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memri
July 24, 2001 No.
245

The Intifada and the Fate of Arab Regimes

The following summary is a discussion from the Qatari TV Channel Al-Jazeera, on the Intifada and the fate of Arab regimes. [1] Interviewed in the studio were the Tunisian Islamic Fundamentalist, Sheik Rashed Al-Ghanushi, who lives in political asylum in England, and the Moroccan Liberal writer and intellectual, Al-Saleh Bu-Walid, who lives in Paris:

'A Peace Camp and a War Camp' Among the Arabs
The discussion was opened by Bu-Walid, who described two trends in the Arab world today: "The war camp, that includes the fundamentalist movements and the Pan-Arab militants who claim that negotiations have failed - the PA should cease contacts with Israel and go back to the armed struggle and mobilize the masses into a comprehensive war between the Arab states and Israel." The peace camp, on the other hand, sees peace as "the strategic option for the realization of the goals of the Palestinian people on the basis of international legitimacy [which is also] Arab and Palestinian legitimacy."

Bu-Walid emphasized that he does not call to stop the Intifada, but rather to stop armed operations in order to gain the support of Israeli and world public opinion. Unlike the first Intifada, he says, the present Intifada "has become mixed up with terror."

Sheik Ghanushi, on the other hand, stated that "The Intifada is a natural, humane, and legitimate right," and "the Resistance [movement] has achieved in the past eight months what the stupid and pointless negotiations have not achieved in the past eight years. Oslo created illusions and sold false visions to the nation, and now it has been torn to pieces."

The Suicide Bombings
Sheik Ghanushi, began by blessing the mothers of the suicide bombers: "I would like to send my blessings to the mothers of those youth, those men who succeeded in creating a new balance of power… I bless the mothers who planted in the blessed land of Palestine the amazing seeds of these youths, who taught the international system and the Israeli arrogance, supported by the US, an important lesson. The Palestinian woman, mother of the Shahids [martyrs], is a martyr herself, and she has created a new model of woman…"

The issue of the legitimacy of suicide bombings was the silver thread of many of the calls that came in. "How did the Vietnamese get rid of the Americans?" asked Abdallah Ya'ish from Saudi Arabia. "They sacrificed their sons and daughters as bombs sent to the American soldiers."

Ya'ish criticized Bu-Walid's call for a return to negotiations. "On what basis should we hold negotiations?" he asked, and immediately answered: "I am willing to negotiate from a position of strength, when I have put the enemy on his knees. I am not prepared to sit with him when he has the upper hand. They [the Jews, according to Muslim tradition] love life more than any other thing in the world, while we, the Muslims, are interested only in martyrdom. Martyrdom, praise Allah, leads to Heaven."

Which Struggle First?
At this point the discussion turned to the question of whether opposition groups in the Arab world, particularly Islamic ones, are really mobilized for the struggle against Israel, or is this struggle against Israel just a cloak for their struggle against the Arab regimes?

Bu-Walid stated that Sheik Ghanushi's reference to "mass mobilization from the [Persian] Gulf to the [Atlantic] Ocean for the sake of Palestine, is in effect [an attempt] to overthrow the [present Arab] regimes."

Sheik Ghanushi admitted that Arab regimes "are not the kind of regime that we want… these regimes, generally speaking, are undemocratic and do not satisfactorily represent the will of our peoples." However, "we are not currently interested in focusing on weaknesses in our Arab and Islamic body but on our points of strength, in order to mobilize them in support of the Intifada and the liberation of Palestine."

In Sheik Ghanushi's view, Arab regimes have lately shown signs of alignment with the will of their people, and therefore, the Islamic movement should demonstrate flexibility towards these rulers: "The Arab regimes are not submissive. The Arab summits [in Cairo and Amman] and the Islamic summit [in Qatar] demonstrated their moral and material support for the Intifada." "… the Intifada has returned a degree of consensus to the Arab and Islamic regimes and joined between the rulers and the people and between the Islamic movements on the one hand, and the Pan-Arab nationalist movements, on the other hand."

Sheik Ghanushi added that "demonstrations and the mobilization of the [Arab] masses serve the regimes, because these regimes are under immense pressure from the Americans and they need an excuse not to give in to them." "The best excuse is the one used by President Mubarak himself, who says: 'The Arab masses are no longer willing to accept what they were willing to accept in the past…"'

The Fundamentalists' Struggle Against Arab Regimes
At this point a Moroccan Islamic fundamentalist by the name of Abu Maryam called in, asking "to express the rage of our nation at hearing the words of this illiterate [Bu-Walid]." Abu Maryam added a threat: "This might be the worst day in the life of that illiterate." Bu-Walid yelled in response: "This is a terrorist, the man speaking is a terrorist."

