Saturday, March 31, 2012

Fata Morgana

Salman Masalha

Fata Morgana

Vanishes into mist
Roams like rain that pours
He’s holding in his fist
A book from years of yore
Appears, then is no more
Like dew in the day’s first blush
In stories shared aloud
His soul behind a door
Half his heart is melted cloud
The other half is crushed

Only vanishing exists
O, what kind of news is this!
Here a day, his hair turned gray
Though he’s bent, he still persists
Like a mirage he fades away
Into his fevered mind
For return he longs
In some other songs

In love
In youth
In dust
In stone

English: Vivian Eden
For Arabic, press here


Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Between the devil and Iran

Israel's occupation fills an ancient Mideast need for evil:
Among other things, the Arab-Israeli conflict serves as a tool of manipulation for the Iranians in their drive to restore Persian glory.

Salman Masalha || Between the devil and Iran

First of all, when it comes to Iran, it should be acknowledged that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is right. Since the ayatollahs took power Iranian leaders haven't stopped talking about Israel, referring to it as "the Little Satan" at every opportunity. And when these leaders, whose spiritual world is constrained by such messianic shackles, use such a loaded expression it's clear they must take active steps to deal with such a Satan, even a little one. But in saying that Netanyahu is correct, that's as far as it goes.

As the opium of the ignorant masses, religion has always been used by manipulative politicians to achieve their profane goals. The term "evil" served U.S. President Ronald Reagan in 1982 when he labeled the Soviet Union "the evil empire." The term "crusade" served another American president, as the proper Christian response to the terrorist acts of September 11, 2001.

Every ideology that claims to possess absolute truth and absolute goodness needs an opposing, weighty, ideological enemy to flourish. Islam developed in the Arabian Desert on Jewish-Christian foundations and is totally immersed in theological polemic vis-a-vis the Jews and Christians. In essence, Islam combines Jewish monotheism and Christian missionary ideology. If it were deprived of its relationship with Jews and Christians nothing would be left of it. Contemporary Islamic discourse finds an equivalent in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, like the primordial Muslim confrontation with "Ahl al-Kitab," the People of the Book, which from a Muslim perspective includes both Jews and Muslims.

When it comes to Iran, it is no coincidence that Shi'ite doctrine took hold among the Persian peoples. From the outset, Shi'ism was an internal Islamic arena serving to promote Iranian national goals vis-a-vis the Arabs who conquered Persia and forced its inhabitants to convert. It is therefore no wonder that President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and other Iranian leaders make repeated reference to the Iranian nation in their speeches.

Testimony to the deep historical animosity between the Persians and Arabs can be found in Shi'ite literature relating to the end of the world. One traditional tract relating to the appearance of the Mahdi, the Shi'ite messiah, states: "Woe unto the Arab dictators for the punishment that is approaching." And in his reappearance, he will actually start taking care of the Arabs: "When the Mahdi appears, there will be nothing but the sword between him and the Arabs and the Qureish [Mohammed's tribe]," as another traditional account states.

Sunni-Arab Islam fights back and accuses the Shi'ites of basing their doctrine on Jewish collusion. It relies, of course, on Shi'ite literature itself, which also speaks of the Mahdi "imposing the justice of David and Solomon." And, if that's not enough, when he reappears "he will issue the call to prayer by explicitly invoking the name of Allah in Hebrew," as another traditional saying has it.

If that's the case, things in this part of the world are not so simple, to say the least. As the only son in the region of the American "Great Satan," and its beloved ally, Israel is playing in the big league and continues to kick the Palestinians. The prolonged Israeli occupation fulfills the need for the existence of evil, of Satan and the prospect of divine justice. It is the fuel that turns the wheels of manipulation of the seminaries of the monotheistic religions' high priests.

Among other things, the conflict serves as a tool of manipulation for the Iranians in their drive to restore Persian glory. Against the backdrop of ancient Muslim animosity toward the Jews, and through use of the Palestinian pretext, they gain a following among the Arab masses. Christian and Jewish messianists attempt to force the issue and bring on the arrival of their messiahs. Israel is therefore situated at the vortex of the major confrontation connecting the pieces of this monotheistic constellation of forces.
Published: Opinions-Haaretz, 28 March 2012

For Hebrew, press here

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

The decay in the Arab world

Assad is a symbol of The decay in the Arab world:

With great sadness, it can be said that in the absence of a sane civil alternative, the Arab world will continue along this path.

Salman Masalha || 

The decay in the Arab world

Bashar Assad, who is continuing to massacre Syrian civilians, is not only the president of an important country in that region called "the Arab world," but above all, he is the most prominent symbol of the rot in that Arab world. It should be recalled that the incumbent President Assad received the post of Syrian president on a silver platter drenched in the bloodletting committed by his father, President Hafez Assad.

Assad Senior's junta, which took power in a military coup, drew the blood of thousands of Syrians as well as Lebanese and Palestinians living in Lebanon. And behold that knight in shining armor, this ophthalmologist and young heir, instead of bringing relief and enlightenment to his people, has for many months been sending his army and gangs of shabiha thugs to sow destruction and death. In every direction, he has been drawing more and more of the Syrian people's blood.

This Western-educated president has spurned whatever he witnessed or learned or experienced in the West. He has returned to his tribal roots to perpetuate the bloody legacy of his forefathers. And the Arab world has been looking at this spectacle and hasn't lifted a finger to stop the killing of Arabs. It is waiting for salvation to arrive from the West, which is nothing new. The Arab world has always been like that, inasmuch as the entire Arab world is a stinking corpse.

