Saturday, March 18, 2006

How I Learned to Love the Wall

In an op-ed piece in the New York Times, Irshad Manji, a Muslim, understands Israel's rationale for the wall.
[The wall] was birthed by 'shaheeds,' suicide bombers whom Palestinian leaders have glorified as martyrs. Qassam missiles can kill two or three people at a time. Suicide bombers lay waste to many more. Since the barrier went up, suicide attacks have plunged, which means innocent Arab lives have been spared along with Jewish ones. Does a concrete effort to save civilian lives justify the hardship posed by this structure? The humanitarian in me bristles, but ultimately answers yes. …

Israel is open enough to tolerate lawsuits by civil society groups who despise every mile of the barrier. Mr. Sharon himself agreed to reroute sections of it when the Israel High Court ruled in favor of the complainants. Where else in the Middle East can Arabs and Jews work together so visibly to contest, and change, state policies?

I reflected on this question as I observed an Israeli Army jeep patrol the gap in Abu Dis. The vehicle was crammed with soldiers who, in turn, observed me filming the anti-Israel graffiti scrawled by Western activists — "Scotland hates the blood-sucking Zionists!" I turned my video camera on the soldiers. Nobody ordered me to shut it off or show the tape. My Arab taxi driver stood by, unprotected by a diplomatic license plate or press banner.

Like all Muslims, I look forward to the day when neither the jeep nor the wall is in Abu Dis. So will we tell the self-appointed martyrs of Islam that … before the barrier, there was the bomber? And that the barrier can be dismantled, but the bomber's victims are gone forever?

Young Muslims, especially those privileged with a good education, cannot walk away from these questions.
The fundamental question remains: Are the Palestinians willing to live with a 2-state solution?

According to her website, which she calls "Muslim Refusenik," Irshad Manji is based at Yale University as a Visiting Fellow with the International Security Studies program.

Here is her (audio) call for a revival of Muslim independent thinking, the kind of thinking that flowered in the 9th - 11th centuries.

It seems to be Muslim women who are most courageous in speaking out these days. See this article (and this blog entry) on Wafa Sultan, a psychiatrist, originally from Syria and now living in Southern California.
Only the Muslims defend their beliefs by burning down churches, killing people and destroying embassies. This path will not yield any results. The Muslims must ask themselves what they can do for humankind, before they demand that humankind respect them.
I think she is too hard on Muslims. There are other terrorists in the world. But it's not an admirable way to try to get things done.

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