"It is an honor for me to sow terror in the hearts of the enemies of Allah, such as you [Bu-Walid], because this brings me closer to Allah," Abu Maryam answered, adding: "I say to this enemy of our nation, that whoever aspires to liberate Palestine through the existing Arab regimes is just like those who hope that the US and its spoiled child, Sharon, will give up Palestine…"

"[Our] aspirations must be transferred from the leaders to the Islamic peoples and encourage them to return to Allah, and then 'our dead will be in Heaven and their dead will be in Hell'… This enemy of Allah who sits before you, Dr. Faysal, fishes for fatwas by Islamic clerics who serve the [Arab] regimes, stating that the martyrs are suiciders. Using these fatwas, he wants to bind the hands of the Mujahideen [Jihad Warriors] so that they will not go to Heaven carrying with them supplies in the form of Zionists on their way to Hell… shame on the foreheads of the illiterate who sits before you and his ilk."

At this point, Abu Maryam momentarily stopped cursing Bu-Walid and turned to the host, Dr. Faysal Al-Qasem, "who understands me and whom I understand," in order to talk about "the heresy of the rulers." Abu Maryam explained that when he says rulers, he is referring to the traitors and heretic [Arab] despots. Abandoning the struggle against the "heretic [Arab] tyrants" in favor of the battle against the "heretic Jewish tyrants, under the auspices of the same Arabs [tyrants]," is totally uncalled for.

Abu-Maryam criticized Sheik Qaradhawi [a prominent religious authority in Islam today and a spiritual leader of the Muslim Brotherhood] who took a similar approach to that of Ghanushi, calling for unifying the forces and layers in the Arab and Islamic world for the sake of the Intifada: "The Islamic Jihad," claimed Abu-Maryam, "can be carried out only by the pure, the monotheistic, the adherents to Allah, not by the secular who are in effect Communists, Atheists, Jews and Amagoshes [Zoroastrians]. No, no, the Islamic Jihad must be Islamic… the Palestinian issue is not an Arab issue, but an Islamic one… We must protect ourselves from the religious leaders who issue fatwas in favor of the treacherous American policy. These must be exposed."

Summing up, Abu Maryam again began to curse Bu-Walid. "I thank Allah that I do not have to see you face to face, and I empower Sheik Ghanushi to teach you a lesson," he said, and hung up the telephone.

Bu-Walid reacted to Ghanushi's previous comments: "The Arab world is marching increasingly backwards..." "The mobilization of the masses… blessings for the women… are not a rational policy." "Israel exists, and it will continue to exist…" "The PA must establish its state alongside Israel. These cousins [Arabs and Jews] must live together…" The late King Hassan II of Morocco, once said: "The Middle East has two characteristics: Jewish genius and Arab wealth. Had there been a lasting peace in the Middle East, Israel would dissolve in the wide market, and there would be co-existence between the Arab states and their peoples in order to get over their weakness, unemployment and ignorance."

The need to struggle against the Arab regimes and to physically destroy their heads, was addressed by other callers, most of whom were Islamic fundamentalists living in Europe. Riadh Al-Qadhi, for example, called from Germany and asked to speak on behalf of 'the Leadership of the Yemenite Opposition in European exile': "I say to the Arab and Muslim rulers: If you do not act with honor and manhood today… you are sentencing yourselves to death at your own hands. We must punish and get rid of any leader who bows down to what the infidels call "the obligating advice of the US." He must be punished by the sword, according to the Shari'a of Allah, or by the bullets of the gun of Khaled Al-Islambuli [who assassinated Egyptian President Anwar Sadat], may Allah praise him, because no one among these rulers of defeat has heard of the word 'resignation.' None of them is prepared to give up his position of power, as is done in any self-respecting country…"

"In conclusion, I believe that it is the peoples' mission to kick out the Americans and the British from all of the Arab and Islamic lands, as did the proud Somali people, at the height of their starvation. Simultaneously, we must use force to destroy all of the interests of London and Washington in the Middle East, whether military, economic, or oil interests. We must struggle against the despotic and corrupt regimes, who publicly and shamelessly collaborate with the Zionist project..."

The next caller, Wadih Al-Hilwani from Finland, wished "to remind what is expected from many Arab rulers, who are merely clerks in the American Congress. The Arab ruler does not get up from his seat from the moment he sits on it, until he dies. Even when he is paralyzed, he continues to rule. As for this coward [Bu-Walid]… this secular man, who might even be Jewish, should get off the television screen. Where do people like him come from?! On what street do you find them? In the name of Allah, he increases my blood- pressure!! …"

"The Arab public must replace the Arab rulers, even by hitting them with a broomstick. We must shoot at them with machineguns, throw bombs at them - even hit them with a shoe – to get rid of them."

