Deja vu - Judith Apter Klinghoffer
Dr. Judith Apter Klinghoffer taught history and International relations at Rowan University, Rutgers University, the Foreign Affairs College in Beijing as well as at Aarhus University in Denmark where she was a senior Fulbright professor. She is an affiliate professor at Haifa University. Her books include Israel and the Soviet Union, Vietnam, Jews and the Middle East: Unintended Consequences and , International Citizens' Tribunals: Mobilizing Public Opinion to Advance Human Rights
The most immediate challenge is to get people to vote in November's parliamentary elections. If the turnout is as low as last week's then the NDP and other political parties will have no alternative but to resort to the old method of fixing returns. The result will be a People's Assembly with all the current flaws.
The low turnout also raised questions about previous claims of higher voter turnout. The only reason that the real turn out percentage is known is that the judiciary, unlike the "appalling" Presidential Elections Commission (PEC), acquitted themselves well.
Salama is so troubled by the third place showing of Noaman Gomaa, the Wafd party candidate, that he blames him for"placing the venerable Wafd on an equal footing with a motley collection of chimerical parties."
Mohamed Sid-Ahmed is similarly troubled by the emergence of Atman Nour :"A surprise was the result scored by Ayman Nour, who came second with twice as many votes as the Wafd's Noaman Gomaa." So, disgusted is he with the emergence of the unexpected attractive of an attractive reformist alternative to Mubarak Fils, that he compares the liberal young Nour to the aged fascist Le Pen.
AmrEl-Choubaki dismisses Nour's votes as"protest votes" thereby implying that they have not really voted for Nour's reformist platform. To become a serious reformist, argues AmrEl-Choubaki,"Nour, has to change his image from that of a wily politician to that of a legitimate statesman." How?""To do so, he needs to court those influential segments of the Egyptian elite who are still skeptical about his methods." Unbelievable.
Writing in Le Monde Diplomatique Husam Tammam suggests that the Muslim Brotherhood is amongst the losers:
Egypt’s political landscape changed a little when it held its first multi-party presidential elections on 7 September, after an amendment to article 76 of its constitution. Some observers had expected the Muslim Brotherhood to take full advantage of the novel room for manoeuvre afforded by this opportunity. But the opposite has occurred: the organisation is in unprecedented crisis. . . . .
The Brothers hold back Such ideas were shortlived. The Brothers held back and allowed the new opposition movement, Kefaya (Enough), to call the first demonstration against Mubarak, in December 2004. It took another three months for the Brothers to take stock of the new situation and take to the streets. It was dificult for the leaders to find themselves rivalled by the Kefaya “faction”, but they were sure it would be easy for the Brothers, any one of whose branches outnumbered the entire Kefaya membership, to regain the initiative.
In May the arrest of Issam al-Aryan, the Brotherhood’s spokesman, and several other members of the leadership, showed that the organisation’s size could be its weakness. With more than 2,000 supporters in prison, it began to sink beneath the expense of supporting the detainees and their families. The demonstrations stopped: it seemed that tactical considerations had outweighed any desire to lead the people of Egypt down the road to freedom.
This setback was not simply due to repression. What the leaders of the Brothers, and their detractors, have failed to recognise is that Islam has changed since the 1970s. In the beginning the Muslim Brothers were the official standard-bearers of the ideology of Islam, their vision focused upon the claim for an Islamic state. Their programme addressed the claims of the poor, who saw the organisation as a way to end social oppression, and also of the middle classes, who aspired to higher moral standards and social mobility.But things have changed since then. Because of its involvement in politics, the Brotherhood has lost sight of its idea of an Islamic state and all that goes with it, including the restoration of the caliphate. So its programme is barely distinguishable from those of its rivals, particularly those who support economic liberalism.
