1) Edward Said proposes bi-national state
2) Injustice on both sides: Only a restored dialogue between Israel and the Palestinians can avert disaster (Rabbi Tony Bayfield )
3) Khalid Durán thought his book on Islam for Jews would improve relations between the faiths. Instead, it has brought a death threat
Edward Said proposes bi-national state
Wafa Amr JERUSALEM
Middle East Times
29 JUNE 2001
Palestinian-American intellectual Edward Said believes the only long-term solution to the bloody Palestinian-Israeli conflict would be to form a federal union between a future Palestinian state and Israel.
"I don't think it's a viable solution now, but I think in the long run... it's the only solution that seems to take into account the reality of the two peoples who basically claim the same land," Said told Reuters in an interview in Jerusalem.
He said that before the union could be realized a Palestinian state must be established on all lands occupied by Israel in the 1967 war.
"A bi-national state, a federal union, seems to me the only reasonable solution for the Israelis, who cannot continue to live in this part of the world basically as an occupying, bullying, aggressive force which is the language of (Israeli Prime Minister Ariel) Sharon and all those who preceded him."
Nearly 600 people have been killed in fighting since the Palestinians erupted in revolt against Israeli occupation last September after overall peace talks stalled. Each side blames the other for the violence.
Said, a Palestinian refugee who lives in the United States, is professor of English and Comparative Literature at Columbia University. He is author of 17 political and cultural books.
Said said it was in Israel's interest to accept the bi-national state solution and live in the region with tolerance and understanding. In 10 years' time, he said, Palestinians would achieve demographic parity with Israelis, and Israelis were already a minority in a region of over 280 million Arabs.
"I mean they're not any more secure now than they were 53 years ago, in fact they're getting less secure, so I think they have to take the lead at some point in some way other than this military thing which destroys the prospects of a decent future for them and for us," he said.
Yossi Beilin, an Israeli negotiator and one of the architects of the 1993 PLO-Israel peace deals, told Israel's Ha'aretz newspaper in an interview he is genuinely worried about the time when the Jews become a minority on the west side of the Jordan River.
"We are just a few years from it, less than a decade – that is what constantly preoccupies me," Beilin said.
"Because if that day comes and we don't have a border, if on that day there is no Palestinian state on the other side of a border, all hell will break lose here. So what I'm saying is that a Palestinian state is a lifebelt of the Jewish state," he added.
Said said Israel's use of excessive force and its tightening of blockades on Palestinian areas since the intifada began was suicidal and had to end.
"This is the kind of warfare that really disappeared in the 20th century... This is much worse than South Africa under apartheid, much worse. They never had whole townships isolated and closed off, they never had air force attacks against villages and towns," he said.
Israel, citing security concerns, has tightened a blockade of Palestinian areas, severely restricting the movement of goods and people and crippling the already ailing Palestinian economy. Palestinians say closures are collective punishment.
For Said, violence was not the way to end the conflict. Instead Palestinians should adopt a strategy of making the Israelis understand how to live with them as equals, "not as a superior force, like Sharon."
Said believes that this intifada "should be thought of as an education for Israelis that they can't do what they want, and for the Palestinians that there's a limit to what they can do now.
"I think the next step is not more bombs but simply cultural confrontation, leaflets in the Israeli market place saying this is what your people do with facts and figures and pictures."
He said it was more effective to throw a leaflet at a tank, or go inside Israel and "instead of blowing up a civilian bus which is criminal, bring a barrel full of paper which says this is what you're doing and we are ready to talk peacefully and on the basis of equality."
Said, always critical of Palestinian President Yasser Arafat and the Palestine Liberation Organization's policies, said it was time the Palestinians had a new, moderate leadership that knows how the world works.
Said has been critical of the Oslo accords that he says were Palestinian capitulation to Israel. He said the Palestinian Authority did not have popular backing for Oslo.
"What did they (Palestinian leadership) do the last eight years after Oslo? They imprisoned us, that's what they did and they gave the Israelis the key. They want to do it again, so unfortunately we have to go through it one more time, twice more, three times, and in the end they'll give up," Said said.
The solution, he said, was to form an effective campaign to stop American blind financial aid to Israel.
