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Musharraf's new dawn??

Reader comment on item: Musharraf's Historic Speech

Submitted by Colin Meade (United Kingdom), Sep 20, 2005 at 08:03

On 1 September, the President of Pakistan, General Pervez Musharraf met Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon in Istanbul. On 17 September the General addressed the American Jewish Committee in New York. Many commentators, and notably Daniel Pipes in Frontpage magazine, see these initiatives by the leader of a major Muslim country as marking a significant new departure.
I just don't see it myself. In his address to the AJC, Musharraf strayed not a jot from the standard Muslim boilerplate about how happy everyone was and will be under true Islamic rule. Through this optic, the Islamic world turned sour because its advance was thwarted or, worse still, reversed by malign forces such as Zionism. When applied to concrete political events this mindset produces the belief that anyone who furthers Islam's progress, as George Soros did in the Balkans, is good and anyone who resists it is bad.
The consensus Muslim view that the key problem in the Middle East is the Israeli denial of the Palestinians' right to their own state is an expression of the basic mindset. If you believe that this is the prime cause, then other relevant facts about the Arab world such as dictatorship, illiteracy and officially sponsored Jew-hatred are viewed as merely effects of that cause. So all the work has to be done by Israel and the Jews; if they would only make enough unilateral concessions, Arab hostility would disappear. If the hostility doesn't disappear, then more concessions are required, and so on until Israel effectively abolishes itself and the whole of Palestine – and Jerusalem - are once more part of the Muslim umma. Indeed, Musharraf has "reiterated that Pakistan would not recognize Israel until a Palestinian state was established". i.e., Israel must make the concessions: once again, no real new departure here.
Well, I would love to be wrong and disputes over motives can only be resolved in practise. If Musharraf were willing to support an immediate end to the suicide bombing campaign against Israel, call for the dismantling of the refugee camps, and advocate the absorption of the Palestinian refugees as full citizens in their countries of residence then there really would be something afoot.
Musharraf is undoubtedly a moderate and probably a decent and tolerant person. He believes that common Muslim goals (he talks very little about Pakistani national objectives incidentally) can be reached through dialogue, including with Jews. But what if the real problem lies in the shared Islamic goals themselves? What if, for example, "justice for the Palestinians" involves injustice for the Jewish population of Israel and the latter continue to resist an unwanted fate? Then the ground will crumble beneath Musharraf's feet and the extremists will retake centre stage."

an entry from my blog http://cmeade.blogspot.com/
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