Wednesday, June 16, 2004


Barghouti vs. bin Laden

Marwan Bishara compares Marwan Barghouti and Osama bin Laden, illustrating just how the "war on terrorism" (as waged by the Bush and Sharon governments in the US and Israel) is self-defeating if it cannot determine the difference between the Barghoutis and the bin Ladens. On understanding this difference Bishara writes:
This is particularly important in a region of turmoil where a true opposition to fanaticism and tyranny will not come from local idealists or pacifist businessmen residing in Western capitals, but from courageous and active Arab leaders like Barghouti with a track record of sacrifice in the defense of human and national rights.
Disempowering Barghouti and his ilk effectively empowers the bin Ladens of the world. When Barghouti is imprisoned and bin Laden roams free, the message is simple: crime pays (to put it in simple American language).
Squeezed between the dictatorship of the regimes that govern them and the aggressive interference of foreign powers, a new generation is polarized between Barghouti's struggle for freedom and bin Laden's suicidal jihad of destruction. But today, while bin Laden inflames the Arab world's impoverished and unemployed youth with hatred, Israel has decided to quell Barghouti's cry for freedom.

The Middle East - and the rest of the world - would be a much better place if Barghouti's dream of justice could overcome the bin Laden nightmare. Barghouti's vision of Palestinian-Jewish coexistence and his secular agenda for building democracy could undermine the violent fanaticism in the region.
This seems to be a more pragmatic plan for fostering democracy in the Middle East than invading and occupying Iraq (and could hardly be less successful).

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