The Angry Arab News Service has an unlikely man behind it.
The controversial blog site is the product of author, journalist and academic Dr. As’ad AbuKhalil, a man who calls himself a secular atheist, is a leftist, was married to a Jewish woman and broke into “Jingle Bells” during an interview from California with the Gauntlet. Born in Lebanon, he is a California State University political science professor and a visiting lecturer at University of California, Berkeley.
AbuKhalil’s controversial views freely mock both western nations and Arab regimes. He will be speaking at the University of Calgary Fri., Jan. 19 at an event called “The Israeli war on Lebanon and Gaza: Causes and Consequences.”
“I think Lebanon’s future is going to be very bleak,” said AbuKhalil. “I think the country does not have much hope in terms of surviving as a homeland.”
“The only hope for Lebanon is secularization but no one is going for that–none of the major groups,” he said, noting the sectarian divisions that threaten to split Lebanon were aggravated by an external intervention that has gone on for more than a century.
“Israel has done the most damage and killing in Lebanon,” said AbuKhalil. “And with Israel you can never rule out the potential for further conflict. It is a very unrestrained and aggressive place that in my lifetime has bombed many countries. I will not be surprised if they get embroiled in Lebanon again. But I believe the underlying causes of the Lebanese conflict are primarily internal.”
“America is capitalizing on the conflict in Lebanon. The American administration is trying very hard to achieve victory in Lebanon that has eluded it in Iraq.”
AbuKhalil said the lack of harmony satisfies American interests in the region and the ongoing conflict will help to turn Lebanon into a satellite state of Israel and the United States, undermine Syria and Iran, and rearrange the Lebanese economy to open doors to American multinationals.
But Arabs are resisting, and among this mass AbuKhalil points out communists and other ideologies that are fighting “Israeli aggression.”
He said Arabs have an obligation to resist. Recently, he has bemoaned Muslims who are either “asleep” or “angry about the Danish cartoons.”
The Israel-Palestine conflict
“The mainstream media doesn’t talk about the humanity of Palestinians–that’s the biggest gap in their coverage,” critiqued AbuKhalil. “They forget that the Palestinians are human beings.”
AbuKhalil also criticized the media for equating Palestinian resistance with terrorism and suicide bombing, saying that these methods were in the minority in the continued intifada–the Arabic term for uprising–against Israel.
“There are a variety of resistances, most of which are non-violent,” he said. “The Palestinian resistance should not be reduced to suicide bombing. The reduction by the western media of Palestinian actions to car bombs is an indication of their own prejudice.”
AbuKhalil does not want a two-state solution and instead advocates one democratic secular state for the battling groups.
“Justice will allow Palestinians to have their own state. Palestinians will have their state and Israel will have to submit to the will of the Palestinians.”
He is convinced the future of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict will turn out in the Palestinians’ favour, but stated that Palestinians and Israelis will live as equal citizens.
“Jews will remain on the land,” he said. “Hopefully they will live as brothers and sisters with Palestinians.”
“The liberation of Palestine is inevitable. The march of freedom has been going on for a century, it’s not going to end, and it’s going to continue no matter how much massive violence Israel uses.”
He said the Palestinian movement for liberation has demonstrated resilience and predicts that Palestinians will soon achieve a homeland including a full return of the refugees displaced with the creation of Israel and the subsequent wars.
“It will not be much longer. The war in the summer exposed the vulnerability of the Israeli state.”
Although AbuKhalil is critical of Hamas, the militant Islamic party that won power in the West Bank and Gaza last year in a democratic election, he believes Israel is mostly to blame.
“The main source of instability in Palestine is not Hamas but the Israeli presence,” said AbuKhalil.
This view differs from other observers who have blamed Hamas for bringing more instability to the region and the Palestinian cause.
“I am opposed to suicide bombs and also opposed to the religious agenda of Hamas,” he said. “I think their rhetoric is often foolish and anti-Jewish.”
Critics have charged his views as impractical and utopian, but he asserts there is no difference between justice and pragmatism.
“What is just is practical, what is unjust is impractical, no matter how much force [Israel] uses,” he said. “Israel has not and will not be able to eradicate the resistance.”