Posts Tagged ‘Israel’

The following article written by me was not published as it tackled a so called “sensative issue” . It seem like it is becoming a trend that anything portraying Israel in a good light and anything remotely suggesting freethinking beyond Islam has difficulty getting published, even if it is something that we can learn from. 

Are we free? The answer to that question is normally “Yes”. The reasons given for that affirmative answer are usually: we are free from the shackles of the colonial British and we are free from the united sub-continent, so we are free. According to the Two-Nation Theory that we study all through our school lives,  essentially, we as Muslims, would be a minority in United India and our right to practice our religion would be taken away because Hindus and Muslims are two separate nations.

So today, in 2011, are we actually free? Or this is just a fallacy? In this article I would refrain from a long tirade of blaming the corruption of our leaders for our perilous history and would invite readers to look at their own selves. I would specifically focus on freedom of thought and belief.

Author Yoram Kaniuk allowed to state "without religion" on his Israeli Identity card

I would quote an example from our arch ideological rivals, Israel. Israel has a strict Jewish identity. Even one of the pre-existing demands of the Israeli Government to kick-start negotiations for Palestinian freedom is the recognition of Israel as a Jewish State by the Palestinian Authority. So, in a nutshell, they are very serious about their religious identity, both at government policy level, as well as, society. In this same Jewish State, the famous Sapir Prize winning author, Yoram Kaniuk, was granted the freedom to identify himself as, “without religion” on his identity card by a Tel Aviv district court. After the court ruling, many Israelis gathered to sign a petition to declare themselves as “without religion” and the court’s decision was hailed as a big step towards freedom of thought. Let me make this clear, “without religion” does not mean, atheist or agnostic, it just means what it says “without religion”. There were no sweeping protests across the country for the decision, nothing was burnt down, and Yoram Kaniuk, is still alive and does not have 27 bullets in his chest.

Let’s come back to Pakistan. Pakistan was created on the basis of a religion and also we thrive on our religious identity. The constitution claims to be based on Islam and we are called the Islamic Republic of Pakistan. Academically speaking, both Israel and Pakistan are religion based ideological states (although created in different circumstances, but that is not the focus of this article). I will put up the question to the readers. Is it possible that the freedom that was given to Yoram Kaniuk, possible in Pakistan? Will a court allow a person to put that in his/her passport? Keeping in mind the fate of Salman Taseer (Governer of the Punjab province assasinated for supporting change in the blasphemy law), I believe that freedom of thought does not exist in Pakistan. Forget about someone declaring oneself as “without religion” which would instantly spring a plethora of “punishable by death” fatwas and will make the “death to the apostate” brigade all hot and heavy. Just airing your views about a man-made law about religion would qualify you for free 27 bullets in your chest (case in point – Salman Taseer). Just having a different ideology within the same religion might lead you to death (consider the fate of Shia Muslims killed on their way to Iran). Or just read the constitution regarding the rules about Ahmadis. I would really urge readers to take a look at Sections 298(b) and 298(c) of the penal code of the constitution and you will see archaic and medieval nature of the law.

So, again I ask, are we actually free? I would term our freedom of thought and belief as a conditional freedom. Free, as long as it along a certain belief system. Freedom, according to Merrium Webster dictionary is “the quality or state of being free: as the absence of necessity, coercion, or constraint in choice or action”. All three conditions necessary to be absent to be fundamentally free are present in Pakistan. “Necessity” to believe in a certain way, “Coercion” if one does not believe in a certain way, and “Constraint” if one does want to believe in a different way. Essentially our minds are not free, what do you think?

Disclaimer: The reason for making a comparison with Israel is solely because my argument is based on both of our country’s fundamental foundations based on religion. I am not trying to prove they are better or worse because that would be a topic of another article. 