Israel was committing atrocities against Palestinians with the permission of the United States and the American people, he said. "This is because of the absence of an Arab campaign, but it's not just Arabs now.
"Many different elements (in the United States) are now beginning to congregate around the issue of the Palestinians and Israelis, this campaign is beginning. It's now quite evident throughout the country."
Injustice on both sides
Only a restored dialogue between Israel and the Palestinians can avert disaster
Rabbi Tony Bayfield **
Wednesday July 11, 2001
Exactly a year ago, it seemed that the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians was coming to an end. It proved to be a ghastly mirage. Today the Middle East hangs somewhere between endless conflict and total disaster. The mood is angry, fearful and gloomy.
Most people I talk to are not clear why Yasser Arafat and Ehud Barak were unable to clinch a deal but the failure, from an Israeli perspective, looks to be a disastrous turning point. The peaceniks, the liberals, the moral and realistic majority - those who have known in their hearts for some time that the land would have to be shared, that one day there would be a Palestinian state which would have a real presence in Jerusalem itself - have had the ground cut from under their feet. For all this, they feel, was on offer. Yet it was rejected. However inept a politician Barak proved to be, surely this cannot all have been his fault? Was it not all a pretext for a planned uprising and return to killing?
Throughout Israel and the Diaspora Jewish communities, the finger of blame is pointed at Arafat - blame which is underlined by Arafat's apparent ability to call a halt to violence at will. This is the same Arafat who was told the names of the two men responsible for the Tel Aviv Dolphinarium discotheque bomber, but declined to arrest them, the Arafat who has trained a generation of children to hate and fight.
My impression of how things look from the Palestinian side is dominated by two words: chaos and fury. No one speaks for all the Palestinians and there is no unity of view or purpose to ease the disillusion and despair, only a chaos of opinions and family allegiances. The fury at what they experience as endless abuses of human rights, as exposure to relentless violence and ongoing economic degradation is palpable. There is hopelessness and hatred which far outweighs any vision of what the future might hold and what the solution might be.
There is now a yawning chasm between the two peoples. There is little or no real contact, even less dialogue, no trust at all.
As a Diaspora Jewish leader, it is not surprising that I hear the Israeli voice more clearly and as closer to the objective truth. But that does not mean that how we Jewish liberals hear the Palestinian voices, their reality and their truth does not have any objective grounding. The fact is that there are two accounts of the past 100 years and what is so disturbing and dangerous is that they now barely correspond at all.
What can we liberal Jews do? Of one thing I am absolutely convinced. We must listen as attentively as possible to the Israeli narrative. We must take every opportunity we can of going to Israel and talking to our people there. To lose touch or to hear the story only through third parties would be utterly irresponsible.
But that is not all. There are still some opportunities for talking to Palestinians, certainly in this country. Every opportunity that is created to listen and to understand, at least to experience and acknowledge Palestinian pain and anger, may eventually contribute to reopening a dialogue, without which there is no hope at all and only despair.
What of non-Jews in this country, what can they do? It is very important to confirm the fear, anger and sense of injustice of both sides. Both sides need to know that their sense of justice delayed or betrayed is fully acknowledged. But, and here is the rub, not at the expense of vindicating only one side. It was so unhelpful to launch a bitter public attack on Prime Minister Sharon as the BBC did recently in its Panorama programme about the Sabra and Shatila massacres. It does not bring justice for the Palestinians one millimetre closer, but it does close ears among Jews and Israelis and confirm past experiences of being alone and misunderstood in the world. It does no good to compare Israel with South Africa, as did a recent Guardian columnist. Not only is there no genuine parallel, but it reinforces the sense of injustice and closes ears and minds. As for playing to the left by questioning the very right of Israel to exist, that is a piece of absurd posturing which makes the situation much worse.
It is clear that there is no realistic solution which does not involve two states and to suggest otherwise is to bring closer the ultimate doomsday scenario of outright war and mass killing.
Similarly, it makes no sense to defend the development of settlements in the West Bank and Gaza, above all because it confirms the worst fears of the Palestinians about Israel's ultimate intentions, which are a mirror image of Israel's fears of Arab intentions.
