While I write these lines, the elections in Israel are nearly over with the Kadima holding on to the majority of seats in the Knesset, the Bush administration has reiterated its stand of not wanting to deal with the democratically elected Palestinian party, Hamas. What future does Palestine have when the representative of the people is not even recognized by other countries? These lines are written with these events in the background. America’s arrogance in not recognizing Palestine’s elected representatives is telling. Saied Reza Ameli’s article in this issue may shed some light on America’s attitude towards Palestine vis a vis Israel. Although challenging, its analysis of America’s role in the region utilizes various historical and political sources coupled with the author’s ability in sociology to make his article a compelling read in this issue. Through his analysis of terms such as Eurocentrism, Americanism and Zionism, he finds a disturbingly similar trend in the practice of the Americans towards the Native Indians with the treatment of Palestinians by the Zionists. These are supported by the exceptionalism structure which was used by the Americans in their treatment towards the native Indians. This exceptionalism had generated responses towards it as we can see in the intifadah or uprising of the Palestinians against it. There is also two parallel developments with this exceptionalism i.e. exclusivism and inclusivism. In other words globalization had been used to expand upon this exceptionalism. Though highly academic, such analysis proves the merit of academic rigour on this topic.
Dr Md. Nor’s article traces the treatment of non-Muslims in Palestine. A firm believer in inclusivist theology, Dr Nor had utilized traditional materials (turath) within Islamic scholarship to bring us a picture of Islamic Jerusalem after the first conquest of the Muslims during the period of the second Caliph. Concentrating on the Qur’anic concept lil alamin (21:71), he gives us a description of the community in those days which had breathed and slept in this spirit of inclusivism. This spirit, fused together with the integral concept of justice, were included in the Caliph Umar’s assurance pact and made Islamic Jerusalem a haven for non-Muslims.
Father Joe McVeigh highlights the plight of the Palestinians under occupation. His article discusses the various obstacles faced by Palestinians from the social aspect as well as the economic aspects. Relying on reports in the local media and others his article is full with statistics and information regarding how many displaced Palestinians, how many roadblocks, various figures and stats pertaining to economy of the state etc. His style of brash reporting is enjoyable and at the same time informative and would appeal to lay readers. With the anniversary of the Easter uprising near, the parallels between the religious symbolism of Easter and liberation, and Al-Aqsa and liberation are apt.
The last article for this issue is by Rabbi Aharon Cohen. In a thought provoking article he debunks the idea that critique of Zionism is not a critique of Judaism. A scholar of Judaism, Rabbi Cohen goes on to explain that Zionism is a nationalist agenda rather than a religious one.
These contributions highlight the capacity for religion to challenge unfettered exclusivism and provide the normative catalyst for transformative change. At a time when religion is increasingly demonized, this issue of Palestine Internationalist is an interesting and thought provoking issue.
Editorial Team, Palestine Internationalist, Volume 1, issue 3
Mohamad Nasrin Nasir