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The ideology of paranoia

May 11,2016 - Last updated at May 11,2016

It is a fact of history that nations, like individuals, can become driven by certain forces into a state of mind, a mindset, from whose grip it is very difficult to escape.

Ideology, often religiously rooted, sometimes secular, may whip not just an individual but an entire nation into a frenzied mood that is truly anathema to that people’s culture and human standards.

Until now, and in spite of repeatedly trying, I have failed to understand how Germany, with its rich cultural heritage in philosophy, music, the arts, sciences and technology, and proud contributions in every field of human endeavour, could succumb to the barbaric spell of ludicrous Nazi doubletalk and racial nonsense.

Or, for that matter, how Italy, again, with its magnificent history in every human endeavour, could succumb to the spell of Mussolini, a buffoon inflated with the hot air of racial superiority who called himself “Il Duce”.

Wondering about such cases so close in terms of historical proximity transcends the bounds of intellectual or academic curiosity to the very nature of the “sickness” of our age, an age when men reached the stars and beyond, plumbed the depths of oceans, delved deep into the human psyche and the origin of humanity itself, and yet seem to be basically only an “improved” animal, often driven by forces beyond their control.

Otherwise, how can one explain that nations that produced the likes of Emanuel Kant, Leonardo Da Vinci or Raphael could respond to the utterly simplistic, animalistic blandishments of racial hatred.

The devastation that came in the wake of the transformation of these two “civilised” nations is still wreaking havoc on the world; the shadow that was cast upon our lives is still very much alive and with us today in the Middle East.

For, however we, as Arabs, protest our innocence of these atrocities and the resulting dark and bloody events that took place in Europe, few, especially in the West, believe or even care to listen, and our region seems to continue to descend further and further into the abyss of violence, hate and even barbarity.

No Arab ever denied the presence or contribution of our cousins, the Jews, to our great Arab Muslim civilisation, a civilisation that, in accordance with verses from the Holy Koran itself, ordered the acceptance, not just the tolerance, of the diversity of creeds, beliefs and nations.

The Jews are recognised as “People of the Book” whose holy men and prophets Muslims cannot be real Muslims unless they honour and respect.

Whenever the name of Moses is uttered, a benediction similar to that given to Prophet Mohammad, “May peace be upon Him”, must be invoked.

Jews were another millet community, like the Christians and others, and they lived side by side with Muslims, Sunni, Shiite, Druze, Christians, etc., some reaching important status as ministers, intellectuals, financiers, like other groups in the society.

In fact, often their economic conditions, like those of the Christians or some other minorities, were better than those of the average Muslims.

While it is true that the Arabs initially rejected their forced introduction into Palestine by the British, French, and other Europeans and the Americans, the times and the circumstances have changed to the point where an Arab Peace Initiative that emanated from Saudi Arabia, the heart of Islam, was introduced at the Beirut summit.

It remains, till this day, unanswered; Israel in fact, caught in the grip of the rhetoric of its current prime minister, seems to be steadily marching backwards.

Although I am convinced that, on the whole, this is a directionless, unjust and lawless world, and that the wonderful ideals put forth in the United Nations Charter and other similar humanitarian documents are no more valuable than the ink and paper on which they are written, I still hope that a voice of peace and justice will somehow and from somewhere emerge.

Like almost everyone else in the world, I watch the daily progress of the run-up to the American presidential elections as far as the contenders go and, in spite of my reservations about his Middle East policies, Democratic contender Bernie Sanders sounds like the best choice for the Democratic nomination. 

He seems to have the right principles and ideals to reorient not only American but Western civilisation, including Israeli, from the path of ideological entrenchment and paranoia to their once noble principles of justice and human dignity for all, to rehumanise the civilisation that has come to depend solely on power and the bayonet.

Just in the past few weeks, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, again and again, and against all principles of international law and justice, declared that Jerusalem is the undivided, eternal capital of Israel, and while openly continuing Israel’s illegal settler activities against the Palestinians and on their land, pronounces the Syrian Golan Heights “Israeli, forever”.

Saddest of all for the region and for humanity as well, he warns his people that they should always live by aggression, avowing that, “Israel will always live by the sword”.

What kind of a terrible sentence does he pass on to the future of his people and the region?


The writer was director of the Royal Institute for Interfaith Studies and former foreign minister of Jordan. He contributed this article to The Jordan Times.

157 users have voted.


As a descendant of Jews, Muslims and Christians, raised in a moderate New York Jewish home, a home where my father struggled to explain what we call the Six Days War and where both parents, and now I, oppose the continued, unchecked settlement policy of Israel under Netanyahu, I, too, have concluded that Bernie Sanders is not only the best candidate for the people United States (certainly better than the grandson of a brothel owning pimp, son of a KKK supporter), but for citizens of other nations.

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