this course of human ignorance favor the Jewish people and the State of Israel?  Would Jews be more secure by depriving the Palestinians of their inborn right to freedom- an independent State of Palestine? When darkness prevails, people and nation seem to lose the sense of direction. For ages, the capitalist Europeans-American fought ideological wars against communist Russia and China. Today, they eagerly and desperately trying to bridge the historical gulfs often seem unbridgeable. American economic survival depends on the I.O.U notes of trillion of dollars from the Chinese. History is not fixed nor is the destiny of people. Jews should know better as they have gone through various critical junctures in their life cycle- it is the enlightened foresight that can envisage the future for the Arab-Israeli co-existence, not the warfare of the past.
The oil exporting Arabs are authoritarian and patriotic of tribal life but not ignorant as the Western news media perceives in its deliberate visualization of the Muslim people. Their faith, culture and human values are as credible as one could imagine in the Western human norms and values. Arab people have a history of civilization unparallel in global affairs. It is just that in the politically incorrect Western news media articulated culture; some are incapable of learning and rational understanding of the facts of life as they did when they disliked Russians and Chinese. Recognizing the rights and dignity of the people of Palestine does not mean a negation or challenge to the Jewish people and their freedom from exploitation. The global community has come to realize that enough is enough and now is the time to come to consensus for the making of an independent State of Palestine and ensure a durable peace and a new culture of people to people co-existence in the Middle East. Increasing number of world leaders and countries are offering recognition to the State of Palestine with capital in East Jerusalem. This is natural and logical understanding of the facts of human life. This proposition is nothing new or absurd but a reflection of social and religious history of the Arab Middle East. Moses and Jews contain more references, detailed pages and authentic illustrations in the Al-Qura’an than any other Divine revelation including the Torah and Bible. Muslims respect Jesus and Moses as Prophets of Islam – a continuity of prophethood from Adam to Mohammad. If the Jews living in Israel would like to embrace Judaism as the real object of their faith instead of politically indoctrinated Zionism, well that does not offend the Arab culture or challenge Islam. In their daily prayers and recitation of the Al-Qura’an, they know and believe in Judaism as the Divine religion. When the Israeli PM Netanyahu speaks of a new “Jewish State” doctrine instead of the established Zionist State of Israel, it is a political myth in search of escape from the prevalent realities on the ground, not the God- revealed religion of Moses to be indoctrinated. Politicians pretend and act like puppets on stage when face unknown challenges and their motives demand such a stage setting. Perhaps, the knowledge-based Jewish Rabies should break the silence and share perception on the making of a truly Jewish State. Politicians change but the Divine religion to Moses is known to the Rabies. It will support Islam and people will live together in peace with complete submission to One God- the God of Abraham, Moses, Jesus and Mohammad. Nobody can speak with certainty about Netanyahu’s religious beliefs or political priorities as they keep on changing from one extreme to another. Perhaps, some of the Arabian and Islamic scholars should break the silence and help guide the divided political actors, how the message of Islam could restore human dignity, peace and reconciliation between the Arabs and Jews without jeopardizing anybody’s standing in global affairs. Once the invaders know Islam, they will embrace it only if it is presented in a logical manner.
The in-house skirmishes between various groups asserting control did little to support the cause of freedom. Some of the Palestinian neo-colonial leaders should encourage the new generation of educated and competent people to assume leadership for building a new future on equal terms with Israel. Whether Arafat and Abbas, few of them for too long were subservient to the Israeli supremacy and supporting their agendas for continued occupation, not freedom from the chains of occupation and exploitation.  Palestinians need unity of thought and action as one people. Their division represents absurdity, not intelligent outlook to the purpose of freedom from the Israeli occupation.  Late Professor Edward Said (“Who is in charge of the Past and the Future”), makes the point: “We acquired a modern political identity by virtue of that struggle, which is very far from over. Today our sense of our history and past should fuller, more critical, more insightful, not less. Above all, it should be written by us, not the American Secretary of State, nor the Israeli government. If we do not take charge of our history what future, if any, will be left for us to think about and implement?” Whether it is Fatah or Hamas, they should see the interest of the people, not the rudimentary flip-flop of the old tribal warfare. Their strength lies in their purpose of being rational people to make ways for the future generation to live in peace.  Palestinian leaders should focus on the goal not on discard and declare the independence without any waiting. MJ Rosenberg, in his most recent article (“US: Recognize State of Palestine In 2011”-ICH, 01/20/2011) notes:
 “The best alternative is a U.S.-brokered settlement that would establish a State of Palestine, with contiguous borders, alongside Israel. East Jerusalem would be the Palestinian capital. In exchange, Israel would get the two things it has always insisted are the only demands it makes of the Arabs: secure, recognized borders and security guarantees from the United States. (The security of the Palestinian state would also be guaranteed.”
