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The Netanyahu era gave the world the

ugly face of an exploitative politician

who has no value to promises or

conventions in his dictionary.

EDITORIAL

Take chances, make mistakes. That’s

how you grow. Pain nourishes your

courage. You have to fail in order to

practice being brave.

Mary Tyler Moore (1936-2017)

American actress

Mistakes are always forgivable, if one

has the courage to admit them.

Bruce Lee (1940-1973)

American actor

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Mahmoud

Ahmad

HARD

Hussein

Shobokshi

Bye bye Netanyahu!

10

OPINION

MONDAY 21 AUGUST 2017,

SAUDI GAZETTE

7

Spreading darkness of hatred

M

USLIMS

and the West have always viewed each

other with deep suspicion and open hostility,

with Crusades and colonialism serving as

contributory factors. Migration or Muslims’

refusal or unwillingness to integrate with

host societies gave a new edge to the negative

perceptions the West had of Islam. However,

it was the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks on the United States that gave a new

acceptability or respectability to Islamophobia. Even the opposition to

migration is now driven by anti-Muslim prejudices.

For example, when British Conservative MP Enoch Powell made

his famous “Rivers of Blood” speech in Birmingham on April 20, 1968

against unrestricted migration from nonwhite countries, he didn’t

single out Muslims as did Donald Trump 49 years later. But after

the 9/11 attacks, there has been a significant increase in calculated

discrimination, illicit labeling, negative stereotyping and even physical

violence toward Muslims, with media, print and electronic, serving as

echo chambers for politicians who spew anti-Muslim venom.

What we saw last week in the British tabloid The Sun was a

representative specimen of this crude xenophobia. The author of

the column is Trevor Kavanagh, a former political editor of the

Rupert Murdoch-owned newspaper.

The Sun is known for its hostility toward Muslims. It faced heat

last year after publishing a column in which the author argued Fatima

Manji, a Muslim reporter with Channel 4 News, should not have been

allowed to report on the terrorist attack on July 14, 2016 in the French

city of Nice because it was carried out by a Muslim. Also last year, the

newspaper was forced to correct a “significantly misleading” front page

claiming that one in five British Muslims had sympathy with jihadis.

Even by The Sun’s standards, Kavanagh’s piece was outrageous

and sets a dangerous precedent. He says there is a “Muslim problem”

in UK, recalling a phrase used in the last century in relation to Jews

in Europe with disastrous results for the community concerned.

There is also the suggestion that Muslim men are preying on white

children, just as the Nazis accused Jews of abducting German

children. He was trying to establish links between immigration,

religion and crime in the context of a trial at Newcastle Crown Court

early this month of largely Pakistani gangs.

To the immense relief of Muslims, British politicians realize the

danger involved in such pernicious or intemperate language. More than

100 cross-party politicians have signed an open letter demanding action

against The Sun for “using Nazi-like language” regarding the Muslim

community in Britain. In the letter, MPs from Labor, Conservatives,

Liberal Democrats and the Green party express outrage at the “hate and

bigotry” the article is filled with. More important, Jewish and Muslim

organizations issued a joint complaint over the article to the press

regulator, the Independent Press Standards Organization (IPSO).

Muslim organizations and community and religious leaders

need to do something more. At least 800 British Muslims have

left UK to join Daesh (the so-called IS). Another 600 were

caught trying to join the group. This should serve as a warning

to Muslim leaders and organizations. For many years, the almost

universal reaction among Muslims everywhere to the rising tide of

extremism and radicalism in their midst has been to disclaim any

responsibility on their part. They have to think whether they have

done everything in their power to prevent some members of the

community, especially the youth, falling prey to the machinations

of those who use religion as a cover for their murderous activities.

British government’s anti-terror strategy, known as Prevent, legally

obliges citizens to report any suspicions they may have about their

neighbors. It may turn people against each other or compel to spy

on each other, as some have pointed out. They should realize that

there would have been no need for the government to intervene if the

community leaders have been alert and taken the initiative in the matter.

