British editorials happen to agree that Ahmadinejad has scored
points in this latest naval round. I find their take on it all
rather disappointing. With over 650,000 innocents dead as a direct
result of the invasion of Iraq and a war against Iran looming
on the horizon, it is about time British columnists stopped telling
us about tactical gains and losses. Instead they should once and
for all be endorsing a humanist and ethical discourse that is
grounded on genuine responsibility.
between Ahmadinejad and Blair is not a political or diplomatic
one, it is not about points. It is actually a clash between civilizations,
but more than that, it seems to be a fight between humanism and
As it emerges, in this battle, it is Ahmadinejad rather than Blair
who reminds us where goodness rests. Seemingly, a man who has
been repeatedly presented to us by our deluded Western media as
a radical, fundamentalist and Islamofascist
has proved beyond doubt that he is actually the one who knows
what forgiveness and grace are all about. It was Ahmadinejad who
has pardoned the enemy, it was Ahmadinejad that evoked some prospects
of a peaceful future.
Americans should ask themselves whether they can recall Bush or
Blair meeting with any of the many illegally detained Guantánamo
Bay inmates. Brits may also want to ask themselves when was the
last time their Prime Minister was seen chatting with Abu Hamza*
or anyone like him.
My usual Ziocon critics would obviously blame me for equating
here innocent naval personnel to murderous bloodthirsty
terrorists. I would suggest to them to bear in mind that
it is us who label others as terrorist
as much as it is us who generously label ourselves
as innocent. I may as well voluntarily suggest to
my possible critics that within this so-called cultural
clash, it is again us who launched an illegal
war, it is us who are legally and morally responsible
for the ongoing genocide in Iraq and Afghanistan, it is our
democratically elected governments that support the Israeli atrocities
It is our leaders who happen to be the terrorists
who fail to talk to the so-called enemy. It is our
leaders who fail to offer any hope for peace. Instead they just
prepare us for many more conflicts to come. More importantly,
I may suggest to my critics that in the eyes of an Iranian, the
captured naval personnel are part of an invasion army that destroys
Arab and Muslim States.
there is no need to
elaborate on these rhetorical
questions, the answers are clear.
The vast majority of Brits wouldn't
accept anyone interfering either
with British politics or with the
Kingdom's territorial waters.
Yet, for the majority of Westerners,
constant intimidation and destruction
of Muslim or Arab States
seems to be nothing
other than business as usual.
how the majority of British people would feel about a bunch of
Iranian naval commandos operating in the English Channel, stopping
every Western vessel and searching its belly for some potential
military goods. I wonder as well how most Brits would feel about
the democratically elected Iranian government interfering with
the British Parliaments recent decision to spend dozens
of billions of Sterling on a new Trident, a weapon designed for
the indiscriminate killing of millions of people.
Obviously there is no need to elaborate on these rhetorical questions,
the answers are clear. The vast majority of Brits wouldnt
accept anyone interfering either with British politics or with
the Kingdoms territorial waters. Yet, for the majority of
Westerners, constant intimidation and destruction of Muslim or
Arab States seems to be nothing other than business as usual.
admit it; I do not know exactly where the fifteen British sailors
were captured. I am far from being qualified to say who tells
the truth about this saga, whether the seamen were captured in
Iranian seas or if it was in international waters. Reading some
expert commentators about the subject, I tend to believe that
no one has a clear-cut answer to offer. In fact, most British
papers have now adopted the notion of caught in disputed
waters just to disguise their premature judgment some days
the issue here has nothing to do with truth. The question to be
asked here is: "why is it so complicated for us, Western
people, to accept the possibility that the truth of the other
may be slightly or even very different from ours?" I may
admit that I find it rather concerning that the British press
willingly and blindly bought the British government account of
the naval dispute while dismissing the possibility that the Iranians
may have had an adequate argument to offer.