Commitment to democracy The Brothers offer assurances of their unreserved commitment to a democracy without Islamic attributes, not even mentioning the concept of shura (consultation). They are prepared to accept a multi-party system and abide by the popular will, whether or not it is in conformity with sharia. They preach equal citizenship and no longer distinguish Muslims from Copts, to whom they are prepared to allow full rights (2). They are even ready for Coptic or communist political parties (3). But these ideas are not universally accepted within the Brotherhood. They are mainly professed by a new generation of leaders, represented by Abdel Mon’im Abul Futuh, which now leads discourse within the organisation (4).
The Muslim Brothers have been affected by dramatic economic changes in Egypt. The process of liberalisation known as intifah (open door) happened at the expense of the poor. The Brotherhood, which previously attracted members from every level of society, supported these policies, including the government’s backtrack on previous agrarian reform in 1997. Recruitment to the Brotherhood has been targeted at members of the middle class driven by new religious imperatives, many of whom have become activists. As the role played by businessmen has increased, the organisation has moved towards the liberal right.
The poor and marginalised have now been excluded from the organisation, then from its programme and even from its slogans. They bear the brunt of Egypt’s economic transformation, yet the Brotherhood has ceased to represent them. According to a former official: “No member of the Brotherhood suffers from hunger.” Official figures put the poverty level in Egypt at 17%, but the opposition estimate is 40%. One indication of the alienation of the Brotherhood from the working class was its absence from this spring’s demonstrations. Some observers have even suggested that the Brotherhood leadership made a deliberate decision to halt demonstrations as part of a secret deal with the government to prevent things getting out of hand.
The Gamaa Islamiyya, which eventually broke away from the Brothers and was involved in armed confrontation with the government during the 1980s, remained able to represent the poor. This was noted by Adel Hussein, a Muslim thinker and politician whose former membership of Marxist organisations made him aware of class conflict. He tried to attract Islamist leaders from the suburbs and disadvantaged backgrounds into his party, Al Amal, asking them to abandon the armed struggle. Disagreements with the Gamaa and the proscription of Al Amal by the authorities ended this attempt to represent the working class, especially when the government imprisoned 20,000-30,000 Gamaa members.
Spoilt for choice The Brothers also suffer because they are not the sole representatives of the religious-minded bourgeoisie, who have been spoilt for choice since the emergence of new preachers such as Amr Khalid (5). This potential constituency has little interest in politics and a young believer can find less authoritarian and dangerous leaders than the Brothers.
Just as it was losing its position as the exclusive representative of political Islam, the Brotherhood diversified, shedding the monolithic image that it sought to project. Among its members it is now possible to find students from the (state-controlled) al-Azhar University, Salafists, former jihadists and arrivals from other political groups, beside peasants and workers who, lacking any political experience, are content to follow orders blindly.
Attendance at meetings has declined and is now put at 40%; recruitment is stagnant, the membership ageing and discipline collapsing. Even the reasons for joining have changed: these days you become a Brother to network, to oil the wheels of daily life, even to make your business more profitable. The leadership is struggling to agree on the organisation’s future and, more immediately, upon the presidential election. After much hesitation the Brotherhood called upon its members to vote, but did not nominate a candidate.
The Muslim Brothers have entered a new era. Their old aspirations are dead and they are incapable of formulating new ones. The days are long gone when they hoped, and seemed able, to rival the existing regime and develop a popular support base. The government is uncertain where it is going; the same is true of the Brotherhood.
Still, Boycotting elections is no more viable a strategy in Egypt than in Iraq and radical changes are coming. They may just determine the outcome of struggle for Mubarak's"inheritance" which has already begun.
Posted on Saturday, September 17, 2005 - 20:21
Posted on Saturday, September 17, 2005 - 21:22
The preferred solution, a grand governing coalition which includes Hamas. Clearly, Gazans hope that giving Hamas a piece of the pie would tame it. I do not blame them. The looting and increased flow of weapons from Egypt to Gaza hardly serves to calm their concerns.
Here are some recent headlines:
Let's hope its not too late and somebody will stand up for the moderate majority.
