Saturday, April 02, 2005
Turi Munthe in Lebanon's "Daily Star":
"Palestinians and Iraqis are suffering because the rest of the Arab world feels it owns them and their causes. This misguided sense of ownership emerges from pan-Arabism, which echoes the far older idea of a pan-Islamic umma, or community...I recall the old saying that the Arabs are prepared to fight the Israelis to the last Palestinian. As another old saying goes, when you point a finger at someone, the other four fingers are pointing at you. We still have a long way to go, but at last there are encouraging signs of change throughout the Middle East. Slowly, the region is discovering that blame-games are merely a substitute for a solution.
"But if pan-Arabism is based on the idea of a rightful and legitimate union of the Arab world, the idea took on a negative political impetus since it defined itself as against the West (even if the West's behavior has often been a uniting force among the Arabs). Pan-Arabism's 'light unto the nations' principles have been entirely replaced by anti-Westernism, which, justified or not, has had very damaging consequences for the Middle East as a whole.
"This neopan-Arabism today is a hypocritical religion since it implicitly contends that the Arab world is incapable of sorting out its own problems. There is no distinguishing between West-blamers or West-haters in the Arab world, who would have America take sole responsibility for the ills of the region, and those many Westerners who consider the West somehow superior to the Arabs. Both sides are implicitly neocolonialist."