Tuesday, December 12, 2006

La La la Al-Jazeera

It's all Israel's fault. Yes all of it, says Al-Jazeera's editor-in-chief.

Here is an interview by Pierre Heumann of the Swiss newspaper Die Weltwoche with Al-Jazeera Editor-in-Chief, Ahmed Sheikh, in which he explains the root cause of the Middle East's problems:

How do you see the future of this region in which news of wars, dictators and poverty predominates?

The future here looks very bleak.

Can you explain what you mean by that?

By bleak I mean something like "dark." I've advised my thirty year old son, who lives in Jordan, that he should leave the region. Just this morning I spoke with him about it. He has a son and we spoke about his son's education. I'd like my grandson to go to a trilingual private school. The public schools are bad. He should learn English, German, and French -- Spanish would also be important. But the private schools are very expensive. That's why I told my son to emigrate to the West for the sake of my grandson.

You sound bitter.

Yes, I am.

At whom are you angry?

It's not only the lack of democracy in the region that makes me worried. I don't understand why we don't develop as quickly and dynamically as the rest of the world. We have to face the challenge and say: enough is enough! When a President can stay in power for 25 years, like in Egypt, and he is not in a position to implement reforms, we have a problem. Either the man has to change or he has to be replaced. But the society is not dynamic enough to bring about such a change in a peaceful and constructive fashion.

Why not?

In many Arab states, the middle class is disappearing. The rich get richer and the poor get still poorer. Look at the schools in Jordan, Egypt or Morocco: You have up to 70 youngsters crammed together in a single classroom. How can a teacher do his job in such circumstances? The public hospitals are also in a hopeless condition. These are just examples. They show how hopeless the situation is for us in the Middle East.

Who is responsible for the situation?

The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is one of the most important reasons why these crises and problems continue to simmer. The day when Israel was founded created the basis for our problems. The West should finally come to understand this. Everything would be much calmer if the Palestinians were given their rights.

Do you mean to say that if Israel did not exist, there would suddenly be democracy in Egypt, that the schools in Morocco would be better, that the public clinics in Jordan would function better?

I think so.

Can you please explain to me what the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has to do with these problems?

The Palestinian cause is central for Arab thinking.

In the end, is it a matter of feelings of self-esteem?

Exactly. It's because we always lose to Israel. It gnaws at the people in the Middle East that such a small country as Israel, with only about 7 million inhabitants, can defeat the Arab nation with its 350 million. That hurts our collective ego. The Palestinian problem is in the genes of every Arab. The West's problem is that it does not understand this.

So, now you understand.

This post originally appeared on Harry's Place.


At 3:44 PM, Anonymous All I want for Xmas is Gordie said...

gordie, you little online bugger, you! I almost started on a rant at you for arguing in favour of Israel but then I realised what you're doing. You're trying to generate some intelligent discussion to make up for the thousands of page impressions that you'll be courting with pointless stories on celeb BB in the next few weeks.

I won't fall into that trap Gordie. Love your efforts though. How's the redesign going? When can we expect to see the new, improved BR and will your blog still be there????

At 3:47 PM, Blogger Gordon said...

Oh please rant, it seems only fair, and then I will take my tiny Western style Israeli democracy and walk all over you -;)

At 3:53 PM, Blogger Gordon said...

...More seriously, new site should be up and running in January. I'll still be around, with the odd Celeb Big Brother item, not to worry.

At 4:04 PM, Anonymous Xmas came early... oooo er missus said...

glad you're not going anywhere Gordie. I feared that they might use their best editor and shove him off as a Chris Moyles style 'Saviour of Print'.

On a serious note though, how do you feel about Al Jazeera's foray into the UK's rolling news scene? I'd much rather see this kind of journalism than Fox's Bush propaganda. At least it offers some kind of alternative and its quite humourous watching David Frost dribble his way through interviews...

At 4:09 PM, Blogger Gordon said...

I don't mind Al Jazeera's foray into the UK's rolling news scene, but if it is informed by lunatic politics that lays the starving poor of the Middle East at Israel's door, rather than corrupt despotic Arab regimes, then really I think I might be switching off.

At 4:29 PM, Anonymous whats the solution? said...

and it may be having lived amongst the starving poor of the Middle East that has formed his opinions. While Israel continues to oppose the actions of Arab leaders (even when they HAVE been democratically elected)there can never be peace. The nuclear threat of Israel - now admitted inadvertantly by Olmert (http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,3-2500587,00.html) has destabilised the region as have their overly agressive policies of land grabbing, wall building and war mongering.

Al Jazeera isn't the problem, nor is their Editor-in-Chief, they're both just results of one of the most frustratingly pathetic battles of human history

At 11:46 AM, Anonymous The Online Pixie said...

It's Christmas time...there's no need to be afraid...


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