Scanning the news today, I was struck by a headline on Reuters stating: “Majority of Palestinians back suicide bombing”. The following is a brief excerpt from the article:

Seventy-five percent of Palestinians support the suicide bombing at an Israeli restaurant two weeks ago in which 21 people, including four children, were killed, a Palestinian survey shows.

“The survey by the Palestinian Centre for Policy and Survey Research, which questioned 1,318 respondents in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, also showed that 85 percent of Palestinians support a “mutual cessation of violence by both sides”. The poll found considerable anti-American feeling among Palestinians. Just over 95 percent of respondents said the United States was ‘not sincere’ when it says it seeks to establish a Palestinian state alongside Israel.” (Reuters UK)

Before I agreed to post in this forum, I told myself that I would avoid the issue of Palestine and Isreal, because it is a no-win situation. Amongst Muslims, if you state that Arab states supposedly supporting Palestine have used and abused the issue to repress their own populations and to create a common enemy by which to rally criticism, you are considered a traitor to the Muslim cause. On the other hand, if you even suggest that Isreal’s tactics are morally reprehensible, illegal and would not, but for the support of America, be tolerated, you are labelled an anti-Semite. And, if you are a Muslim making this claim, you will be considered a fanatic and a terrorist. No win.

So today, I am not here to argue the merits of the Palestinian cause or the Isreal right to self-defense. But rather, I want to speak about my utter frustration with this ongoing struggle and the harm it has wrought on Islam. Here, I qoute Muqtedar Khan,

“While encouraging Muslims to struggle against injustice (Al Quran 4:135), Allah also imposes strict rules of engagement. He says in unequivocal terms that to kill an innocent being is like killing entire humanity (Al Quran 5:32). He also encourages Muslims to forgive Jews and Christians if they have committed injustices against us (Al Quran 2:109, 3:159, 5:85).

Muslims, including American Muslims have been practicing hypocrisy on a grand scale. They protest against the discriminatory practices of Israel but are silent against the discriminatory practices in Muslim states. In the Gulf one can see how laws and even salaries are based on ethnic origin. This is racism, but we never hear of Muslims protesting against them at International fora.

The Israeli occupation of Palestine is perhaps central to Muslim grievance against the West. While acknowledging that, I must remind you that Israel treats its one million Arab citizens with greater respect and dignity than most Arab nations treat their citizens. Today Palestinian refugees can settle and become citizens of the United States but in spite of all the tall rhetoric of the Arab world and Quranic injunctions (24:22) no Muslim country except Jordan extends this support to them.

While we loudly and consistently condemn Israel for its ill treatment of Palestinians we are silent when Muslim regimes abuse the rights of Muslims and slaughter thousands of them. Remember Saddam and his use of chemical weapons against Muslims (Kurds)? Remember Pakistani army’’s excesses against Muslims (Bengalis)? Remember the Mujahideen of Afghanistan and their mutual slaughter? Have we ever condemned them for their excesses? Have we demanded international intervention or retribution against them? Do you know how the Saudis treat their minority Shiis? Have we protested the violation of their rights? But we all are eager to condemn Israel; not because we care for rights and lives of the Palestinians, we don’t.” (Mukhtader Khan, A Memo to American Muslims)

And here is the central point, I wish this problem were resolved or would just go away. I do this for selfish reasons. I am bitter because a little bit of my humanity has disappeared, I no longer symphatise with the plight or suffering of the Palestinian people. Rather, I am angry that this issue has so occupied the Muslim world and indeed, has helped keep dictators in place (Syria, Saudi, Egypt), which has fueled extremism and is now dominating the discourse in Islam. By issuing edicts and fatwas that support suicide bombing and encouraging martyrdom, the genie has been let of the bottle.

Once you uncork the bottle of justifying violence in the name of religion, the genie cannot be put back in. We as Muslim, no longer have the freedom, the intellectual underpinning, nor the moral resolve to challenge the genie. Once we as Muslims, become selective and hypocritical in our condemation of injustice, then we have sold our souls and there seems to be very little room for reflection and introspection. With every suicide bombing and claims to martydom, our intellectual tradition and humanity is strewn amongst the wreckage. The beauty of Islam is replaced by nationalist ideology and fear, and it is we, the entire ummah, that can be counted as casualities of war. The Palestinians do not speak for me, and I refuse to be identified by Isreal or its supporters. I wish it would just go away and for that I am a hypocrit.

Articles of Interest:

Rethinking Islam

Islam and the Theology of Power

Palestinians Make Peace Now