Posted on Friday, September 16, 2005 - 00:29
Food for thought.
Posted on Friday, September 16, 2005 - 00:07
Its time to end meaningless threats and endless patience. They simply embolden those at whom they are directed. The US may not be able to remake the world but she sure can blow-up the status quo!
Posted on Friday, September 16, 2005 - 00:07
Posted on Friday, September 16, 2005 - 01:12
I cannot and do not recommend having cities totaled. But the economic value of rebuilding cannot be overstated. The building of infrastructure is the best type of investment govenments can make and if you wish to see real free enterprise zones at work go to China. That is the strategy it uses so successfully.
The deficits have been dropping, they will go up again but, no problem, money remains very cheep and, hence, this is a good time to rebuild.
Posted on Friday, September 16, 2005 - 09:12
Posted on Friday, September 16, 2005 - 14:58
Posted on Friday, September 16, 2005 - 15:27
SECRETARY RICE: Yes. Well, all the way back well before the Iraq war, Colin Powell went to Syria and he -- this was at the time that we were trying to re-invigorate the sanctions -- the smart sanctions -- and said, you know, cut off this pipeline. It didn't happen. Every time the United States has gone to the Syrians at a diplomatic level and said here are things that need to be done, the Syrians have either done nothing or done the absolute minimum that they could do.
The question is: If Syria doesn't want to be a problem in the Middle East, why is it continuing to strangle or try to strangle Lebanon in the way that it is? I will tell you, I was in Lebanon and you feel the dead hand of Syria in Lebanon. You really feel it. And at the time, they were cutting off 47 percent of the trade across that border because they know it will destroy the Lebanese economy. All right, if they're really living up to Resolution 1559, if they really bear the Lebanese people no ill will, why are they are doing that?
Secondly, if they really are in favor of a comprehensive peace in the Middle East and a Palestinian state, then why are they supporting Palestinian Islamic Jihad in Damascus and Hezbollah and getting money to Palestinian rejectionists at the time that Mahmoud Abbas is trying to cut off terrorist activity and make peace with the Israelis?
Third, if they really are supportive of a peaceful neighbor in Iraq, why are Iraqi -- foreign fighters who are fueling the terror against Iraqis continuing to flow out of Syria?
Thanks Michael Petrelis. For Debka's detailed investigation report
Assad Trapped in the Hariri Probe How Much Longer Can He Keep the UN Investigatio! n at Bay?
Detlev Mehlis, head of the UN team of inquiry into the assassination of the former Lebanese prime minister Rafiq Hariri, arrived in Damascus Monday, September 12, carrying four document files to put before president Bashar Assad for discussion.
He did not indicate their contents, but assumed correctly that Syria’s spies in Beirut, who are still plentiful, would have tipped their masters on the materials in his briefcase.
They are listed here by DEBKA-Net-Weekly’s intelligence sources:
File No. 1 contained a tape Mehlis received from the British MI6 secret service of a telephone conversation that took place two hours after the February 14 assassination at the Monroe Hotel in Beirut’s upscale Hamra district opposite the spot at which Hariri’s convoy was blown to smithereens. It recorded a senior Lebanese intelligence officer talking to a Syrian counterpart in Damascus. As soon as it was picked up by the British Middle East monitoring center in Cyprus, its contents were conveyed to British premier Tony Blair and foreign secretary Jack Straw, who the following day, used the information to pin the assassination publicly on Syria.
File No. 2 contained the numbers of Syrian intelligence officers’ cell phones which they used for conversations with Lebanese officers prior to the murder, while it was going on and subsequently. The UN secretary’s Middle East envoy Terje Larssen, when he stopped over in Cairo this week en route from Moscow to Paris, told Egyptian officials that Mehlis has a list of 30 Syrian intelligence officers he wanted to question.
File No. 3 contained bank statements recording the movements of funds from Syrian officials to Lebanese security officers who assisted in setting up the Hariri murder. Those documents were obtained for the UN inquiry by the Lebanese prime minister Dr. Foud Siniora, a former banker himself.
