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April 23, 2014 / 23 Nisan, 5774
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Posts Tagged ‘tribal’

Identity and Loyalty in Islam and the Middle East

Wednesday, April 9th, 2014

Westerners strive to solve problems. When people appear obstinate, we often indignantly say, “Are you part of the solution, or part of the problem?” This is alien to Middle Eastern and Islamic culture. Middle Easterners cope with problems for which they know there are no solutions-akin to living with a chronic illness.

Islam, for example, does not recognize the equality of all people. Muslims are the rightful rulers of the Muslim world. Non-Muslims who believe in God and who have a revelation from God before Islam do have the right to live in Muslim societies. They are called “dhimmis” which means, “protected people,” who can live in the Muslim world, albeit in positions of political and social inferiority. To be sure, they might become important. There have been Christian Foreign Ministers in Egypt (Butros Ghali) and Jordan (Marwan Mu’ashar), but Christians know they cannot hope to rule their countries. This is most clear in Egypt, where the Copts, native Christians descended from the ancient Egyptians, cannot aspire to become Egypt’s president because that position is reserved for a Muslim.

Lebanon is in constant upheaval in part because its French-inspired Constitution, written when Maronite Christians were the largest confessional group, decrees that the Lebanese President must be a Christian. The anomaly of the Head of State being a non-Muslim is a driving force in Lebanese civil strife. Muslims rationalize it by comparing their prophet Muhammad’s temporary peace agreement with his enemies, until he could regroup and defeat them.

This is also why Israel can never be accepted as a Jewish state. From the Muslim point of view, the land of Israel is Muslim territory because it was conquered by Muslims in 637 C.E., and will remain Muslim forever.

The only way this might change is if Muslim scholars themselves re-examine their sources and try to find ways within their tradition to come to grips with realities on the ground. Jews and Christians were forced to do this long ago as a result of political realities they had to face. But for now, it is hard to imagine that Muslims would do the same.

Religious Identity

In the West, religious and national/ethnic identities are usually separate and do not necessarily overlap. In the Muslim world, however, ethnicity/nationality and religious identity are almost completely intertwined. A Lebanese Maronite, for example, shares more in common with non-Lebanese Maronite, than with a Lebanese Muslim. Their language, food, and culture might be different, but their point of view, their “Maroniteness,” is the core of their identity. The same can be said for Lebanese Druze, Shiites, and Sunnis. Religion and political identity almost always trump everything else-including citizenship.

This puzzles Westerners for whom citizenship generally trumps, but in the Middle East, the boundaries of “countries” do not correspond with the history of the people living there. Many Sunni Jordanian families in Amman, for example, are intermarried with Sunni families from Damascus, which in Western terms is the capital of a different country.

Muslims and Christians fought a bitter civil war in Lebanon in the 1970s. Maronite Christians, who led the fighting on the Christian side, are aligned with the Roman Catholic Church. At that time, there was also a civil war in Northern Ireland between Catholics and Protestants. Most Lebanese Muslims didn’t even know where Northern Ireland was, but they were very pro-Protestant because they believed they shared a common Catholic enemy.

If we in the West are to understand how and why Middle Easterners make political decisions, we must understand how they view themselves. Clearly, Shiite identity unites Shiites throughout the world, irrespective of ethnicity or nationality. Arab and Iranian Shiites might hate each other-they have good historical reason-but they also recognize that they have suffered and continue to suffer the same fate at the hands of the Sunnis.

Children Whose Parents Have Different Identities

In the United States, a child is a citizen if either parent is a citizen. Not so in the Middle East, where identity comes almost exclusively from the father. In Turkey, for example, Turks and Kurds freely intermarry. Intermarriage is so common that, from a Western point of view, one would think that Kurdish-Turkish difficulties should have abated as the groups blended together. But people take the identity of their fathers and if their father was a Kurd, they are Kurds, even if they have never lived in the traditional Kurdish area of southeastern Turkey, and even if they don’t speak Kurdish.