At the end
of the day, we may have to face it, Blair and his governments
record for telling the truth is not very impressive. In the last
five years the British government has managed to lie more or less
about everything; whether it was Iraqi WMD, 45 minutes of deployment
of those imaginary weapons, or more worryingly, whether it was
a phantasmic pretext for an illegal war.
be fair to comment that as much as Blair can hardly tell the truth,
President Ahmadinejad has yet to be caught telling a lie. Ahmadinejad,
though being rather unpopular in Britain, is far from deceiving
his listener. Indeed, he has some harsh things to say. Unlike
Blair who was generous enough to admit that the Iranian people
have some past to be proud of ("we respect Iran as an ancient
civilization, as a nation with a proud and dignified history"
Tony Blair, 4.4.06), President Ahmadinejad insists that Iranian
people are entitled as well for a present and even for a prospect
of some future.
may be seen by some
as a Holocaust denier, yet as far as
I can see, he is one of the very few
statesmen who manages to internalise
the real meaning of the Holocaust.
He says No to racism. Accordingly,
he believes that Israel, the 'Jews only
State', a racially orientated nationalist
entity, has no right to exist as such.
Ahmadinejad has never called
for the liquidation of the Israeli people
but rather for the dismantling of the
Zionist apparatus. Again, I see nothing
ethically wrong with that.
whom some of us call Islamofascist, believes actually
that the Iranian people are equal human beings. Thus, he genuinely
believes that like more or less every Western country, his country
and his people have the right to benefit from atomic energy and
nuclear research. Is it that outrageous?
I may suggest that considering Western governments are becoming
increasingly enthusiastic about atomic energy, it is basically
impossible to produce any sufficient ethical argument against
Ahmadinejad on that matter. Moreover, bearing in mind the Israeli
nuclear might, there is not a single moral argument for preventing
any of Israels neighbours from having at least a similar
doesnt shy off. He says what he believes to be right. He
believes for instance that if the Europeans feel guilty for their
past crimes against the Jews, it is the Europeans who should face
their past and take responsibility for the Jews rather than dumping
them in the Middle East at the expense of the Palestinian people.
Again, this thought is rational as well as implacably ethically
grounded. Whether we like its implication or not is a different
Ahmadinejad may be seen by some as a Holocaust denier, yet as
far as I can see, he is one of the very few statesmen who manages
to internalise the real meaning of the Holocaust. He says No to
racism. Accordingly, he believes that Israel, the Jews only
State, a racially orientated nationalist entity, has no
right to exist as such. Ahmadinejad has never called for the liquidation
of the Israeli people but rather for the dismantling of the Zionist
apparatus. Again, I see nothing ethically wrong with that.
In the last
days, Ahmadinejad proved again that as far as humanism and peace
seeking are concerned, he is ahead of his Western rivals. Seemingly,
we have a lot to learn from our Muslim brothers. In this cultural
clash, it is we, the West who have lost touch with the notions
of empathy and ethics. May I suggest that we start to assume some
level of responsibility for things and admit that it is not Blair
and Bush who should be blamed, it is we the people who are failing
collectively to listen to the cry of the other.
Rather than blaming Blair and his shrinking circuit of supporters,
we are the ones, the silent crowd who should launch into a serious
self-searching process. If humanism, rationality, analytical thinking
and ethics have been seen as Western cultural assets at a certain
stage, it is currently the leaders of the so-called Muslim fundamentalists
who grasp the real meaning of those qualities far better than
was there to remind us all what grace was all about. Seemingly,
it is Ahmadinejad who evokes the feeling of goodness and it is
Blair who couldnt match it. It was Blair who couldnt
even recruit the minimal dignity and kindness to salute his foe.
British columnists should know better. Ahmadinejad didnt
win by points; it wasnt about winning a political battle.
This was just another chapter in an ongoing clash between civilizations,
between Good and Evil and as it seems, we are stuck at least momentarily
with Bush, Blair and their Ziocon philosophy, not exactly the
civilized one and not remotely the carrier of goodness,
so to say.
was first published on http://peacepalestine.blogspot.com/
Gilad Atzmon was born in Israel and served in the Israeli
military. He is the author of two novels: A Guide to the Perplexed
and the recently released My One and Only Love. Atzmon is
also one of the most accomplished jazz saxophonists in Europe.
His recent CD, Exile, was named the year's best jazz CD by
the BBC. He now lives in London and can be reached at: email@example.com.
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by Gilad Atzmon:
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