Thursday, September 09, 2004

  • Thursday, September 09, 2004
  • Elder of Ziyon

Arab blues at Oxford


LONDON Last Saturday, 100 of the best contemporary minds in the Arab world sat down to lament the state of the region's political leadership - united by the devastating reality that not a single one is able to return to work in his or her native country. Worse, whether legally or from fear, a majority cannot go home at all.
.
So much for the protestations about reform in the area - and the effect of Washington's pressure on Arab governments.
.
This was no collection of fatwa-thumping Islamists, dedicated to the downfall of the current regimes. Instead they came together as liberal academics and businesspeople, men and women exiled by nothing more revolutionary than their belief in a fairer and more democratic world. Most now live in Europe, but they brought an array of painful baggage from Tunisia, Sudan, Syria and Saudi Arabia: Some have been shot at, others jailed, harassed or intimidated.
.
Together they represent the lost resources of an Arab world that is fast becoming isolated by illiteracy, ignorance and repression.
.
For the last 14 years, members of the group, the Project for Democracy Studies in Arab Countries, have assembled quietly at Oxford University to discuss what is not available for public discussion in their native region, even in countries that cultivate a more liberal face, like Jordan and Lebanon. As one participant murmured sadly, "Nowhere in the Arab world would such a gathering be possible.”
.
While news reports are dominated by Iraq, Al Qaeda and the Palestinians, speakers focused on the structural weaknesses in Arab regimes: despotism, corruption and excessive government interference in the lives of ordinary people. “We were on about this long before the Americans started talking about reform," a physician living in Germany said. “And we'll be on about it long after they've lost interest.”
.
That sense of managing alone contrasts sharply with the attitude of most Arab commentators, who delight in blaming the rest of the world for every misfortune, real or imagined, and look to it to right all wrongs. The Oxford delegates believe that it is only Arabs themselves who can create the institutions in their societies that can lead them to a better future.
.
What is especially lacking, they point out, is a range of civil organizations to safeguard and monitor the rule of law, human rights and education, as well as sectarian and ethnic diversity. Honest, publicly accessible information about the shortcomings in Arab societies is almost nonexistent. No longer is ignorance bliss - it now translates into paralysis and stagnation.
.
More worryingly, a new generation, denied the opportunity to participate in a range of democratic institutions or other vehicles for public self-expression, is finding more dangerous outlets for its passions.
.
“It's easier for a young Arab to blow himself up, rather than sweep the area outside his house," said a Saudi researcher from an English university. “He doesn't feel he belongs to anything.”
.
Of all the obstacles to reform, none is trickier than the interpretation of Islam itself. Religious dogma is variously used in the Arab world as a cover and an excuse for coercion. With no central Islamic authority, each regime feels free to manipulate the scriptures as it sees fit and to claim justification for the most ludicrous excesses. How else could Saudi Arabia get away with banning the gift of flowers on Valentine's Day or forbidding women to drive?
.
The only solution, the Oxford group says, is to redefine the relationship between politics and religion - in effect, a house-cleaning operation, to be carried out by civil institutions as yet unborn.
.
Oxford is a good place to dream, but this group didn't come for that. They came to exercise the fundamental right of free speech, in an atmosphere devoid of intimidation and surveillance.
.
They remain unknown in the West, because neither are they terrorists nor do they have oil. But the Arab world cannot ultimately move forward without them. It's time the international community recognized that and helped them get a ticket back home.


EoZTV Podcast

Podcast URL

Subscribe in podnovaSubscribe with FeedlyAdd to netvibes
addtomyyahoo4Subscribe with SubToMe

search eoz

Loading...

comments

Speaking

follow me

Follow by Email

Contact

Elder: elder -at- elderofziyon dot com
Mrs. Elder: mrs.elder -at- elderofziyon.com


translate

E-Book

For $18 donation








Sample Text

EoZ's Most Popular Posts Ever

Hasbys!

Elder of Ziyon - حـكـيـم صـهـيـون

This blog may be a labor of love for me, but it takes a lot of effort, time and money. For over 12 years and over 25,000 articles I have been providing accurate, original news that would have remained unnoticed. I've written hundreds of scoops and sometimes my reporting ends up making a real difference. I appreciate any donations you can give to keep this blog going.