A friend in Turkey had a Kurdish grandfather who married a Turkish woman. Despite the fact that they lived in southeastern Anatolia where Kurds strongly predominate, their child-my friend’s father-was raised in an almost completely Turkish-speaking household. The family moved to Istanbul, a Turkish-speaking city. My friend’s father married a Turkish woman who also spoke no Kurdish; their son-my friend-knows almost none. He has children and grandchildren, absolutely none of whom speak Kurdish. This family has been living in a completely Turkish environment for five generations. From the Western point of view, they are clearly Turks. Despite that, my friend, when asked about his identity, responded without missing a beat, “We are Kurds, of course!”

This has caused even senior American diplomats to err. During a visit to Washington by the leaders of Iraqi Kurdistan, the Kurds were astounded to hear senior White House and State Department officials tell them they should not identify as Kurds, but rather as Iraqis. That is the equivalent of telling a man to stop thinking like a man and think like a penguin; the chances of success are infinitesimal.

Another example is the relationship between Iraqis and Kuwaitis. For generations, Iraqis from Basra in southern Iraq have married into Kuwaiti families. During both the U.S.-led coalition war in Kuwait in 1991, and the Iraq war in 2003, many people on both sides of the border were in political limbo, depending on who was winning. Women were particularly affected because they acquired their husbands’ citizenship upon marriage and if the country of their birth lost, they would lose citizenship in their native land.

If an American woman marries an Iranian or a Saudi, she becomes a citizen of her husband’s country. If the married couple wants to visit the husband’s homeland, she could only do so using a passport of her husband’s country. And once in the Middle East, she can only leave if the husband agrees.

Identity is not a matter of choice. A man is what his father is and a woman is what her husband is. It is extremely difficult-and often dangerous-to try to change that identity. Conversion from Islam, for example, is punishable by death.

Tribal Identities

To Western ears, the word “tribe” conjures up American Indians or nomads in tents. In the Middle East, however, the word “tribe” means large-group identity, usually of ancient origin. “Tribal” members can live in cities, be university professors, and even immigrate to the West, but they in some way still retain their tribal identity. Two of the largest tribal identities in the Middle East are Qays and Yemen, groups that trace their origins back to tribes in today’s Saudi Arabia and Yemen in the early days of Islam.

In 2007, when President Bush launched the Surge in Anbar-Western, Sunni-dominated Iraq-to put down the insurrection, there were 21 tribal groups: 18 opposed to the U.S. and 3 neutral. Within one year, we had eighteen on our side, and three waffling. What happened, and what does this tell us about the importance of the tribal structure in that area? President Bush ordered the Marines to restore order. The Marines learned the local social structure in the area, and after putting down the revolt, used that structure as a basis for giving people incentives to stay within the system.

The Surge succeeded because the Marines were the strongest “tribe.” The Marine “tribe” did not come to destroy the local order, but to make sure everyone got along. When local leaders realized it was in their interest to cooperate with the Marines, they quickly jumped in to be on the winning team-the team that would ensure that their local tribal structure remained intact. Goods and services were distributed through that tribal network of notables, which strengthened the social structure that worked within that local culture.

Then America abandoned Anbar, and Al-Qaeda and its affiliates were able to return to wreak havoc. Had the locals known that we would still back them up, even from the air, there would have been a much better chance that the fundamentalists would not have been able to return.

Clan/Family Identities

Extended family identities form an extremely important aspect of life in the Middle East. These relationships are much stronger than the so-called national identities based on borders created at the end of World War I.

