Home
In this issue

Jonathan Tobin: Defending the Right to a Jewish State

Heather Hale: Compliment your kids without giving them big heads

Megan Shauri: 10 ways you are ruining your own happiness

Carolyn Bigda: 8 Best Dividend Stocks for 2015

Kiplinger's Personal Finance editors: 7 Things You Didn't Know About Paying Off Student Loans

Samantha Olson: The Crucial Mistake 55% Of Parents Are Making At Their Baby's Bedtime

Densie Well, Ph.D., R.D. Open your eyes to yellow vegetables

The Kosher Gourmet by Megan Gordon With its colorful cache of purples and oranges and reds, COLLARD GREEN SLAW is a marvelous mood booster --- not to mention just downright delish
April 18, 2014

Rabbi Yonason Goldson: Clarifying one of the greatest philosophical conundrums in theology

Caroline B. Glick: The disappearance of US will

Megan Wallgren: 10 things I've learned from my teenagers

Lizette Borreli: Green Tea Boosts Brain Power, May Help Treat Dementia

John Ericson: Trying hard to be 'positive' but never succeeding? Blame Your Brain

The Kosher Gourmet by Julie Rothman Almondy, flourless torta del re (Italian king's cake), has royal roots, is simple to make, . . . but devour it because it's simply delicious

April 14, 2014

Rabbi Dr Naftali Brawer: Passover frees us from the tyranny of time

Greg Crosby: Passing Over Religion

Eric Schulzke: First degree: How America really recovered from a murder epidemic

Georgia Lee: When love is not enough: Teaching your kids about the realities of adult relationships

Cameron Huddleston: Freebies for Your Lawn and Garden

Gordon Pape: How you can tell if your financial adviser is setting you up for potential ruin

Dana Dovey: Up to 500,000 people die each year from hepatitis C-related liver disease. New Treatment Has Over 90% Success Rate

Justin Caba: Eating Watermelon Can Help Control High Blood Pressure

The Kosher Gourmet by Joshua E. London and Lou Marmon Don't dare pass over these Pesach picks for Manischewitz!

April 11, 2014

Rabbi Hillel Goldberg: Silence is much more than golden

Caroline B. Glick: Forgetting freedom at Passover

Susan Swann: How to value a child for who he is, not just what he does

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Financial Tasks You Should Tackle Right Now

Sandra Block and Lisa Gerstner: How to Profit From Your Passion

Susan Scutti: A Simple Blood Test Might Soon Diagnose Cancer

Chris Weller: Have A Slow Metabolism? Let Science Speed It Up For You

The Kosher Gourmet by Diane Rossen Worthington Whitefish Terrine: A French take on gefilte fish

April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review July 25, 2011 / 23 Tamuz, 5771

When dictators shoot back

By Tahar Ben Jelloun






Gaddafi and Assad are unyielding and murderous. Has the Arab Spring turned into an Arab Hell?


http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | Muammar Gaddafi and Bashar al-Assad agree on at least one point: Spring must be eliminated; the year should have just three seasons. The demand for dignity and freedom by those willing to die for those values -- that is what they cannot bear, and strive to curb ruthlessly. Gaddafi and Assad are the same kind of people as Saddam Hussein. Like him, they can't tolerate opposition, and answer it with weapons. Like him, they cling to their positions, which they occupy without legitimacy. Like him, they count on tribalism to fortify their power. Like him, they are afraid of justice. Like him, they are convinced they are right.

Because of these two men, what has been called the Arab Spring is in the process of clouding over and becoming more like an Arab hell.

The Tunisian and Egyptian revolts succeeded because the armies abandoned the heads of state. Without the courage and daring of a few superior officers, both those countries would still be burying their dead.

What happened? Why and how did a dream become reality, even if as I write this reality is riddled with disappointment and impatience? The genius of a people is unpredictable. No one knows why, one day, people took to the streets and courageously confronted the bullets of the police or the army. That remains a mystery.

Humiliation is a common technique with dictators. Scorning, crushing the citizen is a way to govern and to guarantee the consolidation of power. The raos -- head of state -- becomes the father of the nation. He is incontestable, free to do what he likes and to have anything he desires; Arab tradition and mentality teach absolute respect for the father. You never criticize your father, never raise your voice in front of him; you obey him and thank him for being there. That is why not only Mubarak but also Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali, Gaddafi, and Bashar al-Assad blithely confuse their countries and resources with their own property, and present themselves as the fathers of their nations. When they are reproached for this, they appear not to understand what is being demanded of them. This confusion between the money of the state and that of the leader is one consequence of dictatorship. The Mubarak family is said to possess $70 billion, and Ben Ali's $17 billion.


FREE SUBSCRIPTION TO INFLUENTIAL NEWSLETTER

Every weekday JewishWorldReview.com publishes what many in the media and Washington consider "must-reading". A SOPHISTICATED examination of faith, culture and politics. Sign up for the daily update. It's free. Just click here.


In the West this notion of the omnipotent father does not exist. Why is it so strong in the Arab and Muslim world? In these countries there is one constant: the individual as a unique, singular entity is not recognized; it is the family, the clan, and the tribe that matter. The individual is drowned in this magma, and everything is done to prevent him from emerging from it. The early demonstrations in Tunisia, then Egypt, however, were marked by a new phenomenon: the emergence of the individual. The people in the streets were not calling for an increase in wages, but demanding universal values like freedom, dignity, and respect for human rights. They were asserting themselves as individuals having rights and duties, refusing to be regarded as subjects of the chief of state. This notion of the individual was born with the French Revolution of 1789.