‘Ban coffee’

I

WAS engaged in an inter-

esting discussion with a

group of friends of which

some of whom are manag-

ers and heads of sections

at private companies while oth-

ers are regular employees both

in private and public sectors. As

is the case with every discussion

after random talk, the discussion

generally veers toward a cen-

tral topic. So did our discussion

when after the initial casual talk

our discussion gained heat with a

cool central topic — coffee.

I know the word must have

jarred you readers for a debate

on java (slang for coffee) was the

least expected topic by you all.

But let me bring you’ll back to

the issue from the start. The dis-

cussion started with all weigh-

ing in on the bad performance

of some employees during the

month of Ramadan. All of us at-

tributed many reasons to the bad

or poor performance of employ-

ees that included lifestyle and

general behavior toward work

and lack of ethics.

But here was the rider, de-

spite all the reasons many ze-

roed in on one culprit. Yes you

guessed it coffee or to be precise

the lack of it! Interestingly the

overwhelming majority placed

the blame on addiction to coffee,

be it the regular Arabian coffee

or the branded ones sold in ma-

jor coffee shops. My friends then

turned toward me and asked me

to bring this point out. They also

urged me to keep the title of the

article as simply this: “Ban cof-

fee” because of what I believe

the troubles they faced during

Ramadan with coffee addicts.

It is a tradition to have Arabi-

an coffee with dates in the morn-

ing hours, either at home or work,

every day. Some people walk into

their offices carrying their brand-

ed coffee cups. I was told by a

friend of mine at a workplace that

he cannot function at work with-

out starting the day with his cup

of coffee. This is how addicted

some of the people are to coffee.

This of course will affect people

at work during Ramadan.

A friend of mine who super-

vises 12 employees in his depart-

ment called openly to ban cof-

fee at workplace and treat and

educate people who are addicted

to coffee because he suffers dur-

ing the month of Ramadan not

because of his habit of drinking

coffee, but because of the others,

who are addicted to coffee. He de-

scribes them with the title of the

famous TV series “the walking

dead” because of the coffee ad-

dicts similarity in the slow shuffle

as they walk inside the office.

He gave up on them giving

their 100 percent at work sim-

ply because they cannot. He

said that the best of such coffee

addicts was the one who gave

30 percent performance during

Ramadan. Of course, with a sec-

tion suddenly having become

non-performing assets, the load

generally falls on those who are

not coffee addicts, and they end

up doing the work of others.

In addition, those of the cof-

fee addicts who show up to work,

then add to becoming a nuisance

with the constant refrain ‘Oh,

how I miss my cup of coffee,’ or

‘without the morning bracer I

just cannot keep my eyes open,’

or some other line in the similar

vein. Though they would waste

time in complaining about their

lot without their coffee, they

would not be ready to face the

fact that how so much they moan,

they’ll have to do without the cup

and buckle down to work.

Another friend, who is a man-

ager in a private company, said

that three of his employees were

fighting to take the whole month

of Ramadan as vacation. They

openly told him that they cannot

work during Ramadan without

their brew. And they prefer to

spend the morning sleeping and

waking up just few hours before

Iftar during the month, and that

was the reason for the fight to get

the time off from office. To my

friend, this is no excuse for tak-

ing leave, for he believes being

addicted to coffee or cigarettes

is one’s own problem and work

should not be affected due to this.

Few other workers, who

were addicted to coffee, pre-

pare for the month well in ad-

vance. They choose to reduce

their dosage of coffee two

months before Ramadan by

slowly phasing out the intakes

so it would not be a problem

during Ramadan as the craving

for caffeine is reduced.

Ironically there is a history in

banning coffee. It was banned at

different times in history as was

revealed in some history sites.

Sourcing the mental_floss maga-

zine here, “Sweden gave coffee

the ax in 1746. The government

also banned “coffee parapher-

nalia” — with cops confiscating

cups and dishes. King Gustav III

even ordered convicted murder-

ers to drink coffee while doctors

monitored how long the cups of

java took to kill them, which was

great for convicts and boring for

the doctors.”

