May 10, 2002 Special Dispatch No. 377

An Arab Diplomat on the Need to Replace Jihad With Social Development

May 10, 2002
Special Dispatch No. 377

In an article written by "an Arab diplomat who chose to reveal his real name," - Abu Ahmad Mustafa called upon the Arab world to replace Jihad with social development. The article, titled "When Will the Arabs Learn the Lesson Even Once," appeared recently in the Saudi-owned London daily Al-Sharq Al-Awsat. The following are excerpts from the article:

"Now, after the fog has begun to lift above the skies of the Palestinian Authority, and after the second Intifada has ended, at such a terrible price, the Arabs must try - at least once - to grasp the lesson that they have been taught yet again…"

"First, we must admit that the ones who pushed the children into the second Intifada had no defined political goal that they sought to achieve and that would benefit the Palestinian people… It became clear, beyond the shadow of a doubt, that the ones who planned it wanted to thwart any initiative that President Arafat sought to promote. They wanted to make him simultaneously their prisoner and Israel's prisoner…"

"Many questions have raced around my mind since the demonstrations began to throng the streets of the Arab capitals, reminiscent of the giant demonstrations to defend the honor of the nation of Comrade Saddam."

"Several Arab countries demonstrated spontaneously. I heard and learned that committees consisting of both government and opposition party members were established to organize the demonstrations. In the first ranks of demonstrators stood some top officials of Arab countries, who sought to neutralize [the nationalist elements] that claimed the governments are lagging behind the street. At this point, I ask: Why don't they demonstrate to protest against the deficient (or nonexistent) basic services in their countries? [These] countries have no health, education, or services, and buckle under the poverty line… but all are preoccupied with the Palestine issue, and no voice rises above the voice of battle there! Do you think these officials would participate in demonstrations of this kind if the citizens decided to hold them?"

"Furthermore, why do they push the citizens to contribute from their own money? Here too stand top officials, contributing as much as they wish… Again I ask: Why don't they instruct their citizens with regard to the importance of contributing to improve education, health, and social services in their countries?!"

"What would happen if every Arab country had, since 1948, turned its attention to building itself from within, without making Palestine its main issue? Wouldn't this be better than wasting money on armies and equipping them so that we can listen to their military marches every so often? What would happen if every Arab country focused on educating its citizens, and on improving their physical and emotional health and cultural level?! Wouldn't this have made the battle with Israel into a cultural battle instead of us sinking into religious or military battles?!"

"Moreover, I am amazed at the clerics who raise a hue and cry about Jihad against Israel, engage in conflict, and compete with each other in issuing religious rulings on suicide [attacks] - but do not encourage the citizens to wage spiritual Jihad. Wouldn't this be more useful to the [Arab] nation, which since the turn of the century has been subject to Nakba [catastrophe] by its own military, and now marches towards a second Nakba by its scientists - I refer, of course, to the scientists of religion, and not the scientists of physics, natural science, health, or engineering…" [1]

[1] Al-Sharq Al-Awsat (London), May 8, 2002.

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