The following is an excerpt from an article which appeared in the 22nd October, 1996 edition of the London publication, Almashad Alsiasi:

The Arabs Inside Israel
by Azmi Bishara
Member of the Israeli Knesset

… One is at pains here to determine how “loyalty to the state” can be accommodated in liberal discourse (What exactly is loyalty to the state in a liberal democratic society. Why should it constitute a condition for granting rights of equal citizenship? What means and standards are to be engaged in determining loyalty in the first place?). One is also struck by the incongruous demand upon the Arab individual to be loyal to a state that was built on the vestiges of his national entity?

… What presents itself as a form of pragmatism — and how frequently the Arabs confuse pragmatism with shrewdness — is an integral part of the dominant culture of the Israeli Arab. Inside Israel the appeal for more rights is counterbalanced by the acceptance of the Jewish character of the state and its claims to loyalty, while for Arabs it is justified as coming to grips with reality.

… [T]he only possible way for the Arab minority inside Israel to confront the challenge of Israelification is not to deny the existence of such a process, but to engage in a struggle for equality, a struggle which can simultaneously challenge the Zionist-Jewish essence of the Israeli state while at the same time mobilising the Arab minority in the battle to gain their national rights as Arabs who belong in a wider collective national identity than that of Arabs inside Israel.

“Sex and Saddam”
[column:] Reflections
by Hani Shukrallah

Managing Editor

Distraction on a grand scale, however, is very much at issue, ironically, both in the Lewinsky and Iraqi affairs. What I find most interesting about this latest Clinton sex scandal is not whether or not it involved a conspiracy by the Christian and, in most Arab interpretations, Jewish right wing. Ms. Lewinsky may well have been a right-wing mole, especially planted to entrap the president by capitalising on his well-known “weaknesses”. The fact remains that these weaknesses were widely known. Spectacle, rather than substance of any worth, was what I saw in the sordid revelations about a sordid, and especially, heartless and dehumanized kind of sexuality.

… A glowingly oligarchic post-modern capitalism seems to depend increasingly on spectacle for its survival — the heads and reputations of presidents and royals are a small price to pay, and so, of course, are the lives and livelihoods of unimportant, nameless and faceless men, women and children anywhere from Iraq to Grenada.

A suggested title for a manual on how to govern a Western capitalist country in the late 1990s: Spectacle: Sex and Saddam”.

“The Press This Week”

Al-Arabi: “The question is not one of Iraq’s possession of weapons of mass destruction. The inspection teams have been looking everywhere for seven years and have found nothing. This issue is that Iraq is an oil-rich country, perhaps the second richest in the world. It is also strategically placed and has great industrial and agricultural potential which could be of use to the Arab world. It is also opposed to Zionism and imperial plots. Where lies our duty? We should appeal to the emir of Kuwait to declare openly that he is against a US strike against Iraq and demand that Turkey should not allow its bases to be used for such an attack. We should also appeal to all Arab and Islamic countries to act in order to prevent such a strike. And, finally, back home, we should come out in our millions to besiege the US Embassy, the FBI office and the Zionist embassy in Cairo in order to paralyse their activities.” ([written by] Hassan Fami Mustafa, 2 February 1998)

“Citadel or Jail?”
by Ahmed Abdel-Halim

The writer is a strategic expert at the National Centre for Middle East Studies.

[Heading:] Turkish-Israeli military maneuvers signal a step forward in the move from dual to total containment, [A review of] US policy in the region.

One must not take the recent US-Turkish-Israeli maneuvers in the eastern Mediterranean at face value, whether in terms of the reasons cited for conducting them or as a potential military axis against Syria. Their implications are far more profound. A closer reading reveals a crucial shift in US policy and strategy toward the Middle East, and the Arab-Israeli conflict in particular: to wit, a return to the policy of “containment”.

The US first implemented a containment policy against the Soviet Union in 1948, shortly after the end of World War II, when it determined that it could no longer cooperate with its former ally. The “dual containment” version of this policy was applied against Iran and Iraq in May 1993. Today, this declared, specifically targeted policy of containment has become an undeclared, comprehensive policy, which I have termed “total containment”.