For and Against the Murder of Israelis
The next caller was the mother of the Jordanian soldier, Ahmad Daqamseh, who murdered seven Israeli girls on the Israeli-Jordanian border in 1997. She made the following speech: "I am proud of my son, and I hold my head high. My son did a heroic deed and has pleased Allah and his own conscience. My son lifts my head and the head of the entire Arab and Islamic nation. I am proud of any Muslim who does what Ahmad did. I hope that I am not saying something wrong. When my son went to prison, they asked him: 'Ahmad, do you regret it?' He answered: 'I have no regrets.' He treated everyone to coffee, honored all the other prisoners, and said: The only thing that I am angry about is the gun, which did not work properly. Otherwise I would have killed all of the passengers on the bus."

Dr. Al-Qasem reminded the viewers who Ahmad Deqamseh was, but stuttered uncharacteristically in his talk about the act: "Ahmad's mother is the mother of the Jordanian soldier Ahmad Deqamseh… who… like… didn't manage to tolerate the presence of the Zionists on our land… as they said at the time… and shot at a bus and killed some of them."

However, Dr. Al-Qasem quickly recovered and explained that Ahmad Daqamseh "is now in prison, while for Baruch Goldstein, who killed the people praying at the Tomb of the Patriarchs, they have raised a statue and a memorial site, and all of the Zionists visit the place with the blessing of the Israeli government. Ahmad Daqamseh, on the other hand, is stuck in prison and so on and so forth… [addressing Bu-Walid] What do you have to say?"

Bu-Walid: "I have a comment about the remarks of Ahmad Daqamseh's mother. We should have called this show 'defeated heroes of a defeated people.' With all due respect for the suffering of his mother, Ahmad Daqamseh is a criminal who murdered seven girls in cold blood - seven flowers at the dawn of their lives. He is a criminal, and his mother should not have presented him as a model for Arab youth."

"Okay," Al-Qasem replied. "And what about those who kill Palestinian children?!" "They are also criminals, brother," Bu-Walid answered.

"And what about those who killed Muhammad Al-Dura and Iman Hijo?" Al-Qasem tried again. "Criminals," Bu-Walid answered.

"And what about those who… all those who…" Al-Qasem persisted.

"They are all criminals, brother," Bu-Walid answered. "But we must act like cultured people, we must forget about revenge, we must live in the modern age."

The Final Word for Palestinians Callers
Towards the end of the program, two calls were taken from Palestinians who addressed some of the points raised thus far on the broadcast.

The first was Nader Tamimi, the Mufti of the Palestinian Liberation Army, who lives in Jordan. Tamimi explained that "the Jews have a sadistic mentality derived from the Torah which they have distorted as saying that man is 'a creature born from the seed of a horse.' The Torah says that all peoples that are not Jews must be killed, as it is said in the book of Deuteronomy when they entered Jericho: 'They slaughtered all of the residents of the city: Men, women, children and old people, even the cattle, sheep and asses, they burned the city, with everything in it.' Is this not what happens now in Palestine?…"

"Now, I would like to talk about the rulers. None of the rulers in the Arab world were elected… they robbed the leadership and do not represent the will of the people. Therefore, they bring religious clerics who are in fact, clerics of the regimes…"

"Those who ruled that the martyrdom operations are suicide have gone against the word of Allah… wedding ceremonies in Palestine go straight from the ground to Heaven. Every day there are hundreds of such ceremonies [note: according to Islamic theology, a martyr is rewarded among other rewards with 72 brides in Heaven]."

"I, the Mufti of those forces fighting in Palestine, say to them: your hand is blessed, brothers, when you kill; your hand is blessed, mother, who nurses this child who will one day become a martyr; your hands are blessed when you kill the enemy, blessed be you in Heaven, with the prophet Muhammad..."

"Regarding scums like this [Bu-Walid], who want to bind the hands of the people – they can go to hell. What have the martyrdom operations achieved so far? They have removed NATO from Lebanon [sic.], removed the American forces from East Saudi Arabia, removed the American forces from Somalia."

"My blessings to those who carried out the [USS] Cole operation; and it should be known that 'Cole' was the greatest product of the American mind, and it was destroyed by two people only. The two prayed to Allah, penetrated this destroyer, and sent all of its passengers to Hell. This scared the US, and they have now urged the region's leaders and the religious clerics to prohibit martyrdom operations. But this will never happen, because this nation will fight until it liberates Palestine… We say to all those people [like Bu-Walid]: Just wait… I think that he is actually a Jew, after all, in the Maghreb there are many Jews."

The last speaker on the program was the PA Minister of Supplies, Abu Ali Shahin, who addressed the issue of political negotiations and the Intifada. Shahin admitted that "accepting the Oslo accords was for the Palestinians, a betrayal of the historical legitimacy of the Arab right to Palestine." However, he explained, Oslo becomes legitimate when one takes into consideration that it was done "in order to gain a better position and to continue in the liberation of the land."


[1] Al-Jazeera TV (Qatar), May 23, 2001. The comments by the participants have been edited according to the issues under discussion, not chronologically.