Cease-fire breaks down
Egyptian leader all-Sisi's call for a modern Islam has not met the opposition one might have expected.
I never cease to be amazed at the well-honed ability of the media to devote most of its time and space to completely unimportant matters (yes, fans, such as the Super Bowl), while downplaying or completely ignoring events of potentially great significance.
In recent days, an Al-Jazeera news anchor wondered live on camera why the Arab armies can't be as humanitarian as the Israeli army--trying its best to avoid civilian casualties. As far as we know he was not fired.
Youssef Zeidan, a prominent Egyptian scholar and author, declared in a televised interview that Muslim anti=Semitism and anti-Israel attitudes were attributable to indoctrination, ignorance "...and stupidity".
Such statements are not rare from Arab and Persian scholars and others living outside the region, but they are very rare from persons within the Arab or Iranian world. Nevertheless, perhaps crowding out incidents such as these in favor of endless commentary on SodaStream vs. Oxfam or whom the prime minister's sons date, could be excused on the ground that such examples are few and far between and the individuals involved are not all that significant.
However, the same cannot by any stretch of journalistic malfeasance be said of the relative lack of emphasis on an astonishing statement made publicly by one of the most powerful figures in the Arab universe: Egyptian Field Marshall and soon to be president, Abdel Fattah all-Sisi, to wit: "Religious discourse is the greatest battle and challenge facing the Egyptian people, pointing to the need for a new vision and a modern comprehensive understanding of the religion of Islam--rather than relying on a discourse that has not changed for 800 years." He refers to the year 1258, when the ruling Islamic scholars of the day declared all questions of interpretation of Islam had been settled and the gates of "ijtihad" (interpretation) had been closed.
Even completely secular Arab rulers such as the Assads, Ghaddafi and Saddam Hossein never dared to say anything of the kind, and on the contrary, supported their domestic religious establishments.
Equally significant is that Marshall al-Sisi was not contradicted or condemned by the scholars of Al-Azhar University, by far the most prestigious center of Sunni Islamic learning. Indeed, late last year some of those same scholars joined a group of twenty-five Egyptian Sunni scholars who proclaimed that ijtihad needed to be resumed, including in such areas as separation of religion and state, women's rights, relations with non-Muslims and jihad.
This could not have happened in a more significant Muslim country, outside of Saudi Arabia. Is it a straw in the wind, or simply an isolated incident? If it indeed indicates a shift in the Islamic winds, that would be a monumentally important event for Israel and the rest of the world. Islam never had a reformation and Arabic civilization never had a renaissance. They are both frozen in the high middle ages.
Might we be seeing the faint beginnings of such a reformation and renaissance? Stay closely tuned.
Norman A. Bailey, Ph.D., is Adjunct Professor of Economic Statecraft at The Institute of World Politics, Washington, DC, and a researcher at the Center for National Security Studies, University of Haifa.
Published by Globes [online], Israel business news - www.globes-online.com - on February 4, 2014
© Copyright of Globes Publisher Itonut (1983) Ltd. 2013
You comment was recieved and soon will be published.
Thank you for posting your comment, which will be reviewed for publication.
Load more comments
Heavy fighting is taking place around Rafah; an Israeli soldier is feared captured by Hamas.
Israel, Hamas agree 72-hour truce
The truce was announced by US Secretary of State John Kerry. Israel will continue destroying tunnels.
Likud charges ahead - poll
Operation Protective Edge has strongly boosted Netanyahu's support - at least until the day after.
Gaza's cruel war of tunnels
"Every tunnel is a message to the world - the destruction in Gaza is not for nothing."
David Blatt: We had to act in Gaza
The Cleveland Cavaliers head coach told "Globes" that Israel is fighting its most justified war in years.
Home sales down 16% in June
1,685 new apartments were sold in June, down from 2,013 in June 2013.
IDF calls up 16,000 more reservists
The security cabinet has approved the expansion of the operation in Gaza.
Gaza almost completely without electricity
The power station south of Gaza city has been hit in the fighting.
IDF irked by food, clothing donations to soldiers
Officers and soldiers are being ordered not to accept donations from well-wishers.
Tax Authority chief reveals compensation plans
Moshe Asher said the state will compensate businesses for direct and indirect damage.
0% VAT bill delayed until after summer recess
The bill for first time buyers of new homes will only pass the Knesset in October, if at all.
IAI launches WindGuard to combat mortar shells
The IDF has successfully introduced the tactical radar system into the Gaza conflict.
Yair Lapid: Gaza conflict won't hurt Israel's economy
The Finance Minister told "Bloomberg" he is more worried by the decline in world trade.
Progress in cease-fire talks - report
Arabic newspaper Al Hayat reports a breakthrough in contacts over a cease-fire in the Gaza Strip.
4 killed by mortar shell in Eshkol region
Qatar pledges NIS 16m to two Israeli soccer teams
Bnei Sakhnin and Achi Nazareth will each receive NIS 8 million.
Benjamin Netanyahu: UN must demilitarize Gaza
The Prime Minister has told Ban-Ki moon that the Security Council statement is one-sided.
Obama demands immediate cease-fire
US President Barack Obama told Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu last night that the Gaza fighting had to stop.
Givati commander: We need more time to do our job
"Globes" joins Col. Ofer Winter in the battle for a Hamas stronghold.
Hamas declares 24-hour truce
Israel refused to accept the cease-fire after Hamas continued firing rockets after the deadline.
Hamas in arms deal talks with North Korea - report
North Korea is selling rockets to Hamas, "The Sunday Telegraph" reports.
Israel ends Gaza truce
Israel had acceded to a UN request for a cease-fire till midnight, but Hamas kept firing rockets.
Israel extends cease-fire; rockets continue falling
Israel has agreed to a UN request for an extension of a humanitarian cease-fire until midnight.
"Starve Hamas of money"
Israel must use the economic weapon against Hamas, argues Nitsana Darshan-Leitner.
Fighting according to the rules
Three experts discuss whether Israel's operation in Gaza is within the international laws of warfare.
Gov't approves benefits for Gaza economic damage
The measures are aimed at strengthening the home front.
Meet the Hamas billionaires
"Among the Palestinians, they tell you straight out, 'I want to get rich.'"
150 Hamas terrorists surrender to IDF
The captured terrorists are being questioned about Hamas operations.
Three IDF paratroopers killed in Khan Younis
Moshe Ya'alon: Prepare for more substantial missions within the Gaza Strip.