After Murad IV claimed the

Ottoman throne in 1623, he quick-

ly forbade coffee and set up a sys-

tem of reasonable penalties. The

punishment for a first offense was

a beating. Anyone caught with

coffee a second time was sewn

into a leather bag and thrown into

the waters of the Bosporus.

Interestingly speaking, coffee

was banned in Makkah back in

history, as the rulers in Makkah

at that time declared it haram

(forbidden) and ordered to pun-

ish the drinkers, seize and de-

stroy the quantity from the stock.

There are essays and written

research for those interested to

read about it.

To heavy coffee drinkers I

say that Islam urged us to bal-

ance everything to a level that

it does not harm us as it is clear

in the holy Qur’an here “and eat

and drink but waste not by ex-

travagance, certainly He (Allah)

likes not Al-Musrifun (those who

waste by extravagance).”

For someone who cannot

function, work, focus and de-

fiantly spend time on worship-

ping because of coffee is an

extreme addiction case. Peo-

ple should stop any habit that

harms the body and definitely

they need to read about the

danger of caffeine addiction. It

is always good to balance ev-

erything in life so no one will

be addicted to anything.

As for the problem of my

friends in the stories mentioned

above, it was reported, “last

cure is cauterization”. I advised

my friends in this case, tongue

in cheek of course, to reject

any vacation for coffee addicts

next year in Ramadan and force

them to give a 100 percent per-

formance, which I believe is an

impossible mission even for non-

coffee addicts.

The writer can be reached at

mahmad@saudigazette.com.sa

Twitter: @anajeddawi_eng

T

HE curtain seems

to be coming down

on the era of the

controversial Is-

raeli Prime Minis-

ter Benjamin Netanyahu.

Now Israel is actually pre-

paring for a political future soon

without Netanyahu. Netanya-

hu’s end is approaching after his

eight-year rule in which there

was no political rival and no ef-

fective opposition. The period

also witnessed relative security

in the border areas as Arab re-

gion was occupied dealing with

terrorist and extremist organi-

zations such as Daesh (the so-

called Islamic State), Al-Qaeda

and Hezbollah.

As the Arab world was reel-

ing from internal fighting, Israel

focused on its economy, register-

ing a significant growth exceed-

ing 4 percent. The country also

broke the psychological barrier

in the development of politi-

cal and diplomatic relations by

forging ties with countries that

were outside the scope of its

traditional interest. It struck

important bilateral agreements

with India and some important

African countries, which includ-

ed the security sector, of course,

political aspects.

After the terror in Barcelona

T

HERE are always

many questions af-

ter a terrorist attack,

some never to be an-

swered. Why a prom-

enade in Barcelona and the seaside

town of Cambrils? Why now? Were

the terrorists compelled to act hast-

ily after a more insidious plot col-

lapsed when a bomb they were

making in a nearby town exploded

prematurely on Wednesday?

These are matters police and

antiterrorist forces in Spain and

elsewhere are sure to explore as

they seek to combat the blight of

terrorism. And though the hor-

ror of attacks like Thursday’s on

the tourist-packed Las Ramblas in

Barcelona, where at least 13 people

were killed, dominate attention, au-

thorities have made major gains in

Europe in identifying and tracking

potential terrorists and in prevent-

ing attacks. But the hard truth is

that there is no sure defense against

young men filled with resentment

and fired up with the lethal propa-

ganda of militancy, especially as

they turn to rudimentary weapons

like the vehicles in Barcelona and

Cambrils, or before that in Nice;

the Christmas market in Berlin;

Westminster Bridge in London; or

Drottninggatan, a major pedestrian

street in Stockholm.

There are questions but there

are no longer so many mysteries.