Both politicians and the media need to acknowledge that neither story contains the whole truth, but neither story is without truth and validity. They need to acknowledge the fear, hurt and anger of both sides and say nothing that does not contribute to a reopening of dialogue and a rekindling of the will to compromise. It is now the hardest of tasks. But anything else is a self-righteous and self- indulgent recipe for disaster.
**Rabbi Bayfield is chief executive of the Reformed Synagogues of Great Britain
- Khalid Durán thought his book on Islam for Jews would improve relations between the faiths. Instead, it has brought a death threat.
Durán, Durán by
Karen Yourish, New YorkThe Jerusalem Report Book Review Library
Wednesday, July 11, 2001
Khalid Durán is a marked man. A few weeks ago, Sheikh Abdulmunem Abu Zant, a leader of Jordan's militant Islamic Action Front, charged him with apostasy and called for his death.
Durán's crime? Writing a book subtitled "An Introduction to Islam for Jews" that doesn't quite toe the party line.
Durán, a German citizen with a PhD in Islamic studies, now living in suburban Washington, is a liberal Muslim scholar who received his religious training from a number of teachers and spent time at an Islamic seminary in Pakistan during his late teens.
The primer was released in May with a companion volume, on Judaism for Muslims, as part of a project of the American Jewish Committee intended to foster mutual understanding and respect between the two religions (see box, opposite). Durán's effort seems to have done anything but that.
While the Judaism text is more of a straightforward handbook, Durán's volume is a stinging indictment of what he sees as the growing danger of extremist Muslim political ideology (termed "Islamism" since the 1970s). Durán - one of the few Muslim intellectuals willing to speak out against Islamism - has long been a thorn in the side of the more radical elements. And Abu Zant's call for his blood, in a periodical calling itself Al-Shahid, is just the most recent manifestation of what appears to be a concerted campaign by some U.S. Muslim groups to discredit him.
Nihad Awad, executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), a Washington-based advocacy group, asked the AJC to postpone publication of the volume on Islam after just seeing its table of contents on the Committee's website, saying it read "like a laundry list of stereotypes and hot-button issues." The article in which the fatwa appeared basically reiterates CAIR's objections to the book, as do others that have appeared in the Arab press, in periodicals such as Al-Zaitonah, published in the U.S. by the Islamic Association for Palestine, and the Cairo-based Al-Wafd. Among the charges asserted in these articles are that Durán's book claims the wearing of the veil promotes infidelity, and that he offers a distorted view of female circumcision. In fact, Durán merely challenges veil-wearing as perhaps outdated, and tries to shed light on the falsely held assumption that female circumcision is an Islamic tradition.
For years, these groups have challenged Durán on everything from his name - which they say is fabricated - to whether he's even an adherent of Islam. They point to his collaborations with Steven Emerson, a journalist who follows militant Islamic groups, on the 1994 film "Jihad in America," and with the outspoken pro-Israel professor Daniel Pipes.
"You've got to wonder what AJC's intent was in picking Durán - a guy who has no credibility in the Muslim community," says CAIR's spokesman, Ibraham Hooper. Some more liberal voices in the Muslim world disagree. Tashbih Sayyed, editor of the California-based Pakistan Today, a newspaper that has taken some unpopular stands within the community on Israel and other issues, believes Durán is a credible choice. He told The Report that by intimidating anyone who doesn't subscribe to their point of view, "extremist forces" like CAIR create the erroneous impression that they represent the popular will.
Hooper dismisses the notion that his group and others are extremist. "Why?" he asks. "Because we want to see increased Muslim spirituality all over the world?" Yet when asked for his organization's position on a statement of support for Hamas and Hizballah made by Abdurahman Alamoudi, former executive director of the American Muslim Council, at an October 2000 Washington rally co-sponsored by CAIR, Hooper equivocates. "You'll have to ask Alamoudi," he responds.
In asking the AJC to delay publication, CAIR offered to have "recognized scholars on Islam" review the book. The AJC regarded the overture as "preposterous," according to the project's executive editor, Dr. Stephen Steinlight, who said the book was vetted by a dozen or so Muslim scholars. He calls "laughable" CAIR's attempt "to pass itself off as an arbiter of scholarly accuracy."
BORN IN GERMANY IN 1940 TO a father of Moroccan descent and a German mother, Durán moved to Spain at age two months. "There is no secret to my identity," Durán says. The name on his birth certificate, he says, is Detlev Khalid-Durán, in accordance with the Hispanic tradition that combines the mother's and father's family names. He never liked his German first name, and eventually dropped it to become Khalid Durán.