… The US, in short, is in the process of surrounding the region with a great wall. We must confront the implementation of this strategy, or we will wake up to find that our region has been sealed off from the world and that Israel has a free hand to accomplish its political, strategic and economic designs, which are definitely not in the interests of the Arabs.

President Mubarak was asked recently to assess the ramifications of the Israeli-Turkish maneuvers. He answered that Egypt expressed its opinion at the outset, when the maneuvers were announced. Egypt, he said, objects strongly to this step, which is directed primarily against Syria. Egypt refuses to countenance any alliance against Syria or any other Arab country. The president is also concerned by the announcement that the maneuvers will be repeated in the future. We must monitor future developments closely, he said; based on our assessment, we will decide what action we should take.

“Compromise for Deterrence”
by Amin Hewedy,
former minister of defense and chief of General Intelligence.
[Article repeated from prior issue.]

Apology [from Al-Ahram Weekly]: The WEEKLY regrets that due to a technical error in the printing process, parts of this article as it appeared in last week’s issue were blurred and illegible. We are therefore reprinting it here.

Israel is building settlements, roads and bridges — in a word, transforming the landscape and the composition of the population. It imports Jews from Russia and Eastern Europe, to inhabit the land, and subsidises them with funds from the US.

In order to implement this transformation, Israel draws world attention to other, minor, hostilities. The tunnel under Al-Aqsa is a good example of this policy. The Arabs focused on it exclusively.

[IMRA note: In fact, there was NO tunneling under Al-Aqsa. The work involved completing opening a closed off exit to the Via Dolorosa of the existing tunnel along the outside of the Western side of the Temple Mount.]

“Greater Democracy Urged by Parliament”
by Essam El-Din

[Heading:] A People’s Assembly report affirmed confidence in the cabinet of the prime minister but questioned its position on political reform.

The People’s Assembly will begin its annual marathon of parliamentary debates over the government’s policy statement…. The report reviews a number of thorny issues, including the government’s battle with terrorism, the exercise of political rights and the economic reform programme. Although the report urged deputies to affirm confidence in Ganzouri’s government, it castigated its policies on political reform, terrorism and corruption.

The report deplored the fact that the Assembly’s previous recommendations, underlining the pressing need to introduce a new agenda for political reform, were totally ignored by the government. “The Assembly emphasises again that the scope of the people’s exercise of their political rights continues to fall short of the required level. This is manifested by the low turnout of voters in general elections, restrictions on the establishment of political parties and the reluctance of women to participate in political life,” the report said.

… Yassin Serageddin, spokesman of the liberal Wafd Party, told Al-Ahram Weekly that the report’s recommendations in this connection are just “talk” because the government has not shown readiness to act. He cited the passing, two weeks ago, of a new companies law which makes the publication of new newspapers conditional on the cabinet’s approval. “This law is the prelude to new measures which will end the limited margin of freedom available at present,” Serageddin said.

The Wafd, he added, has demanded that the Constitution be amended, restrictions on the establishment of political parties be lifted and a new system of general elections be introduced. “These should run parallel with liberalising the press and media in general, especially in giving citizens complete freedom in establishing newspapers and television channels,” said Serageddin.

Sameh Ashour, the only Nasserist deputy in the Assembly, also accused the government of muzzling public freedoms. “Although the report noted that there is remarkable keenness by professionals and workers to participate in syndicate and trade union elections, it is said the government remains determined to be unresponsive in this connection. The government insists on tightening its grip on this essential aspect of political life by placing many bureaucratic obstacles in the way of union and syndicate elections,” Ashour said.

… [Serageddin said] he had recently taken the initiative of drafting a new law for the impeachment of cabinet ministers suspected of illegal practices. “This law is essential for checking the proliferation of corruption among top government officials and their relatives.. Citizens want to see the government, if only for once, take a practical step towards ending corruption. Just one time,” he said.

But Serageddin did not appear optimistic about the chances of the Assembly approving the draft law. In fact, he expects it to be rejected outright. “Rejection, however, may demonstrate to people that the government talks about fighting corruption, but does not act,” he said.

Dr. Aaron Lerner,
Director IMRA (Independent Media Review & Analysis)
P.O.BOX 982 Kfar Sava
Tel: (+972-9) 760-4719
Fax: (+972-9) 741-1645