Thursday, November 16, 2006

Alliance of Civilizations

The Alliance of Civilizations group was established under the auspices of the United Nations to consider the state of relations between the Islamic world and Western societies.  It has conclusively rejected the Zionist propaganda known as the ‘Clash of Civilizations’ thesis, and concludes that the main basis for conflict is the lack of just resolution of the plight of the Palestinians.  From the Report of the High-level Group dated 13 November 2001 (pdf; my emphasis in red):

4.4 The partition of Palestine by the United Nations in 1947, envisaging the establishment of two states - Palestine and Israel - with a special status for Jerusalem, led to the establishment of the state of Israel in 1948, beginning a chain of events that continues to be one of the most tortuous in relations between Western and Muslim societies. Israel’s continuing occupation of Palestinian and other Arab territories and the unresolved status of Jerusalem - a holy city for Muslims and Christians as well as Jews – have persisted with the perceived acquiescence of Western governments and thus are primary causes of resentment and anger in the Muslim world toward Western nations. This occupation has been perceived in the Muslim world as a form of colonialism and has led many to believe, rightly or wrongly, that Israel is in collusion with "the West". These resentments and perceptions were further exacerbated by Israel’s disproportionate retaliatory actions in Gaza and Lebanon.

4.5 In another critical context, the Middle East emerged as a vital source of energy crucial for prosperity and power. Cold War powers vied for influence in the strategic and resource rich countries of the region, often in the form of military and political interventions that contributed to stunting those countries’ development and eventually backfired on the powerful countries with repercussions that continue to be felt today. One of these events was the 1953 coup in Iran, the aftermath of which demonstrated both the limitations and the dangers of foreign interference in a country’s political development.

4.6 The Soviet invasion and occupation of Afghanistan in 1979 opened another line of confrontation. As part of the Western policy of supporting religious opposition to contain Communism, the US and its allies, including some Muslim governments in the region, bolstered the Afghan resistance - the "mujahedin" - eventually forcing the Soviet retreat in 1989. After a period of instability, the Taliban regime seized control of the country and supported Al Qaeda, fomenting deep hostility against the West and setting in motion a chain of events which were to scar the start of the new Millennium.

4.7 The terrorist attacks perpetrated by Al Qaeda on the United States in September 2001 drew near universal condemnation irrespective of religion or politics and demonstrated the depth of this extremist group’s hostility. They provoked a forceful retaliation against the Taliban regime in Afghanistan. Later, these attacks were presented as one of the justifications for the invasion of Iraq, whose link with them has never been established, feeding a perception among Muslim societies of unjust aggression stemming from the West.

4.8 In the context of relations between Muslim and Western societies, the perception of double standards in the application of international law and the protection of human rights is particularly acute. Reports of collective punishment, targeted killings, torture, arbitrary detention, renditions, and the support of autocratic regimes contribute to an increased sense of vulnerability around the globe, particularly in Muslim countries, and to a perception of Western double standards. Assertions that Islam is inherently violent and related statements by some political and religious leaders in the West – including the use of terms such as "Islamic terrorism" and "Islamic fascism" - have contributed to an alarming increase in Islamophobia which further exacerbates Muslim fears of the West.

4.9 Conversely, violent attacks targeting civilian populations in the West, including suicide bombings, kidnappings, and torture, have led to an atmosphere of suspicion, insecurity and fear in the West. Many in the West also perceive double standards on the part of Muslim leaders. Indeed, while Western military operations are widely condemned by Muslims, this is not the case with intra-Muslim conflicts. Sectarian violence between Shias and Sunnis in certain Muslim countries and the atrocities committed against civilians in Darfur, for instance, has not led to widespread condemnation in the Muslim world.

4.10 These reciprocal perceptions of double standards contribute to the climate of suspicion and mistrust that undermines relations between Muslim and Western societies.”

and:

5.1 With regard to relations between Muslim and Western societies, we must acknowledge the contemporary realities that shape the views of millions of Muslims: the prolonged Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the violence in Afghanistan, and the increasingly violent conflict in Iraq.

5.2 We must stress the increasing urgency of the Palestinian issue, which is a major factor in the widening rift between Muslim and Western societies. In this regard, it is our duty to express our collective opinion that without a just, dignified, and democratic solution based on the will of all peoples involved in this conflict, all efforts – including recommendations contained in this report – to bridge this gap and counter the hostilities among societies are likely to meet with only limited success.

5.3 Our emphasis on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is not meant to imply that it is the overt cause of all tensions between Muslim and Western societies. Other factors also create resentment and mistrust, including the spiraling crisis in Iraq, the continued instability in Afghanistan, issues internal to Muslim societies, as well as terrorist attacks on civilian populations in many countries. Nevertheless, it is our view that the Israeli– Palestinian issue has taken on a symbolic value that colors cross-cultural and political relations among adherents of all three major monotheistic faiths well beyond its limited geographic scope.

5.4 Achieving a just and sustainable solution to this conflict requires courage and a bold vision of the future on the part of Israelis, Palestinians and all countries capable of influencing the situation. We firmly believe that progress on this front rests on the recognition of both the Palestinian and Jewish national aspirations and on the establishment of two fully sovereign and independent states living side by side in peace and security.

5.5 Reaching this objective will require Israel not only to accept but to facilitate the establishment of a viable Palestinian state. The peace accords involving Israel, Egypt and Jordan demonstrate that such constructive steps taken in line with international law are workable. Moreover, the terms of reference agreed to by all parties at the Madrid Conference in 1991, the peace initiative by President Clinton in 2000, and the peace proposal by the Arab League in its meeting in Beirut, Lebanon in 2002, make it clear that the framework for a broad-based accord does exist and the political will can be generated.”

Simply based on the results of thinking based on the Clash of Civilizations thesis – Afghanistan, Iraq, Chechnya, Lebanon, Gaza, West Bank – you would have to conclude that the thesis is not just wrong – although it is unclear whether a thesis that is basically an incitement to hatred could ever be right – but insane.  It is an idea created by specific Zionists with the sole purpose of concealing the real reason for the conflict - Israeli wrongdoing - behind a form of xenophobia masquerading as a legitimate political thesis.

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