File No. 4 contained the draft of a secret agreement between Mehlis and the Lebanese government, setting out the assistance government officials undertook to render his inquiry, the intelligence dossiers they would make available to him and the conditions in which he was permitted to make his inquiries and interrogate suspects in detention.
The UN investigator planned to show President Assad this document and ask him to sign a similar document on behalf of the Syrian government.
Syrian officials come up with ridiculous conditions to block the UN investigation
However, Mehlis did not get that far.
Instead of taking him to their president, the Syrian officials who received him escorted him to the foreign ministry and its legal adviser Riad Daoudi. After this interview, the UN official announced diplomatically that the Syrians had been fully cooperative and he would be returning to Damascus shortly.
DEBKA-Net-Weekly’s Beirut sources reveal that, far from being cooperative, Daoudi laid down three conditions for the pursuit of UN inquiries in the Syrian capital that were too ridiculous to be considered.
1. Submission in advance of the names of the individuals he wished to interview with his questions for them.
2. All interviews would take place at the Syrian justice ministry in the presence of ministry officials.
3. All his meetings, interviews and interrogations in Damascus must also be attended by Egyptian and Saudi judges.
Mehlis sharply rejected the stipulations and announced they would be turned over to his superiors, UN secretary general Kofi Annan and the Security Council.
The investigator is now waiting for the UN’s 60th anniversary events to be over so that Annan can direct him how to proceed.
Will Assad cut and run?
The Syrian president was one of the few world leaders absent from festive General Assembly 60th anniversary session in New York – not because he chose to stay away, but because Washington told him that he alone of his entourage would be admitted to the United States on a diplomatic passport; the other members, including the president’s wife Osma and his bodyguards, would have to apply to the US consulate for ordinary visas.
Assad decided against the trip.
His ally in Beirut, president Emil Lahoud, was informed by Washington that if he attended the UN session, he would not be received by any US official or invited to receptions the Americans had arranged for heads of state. Lahoud would have preferred calling off his trip, but acquiesced to Assad’s insistence that he put in an appearance at the event.
DEBKA-Net-Weekly has picked up a rumor making the rounds of the Gulf emirates this week, according to which the Qatari ruler Sheikh Hamad bin-Khalifa al Thani advised the Syrian president to help himself to most of the funds in the Syrian state bank and settle with his family in Qatar. In any case, he said, the Americans are determined to topple him. According to the rumor, al Thani warned him that two former Syrian big shots, whom the Syrian president purged, former vice president Khalim Haddam and ex-chief of staff Hikmat Shehabi, were in negotiation with Americans in Pa! ris and had offered enough incriminating information about Assad’s activities to get him removed. The Qatari ruler reportedly pointed out that, by hanging on too long, the Syrian ruler risked sharing the fate of Saddam Hussein – ousted, imprisoned and standing trial.
DEBKA-Net-Weekly’s sources believe that the only grain of truth in the rumor may be an invitation from Sheikh al-Thani for Assad to move to Qatar where he would be treated with respect. But the fact that this rumor is afloat in Gulf ruling circles points to their opinion of his situation.
Posted on Friday, September 16, 2005 - 16:50
Posted on Friday, September 16, 2005 - 21:45
Musharraf knows how to face reality:Israel’s right to exist now unquestioned: Musharraf
He is also capable of making really stupid comments like the one"that many Pakistanis felt that crying rape was an easy way to make money and move to Canada."
Posted on Friday, September 16, 2005 - 23:24
Posted on Thursday, September 15, 2005 - 08:58
Only the most abstract concepts, the ones shared by all religions, if they are any, can survive the war against scourge of religiously motivated terror.
Posted on Thursday, September 15, 2005 - 13:46
Sharia courts must be stopped!Our fight must go on!
