Middle-east Arab News Opinion | Asharq Al-awsat

Extremist Liberalism | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
Select Page

There are no religious dimensions to Israel’s presence in Palestine; what happened was that the Jews found the most appropriate spot on earth to establish a homeland and so Israeli occupation began, said one Arab writer recently. This simplified explanation of the Zionist occupation of Palestine brings to mind the rhyme ‘Eeny, meeny, miny, moe,’ which children use to select someone to be ‘it’ in a game. International Jewish leaders met and by looking at a map of the world, they picked Palestine to be ‘it’ – a homeland for the Jews.

Due to his strong opposition to any religious trend, this writer is sensitive to anything that has to do with religion – even factual information – so he denies that there is any religious motive behind Israel’s occupation of Palestine. This “extremist” suggestion that contradicts religious and political facts weakens the fighting spirit in the conflict with Israel, which is the fuel for Palestinian resistance of all currents including liberalism. This fighting spirit was the secret behind Palestinian resoluteness in standing up to the tyranny of Israel and Palestinian resistance has achieved some victories thanks to this fighting spirit. This caused confusion to Israeli and Western considerations and for the first time, it placed question marks over Israel’s presence in Palestine.

Interestingly, I recently came across a news article in the Independent that stated that an Israeli soldier testified that many fellow soldiers believed that they were engaging in a “religious war” against the Palestinians. The testimony aimed at clarifying the role played by the Israeli military’s rabbinate during the recent military operations in Gaza. The soldier said that the message was “clear” in the literature distributed by rabbis to soldiers. It said, “We are the Jewish people, we came to this land by a miracle, God brought us back to this land and now we need to fight to expel the Gentiles who are interfering with our conquest of this holy land.” This is how the Israeli liberals consolidate the religious dimension of the conflict with Arabs whilst some of our liberals want it to be an ordinary dispute over land.

Liberalism, like other religious or non-religious trends, has its moderates and its extremists. The liberal that objectively criticizes Palestinian Islamic resistance for being the reason behind Israeli attacks on Gaza, as indicated by the writer, cannot be described as an extremist. But on the other hand, the liberal writer that explicitly encouraged Israel to eliminate Hamas extremists and the Israeli army to kill them all without exception should at least be described as a “liberal extremist.”

This writer, who denies being a “liberal extremist” and the existence of liberal extremism in the first place, presented another extremist opinion, as he claimed that it is wrong to refer to religious scholars for fatwas, and that people should rely on themselves for religious rulings instead of asking scholars and Muftis. Imagine if everybody became Muftis and the chaos that this “extremist” opinion would lead to. What would happen to religious extremism and terrorism if we cancel out the role of Muftis who issue religious edicts for us to refer to in the Islamic world? Don’t you think that liberal extremism is similar to religious extremism in its cause and effect?