One of the most respected Sunni aristocratic families of Damascus Syria-the al-’Azm family-has been prominent there since at least the 16th century. The family married into other prominent Sunni families throughout the Muslim world, including Istanbul. Were these families Turks or Arabs? It hardly mattered because they were all Sunnis. In the post-World War I era, when many states were created out of what had been the Ottoman Empire, Arab and Turkish nationalism became the rage and the borders of these newly created states were super-imposed on local identities. People carried documents declaring them citizens of this country or that, but their personal identities did not change, traditional marriage patterns continued and people on both sides of the new and arbitrary borders continued to marry and interact as they had for hundreds of years.

Another example of family relationship is the one between today’s Jerusalem-based Nashashibi and Husseini families, great rivals in Jerusalem.

Some years ago, I visited Naser al-Din al-Nashashibi in his ornate Jerusalem house in Sheikh Jarrah. Across the street was the mansion of the al-Husseini family. These bitter rivals loathed each other, not because they disagreed politically, but because they both wanted to be THE most notable family in Jerusalem. One Nashashibi ancestor had been the mayor of Jerusalem. One Husseini family member had been the notorious Haj Amin al-Husseini, the Mufti of Jerusalem and friend of Hitler. Nashashibi spewed venom and vindictiveness about the Husseinis. On a visit to the Husseinis, I heard the same about the Nashashibis. What was more important here, their national or religious identities-both were Sunni Muslims-or their personal rivalries? They both spent more time maligning each other than they did maligning Israel.

On the other hand, Nashashibi told a story about his uncle by marriage, Ismet Inonu the second President of Turkey. He said that his aunt had married Inonu, who insisted on calling the Nashashibis “Ok Atan” which is the Turkish translation of Nashashibi (meaning spear/arrow-thrower). Nashashibi was very proud of his uncle by marriage and aunt, he told us. I asked, “Is your family Arab, and part of your family Turkish?” He answered that his family was probably of Kurdish or Circassian origin, and had come from Egypt hundreds of years ago. So were they Arabs, Turks, Kurds, or Circassian? They were, he said, Sunni.

As for the Husseinis, they believed their origins to be from today’s Saudi Arabia. Neither, therefore, is originally what is today understood as Palestinian.

Sunni vs. Shiite

This brings us to what is probably the most important over-arching identity throughout the Muslim world-Sunnis vs. Shiites. As noted above, Middle Easterners accept that most problems cannot be solved, and that these problems come to the surface from time to time.

The Sunni-Shiite split occurred when their prophet Muhammad died in 632 C.E. Upon his death, Muslims had to decide who should rule in his place. The group that eventually became known as the Sunnis prevailed; they had been the aristocracy of Mecca. The losers-eventually known as Shiites-were those who supported Muhammad’s family, and thought they should be the rightful rulers of Islam.

Sunnis and Shiites are still fighting the battle that started almost 1400 years ago. Compare that to the American phrase, “That’s history,” meaning something that might have taken place last week. We look for ways to “let bygones be bygones,” shake hands, and move on. Middle Eastern culture has never developed ways to leave the past behind.

Sunnis-about 85% of the Muslim world-see Shiites at best as misguided and have often discriminated against and murdered them. Shiites quake in fear of the next onslaught. No wonder that when Israel marched in southern Lebanon in 1982, the Shiites greeted the IDF with flowers and rice, seeing the Israelis as liberators from the yoke of Sunni Palestinian and Lebanese oppression. As a battered minority, Shiites look for outside strong protectors.

Privately, many Shiites have learned to distrust the U.S., because in their experience the U.S. comes in, uses force, and then leaves. Why, the Shiites argue, should they throw their lot in with the Americans who do not stand up for them against their enemies? Are the Shiites happy now about President Obama’s attempt to negotiate with (Shiite) Iran, and abandoning America’s traditional allies-the Arab Sunni rulers of the Gulf and Egypt?