 

By Ahmed Αμονας Aziz

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The following article written by me was not published as it tackled a so called “sensative issue”

“It is the Jews’ fault”, “the Jews’ control the world”, “Jews are evil”, “Jews are kafirs” – We are used to hearing these words in our part of the world. It has become a mantra for conspiracy theorists like Zaid Hamid and basically each and every preacher in our mosques, teacher in our schools and friends in our circles in Pakistan. Why do we blame the Jews for everything? Are these accusations based on fact or hearsay? Or are we grossly generalizing the actions of the State of Israel and the Jewish people? Have we ever tried to examine the insecurity that the State of Israel uses to perpetrate the injustices in besieged Gaza and the occupied territory of West Bank?  In this article I would like to present some history of the Jewish people so we can actually know the people that we blame and understand them as human beings. The purpose of this article is not in any way to justify the barbarism of IDF (Israel Defense Force) and the actions of the State of Israel but to understand the people we blame for everything. Actions of a state, government or an organization does not mean that they are exacting the collective will of the people, exactly like actions of Al-Qaeda, Taliban or Hezbollah does not represent the collective will of the Muslim people.  We expect them to understand us, our actions and our suffering so it is imperative for us to also endeavor to understand them as our fellow human beings. It is not a one way street.

Auschwitz death camp

Firstly, I would like to point out right at the onset that complete Jewish history cannot be covered in one article so I would try and cover the main areas and if readers want to explore there is a plethora of literature available. Secondly, I would not cover the World War Two Jewish Holocaust (systematic Genocide of 6 million Jews just on the basis of race and religion by Nazi Germany) because readers might already know about it as it is an extensively covered subject in the media. The people who deny it cannot provide any evidence and only base their argument on religious and nationalistic rhetoric. It is proven and it did happen.

 

 

Jews under Roman Rule

Areas of Jewish Settlement under the Roman Empire

The Jewish people of Judaea (modern day West Bank and Jerusalem) were under the Roman rule essentially from 63 BC to early 300s AD. They were mostly hostile towards the empire and a feeling of mistrust prevailed even though Kind Herod of Judaea rebuilt many of the Jewish cities and also reconstructed the Jewish temples in one of the most extraordinary structures of its time. Shortly after the death of King Herod, Judaea came under direct Roman rule and continuous suppression of Jewish life resulted in a full scale revolt in 66 BC. Roman forces inevitable defeated the Jewish forces completely destroying Jerusalem. The temple was also razed to the ground. This was a catastrophic event and according the historian Josephus Flavius, more than a hundred thousand Jews perished in the siege and thousands sold into slavery. Later the Romans renamed Judaea and Jerusalem as Palaestinia and Aelia Capitolina, respectively.

Jews under Christian Rule 

This is a vast subject; therefore I would focus on the Crusades and the Catholic Rule in Iberian Peninsula. The essential purpose of the crusades was to take back the holy land from Muslim occupation. One of the most important aspects that we usually tend to ignore is that the Crusades were also a war against the all the unbelievers or infidels, which essentially were Muslims and the Jews. Our history books in the Middle East usually ignore that fact that on the way to Jerusalem, there were always pogroms conducted by the Crusaders against the Jews. Massive pogroms (massacres) occurred during the 1st Crusade of 1096 AD of Jewish communities on the Rhine and Danube rivers. Anti-Jewish sentiment at that time was on a high in Europe because of the accusation of the Catholic Church which held the Jews responsible for the Jesus Christ’s Crucifixion. This can be termed as a fallacy because Jesus Christ was convicted by the Romans for crucifixion and was conducted by Pontius Pilate who was the prefect of Judaea and no historical or archaeological exists of a Jewish conspiracy.

An artist's portrayal of the Spanish Inquisition

The Jewish community of the Iberian Peninsula came under the wrath of Christian rulers of Spain after the fall of the Moors in the region. Many Jews converted to Christianity to escape the barbarism but stayed Jewish at heart. This can be marked as the start of the Spanish Inquisitions whose main purpose was to root out this fake Christianity from the converted Jews and Muslims. The inquisitions were intensified after the decree for the expulsion of the Muslims and the Jews was issues in 1492 and early 1500s. Jews faced the brunt of the inquisitions and horrifying stories of torture and murders exist. None of the Christian nations would receive them and while on their journey’s outside the Iberian Peninsula Jews faced murder, rape and theft at the hands of Christian robbers.

