April 15, 2005 Special Dispatch No. 893

Arab League Ambassador to Britain in Talk to Conservative MPs: 9/11 Was Not a Good Justification For Enmity Towards Arabs and Muslims; Israel's Hand in the Matter is Clear

April 15, 2005
Saudi Arabia | Special Dispatch No. 893

The April 1, 2005 issue of the online Saudi royal family weekly magazine Ain Al-Yaqeen included the transcript of a talk given by Arab League Ambassador Ali Muhsen Hamid to Britain before the Conservative Foreign and Commonwealth Council at the Houses of Parliament. In his talk, titled "Arabs and the West: Indispensable Relation," Hamid emphasized the cultural affinities between the Arab world and the West, and portrayed Israel as the major factor standing between them. The following are excerpts from his talk as it appeared in English in Ain Al-Yaqeen: [1]

The West Needs War to Hold its Societies Together, for Fear that They Would Otherwise Collapse

"…After the Arab world was under Ottoman then European rule, the Arab political, scientific and cultural role was vastly diminished and Arabs lost their independence and their distinctive international standing. The influence of these diverse imperial forces continues to this day. The political, economic and educational backwardness which manifest [sic] in the Arab world is an effect of this.

"These conditions weakened the Arab ability to confront challenges, one of the most prominent of which was the creation of the Jewish state in Palestine in 1948. Since that time the Arab region lost its stability and peace, and becomes party to a war approximately every ten years. It appeared recently that the west needed war to hold its societies together, for fear that society would otherwise collapse through selfishness and individualism. I can add that the west needs battlefields to test its new brand of military technology, and that the Arab strategic location seems to be the testing ground. The same, it seems, is true of Israel…"

We Seek a Common Vision for the West and the Arab World

"We seek a new common vision. We need a relationship that does not implant upon Kipling's statement that ‘east is east and west is west and never the twain shall meet.'

"The world has become very small indeed. In an age of global business commuting we need to look towards new horizons. Most Arab capital is in fact deposited in western banks, and most of our trade is with the west, and the greater part of our technical and scientific expertise comprises western consultants and technicians. The only thing that has changed is the absence of the political advisor and the High Commissioner!…

"Had Britain encouraged education and the development of a true liberal democratic process in the Arab region, instead of combating any independence of thought, the Arab region would have today become an extension of the west, and things would have been very different today.

"I understand that democracy and freedom are at odds with colonialism and military occupation, and that the first victim of such military means is indeed democracy and freedom. Western policies actually created puppet democracies which paved the way for military coups and for militarized societies…"

9/11 Was Not a Good Justification for Enmity Towards Arabs and Muslims; Israel's Hand in the Matter is Clear

"When Israel states that Arabs are terrorists the west quickly follows suit. When Israel says that democracy should be imposed on Arabs by force, echoes of this view begin to manifest [themselves] in some western media outlets and western think tanks. When Israel begins to demonize Iraq and Iran the west goes to war against the former and begins to issue threatening admonishments to the latter...

"What makes matters worse is that some people in the west see that the issues of democracy, good governance and the rule of law are inapplicable in the Arab world, because the absence of the foundations necessary for their implementation is an inherent part of the eastern psyche, and that 'eastern despotism' is the norm in the Arab political system...

"It is true that we do not yet have a Westminster style democracy, but we nevertheless have systems of government that are gradually opening out which do not close the doors to renewal and reinvigoration. It could have been the old Orientalist terminology which led the U.S. to adopt the initiative of 'democratizing' the Middle East from the outside, and to unofficially view Islam as an enemy of democracy…

"But Washington entered actively into the fray after the terrorist events perpetrated on its own soil in 9/11/01. This was not a good justification for its enmity towards Arabs and Muslims. Israel's hand in the matter is clear."

The U.S. Did Not Acknowledge the Arabs' Help in Combating Terrorism

"The Arabs condemned the terrorism of 9/11 and gave their full cooperation in the fight against it, but the U.S. did not acknowledge their help despite their hand in the U.S. success in combating it. We thought that these harrowing events may create a new understanding in the western mind, which did not seem to ask itself at any time what the source of this terrorism was and what its real reasons were, or did not seem to link the events to their causes.

"A dim ray of light emerged from the U.S. when 58% of those who responded to a poll conducted by Newsweek magazine, asked what they thought the causes of this terrorism was, said that the Israeli occupation and the mistreatment of the Palestinian people were among the causes of terrorism."