Not exactly. Shiites cannot understand American behavior, because America has proven to be unreliable (regarding the Gulf States and Egypt), and a harmless enemy (kowtowing to Iran, doing nothing to stop Putin, and abandoning its Polish and Czech allies by withdrawing ballistic missile defense radars). Adding to the confusion, Arab Shiites also see Iran as their oppressor, trying to make Arab Shiites into Persians. Thus they feel doubly abandoned. They cannot trust Iran, and now America is consorting with its enemy since the 1979 Islamic Revolution, whom the Arab Shiites know hates America.

According to the great scholar Fouad Ajami, Arab Shiites are the stepchild of the Muslim world: hated by the Sunnis because they are Shiite, and despised by the Iranians because they are Arab.

After Regime Change

Clearly, these Arab Shiites need reliable external allies with similar existential problems. Could these allies include the ‘Alawites in Syria, the myriad Christian groups still resident in the Middle East, the Druze, or even Israel? ‘Alawites and Jews are there to stay, and the Arab Shiites know that. All these groups together suffered from the vicissitudes of the extreme Islamic Sunni fundamentalist wave shaking up the region. And what about the Kurds, who are also overwhelmingly Sunni, but are oppressed both in Turkey and in the Arab world? Could they too join such an informal alliance? Moreover, could all of these groups also find common cause-at least temporarily-with traditional Arab Sunni notables and chieftains who themselves are almost under attack by the Sunni Salafi extremists?

Could alliances-formal or otherwise-develop to defeat the scourge of Sunni Arab fundamentalism? In the long run this is a much more dangerous force than Iran, once regime change occurs there. Most likely, a new Iranian regime would no longer have such a cantankerous relationship with the outside world, and might revert to its traditional position of seeing the U.S. and others as allies. The vast majority of Iranians want nothing more than to stop being pariahs; they deeply want to be part of the modern world and overwhelmingly hate the regime.

After regime change, Iran would almost assuredly join the above-mentioned alliance against Sunni fundamentalism, and would no longer be a threat to its neighbors. The Arab regimes across the Gulf could breathe a sigh of relief.

Fantasy? Possibly. But understanding the Middle East and Islam as Middle Easterners and other Muslims do provides ways of addressing problems, even if they cannot be solved.

It is time to rethink how we understand the Middle East and Islam, and when we learn how to view the world as they do, consider ways to manage these problems in ways that make sense to the Middle Eastern mind. The Middle East has survived for millennia, and has learned how to cope with problems-but not solve them. This is alien to us, but it may be the only way to stop the murder and mayhem they are inflicting on each other now.

This article was originally published in inFocus Quarterly, Spring 2014, Volume VIII: Number 2. It is reprinted here with permission from the American Center for Democracy.

Sad News, Latma ‘Regroups’

Tuesday, August 13th, 2013

Caroline Glick’s weekly Tribal Updates, the best news satire ever on Latma, will no longer appear in the format we all knew and loved.  Glick explains it all here.

After 200 episodes, the Tribal Update, Latma’s flagship satirical newscast is coming to a close. We were supposed to be broadcast on Israel TV’s Channel 1 as the station’s prime time satire show. We were approved by all the professional committees not 1, not 2, not 3 but 4 times over the past two years. Time after time, they told us they were about to send us the contract. We even sat down and negotiated a contract with them a year ago, but then, each time, they put us on hold. In this fourth iteration of this farce, we have been waiting to receive a contract since Shavuot. Maybe one will arrive in the mail. Maybe it got lost in the mail. Or maybe our assessment at the outset, that the Left’s control over the Israeli media is so enormous that leftist commissars are willing to break their own rules to keep a satirical voice of Zionism off the air was spot on, and they will continue leading us by the nose and pretending they are a meritorcracy and don’t discriminate against Zionists for the next generation. At any rate, we have reached the end of our financial rope. Over the past year, believing the stories we were told by the powers that be on Channel 1 that we would be moving to the small screen almost immediately, we built up the production capabilities of a top line prime time television show. And the costs, for a donation based project are just too high. So we’re ending our run.

In the coming months, we will be reorganizing, downsizing and developing a new operational model based on grassroots donations and contract productions to make ourselves as self-supporting as possible.