Donate!

Donate to fight for Israel!

Monthly subscription:
Payment options



One time donation:



subscribe via email

Follow EoZ on Twitter!

Tweets

Compliments

The Jerusalem Report:"A seemingly indefatigable one-man operation, armed only with a computer, chutzpa and stamina."

Algemeiner: "Fiercely intelligent and erudite"

Omri: "Elder is one of the best established and most respected members of the jblogosphere..."
Atheist Jew:"Elder of Ziyon probably had the greatest impression on me..."
Soccer Dad: "He undertakes the important task of making sure that his readers learn from history."
AbbaGav: "A truly exceptional blog..."
Judeopundit: "[A] venerable blog-pioneer and beloved patriarchal figure...his blog is indispensable."
Oleh Musings: "The most comprehensive Zionist blog I have seen."
Carl in Jerusalem: "...probably the most under-recognized blog in the JBlogsphere as far as I am concerned."
Aussie Dave: "King of the auto-translation."
The Israel Situation:The Elder manages to write so many great, investigative posts that I am often looking to him for important news on the PalArab (his term for Palestinian Arab) side of things."
Tikun Olam: "Either you are carelessly ignorant or a willful liar and distorter of the truth. Either way, it makes you one mean SOB."
Mondoweiss commenter: "For virulent pro-Zionism (and plain straightforward lies of course) there is nothing much to beat it."
Didi Remez: "Leading wingnut"

Interesting Blogs

Categories

Abbas liar Academic fraud administrivia al-Qaeda algeria American Jews Amnesty analysis anti-semitism apartheid arab refugees Arafat archaeology art ASHREI B'tselem bahrain bbc BDS BDSFail Bedouin Beitunia beoz book review breaking the silence Cardozo Chanukah Christians conspiracy theories Cyprus Daphne Anson Davis report DCI-P double standards Egypt Elder gets results ElderToons Electronic Intifada EoZNews eoztv Erekat EU Euro-Mid Observer Fake Civilians 2014 Fatah featured Features fisking flotilla Forest Rain free gaza freedom of press palestinian style future martyr Gary Spedding gaza Gaza Platform George Galloway George Soros gideon levy gilad shalit gisha Goldstone Report Good news Grapel Guardian gunness Haaretz hamas Hamas war crimes hasbara Hasby 2014 Hasby 2016 Hebron helen thomas hezbollah history Hizballah Holocaust denial honor killing HRW Human Rights Humanitarian crisis humor Hypocrisy ICRC Ilan Pappe impossible peace incitement Indonesia international law intransigence iran Iraq Islamic Judeophobia Islamism Israel Loves America Israeli culture Israeli high-tech J Street jabalya jeremy bowen Jerusalem jewish fiction Jewish Voice for Peace jihad jimmy carter John Kerry jokes jonathan cook Jordan Juan Cole Judea-Samaria Kairos Karl Vick ken roth khalid amayreh Khaybar Lebanon leftists Linkdump lumish mahmoud zahar Malaysia max blumenthal McGraw-Hill media bias Methodist Miftah Mohammed Assaf Mondoweiss moonbats Morocco music Muslim Brotherhood Nakba Natural gas Nazi News nftp NGO NIF norpac NYT Occupation offbeat Omar Barghouti Opinion oxfam PA corruption PalArab lies Palestine Papers pallywood pchr PCUSA Peter Beinart Petra MB poll Poster Preoccupied Prisoners propaganda Proud to be Zionist purimshpiel Qaradawi Qassam calendar Rafah Ray Hanania real liberals reference Richard Falk rogel alpher roger cohen roger waters Saudi Arabia saudi vice self-death self-death palestinians sex crimes SFSU shechita sheikh tamimi Shujaiyeh Simona Sharoni SodaStream South Africa Speech stamps Syria Tarabin Temple Mount Terrorism This is Zionism Thomas Friedman Tunisia Turkey UCI UK UN UNDP unesco unhrc United Arab Emirates Unity unrwa UNRWA hate unrwa reports UNRWA-USA Varda Vic Rosenthal Washington wikileaks work accident X-washing Yemen zahran zionist attack zoo Zvi

Blog Archive