The proactive initiatives rest with the visionary leaders on both sides of the barbed wire. To see things beyond the obvious, not just for today but for tomorrow and day after tomorrow, in the near future and for distant future to be built on mutual recognition, equality and freedom. Holocaust was engineered against the Jews by the Europeans not by the Arabs. The Arab civilization is remarkably unique and credible to claim that Jews have been living amidst their culture and in co-existence for centuries. The concept of state without people is void. Only Hitler and Mussolini could have been flattered by the absolutism of the state doctrine. The current Israeli PM Netanhou talks of peace and con-existence with Palestinians but defies logic when it comes to action in the same spirit. In one sided glorification of the state of Israel another strand can be traced out in Netanhou’s mindset and that is interwoven emotions of hatred and fear of the unknown if an equal State of Palestine will come into being.  Palestinians are the victims of perpetuated fear against their culture and freedom. Arguably, when two national entities exist side by side and treat each other with respect, they develop trust and accountability for mutual survival. Leaders lead and leaders talk openly and learn from the complex situations and difficult circumstances stalling the human change and progress. Those with a picture of the future will survive, others will remain prisoners in the depth of human ignorance and self- imposed failure. Israelis with strong institutionalized capacity of thinking and actions do enjoy the freedom of alternatives, not so with the oil producing Arab elite. They follow one-track box and often without thinking of their own national interests. Their global image in policy making and behaviors carries no weight for the future. When the Arabs were committed to Islam as a system of life, they were people enriched with originality of thinking and proactive vision of success for the future, not just for the self but for the whole of mankind. But the borrowed oil-based economic prosperity has destroyed the Arab cultures and values, not just the originality of things for the good of humanity but transformed them into captives of illusions without reality. The Arab rulers are subservient to the policy dictates of the Western masters, not accountable to the interests of the people they govern. If they were intelligent and energetic in new thinking with strong presence in global politics, they could have evolved new institutions and offered help to search for feasible solutions to major political problems such as Palestine, Kashmir and remaking of Muslim Ummah. Recent political upsurge in Tunisia and the disgraced fall down of Ben Ali should serve a warning to the authoritarian Arab rulers. They need an inward eye and thinking to serve the people, not the masters in Washington or London.
The former colonial master of the Middle East, the British policy makers are confused on matters of principles. Their interest is derived from the unknown and often glued to financial gains in playing the political cards. Britain is no longer a superpower but shrinking to be a colony of the US as it was during the Roman Empire. They follow blindly the US lead in global affairs as they did in Iraq and Afghanistan- fighting without a cause and killing others and get killed.  The US leaders believe that war is the lifeline for the economy and the big political-military-industrial complex controlling the nerve of the US strategic thinking and policies. They need wars, not peace. The Middle East does not long for another war but peace and co-existence for human well being and living together. Arabs despite being rich in banking and buildings are weak and need moral and intellectual strength that oil pitched dollar cannot buy. To subside the primitive neo-colonial rulers in their immobile palaces, the Arab world as a whole desperately needs new public institutions, new thinking and new educated and proactive intelligent people in public governance who could cope with the challenges of the 21st century innovative political thinking and global interactive communication. Listening and learning is much part of the leadership trait as it is rational substance for effective leadership. Are the oil producing Arab rulers listening to the voices of REASON? A decade earlier when this author proposed to one influential Arab foreign minister to establish a university of security, peace and conflict management that it will help cultivate their institutionalized capacity building to deal with global issues including Palestine and strengthen their capability in public institutions.  Strangely enough, his reply was that we have the best experts from USA and Europe to advise us. Surely, Allah does not guide the ignorant and wicked. The Al-Qura’an clarifies the truth that “intelligent people always readily accept advice.” Are there any Arab leaders looking for intelligent advice and guidance to reconnect themselves with the aspirations of the masses?
