Fouad Ajami Appreciated the Arab World for Its Achievements, and Held It Responsible for Its Failures

Reviewing the posthumous memoir of the great Lebanese-born scholar Fouad Ajami, Hussain Abdul-Hussain reflects on the similarities between his own life and Ajami’s—both came from Shiite families, both attended the same high school in Beirut (many years apart), and both found their ways to America—and on Ajami’s intellectual legacy:

During our time in our ancestral homeland, we learned the same lesson: Arab failure was from within. It was not the fault of imperialism, colonialism, or even Zionism. For Ajami, the price of dissent was often vilification, in particular the accusation that he was a self-hating Arab.

[Once], I subscribed to Arab nationalism. The late Palestinian-American academic Edward Said was my hero. He taught a generation of scholars that “orientalism”—the patronizing Western belief in Arab inferiority—was the midwife of imperialism and the ultimate author of Middle Eastern misfortunes. Then something unusual happened. The United States prepared to invade Iraq, promising democratic self-government to its people. Meanwhile, Said and an overwhelming majority of Arab intellectuals portrayed Saddam Hussein as a victim of Yankee aggression.

In general, Said and his fellow travelers had few qualms about “armed resistance” to imperial oppressors. They lionized Palestinian resistance above all, yet had sympathy for the dictator who had forced my family out of Iraq. Thus, I saw the ugly face of Arab nationalism. [For his part], Said accused Ajami of having “unmistakably racist prescriptions.”

But neither Ajami nor I were ever self-hating Arabs. Ajami loved Arab culture—the language, poetry, music, and cuisine. . . . In contrast, Edward Said “chose” his Arab identity at age thirty and then made a career out of teaching others to blame foreigners.

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Read more at National Interest

More about: Arab World, Edward Said, Fouad Ajami, Iraq war

Condemning Terrorism in Jerusalem—and Efforts to Stop It

Jan. 30 2023

On Friday night, a Palestinian opened fire at a group of Israelis standing outside a Jerusalem synagogue, killing seven and wounding several others. The day before, the IDF had been drawn into a gunfight in the West Bank city of Jenin while trying to arrest members of a terrorist cell. Of the nine Palestinians killed in the raid, only one appears to have been a noncombatant. Lahav Harkov compares the responses to the two events, beginning with the more recent:

President Joe Biden called Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to denounce the attack, offer his condolences, and express his commitment to Israel’s security. Other leaders released supportive statements as well. Governments across Europe condemned the attack. Turkey’s foreign ministry did the same, as did Israel’s Abraham Accords partners the UAE and Bahrain. Even Saudi Arabia released a statement against the killing of civilians in Jerusalem.

It feels wrong to criticize those statements. . . . But the condemnations should be full-throated, not spoken out of one side of the mouth while the other is wishy-washy about what it takes to stave off terrorism. These very same leaders and ministries were tsk-tsking at Israel for doing just that only a day before the attacks in Jerusalem.

The context didn’t seem to matter to some countries that are friendly to Israel. It didn’t matter that Israel was trying to stop jihadists from attacking civilians; it didn’t matter that IDF soldiers were attacked on the way.

It’s very easy for some to be sad when Jews are murdered. Yet, at the same time, so many of them are uncomfortable with Jews asserting themselves, protecting themselves, arming themselves against the bloodthirsty horde that would hand out bonbons to celebrate their deaths. It’s a reminder of how important it is that we do just that, and how essential the state of Israel is.

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Read more at Lahav’s Newsletter

More about: Jerusalem, Palestinian terror