On Writing and Literature

Prolonging the winter will not stop the spring

Adel Bishtawi Two week ago I was asked by a publisher to prepare a second edition of my book History of Injustice in the Arab World which was published in 2005 and released at the Sharjah International Book Fair. Obviously, the Arab Spring changed the era covered by my book, but to my surprise, not […]

Random is not chaos

I was absolutely shocked when I discovered in an early translation of Traces of a Tattoo that the translator has decided to spice up the plot a bit by changing the outcome of a crucial scene. “With these changes,” he wrote in an e-mail, “you can call it a a great novel. You may want […]

The late President Emeritus Professor Guido de Marco (right) gave the opening speech at he seminar.

What is the conflict between Arabs and Israelis about?

Predicting the future is a hazardous business and predicting the future of a turbulent region like the Middle East is even more so, yet nobody has ever lost money on betting in favour of pessimism. I am an optimist by nature, but the more I hear young Arabs and Muslims speak about today�s affairs the more I am overcome by pessimism. One has to ask oneself, what garbage it is when one speaks about the clash of civilization. How is Catholic Ecuador, for example, involved in this clash of civilization against Muslim countries, or Switzerland, or countless other countries not involved in the occupation, killing, or subjugation of Arabs and Muslims? I will leave it to my respected audience to think about this, but I am sorry to say that I cannot share with you any optimism about the future of the Middle East, so please forgive me while I say a few words to explain the reasons.

Political and Cultural Diversity Within the Mediterranean

Still, there is one major difference between Arabs in particular and Muslims in general, and what we call the West. How is it, one may ask, that for 1400 years Arabs have failed to rule themselves like the West does? On this point and this point alone, if those in the West would like to feel superior then I think they have the right to do so. My judgment is not unqualified.
Why?
Because in a number of instances where Arabs exercised their right to vote, the West was not pleased with the result. This happened in Algeria and it happened in Palestine. The Palestinians didn’t vote for Hamas because of its religious credentials but because Hamas, unlike Fatah, is not corrupt. And look at what happened in Iran 53 years ago? The democratically elected government of Mohammed Mosadeq was ousted in a military coup that was organized and financed by British agents and the CIA’s man in the Middle East at the time, Kermit Roosevelt. The Shah Reza Pahlevi, a brutal dictator, was installed because he consented to a new agreement to distribute Iran’s oil wealth amongst the multi-national corporations.

The Middle East: A dream or a nightmare

There is considerable controversy surrounding the death of Nicholas Berg but that is not the point his father Michael has been making since his son’s tragic death in Iraq. How he died is not important. What is important is that policies to end life in Iraq have been made. Nick Berg was one of their victims. Ahmad, the eight year old Iraqi who was shot by US troops, was another and so are most of the more than 800 US troops who died in Iraq after May 2003, and the Iraqis and Americans who will die before this wretched occupation and incessant exercise to kill come to an end. Policies to end life in Palestine have been made. The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is the most enduring in the present times but the easiest to understand-it’s a conflict over Palestinian land. For 56 years Palestinians have been living one step ahead of Israeli bulldozers devouring their land. The attempt to de-create Palestine is followed almost daily by attempts to de-create Palestinians.