Our Hebrew language website, latma.co.il will continue to produce new materials. And we will be reconfiguring it to suit our new aims and capabilities.

The last two episodes of the Tribal Update, this week’s and next week’s are a celebration of our accomplishments over the past four years, and a celebration of the values of Zionism that motivate all of our endeavors.

Thank you all so very much for your support for our work. Over the past four years we have proven that the truly cool people in Israel and throughout the world are the Zionists. The most creative, exciting and happening people are the Zionists. It has been an great adventure, and more will follow.

Here’s the Best of the Tribal Update Part 1:


Visit Shiloh Musings.

The Tribe of Shimon

Monday, July 23rd, 2012

Israel’s President Shimon Peres donned tribal gear for his meeting with Osei Tutu II, king of the Ashanti Empire, West Africa, at the President’s residence in Jerusalem on Sunday.

If only they could keep him in these very colorful meetings which his predecessors used to engage in as the core of their service, and leave him no room for unhelpful comments on real things, like the Levy committee.

At 88 years of age, Peres is the world’s oldest democratically elected head of state. He was sworn into office on July 15, 2007, for a seven-year term. That means he has a little less than two years to go.

Keep those folks from exotic places coming!

Mordechai Kedar: Tribal Democracy

Friday, July 13th, 2012

At the end of last week, for the first time in its history, free democratic elections were held in Libya for the 200 members of the Transitional Legislative Council; 120 “independent” members, meaning representatives of tribes and cities, and 80 representatives from nationwide political parties. As of this writing, the official results have still not been publicized, but according to the assessment of observers, Islamic forces have won a minority of seats in parliament. It should be mentioned that during the past year a Salafi jihadist stream led by Abd al-Hakim Belhadj appeared in Libya, which was a cause of very great concern to some external observers.

Libya is a desert country, part of the dry, arid Great Sahara Desert. Life in the desert constrains its residents to live within a family framework, the size of which is limited by available sources of livelihood in the desert environment. Near a spring and its vegetation, which provides food and drink for them and their flocks, they would prefer to remain within a larger framework which would enable them to defend the sources of their livelihood. But in this arid environment of scant resources, they practice that which Abraham said to Lot in the Judean Desert “Please part from me” (Genesis 13: 9) and thus they live within smaller frameworks. The smaller the group, the more solidarity, toughness and cruelty is demanded in order to defend itself, its sources of livelihood and the honor of its daughters and wives from outsiders,

In Libya there is another factor which has had the effect of increasing tribal cohesion, and this is the dictatorial control of Qadhaffi. In the context of life under a dictator, in which the tribe also serves as a defense of the individual against the oppression of the regime, the regime must work with the tribe, which defends the individual, in such a way as to arrive at agreements with the tribe and to honor its autonomy, its leaders and its laws and customs. The desert tribe gives its members immunity from the state apparatuses; the situation of the Bedouin in the Negev vis a vis the Israeli government and in Sinai vis a vis the Egyptian government, are a good examples of this.

The conditions of the desert together with the dictatorship of Qadhaffi created a situation where the great majority of the Libyan population was engaged in an ongoing battle against the forces of nature and the cruelty of man. This situation strengthened the tribal frameworks and turned them into fearless and merciless fighting militiamen. The difficulties create toughness, the battle justifies violence and the problems strengthen solidarity. This situation explains why Qadhaffi had to be so cruel in order to impose his rule upon the population, because there must be a match between the level of violence practiced by a society and the violence that a regime must use in order to subdue a society to submit to his authority for an extended period. There are rumors in Libya that the number of kalashnikovs possessed by the populace is twice the number of residents. Even if this rumor is an exaggeration, it is not far from the bitter and violent reality of this state, because people have weapons and will use them whenever a disagreement arises between them, and where a society engages in blood feuds, it is very difficult to put an end to them, and they continue for a long time and cause many casualties.

