Irshad Manji, a Muslim woman, believes in the right of Jews for self- determination

Irshad Manji, author, journalist and broadcaster, believes that Zionism is the return of a persecuted people to their homeland. Her book "The Trouble with Islam" discusses the Israeli Arabs, the refugee problem, and Arafat's provocations.

Manji's book explains how the view of the Arab world towards Zionism and Israel is based on Islam's view of all non- Muslims, seeing them as subjects without equal rights. Under Islam, non- Muslims are dhimmis or "protected people" or "dependent people" and as such, inferior. Islam's desert norms dictate that anyone outside the tribe is an enemy.

Manji on the Israeli – Palestinian problem:

A Country of Its Citizens

Manji rejects the demand by Israeli Arabs for Israel to be "a country of all its citizens". She thinks their failure to accept the Jews' historical bond with Palestine is a mistake. They have forfeited the right of Jews to statehood in Palestine because the contention regarding the Arabs historical rights to the land can be refuted.

Manji accepts that the Jews' historical roots stretch back to the land of Israel (King David's Kingdom about 1000 B.C). She recognizes their right to a Jewish state. She seems knowledgeable about Jewish history and remarks that when European Jews began returning to Palestine, they found small pockets of Jews who had always lived there. The Palestinian argument that the Jews are foreign invaders is utterly unfounded.

The Refugee Problem

Manji believes that the Palestinians initiated the Arab countries' invasion the day after Israel declared independence (following U.N 1947 resolution). Manji does not base herself on the Zionist account of whether the Palestinians were expelled or fled, but quotes a 1948 interview for the Beirut Telegraph with Emile Houri, Secretary General of the Palestinian Party:
"These refugees exist as a direct result of the Arab countries' objection to the U.N partition (resolution of 1947) and a Jewish state. The Arab countries unanimously agreed with this policy and should be partners in solving the problem."

Manji contends that although some Palestinians were expelled, most of them left of their own accord, fully expecting to return after all the Jews had been thrown into the sea. Manji maintains that some 700,000 fled altogether, but that the U.N has widened the term refugees to include 3,500,000 Palestinians. In other words the refugees' children and grandchildren only a 1/3 of whom live in refugee camps. She argues that such a wide definition of the term refugees is not applied to any other uprooted people.

Manji also attacks Arab hypocrisy regarding the refugees. Over the years wealthy Arab states have donated less money to the U.N agencies dealing with the refugees than Israel has. What is more, all the Arab states, except Jordan, refuse to give citizenship to Palestinians living in their countries. In Lebanon, for example, Palestinians cannot be employed in full time jobs, cannot own land, and cannot learn a respectable profession; instead, they are forced to find income from casual work.

She believes the Muslims are guiltier than the Israelis for the refugees' plight. For decades, the Arab world has interfered with every attempt to solve the problem. The Arab countries would rather give generous support to suicide bombers and their families rather than help the needy refugees.

A far- reaching historical perspective

Irshad rejects the Palestinian claim that the Zionists expelled them from their farms in the early 20th century under Ottoman rule. She writes that the Ottomans and Muslims sold land to the Zionists against the interests of the Arab tenant farmers. In 1911, 150 Arabs sent a telegram to the Turkish parliament protesting the sale of land to the Jews; it was ignored by the Turks.

The mufti, Haj Amin al – Husseini, the leader of the Palestinians collaborated with the Nazis. In December 1942, he officiated at an unveiling ceremony in Berlin for the Central Islamic Institute. He recruited Bosnian Muslim volunteers for the SS, and Bosnian imams served in it because of his intercession. He broadcasted Nazi propaganda on the radio, and in March 1944, called on the Arabs to kill Jews because that was the will of Allah.

As Manji contends, the Arabs are to blame that a Palestinian state was not founded in 1948. According to the U.N resolution of 1947, 45% of the area covered by the mandate was to be an Arab state and 55% a Jewish state; Jerusalem would be declared an international city. The Jews accepted the resolution but the Arabs rejected it and declared war. Consequently, they lost large areas of land. The West Bank and Gaza Strip were controlled by the Arabs from 1948 – 1967, but they did not establish a Palestinian state. Why not? Because all the time the Arabs dreamed of revenge and destroying Israel. In 1967, they were beaten again. This defeat strengthened the religious extremists among the Arabs, who ascribed their defeat to slack religious observance.

Arafat needed a provocation

Manji blames Yasser Arafat for the failure of the Camp David summit in 2000. She believes that the proposal advanced by Bill Clinton and Ehud Barak was a good one. Arafat rejected the offer without suggesting an alternative, and the intifada began straight afterwards. She maintains that Arafat planned the intifada months ahead, and needed a provocation to put it into gear. Ariel Sharon furnished it. She quotes an article by Nabil Amar in the Al Jedida newspaper in September 2000 in which he accuses Arafat of rejecting the offer and squandering the aid and good will of the world.

Manji also slams Palestinian education, which exploits Islam for political ends. By this she means encouraging martyrdom. Another criticism of Arafat is the millions of dollars which he received from the West, and which he did not invest in enhancing the situation of the Palestinians.

Manji's book attacks the Arab instigated U.N resolution declaring Zionism to be racism. She also criticize the resolution of the U.N World Conference Against Racism in Durban, South Africa, which likened Israel to Nazism.

To sum up: Irshad Manji believes that Zionism represents the return of a people persecuted throughout history and decimated demographically to its ancient homeland. She rejects the argument that the Law of Return for Jews represent affirmative action towards a people that was treated unjustly throughout history. Although the Jewish state does discriminate against Arabs, their situation is much better than if they lived in Arab countries.

And there are more ARAB INTELLECTUALS who agree with her.

Dr. Rivka Shpak Lissak

Very Interesting

Very Interesting

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