Why do the Arabs and Palestinian leaders failed to make progress in global conflict resolution? Late Professor Edward W. Said puts it in a nutshell: “we must all take the blame in colossal failure.” (Peace and its Discontents). The Israelis were smart to cherish the White House Peace handshake between Yasir Arafat and Yitzhak Rabin but the Palestinian gained nothing out of the so called Oslo peace process. President Obama appears enthusiastic to proclaim from the UN Assembly that by next year, there should be two states having membership of the UN, beside Israel an independent State of Palestine. This is an idea, not a devised formal plan of the US government. In 2012, political campaigns will build up momentum for the next presidential race in the US. The US politics survives on Jewish financial contributions as will Obama and the Democratic Party to get re-elected. One fails to understand, who will think pragmatically to enhance the cause of freedom for Palestine? The oil rich Arabs have no leadership, no vision for the future, nor presence in the US policy making corridors. They are overwhelmed with erecting tallest buildings made of dust across the Arabian gulf region. The big thinking behind the tall edifice does not change the political scale in Washington nor frighten anybody. Dust is dust, it does not change its originality. They lack institutions and inward foresight and will to assign priority to the freedom of Palestine. Hardly any Arab leaders can communicate openly to the informed global community. Some Arabs are wasting time and opportunities to buy obsolete US weaponry worth of $60 billion or more but it will not raise eyebrows to influence the Arab status-quo in the Middle East strategic construct dominated by Israel. What Israeli and America need is an intellectual and political challenge that the naïve Arab rulers cannot imagine. Under Islam, the Arabs used to claim and enjoin moral and intellectual superiority in dealing with enemies and situations of conflict. They appear void of reasoning. At a Middle Eastern university campus, while this author was speaking on the current affairs, a mention was made that “Arab prince live in palaces, not with people.” Among the audience some of the ruling elite got allergic and nauseated. Consequently, next time, the Arab embassy refused to issue the visit visa.   The superficial oil-based prosperity has bewildered the Arab rulers to the extent that some have become intolerable to any rational concerns. They THINK of the self, not of the people or of the Muslim Ummah. Would another jolt as was inflicted to Saddam Hussein change the Arab thinking of the politics of the palaces? Have they learned anything from the ousted Ben Ali of Tunisia? He is not a victim of anything except of his egoistic wrong thinking and a dictator kept in office by the Western governments and the IMF. There is a culture of pretension across the Western political governance about human rights and liberty. Nobody questioned Ben Ali while he was decreeing anti-Islamic practices and torturing political activists. All of  sudden, the Western news media opens up its closed circuits to Arabs activists, Mr. Obama  speaks out, so does Ban K Moon, the unheard UN Secretary General on human right violations in Tunisia and so many others.  Were they dormant and deaf in the past prior to the ousting of Ben Ali?  Palestinian leaders should not wait for anything to happen out of the blue but organize themselves as one people of UNITY striving to achieve national freedom from Israeli occupation. They should plan to declare the independent State of Palestine with capital in East Jerusalem without delay.  Otherwise, global community would be as indifferent to that goal as they have been throughout the history.  The Palestinian leadership should articulate initiatives to make it happen. Let us share the vision of late Professor Edward Said (Peace and its Discontents: Essays on Palestine in the Middle East Peace Process, 1996), a truly dedicated intellectual and warrior for the freedom of Palestine:
“I sincerely believe in reconciliation between peoples and cultures in collision, and have made it my life’s work to try to further that end. But true reconciliation cannot be imposed, neither can it occur between cultures and societies that are enormously uneven in power. The kind of reconciliation that can bring real peace can only occur between equals, between partners whose independence, strength of purpose, and inner cohesion allows them fully to understand and share with the other.”
Dr. Mahboob A. Khawaja specializes in global security, peace and conflict resolution with keen interests in Islamic-Western comparative cultures and civilizations, and author of several publications including: "Muslims and the West: Quest for Change and Conflict Resolution", University Press of America; How America Lost the War in Iraq and Afghanistan and Mujahideen Won; To America and Canada with Reason, VDM Publishers, 2009; “President Obama – War is War, Not Peace”, 2009; “ Global Peace and Conflict Management: How the Arabs-Israelis and the West Duped the Humanity?” “The Arab People Look for Peace and New Leadership.”, and “President Obama and the US Generals in Search of Navigational Change.” Comments are welcome at: .




Opinions expressed in various sections are the sole responsibility of their authors and they may not represent Al-Jazeerah & &