Arabs Need More Tolerance

Ayoon Wa Azan (All Parties Are Undermining the Palestinian Cause)

By Jihad el-Khazen, Al-Hayat, August 20, 2008

I need to tell such readers that at the root of the current Arab crisis lies the rejection of other people’s opinion, the rejection of other communities, and the attempts to deal with people of different opinions as outlaws or violators of divine law.

If Arab problems do not suffice to cause a nervous breakdown, not just depression, some readers, not all, push me, after decades of working as journalist, to look for another job, such as selling falafel.

Last week, I received letters on all the issues I have raised. But most had to do with intra-Palestinian fighting and with my suggestion to transform Arab republics into kingdoms so that both rulers and ruled can rest.

Regarding the kingdoms, some letters were painfully honest. A regular reader says these are not kingdoms or republics, but farms. Another suggests, the colonel Qaddafi way, to call the new type of regimes "repdoms" or "kingpublics." A third refers to a third type of regimes of unknown identity, similarly to the third sex of newborn babies (neither male nor female).

I received a suggestion from a reader writing under the pseudonym – "biter.’ He prefers taking our nations back to colonial times which have not taught us any lessons. He proposes distance mandate without foreign armies  – as we hate foreigners – provided that we reconsider the matter in a hundred years’ time. 
Reader Fayez Hatahet enjoys sailing in the south of Italy. He is familiar with the consequences of sunstrokes but believes that my suggestion about the new kingdoms will be of no benefit, hence the pressing need for an effective solution.

Reader Mounira Al-Khalidi supports me and invokes Gulf countries, while reader Uthman Mustafa thanks me, so does fellow Haitham Al-Shishani. In addition, there are nervous readers, some of whom deviated from the topic in question to attack a country or a president, and even this or that community. I need to tell such readers that at the root of the current Arab crisis lies the rejection of other people’s opinion, the rejection of other communities, and the attempts to deal with people of different opinions as outlaws or violators of divine law.

This minority speaks more openly about the struggle between Hamas and Fatah. I have condemned both parties. Once again, the majority of readers have supported me. However, a minority have stood by one party against another without noticing that this bias stems from tribal spirit.

I am not at all delighted with criticizing Hamas or Fatah. I know the leaders of both factions; my relationship with some goes back to twenty years or more. What matters is that this relationship has turned from business to friendship. Yet, I have criticized both factions and leaders even though I am aware that I will deal with them on a business basis in the future.

I do not care if a Hamas or a Fatah supporter accuses me of striking an alliance with the devil, i.e. the other party. I am not running for any position and criticism does not harm me personally. It scares me because it highlights the destructive divisions I have previously evoked, divisions that achieve Israel’s goals by proxy and bring to an end the Palestinian cause for at least a generation to come.

Fellows, there are no innocent and guilty people in intra-Palestinian fighting. All parties are undermining Palestinian interests even though they all act, as I presume, based on convictions that blind them to the harm they inflict on the Palestinian cause.
The Palestinian issue takes me back to the readers to thank new ones who offered me their condolences for my mother’s death. I received a flurry of letters after I wrote on her death. When I thanked those offering me their condolences, I received another collection of letters from readers who did not read the original article. They learnt about my loss when they read my thanks to the readers.

In both instances, I received letters from readers asking me to write my memoirs and to talk about my mother’s "jihad," i.e. struggle. I believe that memoirs are written by presidents of states and army commanders. Still, I may write stories from my lifelong career as journalist. As for my mother, she did what was expected from her generation of nationalist women.

This is the last time I refer to my mother in this column. I leave the readers with the story of her arrival in Chicago on her way to visit my siblings at the Universities of Illinois and Missouri. She left much later after the announcement of her plane’s arrival. At this, my bother asked her about what happened. She said the customs officer looked at her handbag and asked her, "Is this a Gucci bag? Did you buy it from America or from abroad?" Since she was always angry with American policy, she said, "How long have you Americans been familiar with Gucci?" adding, "The bastard did not like my words." He searched all her luggage and counted her money before he released her.

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