Saturday, April 13, 2013

Antisemitism is why the Arab Spring failed

One of the most popular reads in the Times of Israel last week was a blogpost by an ex- Iranian ministry of Foreign Affairs interpreter, Ahmad Hashemi. The Arab Spring cannot deliver on its lofty aspirations as long as it is bedevilled by antisemitism, Hashemi argues.  Refreshingly (in contrast to many westerners who see them as colonial settlers), Hashemi welcomes the Jews as an indigenous people. In Iran the Jews have had a 3,000 year-old presence.

Intellectuals as well as secular and religious scholars of the Muslim world need to understand that without resolving the core principle of tolerance for the “other” – starting with Israel – they cannot reach genuine democracy and peace. We must search within ourselves for the roots of our problems. The age-old problems of inequity and discrimination, violence, disrespect for human rights, misogyny and anti-woman behaviors, intolerance and racial hatred, sectarianism, corruption, fundamentalism and extremism are deeply rooted in our sociopolitical structure. Our region has faced these problems since long before the establishment of the Jewish state in 1948 and they have nothing to do with the Israel of today.

We need to be self-critical and reexamine our values and revise the way of thinking which has led us to this chaos. We need to address this if we are to live in a better future. We should embrace and welcome the very existence of the Jewish state and its people as a dispersed but indigenous and ancient regional nation. Most of the wars and clashes in the Middle East and North Africa have taken place between the Arab and Muslim countries themselves. Despite nonsensical remarks made by certain extremist Muslim and even Jewish (Neturei Karta) clerics, the disappearance of the State of Israel would not solve the region’s lingering problems. The existing culture of fratricide and endless clashes among rival groups within the Arab and Muslim countries exist irrespective of the State of Israel and have nothing to do with it.

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