People have often wondered why the novel as a literary genre came to life so late in the Arab world (Zaynab, the first novel, by Muhammad Haykal, appeared in serialized form in 1913 in an Egyptian magazine). The novel is the portrayal of one or several characters who are individuals. The writer bears witness to his time. The delayed birth of the Arabic novel was a direct consequence of the Arab disdain for the individual.

When the young Tunisian Mohamed Bouazizi set himself on fire last Dec. 17, he could not imagine that his fatal, tragic gesture would have historic consequences. How did he come to that point, knowing that Islam forbids suicide and that immolation by fire is alien to Arab and Muslim culture? All the great rebellions in history begin with a symbolic deed that sets off irreversible consequences. Bouazizi's sacrifice was experienced by the entire Arab world as a call for uprising. Everyone said to himself, if he gave his life, the least we can do is take to the streets in protest.

Hamza Ali Al-Khateeb was 13 years old. He was arrested in Daraa, in Syria, on April 29 for chanting "Down with the Syrian regime." He was tortured and given electric shocks; his feet, elbows, and knees were burned; then they slashed his face and cut off his penis. They finished him off with three bullets, one in mid-lung. On May 25, he was returned to his parents; the body was in a state of decomposition. The father was arrested and forced to accuse the Salafi extremists of committing the crime. Like the Tunisian Bouazizi, the Syrian boy Hamza has become the symbol for a revolt in which the blood keeps flowing.

These revolts are not revolutions. They have been spontaneous, without leaders, without ideology, without any political party. They have been driven by a yearning to stop living in submission, to stop being denied human dignity. These obstinate rebellions will stop only with the departure of those who practice -- and symbolize -- repression, theft, corruption, and the exercise of absolute power.

At present we are in a period of transition. It is a difficult time, marked by the impatience and disappointment of the people in rebellion. How to explain to them that it takes time to rebuild a country and put the state back on its feet when a dictator has pillaged, spoiled, and dishonored it? Despite the present disorder, though, and the more or less fortunate improvisations in Tunisia and Egypt, the wind of this spring continues to blow over all of the Arab world. It so happens that both countries where the battles against dictatorship result daily in the deaths of dozens of unarmed civilians are in the grips of a system whose roots are ancient and organized. Syria has always been a police state with a solid Army capitalizing on the proximity of Israel and Lebanon, a country from which it was chased out in 2005, but which the Syrian regime has sought to keep as a vassal.

As for Libya, Gaddafi has no future. The day his mercenaries grow weary, he will fall. All negotiations for surrender have failed (South African President Jacob Zuma felt that the mediation of the African Union was "undermined" by NATO raids). There have been 10,000 deaths since the beginning of the uprising.

What does that matter, Gaddafi says to himself. He will leave Libya only by divine will, he has reportedly said. But divine will did not tell him to massacre his own people. That is why the U.N. Security Council voted on its "no-fly zone" resolution and why NATO intervenes daily. You don't know Gaddafi if you think he'll give in to international pressure and take the path of a negotiated exile. His pathology didn't just appear today. He is a hunted man who does not understand that his people are clamoring mightily for his departure. He is convinced he is in the right, that he is a victim of the West and of elements of al-Qaeda. When you have been in power for 42 years, you forget what's real; you think normality is whatever you decide it is. At no time has Gaddafi thought he is a dictator, even if he blithely confuses the immense resources of his country with his own wealth. He is not crazy; he is sick, and has been for a long time. As Philippe Gros, a researcher at the Foundation for Strategic Research, stated recently in Le Monde: "Unlike Milosevic, Gaddafi has nothing to negotiate other than his departure, which makes his abdication more uncertain."

The death of bin Laden is not the end of terrorism. There will always somewhere be a lunatic, a madman, a group of sick people to plant bombs and kill innocent people, as in Marrakech on April 27. Terrorism will experience difficulties simply because the people have become vigilant and the police have made security their priority -- unless certain governments decide to manipulate splinter groups in order to thwart democracy in the countries where the revolts took place.

Anything is possible. The Arab world is an entity like no other; there is no unity, no common philosophy. There are Arab states that do not like each other despite their shared conferences, meetings, and protests. Hypocrisy is evident. Morocco and Algeria do not agree with each other. Their borders are closed. Tunisia is afraid of neighboring Libya. Syria is hedging all its bets while consolidating its repressive police regime, and hopes to put Lebanon, a country living under permanent tension about its security, back on its feet. Iraq is bandaging its wounds, and terrorism continues to kill people there. Jordan is calm for now; it has gone through some difficult days. Sudan is in the grip of unrest. Yemen risks getting lost in a civil war.

This is my survey of a tumultuous landscape, done with all the uncertainty of a cartographer who does not know exactly where the boundaries of revolt begin and end. To be sure, the awakening of the Arab people is not over. But fear has changed sides. The dictators in power, men without legitimacy, are now the fearful ones. They will be tossed out. Sooner or later, the Arab world will rid itself of these furious madmen, who cling to power even if it means multiple massacres. There comes a point where even massacres must die out.


Every weekday JewishWorldReview.com publishes what many in Washington and in the media consider "must reading." Sign up for the daily JWR update. It's free. Just click here.

Interested in a private Judaic studies instructor — for free? Let us know by clicking here.

Comment by clicking here.

Tahar Ben Jelloun is today's most significant Francophone Moroccan novelist and poet. His work straddles Arab cultures throughout the world, chronicling hopes and impasses, whether through the eyes of desperate immigrants (in his book Leaving Tangiers) or political prisoners (This Blinding Absence of Light).






© 2011, Newsweek/Daily Beast Company LLC. All rights reserved