I recently read an interview with Al-Jazeera Editor-in-Chief Ahmed Sheikh that I found to be very enlightening. I’d like to provide a couple of excerpts:
Mr. Sheikh, as the Editor in Chief of Al-Jazeera, you are one of the most important opinion-makers in the Arab world. What do you call suicide bombers?
For what is happening in Palestine, we never use the expression “suicide bombing.”
What do you call it then?
In English, I would describe it as “bombings.”
And in Arabic?
Literally translated, we would speak of “commando attacks.” In our culture, it is precisely not suicide.
But instead a praiseworthy act?
When the country is occupied and the people are being killed by the enemy, everyone must take action, even if he sacrifices himself in so doing.
Even if in so doing he kills innocent civilians?
That is not a Palestinian problem, but a problem of the Israelis.
I should very much like to see what would happen if Israel truly took a similar attitude. You can bet that the screaming of injustice and the demand for UN Resolutions condemning Israel would be never ending.
You sound bitter.
Yes, I am.
At whom are you angry?
It’s not only the lack of democracy in the region that makes me worried. I don’t understand why we don’t develop as quickly and dynamically as the rest of the world. We have to face the challenge and say: enough is enough! When a President can stay in power for 25 years, like in Egypt, and he is not in a position to implement reforms, we have a problem. Either the man has to change or he has to be replaced. But the society is not dynamic enough to bring about such a change in a peaceful and constructive fashion.
In many Arab states, the middle class is disappearing. The rich get richer and the poor get still poorer. Look at the schools in Jordan, Egypt or Morocco: You have up to 70 youngsters crammed together in a single classroom. How can a teacher do his job in such circumstances? The public hospitals are also in a hopeless condition. These are just examples. They show how hopeless the situation is for us in the Middle East.
He admits to being angry. Fine, I don’t have a problem with that and I can see why he might be angry. Let’s go to the next section about why.
Who is responsible for the situation?
The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is one of the most important reasons why these crises and problems continue to simmer. The day when Israel was founded created the basis for our problems. The West should finally come to understand this. Everything would be much calmer if the Palestinians were given their rights.
Do you mean to say that if Israel did not exist, there would suddenly be democracy in Egypt, that the schools in Morocco would be better, that the public clinics in Jordan would function better?
I think so.
As an armchair psychologist allow me to provide my own diagnosis. Learn how to take responsibility for your own actions and life gets to be much easier. Talk about the enfant terrible, this is just pathetic.
I have a terrible time understanding how any self respecting person could accept this type of excuse. What does the situation have to do with Jordan, with Egypt, Morocco etc.