We know where extremism breeds,

who fans the flames. We know that

the terrorists strike in places like

Las Ramblas, where people of all

ages and nationalities gather simply

to enjoy themselves, and that they

use the most banal instruments,

like the rented van in Barcelona, to

spread the greatest fear. At least 80

people from over 30 countries were

injured in Barcelona. To honor the

lives lost, thousands of people re-

turned to Las Ramblas on Friday

and chanted in the Catalan lan-

guage, “We are not afraid.”

Though Daesh (the so-called Is-

lamic State) claimed responsibility,

it does not require a global network

or intricate training to drive a van

into a crowd. Just blind hatred. So

we know there will be more attacks,

more shaky images of people flee-

ing and screaming, more candles

burning on bloodstained sidewalks

so long as terrorist organizations

like the Daesh or Al-Qaeda contin-

ue to spread their murderous blend

of religious extremism, victimhood,

vengeance and violence among dis-

affected youths.

The real questions that remain

are about ourselves — how we who

live in societies that celebrate toler-

ance and freedom, and that guaran-

tee civil rights and the rights of mi-

norities, should react to acts whose

very purpose is to make us turn

against these rights and freedoms.

This is at the heart of the fierce

debates over security in Europe and

the US: Should we seek to fortify

the places where people gather, los-

ing the very casualness and open-

ness that make promenades like

Las Ramblas so popular? Should we

arm governments with extraordi-

nary powers to surveil, investigate

and block immigrants? Should we

accept an element of threat as the

price for our freedoms?

The New York Times editorial

However, Netanyahu did

not accomplish anything at the

most important level — the

Palestinians and the Arabs. He

followed an expansionist and

provocative settlement policy.

Of late, he tried to prevent

Muslims to pray in the Al-Aqsa

Mosque by laying down humili-

ating and provocative rules for

the worshipers. Since the de-

cision to impose new security

rules has been rolled back I

consider it to be a political and

moral victory for the Palestin-

ians and Muslims. Before that,

there were huge objections

by Diaspora Jews, specifically

Jews in the United States of

America, to one of the deci-

sions of the Israeli government

led by Netanyahu.

The decision here is meant

not to allow the mixing of men

and women prayer at the Wail-

ing Wall, which the Jewish

communities in the Diaspora

considered a victory for the ul-

tra-Orthodox extremist move-

ment inside the Israel, which is

the prominent voice in the co-

alition government with Netan-

yahu, and comes as a blow to

the ambitions of the reformist

movement in the Jewish com-

munity, which consists of lib-

eral ideas and constitutes the

most prominent orientation of

the basis of thought scholarism.

But since the arrival of the

Likud Party under the leader-

ship of Menachem Begin, Israel

is growing in its “religious”

extremism. This anger by the

reformist movement of Jews

in the Diaspora means that

Netanyahu’s financial support

and political connection with

the United States of America

has been cut off through the

Jewish lobby. Now it seems

that the last nail is being put

in the political coffin of Benja-

min Netanyahu with the Israeli

investigation opening up into

Netanyahu’s corruption in two

well-known cases.

Investigators are looking

into whether Netanyahu has

done business in return for

gifts from influential friends,

including the Hollywood pro-

ducer Arnon Milchan. The

second case involves his re-

lationship with the publisher

of a local newspaper in Israel,

Yedioth Ahronoth, to agree

with him behind closed doors

to stop the publication of the

free Israel Hayom newspaper.

The investigators obtained a

“recording” documenting the

interview between Netanyahu

and the publisher.

He repeated the seriousness

of the investigation that Ari

Harrow, who was chief of staff

in the Netanyahu administra-

tion in 2015, agreed to cooper-

ate with investigators and gave

full and profound testimony to

the charges against Netanyahu

in exchange for any mitigating

provisions against him. The

Netanyahu era gave the world

the ugly face of an exploitative

politician who has no value to

promises or conventions in his

dictionary. The world will be a

better place without Netanya-

hu. The question remains who

will come as a replacement for

him and how he will run a dif-

ferent Israel!