Muslim hatred, separatism, tactics, and monopoly on morality, I
An Interactive Editorial By
Douglas Rotondi* and Hassan El-Najjar**
In interactive editorials, the editor of Al-Jazeerah answers questions and or responds to comments of readers, which are more general than readers' responses to specific articles or issues. It is an effective method of interaction in electronic journalism.
I read your mission statement, and I commend you for publishing news without hateful or derogatory comments and for attempting to be a tool of education to non-Arabs or non-Muslims. (1) It would be nice if Al-Jazeerah could also serve as an educational tool for Muslims regarding the United States and the rest of the western world, and address the deep seeded hatred of the U.S. in the Muslim world.
(1) Al-Jazeerah is an educational tool to anybody who wants to learn, irrelevant of religious background. It is a forum for Muslims and non-Muslims to interact producing more understanding among people all over the world. This interactive editorial should hopefully be a contribution towards that noble goal. Readers are encouraged to send in their questions, comments, or articles.
Concerning what you call "the deep seeded hatred of the US in the Muslim world," I cannot agree with you that this exists until we have surveys in all Muslim countries and among the 1.3 billion Muslims all over the world. We should not think of all Muslims as if they are mass produced to think and behave in a certain way. They are as diverse as people of other religions and creeds everywhere. What is there, not only among Muslims but also among people in all continents from all faiths and creeds, is a deep criticism and disapproval of the US foreign policy, which is mainly based on the use of force, and in support of injustice, dictatorships, and autocracies. During the second half of the twentieth century alone, the US was involved in the major wars of Korea, Vietnam, and the 1991 Gulf War, the invasions of Grenada and Panama, the support for the dictators of Cuba (Batista), Nicaragua (Sumosa), the Philippines (Marcus), and the Middle Eastern non-democratic regimes. On top of all of that, the US has been the only sustainer and protector of Israel, which represents the most repressive and oppressive regime on earth. Israelis commit war crimes on daily basis against Palestinians after they had dispossessed and uprooted them. Yet they have the full support of the US government.
You didn't hear about Muslim "deep seeded hatred of the US" before the collapse of the communist regimes in Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union because the US focused on defeating communism. Actually, Muslim groups were used by the US to fight the pro-Soviet regime in Afghanistan. Even the Taliban government was supported by the US. Once the Cold War was over, its beneficiaries in the US had to find a new enemy. After all, the Cold War was a $12.8 trillion industry and the US Cold War entrepreneurs could not afford seeing it vanish. They had to start Cold War II by installing a new enemy to replace communism. It took them the entire decade of the 1990s to achieve that goal, and that enemy turned to be "Islamism." Their slogan was, as I wrote in my book about the Gulf War, "Communism is dead, long live Islamism." The 1991 Gulf War was the start, and we are living its consequences. It seems that the US is heading towards Gulf War II, which will have other consequences, and so on.
So, it is not really hatred towards the American people and their institutions or their way of life, like some media instigators and politicians say. Rather, it is toward the biased and unjust foreign policy of the US government. Finally, there is no hatred or animosity towards the "Western World," as you think. Muslims do not have a problem with Western European countries. Muslim immigrants there are doing very well, and the European Union countries have opposed any US attack on Iraq. So, it is the US vis-a-vis the Arab and Muslim countries now, as it was the US vis-a-vis Korea, Vietnam, Cuba, Nicaragua, etc.
(2) Regarding the many Islamic separatist movements currently active all over the world, one thing I find missing from the news coverage is why these groups want their own country to begin with? What is so bad about living under the Indian government or the Philippines government? Do they want Sharia law? Are they being under-represented in the government? Are they being over taxed and neglected as far as education and infrastructure? It seems that almost every country with a sizeable Muslim minority has a problem with separatists. There is a large Arab community in Michigan in the U.S., will they one day want their own country?
(2) With regard to what you call Muslim "separatism," in the Philippines, Kashmir, Chechnya, and Palestine (you described Palestinians as separatists in your third question), there should be no surprise about that. The US supported the previous Soviet republics to break away from the Soviet Union. The US also supported Christian East Timor to separate from Indonesia. The US supported Christian southern Sudanese for decades to separate from the Muslim north. What's wrong with allowing predominantly Muslim regions to have self rule or self determination. If we apply the same standard to everybody, this shouldn't be a problem. Your question about Arab-Americans needs to be qualified with the fact that they are both Christians and Muslims. If you imagine a time in which Jewish Americans will have their own independent states in New York, Florida, and California, or Catholic Americans have their own independent state of Massachusetts, then you can imagine the same for Arabs, too. However, the US society is guarded against separatism by its multicultural nature, which is missing from these regions.
You should not have added Palestinians to other Muslims who are fighting for their freedom in other parts of the world, for several reasons. First, while Kashmiris are citizens of India and Chechens are citizens of the Russian Fedaration, Palestinians are not citizens of Israel. Actually, had Israel granted citizenship to Palestinians in 1948, and allowed them to keep their possessions and property, there would be no Palestinian-Israeli conflict. Second, there are very specific UN resolutions that address the resolution of the Palestinian problem through the establishment of a Palestinian state and through solving the refugee problem by repatriation and compensation. The conflict has continued so far because Israel has refused to comply with the UN resolutions, fully supported and protected by the US successive administrations. Thus, Palestinians are not rebels or separatists, simply because they are not Israeli citizens.
* Douglas Rotondi is a tax accountant, in Boston, Massachusetts, USA. He has a bachelors degree in accounting.
** Dr. Hassan El-Najjar is the editor of Al-Jazeerah.