A Religious Betrayal
1 July 2013
 
 
A few days ago, Israel Hayom published an interview with Ayaan Hirsi Ali. According to her short bio on the American Enterprise Institute Web site:
Ayaan Hirsi Ali, an outspoken defender of women's rights in Islamic societies, was born in Mogadishu, Somalia. She escaped an arranged marriage by immigrating to the Netherlands in 1992 and served as a member of the Dutch parliament from 2003 to 2006. In parliament, she worked on furthering the integration of non-Western immigrants into Dutch society and defending the rights of women in Dutch Muslim society. In 2004, together with director Theo van Gogh, she made Submission, a film about the oppression of women in conservative Islamic cultures. The airing of the film on Dutch television resulted in the assassination of Mr. van Gogh by an Islamic extremist. At AEI, Ms. Hirsi Ali researches the relationship between the West and Islam, women's rights in Islam, violence against women propagated by religious and cultural arguments, and Islam in Europe.
In last week's interview, I was impressed with Ms. Hersi Ali's understanding of the true nature of the so-called Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and of the critical issues facing the Western world regarding Islam. I am quoting many of her statements, but I strongly encourage you to read the entire interview.
Regarding the Israeli-Palestinian context, the main problem is that you may speak of a peace process, but what you get is a process, not peace. And why is this process so prolonged? Because for the Israelis this issue is a territorial problem. For the Palestinian negotiators, on the other hand, it is not a territorial problem but a religious and ethnic one. It is not only about Palestinians but about all Arabs. Most of all, it is a religious problem.

From the perspective of the Arab leaders, reaching a two-state solution is to betray God, the Koran, the hadith and the tradition of Islam.

There is no agreement as of today, because on one side it has become religious jihad of all or nothing, while on the other side it is still a territorial issue. Reaching a settlement that brings about two states is a religious betrayal — not only for the leadership but for most Muslims today. The West does not understand this.

Islam is an Orthopraxy, Islam has a goal. So if you are a true Muslim, you must fight for that goal. You can achieve a temporary peace or truce, but it is not ultimate, not everlasting. It is not just about the territory. Because the territory does not belong to the people; it belongs to God. So for a Palestinian leader — even if he is secular, even an atheist — to leave the negotiating room with the announcement of a two-state solution would mean that he would be killed the minute he walks out.

Europeans and Americans — and I do not refer merely to the leadership, but to people in general — when they have a problem, they think there must be some kind of compromise on the table. What they cannot accept is that one party would say "the only rational outcome is our complete victory." There is a winner and there is a loser. But there cannot be two winners.

This conflict is not going to be resolved Western-style, namely that all conflicts are resolvable and no-one leaves the table empty-handed. In a culture dictated by honor and shame — in addition to the religious issue — defeat of any kind, accepting a compromise, is to leave the room empty-handed. Compromise is loss in this culture. It is very hard to explain this to contemporary Westerners.

I think that whoever acts on the presumption that we are all the same and that we are able to solve this — is uninterested, indifferent, and inexperienced. Idealism is a good thing. But when idealism encounters reality, you must not try to manipulate it to fit your utopia.

So, to go on and on about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in my view is to take a tranquilizer or smoke pot. You do it just to feel better. You cannot face reality, so you just keep on harping about something that can make you feel better. One can also mention the number of people who died in Libya because Kaddafi and the opposition would not find the way to the negotiating table. This phenomenon is repeated throughout the region, not only today but throughout history. Reaching compromise is to lose face.

If you want peace and not merely a process, you must make peace with the people. The negotiators themselves are of no importance. They are a few individuals who may tomorrow be out of power or dead. You have to have peace with the people you are in conflict with, and as long as they do not want to hear a different tune, you will not have peace. Until the people at large are ready for that compromise, there is no compromise. There has to be a change of attitude and a change in attitude within the culture and of culture, and I hope that we can see this.

I believe that true emancipation cannot exist without the freedom of the individual, without the individual's space and voice. The fact that individualism is not given a chance in the Arab Muslim world is related to belonging and the collective. If you want to belong and be part of the collective you have to be a winner. If you are not, then you are a source of shame.

An Arab leader who genuinely wants peace has to convince the Arab people first, must get their endorsement and then go and get peace. That is why the first thing that needs to be worked out is not so much the relationship with Israel but changing the culture, Islamic and Arab. This process does not depend on you [Israel], though you can help it, facilitate it, be a catalyst; but it does not depend on you, on America or the rest of the world.

Israel is not the problem nor is it the solution. Even if you give up all the land, it will not solve any of the problems in the Middle East. It will not obliterate despotism, it will not liberate women, it will not help religious minorities. It won't bring peace to anyone. Even if Israel does not give up an inch of land — the result will be the same.

If you want a process, continue the way you are. If you want real, lasting peace, then things have to change first within the Arab Muslim individual, family, school, streets, education, and politics. It is not an Israeli problem.
As I did at the beginning of this article, I strongly encourage you to read the entire interview, where you can read all of her statements, and more, in their original context.
UPDATE: To find out more about Ayann and her autobiography, be sure to check out An Exceptional Infidel.
You can send comments to me privately at: shahid@yourislamicfuture.com
 
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