Though today not strictly observant, Durán was raised as a traditional Sunni Muslim, and says he has a deep sense of faith. He received intensive Islamic training during a summer in Sarajevo, in 1955, under the tutelage of Hafiz Kamil Silajdzic, an Islamic scholar who later became the grand imam at the city's principal mosque.
Durán first began to spar with Muslim fundamentalists while studying for his doctorate at the Free University, in Berlin, when the local Muslim Brotherhood forced the closure of an Islamic center he had helped found. "I was shocked," Durán recalls. "They pretended they were concerned about true religion, faith, etc., but they really just didn't want any organization but their own to exist. It was - and still is - about control and power."
In the 1970s, after receiving his PhD, Durán worked in Pakistan for the country's Islamic Research Institute during the government of Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, but left in 1975 because of infighting between moderates and Islamists. Bhutto (who was later executed, after a military coup), says Durán, had a plan to ban the Islamist Party, but "gave in" to Saudi pressure.
In 1986, after a spell at the Free University's Institute for Iranian Studies (where he organized a hearing on human rights violations under Iran's Islamic regime), Durán made his first foray into the U.S. university system, as a professor of Islamic studies at Temple University. He has subsequently held a number of other year-long appointments, but has never been able to secure tenure and - citing an influx of funds from pro-Islamist sympathizers in Saudi Arabia, Iran and Sudan - believes he's been blacklisted from teaching again in the U.S. because most Middle Eastern studies departments are in the pockets of fundamentalist sympathizers. This view is shared by Temple religion professor Leonard Swidler, who brought Durán to the university. Durán has failed to land a tenured job, he says, only because "most of the people running the Mid-East studies departments want to keep anyone with a critical thought about Islam off the agenda."
"NO, CYNTHIA IS NOT HERE right now," Durán squeaks into the phone, imitating his 14-year-old daughter's friend on the other end of the line. Sitting with him on the balcony of his modest garden apartment in suburban Washington, which he shares with his wife, daughter and mother-in-law, you'd never have the impression he's living under a death threat. In fact, Durán seems more concerned about the safety of the Islamic scholar he asked to translate "Children of Abraham" into Arabic. "I feel responsible," he explains. "I got him into this."
Still, Durán knows too well the lethal consequences of provoking political opponents. Many of his like-minded reformer friends have been assassinated, and he admits it's somewhat amazing that he's still alive. On April 10, 1983, Issam Sartawi, the European coordinator for the PLO, who had proposed a dialogue with Israel, was shot dead in a Lisbon hotel by an operative from the Abu Nidal PLO splinter group. Durán was standing next to him. A number of colleagues who helped him organize the 1982 conference on Iranian human rights violations have also been killed, including Ali Mecili, an Algerian lawyer, and Kazem Rajavi, an Iranian lawyer.
The groups challenging Durán's credibility are skilled at staying on message. For its part, CAIR seems to dismiss everything Durán says as total fabrication. "The amazing thing about these people is that they lie in such detail," Hooper states, when asked about some of the well-documented assassinations of various reformist friends of Durán. As for the fatwa, Hooper doesn't think it really exists. "I'll believe it when I see it." When asked why CAIR objected to the chapter on female circumcision in Durán's book, when he actually dispels the stereotype that it's a Muslim practice, Hooper denied the group had commented on the issue: "Have you seen our press release? Is there any mention of female circumcision?"
Yes, in fact, there is. When confronted with that, Hooper responded that his group didn't think the subject was appropriate "for a book whose stated intent is to promote understanding between the faiths." And when asked what he thought of the section on female circumcision now that the book had been published, Hooper acknowledged that he hadn't read it. "We're trying to get a copy of the book. We asked [the AJC] for a copy, and they refused to give it to us."
(July 16, 2001)
June 30, 2001
Muslim Cleric Calls for Death
of Author Who Wrote on Islam
By DEAN E. MURPHY
- New York Times
A radical Muslim cleric in Jordan has issued a religious opinion that
advocates the death of a Muslim scholar in the United States in punishment
for a book he wrote about Islam.
