17 February 2006

We and the governments of the west

We* go way back with the governments of the west. We have a long history of misunderstandings and misconceptions. Many centuries of “cultural exchange” could not create a common language or bridge the gap between us in spite of our great admiration for their progress and strength, and despite our sincere attempts to learn from them and even to mimic them.

We were so carried away with the ideals of the French revolution and enchanted with the symbol of liberty, Paris, but what did we get? We got Napoleon and his troops.

The age of nationalism swept us and we threw the Ottomans out to make way for secularism. But instead of secular national states we got the rule of mandates of France and Great Britain with their cutting and dividing games.

To them we were reduced to a “canal” here, a “rail-road” and an “oil well” there.

We embraced or were embraced by the age of the United Nations and its charter. We hailed human rights, and the right to self determination. However, the west supported and endorsed the throwing out of Palestinians and replacing them with Zionists from Europe and other places.

We contended the issue of Palestine. They added to it Iraq and littered the gulf with military bases. Now Syria and Lebanon are within the critical range of the occupation.

They fought and destroyed quasi-secular nationalistic trends for decades giving way to fundamentalist religious and sectarian groups. These groups – once their allies against socialism and communism – are now their enemies.

In Iraq we were in a dilemma. We were so ashamed of the dictator – their protégé – that we did not know how to demand lifting the ten-year-sanctions. These sanctions led to the death of tens of thousands of Iraqi children. And later we could do nothing in the face of the invasion and destruction of Iraq.

Of course, we were not and still are not capable of managing our own business. We were, and maybe still, lost in the clichés. We failed in war, in development and in the true meaning of revolution. We failed when we accepted tyranny in the name of liberation. We lost our liberty.

We are being dragged, by force, to “civilization”. Will we be alive to see how this will be done using tanks and jet fighters.

We want human rights, liberties, democracy etc. We also want to be treated as humans. Thus, demonizing and dehumanizing most of the Lebanese, Palestinians, Iraqis and Syrians are unacceptable.

We owe the west for uncovering our archaic ways and methods. We know that they are powerful to the extent that they can invade and occupy us. They are so advanced that we need them if we ever want to advance. We know that we don’t have the weapons or the knowledge to resist them, at least not now. But we call upon them to let go – like we are trying to do –of their own fundamentalism, of the myths of Zionism. Their fundamentalism has awakened ours. And now they are feeding each other in a vicious circle.

Some may say this is an ancient language. This is the sound of a defeated past in the face of the glorious global village where identities disappear in the face of economic oceans without borders.

If this is true, then tell me why the Palestinian issue is placed on hold for more than fifty years now. And why was Iraq invaded and occupied despite the United Nations will to do otherwise. And why is a small country like Lebanon bothering the engineers of the “new and great Middle East”.

All this may be small in the eyes of the great nations but it is the life and livelihood of millions of humans on this side of the world.

*Arabs or whatever you think our identity is, this being a different problem that needs to be resolved.

** Special thanks to Suleiman Takeyyidine.



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