The Western democratic model is built on a basic rule, which is that everyone – individuals as well as groups – is constrained not to act with violence but to conduct disagreements and conflicts between them in a legitimate way, not by violence. Another rule is the importance of the individual who goes to the poll and votes according to his conscience, not according to the dictates of his family. However the elimination of the tribal framework and its function is an impossible task in the short run, and therefore young democracies must allow traditional, ethnic, tribal, religious and sectarian frameworks to express themselves, within a young democratic system. This forces it to fight for its legitimacy and survival vis a vis long-standing frameworks that are traditional, legitimate, strong, and sometimes violent .

Mordechai Kedar: An Open Letter to President Assad

Thursday, June 14th, 2012

The Druze writer, Salman Masalha, a Palestinian citizen of Israel, addresses President Assad personally and reproves him for the failure of the hollow pan-Arab slogans of brotherhood and equality that his party uses in order to justify the oppression of his people and the murderous brutality of recent decades.

The article was originally published on the Internet site Elaph about six months ago, was translated to Hebrew by Arie Goos and now appears on the Internet site Megafon [The comments of Dr. Kedar are in parentheses].

Dear Mr. President,

It is difficult for me to address you with this title, but because at least officially, as of now, you carry this title and fulfill this role, politeness and protocol oblige me to address you in this way. And so, I will begin:

Dear Mr. President,

Ever since the flames licked the body of Bouazizi in Tunisia [in December 2010, the start of the "domino effect" of the "Arab Spring"] and their sparks then flew to various locations of the Arab world, you haven’t understood – nor have any of those who raised you to power by means of a constitutional farce explained to you – that the Arab coals hidden under the Arab dust and sand for so many long generations of tyranny will set your house aflame as well.

You have declared many times, to the Western media, of course, that Syria is different from Tunisia, different from Libya and different from Egypt. Indeed, in the process of aggressive investigative reporting, the truth did rise to the surface, proving the emptiness of the whole false Ba’ath ideology which claims “one Arab nation with an eternal mission.”

Even so, with the kindling of the flames in the Arab states, the power of this slogan quickly collapsed. Its thunderous fall, as you expressed it in your own words, exposed to all, the nationalist lie that the Ba’ath has been spreading for many generations. These glittering slogans have aroused us for such a long time, and unfortunately still excite the feelings even of those who have outgrown Arab nationalism.

The false ideology behind the Ba’ath slogans, in Iraq as well as in Syria – where it still rules officially – hides the darkness of the prisons into which all of the seekers of freedom among the Arab citizens – the cultural as well as the political – are thrown.

Indeed, this Ba’ath party was never anything but a racist Arab ideology, and because of this it became, essentially, a tribal ideology. Yes, this was the situation in the land of Aram Naharaim, Iraq of Saddam Hussein, and this is the current situation in Syria. When you became president, there were those who hoped, naively, that because you studied in the West and you became acquainted with Western culture, and because you know how to use the Internet, Facebook and other modern media, perhaps some wisps of the aroma of freedom and openness of the Western world would have clung to you.

Oh! What naivety! Indeed, they were all naive because they didn’t know that you yourself were never free. All the years that passed in the West were carried away in the wind. What is depressing is the speed with which the glittering slogans disappeared with the first wind of freedom. There is another son, recently captured, who was said to have received Western education, and that he was open, in contrast to his father. However, the moment that the intifada broke out in Libya, we saw how Saif al-Islam Qadhafi returned to his nature, which overcame everything that he had acquired in the West. Overnight, those who were involved in the intifada became rats.

And the same goes for you too, Mr. President. Yes, you were not a free man, not even for one day. Why, you are the son of your father. And therefore, if you had really been free you would have refused to allow your father to pass down the rule to you by a constitutional farce. If you had been really free you would have insisted on continuing your work as an ophthalmologist. You would have continued to support people to see the light with your assistance. But you were not that sort. Your studies in the cultured West did not avail you, and none of its culture of freedom clung to you.

