Pulse Media


Painting the Picture

Fisk (extracts)

The other Lebanese problem - which the people of Northern Ireland will immediately spot - is that a sectarian state, where only Maronites can be the president and where only Sunnis can be the prime minister, cannot be a modern state. Yet if you take away the sectarianism France created, Lebanon will no longer be Lebanon. The French realised all this in the same way - I suspect - as the Americans have now realised the nature of their sectarian monster in Iraq. Listen to what that great Arab historian, Albert Hourani, wrote about the experience of being a Levantine in 1946 - and apply it to Iraq. To live in such a way, Hourani wrote:
"is to live in two worlds or more at once, without belonging to either; to be able to go through the external forms which indicate the possession of a certain nationality, religion or culture, without actually possessing it. ... It is to belong to no community and to possess nothing of one's own. It reveals itself in lostness, cynicism and despair." Amid such geopolitical uncertainties, it is easy for westerners to see these people in the borders and colours in which we have chosen to define them. Hence all those newspaper maps of Lebanon - Shias at the bottom and on the right, the Sunnis and Druze in the middle and at the top, and the Christians uneasily wedged between Beirut and the northern Mediterranean coast. We draw the same sectarian maps of Iraq - Shias at the bottom, Sunnis in the middle (the famous "Sunni triangle" though it is not triangular at all) and Kurds at the top. The British army adopted the same cynical colonial attitude in its cartography of Belfast. I still possess their sectarian maps of the 1970s in which Protestant areas were coloured orange (of course) and Catholic districts were green (of course) while the mixed, middle-class area around Malone Road appeared as a dull brown, the colour of a fine, dry sherry. But we do not draw these maps of our own British or American cities. I could draw a map of Bradford's ethnic districts - but we would never print it. I could draw a black-white ethnic map of Washington - but the Washington Post would never dream of publishing it.
It's interesting, that just as reserving the presidency to one community, the PM to another and the speaker of parliament to yet another is not entirely democratic, the same goes for restricting democracy to one religious/ethnic community within society. It might be said Lebanon and Israel are on a par. The difference is, of course, that in one case, several communities must strive to live together in harmony, whereas in the other only one community is officially represented by the state, which was in fact created for that one single community. The others, who lived on the same land for generations must accept second-class status.


Very Cross and other stories

On this issue of BA banning a small cross, I think Ian Hislop put it well on Have I got News for You. Of course, it's not only nonsensical for BA to dig their feet in over such a small item of jewelry, it's also unfair to expect a person to hide their faith when others are allowed to show theirs. That said, such a ban doesn't amount to persecution of christians. As Hislop said, persecution is stoning, beating etc. I do believe people or groups can be persecuted without physical violence, but to say christians are persecuted in Britain, a country whose head of state is also head of the church, is almost comical.
I also think this case has shown how politicians, especially elected ones, should be careful when they open their mouths. Jack Straw may feel intimidated when a veiled muslim woman comes into his surgery (poor thing), but his job as an elected representative is to defend the rights of all first and foremost. If he believes a christian BA worker should be allowed to wear her cross, then he should defend the right of a muslim woman to wear the veil if she so chooses, and however intimidated he feels. I find it hard to believe an experienced politician such as him, what's more MP in an ethnically diverse town in a multicultural country, could be so ignorant and small minded as to feel uneasy facing a veiled citizen.
My personal view is, that the veil or niqab was never a problem until recently. Similarly, islamic terrorism never took place in this country until 7/7/05. I don't think it is coincidental, that this all takes place post-9/11/01 and post US/UK invasion of Afghanistan and Iraq. I think Blair and his minions which include Straw, would like us to conveniently ignore those links, and believe, that islam has suddenly become a faith to be feared, for no apparent reason.
Finally, I would like to point out, that faith is a personal issue. Some christians may say the cross is not necessary as some muslims may not feel the veil is necessary. It is not for anyone to say what a believer should or should not wear. Faith, in my opinion, is cultural. This is why in some muslim countries women wear a niqab and in others they wear a hijab or nothing. It is also why in some muslim communities in Britain women will be more likely to wear a niqab than in others. This is why it is more a case of cultural tolerance than religious tolerance. Furthermore, since faith is a personal matter but also a belief, who are we to say what believers should or should not believe. When western politicians call on muslims to practice a moderate islam, they are belittling the faith. If a muslim believes in a radical islam, that is his or her right, so long as he or she does not harm others.


Balanced reporting

Al Jazeerah

In an unprecedented incident an Israeli woman was killed by a Palestinian projectile in Sderot this morning. Members of the armed resistance often launch the homemade projectiles from the northern Gaza Strip onto the Israeli town, but usually not even material damage is done.

One wonders how Al Jazeerah can be accused of being unfairly biased in favour of the Palestinians. Then again, one wonders how anyone can be unfairly biased in favour of the palestinians, given the biased context which favours Israel: it is a state, with a powerful military, supported by the world's unique super power, and none of the most powerful 'democracies' of the west will openly question Israel's 'right to self defence' nor its questionable version of democracy. Whether or not palestinian terror attacks are morally justifiable is frankly not relevant, at least as long as for every Israeli (Jew) killed, dozens of Palestinians are killed, kidnapped, their houses flattened, and the 'free world' continues to justify Israel's terrorism in the name of 'self-defence'.


In the past nine days alone around 80 Palestinians have been killed. And altogether, close to 400 have died - many of them civilians - since the Israeli army intensified operations in late June.

Over the same period, on the Israeli side, there have been three deaths. They were all soldiers, and one of them was killed accidentally in friendly fire.

The BBC manages to come accross as sympathetic to the Palestinians, even being accused by zionists, pro-zionists and neo-cons (right and left) of actually being liberally biased and biased in favour of the Palestinians. And yet, if the BBC really favoured the Palestinians, it would talk of Israeli terror, Israeli militants. It would name the hundreds of Palestinians killed almost daily, and it would regularly interview their families. If the BBC was biased towards the Palestinians, it would link Palestinian attacks, murders and kidnappings directly to Israeli attacks, murders and kidnappings. It would have reminded us regularly, that prior to the kidnapping of an Israeli soldier, two Palestinian suspected militants were kidnapped in Gaza by the Israelis. Actually, if the BBC was professional it would do all that.