Just over a week ago on this page, Gideon Levy lamented Israel's apathy in the face of the horrors taking place on the other side of the border ("The monster next door," Feb. 26 ). "The minimum should be a resounding call to our absolute ally, the United States, and to Israel's other friends - do something, right now," Levy implored in his column. "Forget for a moment the Iranian threat and the Israeli occupation. Join in a rescue of which none is more important."

There is something even more serious than Israel's silence, and it's actually those who are not holding their tongues. There are those in our midst, our own Arab flesh and blood, who have long had no conscience. They sit there serenely in the Knesset, both those holding respected government positions and those on the upholstered opposition benches, and decry the injustices of Israeli governance, rightly of course, in every possible forum. Nonetheless they have no shame in holding forth or rushing to appear on Syrian television in service of the interests of the butcher of Damascus.

Those poor souls, irrespective of their political affiliations, have lost any moral right to speak about freedom and human rights as a result of their actions. No one will buy their line anymore, not their hypocrisy and not the bill of goods emanating from their mouths. This Assad, who has become the darling of Arab public figures and Knesset members, is the most prominent testimony there is to the resounding failure of Arab nationalism.

The pretentious Ba'ath Party slogan "one Arab nation with an eternal mission" is crumbling within sight of everyone. In fact with such a deadly mission, there is no need for external foes. The Arab world is worn out, faltering and above all exploited and confused. The regimes that were called "national" never learned how to build a single nation-state worthy of its name, and maybe never intended to.

The greatest treason against the Arab peoples is the treason of the intellectuals, who never summoned the courage to propose another way. They always worked in the service of the repressive and corrupt regimes, and consigned opposition to corrupt and rotten regimes to the Islamists. That is the deep-seated explanation for the recent rise in these countries of what has been dubbed the Arab Spring.

As long as the younger generation of Arabs doesn't manage to establish and propose a different, sane civil alternative, the choice will remain between fraudulent murderous Arab nationalism, such as the Syrian Ba'ath movement headed by Assad, and Islamic forces who take the name of Allah in vain, people with malignant ideologies and beyond cure. With great sadness, it can be said that in the absence of a sane civil alternative, the Arab world will continue along this path.
Published: Opinions-Haaretz, 6 March 2012

For Hebrew, press here

Middle East
  • The Arab world's quagmire

    Only a society that can engage in introspection and self-examination can emerge from its dark past and march confidently to a different future. Otherwise, it will continue to sink into the same marshy swamp.

    Read more

    A Feeble Middle East

    The West learned on its own flesh that this region conducts itself by other codes. Iran has continued to entrench its standing by means of its religious ideology. The toppling of Saddam Hussein shattered the illusion of the existence of a unifying “Iraqi identity” and gave an encouraging shot in the arm to Iran, which is forging ahead.

    Read more

  • The decay in the Arab world

    With great sadness, it can be said that in the absence of a sane civil alternative, the Arab world will continue along this path.

    Read more

    Neither Arab nor Spring

    The vicissitudes that have, for some reason, been collectively dubbed the "Arab Spring" are neither Arab nor Spring. One can say that they are actually living proof of the identity crisis and reverberating bankruptcy of Arab nationalism.

    Read more

  • another title

Israel - Palestine
  • Our troubles come from us

    And so we have reached a situation in which every Arab is concerned with his own problems and everyone talks about what preoccupies him personally – that is, his own troubles.

    Read more

  • Never-ending tragedy

    The Israeli right, in all its forms, wants exclusively Jewish control over all of the Land of Israel. To the Palestinians who live in this space, it promises residency – temporary, of course, on condition that they keep their heads down, accept their designated status and behave accordingly.

    Read more
  • Solomon’s Mosque

    Religion, every religion, is the No. 1 enemy of nationalism. But under conditions of tension, such as tribal warfare, these polar opposites combine into a toxic soup that consumes all common sense.

    Read more

  • They see not, nor know

    The term "neutralize" is very popular with people who have served in the security and expulsion forces. The question to be asked is, What did the poet who spoke of "neutralization" mean in this plan?

    Read more

    For Jews only

    From the moment the pundits followed in the footsteps of the politicians, both large and small, they carried this noxious melody everywhere. They were part of legitimizing the illegitimate in Israeli politics.

    Read more

  • With yearning soul

    The Zionism that aspired to establish a "Jewish home" in the Jews' "ancient homeland" did not take into consideration the fact that the land was not empty. It thus adopted the principle of population transfer, based on the same ancient biblical tradition.

    Read more

    Rabbis of the Dry Bones

    Racism surfaces when a society loses its self-confidence and turns to seeking ways to defend itself against what is different and perceived as increasingly threatening.

    Read more

  • الحلم

    أنّي في سجن جدران بيضاء
    حيث لا يعرفني أحدٌ، وأصواتٌ
    تختفي في الرّدهات، وأضواء تستنشقُ
    جمجمتي اللّاهثة.
    تتمة الكلام

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Site Archive

Selected Topics

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    In those days, we did not drink four goblets of wine, because everything that gladdens the human heart is not a part of our custom.

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  • Welcome Back to History

    Islam, like other imperialist ideologies, still needs enemies to flourish. Enemies have served Islam in the past as fuel for its wagons. Without enemies Islam declines and stagnates...

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  • another title

  • Balkrishna Sama

    Man Is God

    He who loves flowers, has a tender heart.
    he who cannot pluck their blooms,
    has a heart that's noble.

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  • Martin Niemöller

    First They Came

    First they came for the Communists
    And I did not speak out
    Because I was not a Communist.
    Then they came for the Socialist
    And I did not speak out
    Because I was not a Socialist.

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  • Salman Masalha

    The Song About the Child

    Boston Gospel Choir

    Text: Salman Masalha
    Composer: Stephen Feigenbaum