Mordechai Kedar: What’s Really Going on in Gaza?

Friday, March 16th, 2012

A week of missiles was supposed to change the focus of interest in the Middle East from Homs to Gaza, from Syria to Israel, from Assad to Netanyahu. This was the plan of Iran and its few followers in Gaza. But it didn’t succeed, and for the usual reason – the sociological factors of the Middle East.

I have emphasized again and again the dominance of tribalism within Middle Eastern culture, and the important role played by traditional frameworks of relationship – such as ethnic, tribal, religious, sectarian – in private as well as in communal life. I downplay the influence of foreign ideologies that have been imported from Europe, from communism to democracy, and from nationalism to liberalism, which have all failed in the effort to formulate a culture of public domain in the Middle East. Dictatorship is the practical expression of the failure of these ideologies.

What remains is only the person, together with his family, extended family, clan, and tribe. This is the only thing which is real, alive and kicking, that functions as it always has, and the only framework that is capable of bestowing on an individual identity, a sense of belonging, a livelihood, and physical defense and security.

One of the foundation stones of tribal culture is the antagonism between the tribe and the modern state, a state which was imposed upon the tribe by foreign colonialism and its local derivatives. States have always tried to impose themselves upon the individual and upon the tribe; including their symbols, values, laws and leaders, and have tried to substitute these in the hearts of the people instead of those of the tribe, and its symbols, values, leaders, and laws. In Arab societies that have undergone dissolution and turned into more individualistic societies – Egypt and Tunisia for example – the state has succeeded in settling in the hearts of the people, and uproot the loyalty to the tribe. In the tribal societies of most of the other Arab states, the state is forced to yield part of its sovereignty and to accept the existence and limited authority of the tribe. In order not to confront the tribe, the state compromises and comes to an understanding with the tribe, in an effort to placate its members.

The Gaza Strip is no different from the rest of the Arab world, so tribal culture is alive and kicking in the Gaza Strip too. Ever since the Hamas movement took control of Gaza trip in 2007, it has transformed itself from a gang of jihadists into a ruling organization which has a state, government, advisory council, legal system, police, military and economic bodies. Thus, Hamas has turned into a standard Arab state, which is attempting to impose its agenda upon the tribes and the clans that live in the Strip. The State of Hamas serves the interests of the group that leads it, and therefore it is in constant conflict with the tribes and the clans and must reach agreements with them.

The minor movements – Islamic Jihad, the PRC (Popular Resistance Committees), the Salah-a-Din Division, the Army of the Nation, the Army of Islam and others – function like tribes, challenging the authority of the state, which is in the hands of Hamas. Today, these groups are doing to Hamas what Hamas did to the PLO twenty years ago when the PLO was in power. The widespread corruption among the top echelons of Hamas strengthen the influence of the small organizations that oppose Hamas. What encourages these organizations is the fact that Hamas has “hung up the gloves” and is trying to reach a calm with Israel. Hamas has not become a Zionist organization, and has not changed its covenant or its sole goal: to eliminate Israel and bring an end to the “occupation” of Jaffa and Acre, not only Hebron and Nablus. However, in the present historic phase it is suspending its battle against Israel in order to establish a state which, when the time comes, will be the basis from which the war of the destruction of Israel will be waged. The small organizations do not accept this suspension of jihad and call Hamas derogatory names such as “The Israeli Border Guard” and the “South Lebanese Army”.

From a practical point of view, Hamas is capable of eliminating the organizations, just as it dealt with the Army of Islam, of the Dughmush clan in August of 2008, and as it eliminated Sheikh Abd Al-Latif Moussa’s Islamic Emirate of Jerusalem in cold blood in August of 2009 in a mosque in Rafah, murdering him, his wives and children and 24 followers. As of today, in the year 2012, Hamas refrains from imposing itself on the small organizations by force of arms so that it will not become the “Israeli Border Guard”in the eyes of Gazans, and prefers to come to an agreement with them; to compromise with them and to calm them down.