This is a speech made at 8th September protest meeting against Sharia courts in Paris by Azar Majedi and emailed to me because I wrote about the subject. Muslim women today, like Black women earlier are asked to put their own interest aside for the sake of the"larger community." Some do as the recent arrest for terrorism of a woman in Spain demonstrates. But other do not:
September 11th brought a terrible reality home to many who had chosen to see political Islam as something belonging to those strange so-called Islamic countries. With the aid of a self-serving theory of cultural relativism minds could be set at ease while brutality, torture, stoning and terrorism were taking place in those “exotic” places. By saying that, it is “their culture” and “their religion”, heads could be turned the other way. As though some masochists inhabited those countries, who like to practice “their culture” and “their religion” by being stoned,flogged, maimed, executed and terrorized. “It is not our business,” was the response to all these horrendous acts. However, I am happy to see that our 27 years of struggle is paying off. We are now able to mobilize a great force against political Islam, we are able to organise a great force to defend secularism and universal laws for all citizens.
I am pleased to witness this vibrant global movement against establishment of Islamic courts and laws. We are gathered here today to voice our deep concerns against the interference of religion in social and political life, in state and judicial system. Religion poses a great danger to the important principles of freedom and equality, to civil rights and human rights and to the rights of women.
The introduction of Sharia courts is being justified as respect for different cultures and ethnic minorities. It is said by leaving every ethnic group to settle their disputes according to “their culture and religion” we have a better, more egalitarian society, and less racist society. This is totally false. By creating different laws and judicial systems for each ethnic group we are not fighting racism, in fact we are institutionalising racism. We are creating
different class of citizens, putting them in different ethnic boxes.
By allowing sharia courts to rule, we are allowing some antiquated laws to govern our modern society, and thereby disregarding all those laws and principals humankind has fought for in the past 2 centuries, principles of equality; women’s rights, rights of children, freedom, and the principle of citizenship and secularism.
This is going back to the middle ages, to the dark ages under the fancy façade of multiculturalism, cultural relativism, and respect for rights of minorities. We should expose this reactionary practice as it really is. Establishment of sharia courts is nothing but to leave the members of these so-called Moslem communities to the mercy of the Imams and so-called leaders of the communities. By doing this, we allow a great injustice to take place, total disregard for women’s rights, children’s rights, the interference of religion in people’s lives, and we create an insurmountable gap between these communities and the larger society. This act must be stopped.
The fact that we are gathered here today in Paris to oppose the establishment of Islamic courts or the so-called Sharia courts, in Canada, is historically significant. It shows that the threat of political Islam has been felt deeply across the globe, and therefore this international movement and solidarity,which is very exciting. I am very pleased to be part of this movement.
It is a pity that we needed 3 decades of brutality,killing, maiming, torture and reduction of women to less than 2nd class citizens by Islamic states such as Islamic Republic of Iran, Taleban and Islamic state in Afghanistan, and now Iraq and the reign of Islamic terrorism in order to awaken to the threats of political Islam and its inroads into society. Whatever the circumstances, it is important that a strong secular movement is taking shape internationally.
September 11th brought a terrible reality home to many who had chosen to see political Islam as something belonging to those strange so-called Islamic countries. With the aid of a self-serving theory of cultural relativism minds could be set at ease while brutality, torture, stoning and terrorism were taking place in those “exotic” places. By saying that, it is “their culture” and “their religion”, heads could be turned the other way. As though some masochists inhabited those countries, who like to practice “their culture” and “their religion” by being stoned, flogged, maimed, executed and terrorized. “It is not our business,” was the response to all these horrendous acts. However, I am happy to see that our 27 years of struggle is paying off. We are now able to mobilize a great force against political Islam, we are able to organise a great force to defend secularism and universal laws for all citizens.
Here I like to thank anyone who is adding their voice to this movement, to stop Islamic courts, to defend secularism, freedom and equality. I like to thank my old friend and comrade Homa Arjmand for her untiring efforts to stop the formation of these courts. We are only 3 days away from September 11th, I like to remember all those who fell in the face of terrorism and send my sympathies to all who lost a loved one.
