Connecting the dots
January 12, 2015
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The following letter was sent to the Cape Times for publication. Perhaps some of you may have other ideas as to where it could find a home.
As history rolls on in its mysterious way, some things do not change. One of them is the human ability to deny in-your-face reality if it does not suit them. There are currently two glaring instances of this tendency in our media.
The first is the refusal to connect the current global violence with Islam; the recent events in France being the most shocking only because they took place in the midst of Europe. But what has just occurred in France is small potatoes with what happens on an almost daily basis in the Middle East, North Africa and now, increasingly, sub-Saharan Africa where Islam has a foothold.
Stating this is now termed “Islamophobia” in order to discredit any serious examination of this glaring and threatening reality. But by doing so all that happens is that an understanding and cure is just pushed further down the table, with disastrous consequences for the Islamic community in particular.
Violent Islamist movements are not synonymous with Islam. Like other monotheistic religions, the basic writings of Islam are open to different emphases, interpretations and uses. There are millions of peaceful Muslims, many living in this country, who interpret their religion through an inclusive, tolerant prism suitable to an interconnected world in which humans are capable of creating a liveable, indeed beautiful, future for all.
That truth does not negate the simple fact that the current wave of totalitarian, atavistic violence convulsing large regions of the world and threatening others, springs directly out of the Islamic community and is justified by fundamentalist readings of the basic Islamic religious texts.
This is not the place for an analysis of the hows and whys but simply to record that the current, politically most extreme interpretations of Islam are being used by violent, totalitarian groups to justify extreme brutality and world domination. These are not empty threats, but are reflected in the daily statistics of death and economic and social decline destroying the future of a significant portion of global humanity.
It is a problem mostly for the Islamic community to resolve, but we in the West can best help in that process by acknowledging reality, by refusing to appease violent thugs and by insisting that they will not undermine the unsteady progress the world is making to a democratic, sustainable and inclusive future. And we can best do so by connecting another set of dots and acknowledging that Israel is in fact the last outpost of the Western world in the vortex of the Islamist hurricane sweeping the Middle East-North Africa region.
The reality is that the Palestinians are part of the dysfunctional Islamic culture dominating the Middle East. They are part of the same complex tapestry which includes Hamas, al-Queda, Hesbollah, ISIL, Boko Haram, al-Nusra, al-Shebaab and innumerable others. Whatever the genuine grievances of Palestinians and whatever the genuine mistakes of Israel, the Israeli-Palestinian impasse is directly the result of that civilizational schism.
It is now long past time that the media in South Africa and the West in general found sufficient intellectual and moral courage to dump the wilfully distorted discourse around the Israeli-Palestinian stand-off into the garbage can of history and deal with reality. That conflict will only be solved when the Arab-Islamic world rejects the xenophobic, tribal, violent and anti-Semitic lure of zero-sum politics and becomes part of the mainstream of history. Until then, all of us who wish to create a better world will need to support Israel in her, and our, battle against the latest totalitarian madness to grip Mankind.
There is no better place to start than with the “progressive left” of Western politics.