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Thursday, January 29, 2009
Excerpts: "Egypt attacks Iran and allies". Hamas internal power-struggle. Comment by Jesuit on Innaugural address January 29, 2009

Excerpts: "Egypt attacks Iran and allies".Hamas internal
power-struggle.Comment by Jesuit on Innaugural address January 29, 2009

++JORDAN TIMES 29 Jan.'09:"Egypt attacks Iran and allies",Reuters
QUOTE: "they [Iran, Hamas,Hizbollah] ..worked together in the fighting over
Gaza to provoke conflict in the Middle East. . . .'in the interest of
Iran' "
EXCERPTS:CAIRO (Reuters) - Egypt aired its grievances against Iran, the
Palestinian Islamist movement Hamas and the Lebanese Shiite group Hizbollah,
saying they worked together in the fighting over Gaza to provoke conflict in
the Middle East.
"[They tried] to turn the region to confrontation in the interest of Iran,
which is trying to use its cards to escape Western pressure... on the
nuclear file," Foreign Minister Ahmed Abul Gheit said in an interview with
Orbit satellite channel broadcast on Wednesday 28 Jan.).
. . .The Egyptian minister also criticised Hamas for what he called its
coup against the forces of the Palestinian Authority in the Gaza Strip in
2007.

+++N.Y.TIMES, Assoc. Press 29 Jan.'09:"Hamas Officials Signal Willingness to
Negotiate"
QUOTE:"The [Hamas] militants appear to be in the throes af an an internal
power struggle between hard-liners and pragmatists""
GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip (AP) -- Senior officials in the Islamic group Hamas
are indicating a willingness to negotiate a deal for a long-term truce with
Israel as long as the borders of Gaza are opened to the rest of the world.
''We want to be part of the international community,'' Hamas leader Ghazi
Hamad told The Associated Press at the Gaza-Egypt border, where he was
coordinating Arab aid shipments. ''I think Hamas has no interest now to
increase the number of crises in Gaza or to challenge the world.''
Hamas is trying hard to flex its muscles in the aftermath of Israel's
punishing onslaught in the Gaza Strip, doling out cash, vowing revenge and
declaring victory over Zionist aggression. But AP interviews with Hamad and
two other Hamas leaders in the war-ravaged territory they rule suggest some
of that might be more bluster than reality -- and the group may be ready for
some serious deal making.
That raises the question of whether Hamas, which receives much of its
funding and weapons from Tehran, can be coaxed out of Iran's orbit. That
question looks less preposterous than it did before President Barack Obama
began extending olive branches to the Muslim world and Israel's Gaza
offensive reshuffled Mideast politics.
The militants appear to be in the throes of an internal power struggle
between hard-liners and pragmatists. Which group comes out on top will
likely depend on who is able to garner the most benefits in postwar Gaza..
. .

+++WASHINGTON POST 29 Jan.'09:"There Is No 'Muslim World' ".Aloysious
Mowe,SJ (Society of Jesus)*

QUOTE:"The political leaders of Arab counries are more than happy to
highlight the suffering of Palestinians in the Occupied Territories , and
to call for 'Muslim' solidarity with them : this distracts their own
populations from the democratic and economic defects that mark so much of
that part of the world."

FULL TEXT:At his inauguration, President Obama said: "To the Muslim
world, we seek a new way forward, based on mutual interest and mutual
respect." Is that possible? What must happen?
Substitute "Hindu" or "Christian" where President Obama has "Muslim", and
we begin to see the problems as well as the promise in his overture to
the "Muslim world".
Tempting as it might be to adopt Samuel Huntington's Manichean view of
global conflict or some variation thereof, President Obama has to resist
the impulse to speak of Muslims as a single bloc. This master of language
knows that words matter. It may be convenient to speak of the "Muslim
world" in a speech, but there are dangers in painting with so broad a
brush when it comes to the articulation and implementation of policy.

