Arab Spring

A barren tree, once full of life
Stands leafless, brown ice in gloom
A barren tree, once full of strife
Stands not a spark, not a flower in bloom
A barren tree, once full of promise
Stands in sorrow, a promise but for tomorrow
As for today, not a leaf dares there stay

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

Arabs Hunger for Rights Denied to Gays

Arabs and Muslims around the world complain of the injustices that they have endured in the past century and seemingly infinite road of oppression paved ahead. In spite of many ideological movements from Nationalist to Pan Arabism, from Communist to Islamist, from leftist liberalism to fanatic extremism, all have been defeated by the global will to control the strategic petroleum reserves in the Middle East as well as its central geography and by the will of dictatorial, autocratic regimes that work in concert and coordinate their efforts with the Military-Economic World Powers. All the troubles of the Middle East result in one important consequence, namely, that Arabs are not sovereigns. They have no right to the land on which they have lived for thousands of years, they can be expelled from it at whim and if they remain in the land they have no say in its affairs, its natural resources, its riches, and how it interacts with the rest of the world. Although, Palestine is an extreme case of this Arab Nonexistentialism, not a single Arab nation today is ruled by its citizens. In fact, the Arab Diaspora, citizens of many nations around the world, enjoy more freedoms than their original compatriots. The blame for these great injustices lies, above all, with the Arabs at home and abroad for the inability to organize, speak openly, and push for democracy, in the loosest sense of the word, to self rule. It is true that obstacles against Arab self-rule are large but they are not insurmountable and the more difficult the task, the sweeter the achievement.

Arabs must push their governments in the Middle East and abroad to support nascent democratic organizations, to protect human rights, to have access to free press, to free political prisoners, to guarantee the rights and equality of all citizens no matter what their race, sex, creed, ethnicity, or sexual orientation. We must be consistent in our call for equality; we cannot impose our belief systems on others who do not share it. Israel’s greatest failure was not brought upon it by Arabs but by its inconsistent logic and Israel must face these discrepancies in ideology if it is to survive. Is Israel God’s gift to the Chosen People, if so then how is that reconciled with the Palestinians, who are not Jews and so, do not share that belief? Is Israel a Jewish State, if so then are the Arab Israelis, who constitute more than 20% of Israel’s population, full citizens or second class citizens and, if not so, then what’s the problem of allowing all of historic Palestine to be one state for Jews and Arabs? After centuries of European oppression, Israelis have turned into oppressors and are now grappling with these issues. Unfortunately, however, Arabs are not dealing with their own illogic. To my horror and amazement, Arab and Muslim American groups were at the forefront of the Anti-Gay movement in the United States in recent months. These Arab groups are a clear manifestation of Arab frustration and impotence being devoted to stripping the rights of women, gays and other minorities away.

My shock was two fold, first because it is morally wrong; second because it is politically devastating. How are we, Arabs, to speak for our rights while denying other human beings similar rights to the ones we enjoy? Why do Arabs seem intent on exporting all that is wrong with the Arab World instead of importing to it the freedoms of the world? From a moral stand point, a difference of belief does not entitle us to deny gays and lesbians basic human rights just as a difference of belief does not entitle Israelis to expel Arabs from what they perceive as God’s gift. From a political stand point, we are being ideologically discordant, how can we exclude others from having those same rights that we fight for in the Arab world, namely the right to speak freely, to marry whom we want, to raise families in peace, to believe in what we want without fear of retribution. The Black Caucus, despite being deeply religious, recognized the inconsistencies of fighting for the freedom to marry between races and the currently proposed ban on gay marriage, why can’t we see the hypocrisy? Furthermore, the gay community has been one of the few unwaveringly pro-Palestinian groups in the United States, a group that has suffered discrimination throughout the ages and is thus very sensitive to discriminatory policy towards Arabs after September 11, 2001. Finally why? Do we not have enough enemies? Do we not have enough propaganda in articles, in television shows, in news programs and from the government? Why are we making it more difficult to build an American constituency that is interested in true peace and democracy in the Middle East? Why do we parade with the Christian Right who support extremist, Zionist AIPAC and who await the destruction of Al-Aqsa Mosque, the rebuilding of the Jewish Temple and the return of the Messiah? Interestingly, the Christian Right, Israel’s “best friend” in US politics, await the Messiah who will kill all disbelievers, including Jews; another contradiction Israel must deal with.


At 3:40 PM, Blogger Andrew said...

You really raise some great arguments and explain them eloquently. I think it's possible that the Middle East, as the birthplace of the three Abrahamic faiths, is also historically linked to the irrationality that grows out of God fearing people who deny biological facts, such as homosexuality, while claiming spiritual mythology to be "fact".


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