I like to take this opportunity to remind you all that our fight is not going to end by stopping the Sharia courts in Canada. This is an important achievement,but we, as the conscious humanity have the duty to stop all religious states and political Islam all together. I like to remind you of the plot of Iraqi people, an Islamic state is being established in Iraq,much worse than the establishment of Islamic courts in Canada. People of Iran are fighting to rid themselves of the horrendous Islamic Republic, they need your support and solidarity. I call upon you to come to the aid of people of Iraq, Iran and Afghanistan to free themselves from the Islamic states and laws governing their lives and depriving them of a humane existence.
We should all call for a no to Sharia courts, No to political Islam, Long live freedom and equality; long live secularism
Organisation for Women's Liberation
Posted on Wednesday, September 14, 2005 - 15:58
81% of Indians vs. 44% of Chinese view Americans as hard working.
58% of Indians vs. 35% of Chinese view Americans as honest.
86% of Indians vs. 70% of Chinese view Americans as inventive.
43% of Indians vs. 57% of Chinese view Americans as greedy.
27% of Indians vs. 44% of Chinese view Americans as rude.
36% of Indians vs. 44% of Chinese view Americans as immoral.
39% of Indians vs. 61% of Chinese view Americans as violent.
Posted on Wednesday, September 14, 2005 - 20:40
The Iraqi Sunni are facing a stark choice, go along with a new Iraq or engage in a lengthy war in which the best they can hope for is to be ruled by Zarqaui.
The Iranian revolution demonstrated that any idea of using the Islamists to win power in the hope of outwitting them is a pipedream.
My condolences to the victims. It is an ugly, ugly war in which an international intent on an American defeat is Zarqaui's best ally.
Posted on Wednesday, September 14, 2005 - 21:14
Hydrogen, the most plentiful element in the universe, has long been viewed as an attractive candidate for becoming the pollution-free fuel of the future.It looks good.
However, nearly all hydrogen fuel used today is produced by means of expensive processes that require combustion of polluting fossil fuels. Moreover, storing and transporting hydrogen is extremely difficult and costly.
In a breakthrough that has dramatic implications for energy use worldwide, Israeli researchers have shown that hydrogen fuel can be produced with the help of sunlight - propelling the dream forward of using hydrogen as a 'green' fuel.
Posted on Tuesday, September 13, 2005 - 10:12
(Prime Minister) Bondevik said his alliance and Progress had apparently won more votes than the"Red-Green" coalition, about 1.27 million to 1.25 million. Election rules give more weight to voters in remote rural districts, like the Arctic north.
Hence, the power in Norway will shift to the Red-Green coalition. Unfortunately, one of the reasons for Bondevik's defeat is his unwillingness to cooperate with the far right, anti-immigration party or, apparently, deal with the unease many Norwegians feel about immigration. The result, the big winner in the past election is the Progress party which more than doubled the number of its voters. In fact, it became the second largest party in the Norwegian parliament.
Norwegians do not mind paying taxes. Indeed, a Norwegian friend told me that the problem with Americans is the fact that they do not like paying taxes. But Norwegians do not like foreigners. When I was in Oslo, people who I know voted labor, told my husband and me that they used to go to the market but they no longer do because it is filled with foreigners.
I hope the new government will tackle the issue before Progress' Hagen becomes the only alternative.
Posted on Tuesday, September 13, 2005 - 19:28
Its a must read website for anyone interested in the institutions which endeavors to become our highest government. Undeservedly, it already posses the power to legitimize or delegitimize state's actions. So, giving up on the institution is simply not an option. Reforming it is going to be a hard but necessary slog. As long as the MSM had a monopoly in information, the exposure of its inequities was severely limited. Now things are changing and Anne Bayefsky's site is an important part of that change.
Good job, Anne.
Posted on Tuesday, September 13, 2005 - 19:30