The cleric, Sheik Abdel Moneim Abu Zant, declared the author, Khalid Duran,
an apostate and called on Muslims in the United States "to unify against
him," a Jordanian newspaper aligned with the cleric reported. The paper also
reported that Mr. Abu Zant urged two prominent Sunni Islamic religious
institutions to issue judgments of apostasy against Mr. Duran, the
equivalent of a death sentence.
The book, "Children of Abraham," an introduction to Islam, was commissioned
by the American Jewish Committee as part of a project to promote better
understanding between Jews and Muslims. It was reported to be offensive for
"distorting Islam" by focusing too much on issues like female circumcision,
the relationship between men and woman, whether Ramadan observances
decreased productivity and whether head scarves contributed to marital
The edict was reported on June 6 in the weekly Arabic newspaper Al- Shahed,
or The Observer, which is aligned with the Islamic Action Front, the party
of the Muslim Brotherhood, to which Mr. Abu Zant belongs. It is the main
political opposition party in Jordan.
The newspaper reported that the book's publication was "evidence of an evil
intention to besmear the image of Islam in the United States." The intended
result of the edict was that Mr. Duran's "blood will be shed," the newspaper
Michael J. Wildes, Mr. Duran's lawyer, said that Mr. Duran, 61, had been
moved from his suburban Washington home and was being provided 24-hour
The American Jewish Committee condemned the threat but said it had no plans
to withdraw the book, which is for sale on the Internet and will be in
"In a free society no one should tolerate the threat to kill an author,"
said David A. Harris, executive director of the Jewish group, which is also
publishing a book about Judaism for Muslims. "All Americans, not least
Muslims, should immediately speak out against this outrage and assault on
Mr. Duran, who was born in Germany and moved to the United States in the
1980's, said yesterday that he had received death threats over the years
because of writings that criticize extremist Islamic groups. But he had
never been the target of a religious edict.
He said the edict surprised him because unlike much of his academic and
journalistic work, "Children of Abraham" was meant to have no particular
point of view. Its aim was to present a variety of opinions.
"One thing is clear: He has not read the book," Mr. Duran said of Mr. Abu
Zant. "I hear every day from other Muslims who have read the book that they
like the book."
David Schenker, a research fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East
Policy, said the edict by Mr. Abu Zant did not carry the same religious
authority as the one against Salman Rushdie, which was issued in 1989 by the
Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini. Mr. Schenker described Mr. Abu Zant as more of
a populist religious figure than an accomplished Islamic religious scholar.
Even before its publication, the book and its author were criticized by some
Muslims in the United States, including the Council on American-Islamic
Relations, or CAIR, an advocacy group in Washington that often sides with
Muslim hard-liners on Middle East issues. The groups questioned Mr. Duran's
credentials and suggested that the book sensationalized some issues, like
the treatment of women in Islamic societies.
Officials at the American Jewish Committee said that attacks by CAIR most
likely laid the foundation for Mr. Abu Zant's edict, particularly since the
article in Al-Shahed mentioned the American group.
But Ibrahim Hooper, a spokesman for CAIR, said the Jewish organization was
making too much of the Al-Shahed article. Mr. Hooper described the article
as "an editorial in a party newspaper that nobody ever heard of." He said
that Mr. Abu Zant was making a recommendation to the Sunni religious
authorities, not issuing a death sentence of his own.
"Even if he said what the American Jewish Committee says he said, it is not
a fatwa, it is just some guy in a party newspaper in Jordan," Mr. Hooper
said. "This isn't about a death edict, it is about the American Jewish
Committee going around pressing Islamaphobic hot bottons trying to get
publicity for their deceitful book."
But Reuven Paz, academic director of the International Policy Institute for
Counterterrorism, near Tel Aviv, said that Sheik Abu Zant's declaration was
serious. "What Abu Zant said literally is that his blood is `permissible,' "
he said. "Though there is no direct translation of that in English, it means
that any Muslim can and should kill Duran."
Mr. Abu Zant, a former member of the Jordanian parliament, was jailed in
1999 for denouncing his government's decision to close the Amman office of
the militant Islamic movement Hamas. Last year he issued a religious threat
against a Jordanian poet and he has joined other clerics in denouncing
Pokemon as a Jewish plot against Islam.