 

 

Jews under Muslim Rule 

Ottoman Jews

The Muslim Rule of Spain and the heyday of Ottoman Empire can be termed as “good times” for the Jewish people where they enjoyed many rights and worked with the bureaucracy and the Muslim rulers with a certain amount of harmony. In Muslim Spain, although they had the status of Dhimmi, they worked with the monarchy and Christian counterparts for the advancement of science and knowledge. Ottoman Salonika became is prime place of refuge for the Jews expelled from Spain under Christian Rule.

An artist's portrayal of the Granada Massacre

This does not mean that it was a continuous era of happy times for the Jewish people under the Muslim Rulers. In the year 641 AD, early Muslim rulers decreed that Jews and Christians should be forcibly removed from all but the southern and eastern fringes of Hijaz. These were the Jews of the Khaybar oasis in the north and the Christians of Najran. The last remnants of these two monotheistic religions were removed from the Arabian Peninsula by the year 650. From this point onwards the Holy Land of the Hijaz was forbidden to non-Muslim. Only the Red Sea port of Jeddah was allowed as quarantine and some Jewish and Christian Merchants conducted trade. The modern day version of this rule prohibits non-Muslims from entering only Mecca and Medina.

 

Later in history there have been instances of pogroms against the Jewish people under Muslim rule. The 1066 Grenada Massacre took about 4000 lives. Continuous persecution of the Jews existed in other Arab areas of Syria and most of northern Africa. In 1400, the Jews of Aleppo were herded into their synagogues and slaughtered and the young women raped by soldiers of Central Asian Islamic conqueror Tamerlane (Taimur Lung). In 1465, Arab mobs in Fez (2nd largest city of Morocco) slaughtered thousands of Jews, after a Jewish deputy minister allegedly treated a Muslim woman badly. This caused a ripple effect of massacres all throughout Morocco. Similar injustices continued in the Persian cities of Isfahan and Bukhara. In World War Two, Haji Amin’s (spiritual leader of the Palestinians) support of Hitler’s Genocide against the Jews also does not score any brownie points for the Muslims.

Conclusion

Palestinian loss of land 1946 - 2000

Thousands of years of persecution do not give the State of Israel the right for carrying out suppression in the Palestinian Territories and occupations of Lebanon at different times. It does not give them a right to builds settlements in West Bank against international law and it does not allow them to besiege Gaza as much as they can. Their actions cannot be justified by their sufferings in the past. My purpose to emphasize that we make an effort to know the people we blame for everything as we expect them to know us. Our claim for the Land of Palestine is always based on the fact that it was our Qibla and the Prophet descended to the heavens and met all the prophets. Well, guess what, it is a site for the 1st Jewish Temple and birth of Christ so they can make equal claim to it. At this point, the official position of the Palestinian Authority is the right position and Israel’s actions are just out of stubbornness. If people continue to claim the land on the basis of religions the solutions can never be reached.

Having said that I am urging readers to read about the people we hate and blame and try to understand them. Leave the political and religious bickering aside and have a look at them without a sectarian bias. May be then we finally can understand each other and talk like sensible people and reach solutions on our differences.

 

By Ahmed Αμονας Aziz


I was sitting in the botanical gardens in Christchurch enjoying a great day in the sun, far away from the guns and the dead of Karachi. I was reading an article by Robert Fisk on my laptop about his memories in Lebanon triggered by Max Milligan’s new book at the Independent’s website. I finished the article and moved on to the Middle East page to read other news about Iranian president’s sudden eureka moment about a girl’s ideal marrying age to be between 16 and 18, and Pakistan denying permission to the US about expanding the drone target area (which I am sure the US will pay no heed to). While I am rolling a cigarette for myself, a Maori (New Zealand native) kid of about 12 years of age asks me for a cigarette. I tell him to bugger off, and he skates away angrily mumbling racial slurs.