Second Thoughts About The Mosque Fire In Tuba-Zangariya

Thursday, February 2nd, 2012

Another chapter has been added to the evolving saga of the torching of a mosque in Tuba Zangariya. On January 14, Basam Sawayed, an Arab resident of Tuba Zangariya, gave an interview in which he stated that it wasn’t a Jew who set fire to the mosque in their village. Sawayed claimed that those responsible for the torching were actually local residents. He said he was sure about his claim; no one would come from outside to commit such an act. A few hours later, his house was sprayed with automatic gunfire. No one was injured.

This latest incident is the most recent in a succession of peculiar events. Three months ago, on October 3, 2011, the residents of Tuba Zangariya awoke to discover their mosque on fire. Officials believe that arson was committed by Jews as an act of retaliation, one of the so called ‘price tag’ operations. Jewish suspects were arrested, all were immediately released, and none were subsequently charged. The torching generated much outcry and condemnation, and was used as political leverage by various parties.

The entire incident is shrouded in mystery, presenting a long list of questions and inconsistencies, while the answers actually support Sawayed’s claim.

The village of Tuba Zangariya is in the Galilee, far from Judea and Samaria, and several miles off the main highway. Why would someone make such an effort to go so far out of his way to get to this mosque, when he has many others on the way? Why was this one targeted specifically?

The burnt mosque is itself very close to the nearby homes. It is odd that no one smelled the smoke, heard the crackle of fire, saw the flames or was otherwise alerted to the fact that an adjacent building was on fire. The fire was so intense that the floor tiles exploded. Yet no one heard or saw anything?

Graffiti was written on the wall, which allegedly implies an act of vindictive vandalism. Upon closer inspection, one can discern the graffiti was written with coal, not paint. It seems a little bizarre that the vandals would wait around for coal to be created by the fire, and then use it to deface the walls. Furthermore, the graffiti was written on a part of the wall that was not covered by soot, but rather below it. One would have expected to find it covered by smoke generated by the ensuing flames after the vandals had fled the scene.

Furthermore, how is it possible that no one noticed a suspicious unidentified vehicle approaching the scene in the dead of night? When this question was presented to local residents, they responded that they do usually notice unidentified vehicles, and so the alleged terrorists must have come from the surrounding fields by foot. The mosque itself sits on the crest of a steep hill. Approaching the mosque by foot would require a two hundred meter climb through boulders and thorns. That would not be easy to execute while carrying flammable materials. It is made more difficult if you have no knowledge of the landscape. It’s impossible to do so at night.

All these points may lead a keen observer to the conclusion that the mosque torching was in fact an inside job, perhaps the result of local tribal infighting. The alternative is to accept the official story, which depicts quite a ludicrous chain of events – Jewish terrorists traveling for hours to target this specific mosque, marching up a steep hill in the dead of night, through territory they are not acquainted with, setting a massive fire to a mosque, creating a roaring blaze which no else notices, and then hanging around waiting for the fire to produce writing material.

One must note that the town is known for its violence, smuggling, drug trafficking and tribal infighting. According to police data, over 330 indictments have been submitted recently against residents of Tuba Zangariya.

Tzvika Fogel, acting mayor of Tuba Zangariya, has stated several times that the residents of Tuba Zangariya have accumulated a dangerous amount of weapons that present a genuine threat. He believes the arson was committed by locals, and that we will never know who did it.

Until recently, none of the above questions were raised by the media. As of this writing, no politician or public figure has raised these questions, nor have there been any apologies for attacking an entire segment of the public with no real basis for the accusations.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/analysis/second-thoughts-about-the-mosque-fire-in-tuba-zangariya/2012/02/02/

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