The Neo-Cons and the Israeli Lobby Claim That the Cause of Terrorism is Not the Israeli Occupation but Islam's Incitement and Hatred of the Other

"Arabs here in London and in other important capitals confirmed that this logic was in fact correct, and that the time had come to reject the policy of ignoring the interests of the Palestinian people, but the neo-conservatives and the Israeli lobby quickly adopted a different logic, which stated that the cause of this terrorism was not the Israeli occupation but Islam, because it incites to violence and hatred of the other. They thus transported hatred to the battlefield in the region.

"Of course Israel always has to be above censure and criticism. The late president Arafat donated his blood to the victims of 9/11, but despite this the nobility of the act was treated with disdain, and even developed into an accusation leveled against him of terrorism.

"Israel got on the PR bandwagon and, together with the U.S., depicted itself as a victim of terrorism. The Palestinians, who are the victims of daily Israeli terrorism, became once again terrorists. They were supposed to endure all this without batting an eyelid. Freedom and independence, for them, were taboos. Nobody wished them to have the honor of resisting an occupation which has endured for four decades. They were not allowed to follow in the footsteps of the French Maquis during the Second World War."

The Whole World Ignored Arab Calls to Convene an International Summit to Fight Terrorism

"It is worth noting that the whole world ignored Arab calls for the convening of an international summit to fight terrorism. The first regional agreement for combating terrorism was signed by Arab countries in 1998. But despite this we are accused of being the terrorists. Killing a Palestinian child walking home from school or playing in his own backyard became part of Israel's fight against terrorism. The UN's accusations directed against Israel of perpetrating war crimes are unheeded."

We Were Not Terrorists, Nor Were We Anti-Semitic, Because We Ourselves are Semites
"The history of Arab civilization enables us to truly feel proud that there is nothing in our past to be ashamed of or to exonerate ourselves from responsibility for. We were not terrorists, nor were we antisemitic in any way, because we ourselves are semites. Jewish people lived through some of their best times with us. Maimonides, or Moussa the son of Maimoun, as we call him in Arabic, lived in Andalusia, and wrote his philosophical works in Arabic, was an Arab citizen and enjoyed his full rights as a citizen. We had no inquisition, nor did our civilization produce Nazi or Fascist ideologies or ideologies which support the uprooting of a people from their homeland and the continued diasporisation of millions of its citizens, unable to exercise their right of return."

Arabs are the Closest People on Earth to the West and to Europe

"Arabs are the closest people on earth to the west and to Europe in the first instance. We are neighbors. Our present and our future are inter-related and there are no major disputes between us, other than that connected with your unjustifiable bias in favor of Israel and its policies of expansionism and colonialism.

"We understand your support of Israel's right to exist, but we cannot understand your support of its expansionist policies. There are many residual scars in Arab-western relations, some of which hail back to old conflicts, or to the colonialist period. But all these scars are for us residual marks that do not justify negativity in current policies nor do they check our ambition to establish stronger and better relations with you. Together we need to strive to know the reality of the prevalent state of affairs on both sides. It is then that we will find that there are many values held in common and only a few contradictions."

We Would Like You to Read What We Ourselves Write, Not Through What Others Write About Us

"We would like you to know us through headlines other than those of terrorism, despotism and fundamentalism. We would like to know you through other headlines than those of hegemony and the beating of the drums of war. We would like you to read about our state of affairs through what we ourselves write, not through what others write about us. We would like you to follow our own media to become more intimately familiar with us, not just to monitor what is said about the west by those who have incomplete information or have lost their objectivity…

"Some of you still see that there is still a special role for the white man as you did before, when you raised the banner of 'the white man's burden' or of Mission Civilisatrice, which have been substituted by Donald Rumsfeld by the term 'liberation' and by George Bush as 'Endurable [sic] freedom' both of which terms exclude the Palestinians, who did not even crop up once in his [State of the Union] speech on 20th January, 2005?"

After Having Made Arabs and Islam Your Victims, You are Transferring Your Battle Front to the Arab Muslim Community [in the West]

"It is not my intention to intimidate anyone here, but I do not intend, either, to paint an imaginary rosy picture of Arab-western relations or fantasize about how wonderful these relations could soon be... Our pain and suffering is limitless. Now you, after having made Arabs and Islam your victims, are transferring your battle front to the Arab Muslim community [in the West]."

[1] Ain-Al-Yaqeen (Saudi Arabia), April 1, 2005.

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