This meaningless event suddenly makes my heart sink like I have just heard some very bad news, but it is not because of the racial nature of the event or the bad condition of the Maori kid. This event makes me remember something I just read in Fisk’s article and I quickly go back to it and read the following again:

One day – speak it not in Lebanon, of course – these Palestinians or their children may also become Lebanese. That, of course, will be the day that the Americans and Israelis finally obliterate the Palestinians’ UN-mandated “right of return”, when Lebanon will have to be paid billions to give them passports – the Lebanese, I fear, might accept – and when Lebanon will become (because the Palestinians are mostly Sunnis, with only a sprinkling of Christians who have their own camp in east Beirut) an undeniably Muslim country.


I understand that he is trying to make a different point there but the Maori kid and the above lines trigger a peculiar line of thought in my head. Let me try to put this thought in a logical manner. You must know that the Maori were here in New Zealand a long time before the European settlers came. These settlers started to colonize the land, which was not acceptable to the native Maoris. Time passed and (I would not dwell upon what happened in the middle) now one can see that these native people are a small part of the population. This land has become a home of the settlers after so many years. Generations of settlers have grown old and died here so now it’s the settler’s, (Pakeha) country. At this stage to tell a settler Kiwi to move from a house claiming it to be Maori land 300-400 years back would be barbaric and cruel because the settler has lived there for hundreds of years. His father, grandfather, great grandfather all owned the same place. The settler has now become a native and the world recognizes it.
Similarly in Australia the natives are the aborigines, the indigenous people of Australia. The settler has become a native and the world recognizes it. Same is case in North America. The real American is called the Native American and the settler is the real American now. In all three cases, the Maori accepts it, the aborigine accepts it, and the Native American accepts it. Time has made a foreign land become home to a settler. For instance, a UN Resolution asking Australian Settlers to leave the continent because it was colonized and taken from the native people will be thrown in the bin.
Now I will come to the point. The Israeli settlements in West Bank are increasing by the day. The world recognizes it as illegal but cannot do anything about it. So they continue to increase. Let’s say 300 years pass by. The settlements have doubled or tripled as compared to the present and the owner of a settlement house is third or fourth generation settler. He can now say that we have lived here for hundreds of years. This is my grandfather’s house. It would cruel to kick him out. It would be madness to ask someone to leave his grandfather’s house at that particular time in the future. My questions are:

Will time make a settler in an occupied land a native in the case of West Bank also?

Will the refugees in Lebanon and Jordan become Lebanese and Jordanian and there would be not be anyone to come back?

In 300 year will the occupied people of become the “Maori” or the Aborigine of Israel?

Will the world recognize a settler to be a native again?

I don’t think it is a question of Jews, Christian, or Muslims. It’s a human thing. Looking at the Jewish suffering for so many years, it is understandable that they would grab so tightly to the land that they own plus the land they have acquired by occupation. If it were Muslims, they would do the same thing, if it were Christians or anyone, they would do the same. It’s a human thing. Furthermore, greed, power, ego, honor, and jealousy are also “human things”. We are all infected by these, specially the Muslim world. I think we will resort to violence against each other, we will keep pulling each other’s legs, and we will keep drowning in the sectarian divisions we create. Sunni will hate Shia, Shia will hate Sunni, The Arab will hate the Persian and so on and so forth. Our pious leaders will keep sitting on their thrones; the poor will get poorer and dehumanized. And suddenly we will wake up one morning, and 300 years would have passed. The settler will become a native in West Bank and Gaza. Our own darkness of forgetting our humanity will be the cause of it. The settler will become a native again, world will recognize it and we will all be poking fingers in each other’s eyes, blaming everyone but our own selves.

*edited version published at Express Tribune Pakistan website @ http://blogs.tribune.com.pk/story/3548/will-israelis-call-west-bank-home-someday/ *