It makes no sense to speak of a "Christian world" as though it were
possible to extrapolate, from their religious affiliation, the shared
values of all Christians everywhere. Even within a major denomination
such as Roman Catholicism, there are major disagreements as to how the
hierarchy of values should be stacked. Some U.S. bishops made opposition
to abortion the one and only criterion for how one was supposed to choose
a candidate to vote for in the recent elections. The outcome of the
elections showed that the majority of U.S. Catholics had greater moral
discernment than some of their shepherds.
There is no Muslim world, only a variety of nations with Muslim
majorities. Some of these call themselves Islamic states, but the extent
to which even these are governed according to Islamic principles and
under Islamic law is a matter for debate.
The Arab world does not represent Islam, but one would be hard-pressed to
recognize this fact when faced with what is written and said about Islam
in the U.S. Many commentators identify the Palestinian problem as the key
neuralgic point behind Muslim discontent. The Palestinian problem is not
a Muslim one - many of the most important and prominent Palestinian
activists and leaders have been Christians - and should not be viewed as
such. The political leaders in Arab countries are more than happy to
highlight the sufferings of Palestinians in the Occupied Territories, and
to call for "Muslim" solidarity with them: this distracts their own
populations from the democratic and economic deficits that mark so much
of that part of the world. When I lived in Egypt in the 1990s, I saw the
conditions in the settlements there for displaced Palestinians, and the
legal, social and political constraints under which they lived: there was
little evidence of Egyptian solidarity with their "Muslim" brethren.
If the U.S. is to be seen as an honest broker in the Palestine-Israel
conflict, it has to be seen to be speaking the truth of political
pragmatism and compromise to Israel, just as it should speak the truth of
democratic change, human rights, and economic equity to its Arab
neighbors.
There are more Muslims in Indonesia and Malaysia than in the entire
Middle East, but they seem to have little impact in shaping American
perceptions of Muslims. The president's family ties and lived experience
in Indonesia should give him a unique vantage point from which to
appreciate the complexities of Muslim identity.
We have a tendency to form our opinions about any group of people
according to what we hear from their loudest members. Greedy hedge fund
managers and unscrupulous lawyers come to mind. The loudest voices among
Muslims today are those of the jihadists and extremists, and so much of
U.S. public perception and political reaction has been formed by the
violence of these voices.
There are other Muslim voices, muted, even totally unheard, and often
silenced by their own governments. In Malaysia and Indonesia, these
voices are often asking for greater government accountability, for the
elimination of corruption, for a more equitable distribution of the
economic pie, for laws to protect women against violence and
discrimination, for a system of education that prepares young people to
compete in a globalized marketplace. When President Obama calls for a
conversation to find a way forward based on mutual interest, these are
the voices he must strain to hear.
Muslims are not one political and cultural bloc; neither are they a
separate and different species from the rest of humanity. They want their
children to have a better life than they themselves have had. They want
lives secure from poverty, crime, violence, disease, and all the other
pains to which we are all prey. During the recent Gaza conflict, some
political leaders in Malaysia called for a boycott of American goods and
the dollar. No such boycott ensued. Malaysian Muslims were more concerned
with their economic wellbeing than with making political gestures. If the
president is looking for mutual interest, then it is at this level of
interest that he must pitch his policies, rather than at the level of the
mutual political interest of the US and the Egyptian or Syrian police
states, or the web of economic, military and political interests that
link the U.S. with that paragon of oppressive and undemocratic rule,
Saudi Arabia.
The president also said during his inauguration address, "We will not
apologize for our way of life, nor will we waver in its defense." He
should give the speechwriter responsible for this tone-deaf bit of
rhetoric his walking papers. The present economic crisis is clear
evidence that the American way of life has to change, and that Americans
should apologize for it. For too long there has been in the U.S. a sense
of entitlement, expressed in a lifestyle that has resulted in the
consumption of a disproportionate share of the world's resources, and the
wholesale plunging of the nation into debt as a way of life. The thirst
for oil and for markets has distorted U.S. policy, and its relations with
Muslim states, for far too long. The way of life here in the U.S. has now
been discredited, and it cannot be defended. The task before the
president is to seek for the U.S. a sustainable and common way of life
with the rest of the world, and to convince his fellow citizens that
there is no alternative

Aloysious Mowe, SJ, is a Woodstock International Visiting Fellow at the
Woodstock Theological Center, Georgetown University
========
Sue Lerner - Associate, IMRA

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