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Can You Imagine Being Occupied?

By Scott Sutton
Sept. 18, 2004

It’s another warm winter’s evening in Dubai. Santa will be showing up in a couple of months. Last year, Santa showed up outside one of the swanky malls in a BMW. And to keep with the white Christmas spirit—somewhat difficult in the desert— the mall made sure that it snowed on the hour every hour—for something like three weeks. No kidding. For a radius of some hundred feet, ‘snow’ fell from the ceiling by magic as children raced around happily—Arab kids, Indian kids, and I dare say some coalition kids (Brits and Yanks). The only disappointing aspect of the scene was the enthusiasm with which the laborers raced in with their brooms to sweep up the ‘snow’.

Christmas aside, I recently watched an interview on the excellent British interview program, Hardtalk. The host, Tim Sebastian, is a hard- hitting Larry King who maintains the British politeness while raining questions upon the man or woman of the hour. The guest that night was one Dr. Imran Waheed, a British-Arab fellow whose group, Hizb Ut Tahrir, is calling for a revolution within the Muslim world. He told Tim Sebastian that he wants to raise an army of Muslims to fight western ‘colonialism’, and that he considers only the law of God, not of Man, worthy of being obeyed. Oh, and he called for the destruction of Israel.

It’s these nuts who, of course, get the most western coverage, and moderate Muslims just groan at this. While I was sitting with my friends Khalil and Babak last night, Khalil dismissed the not-so-good doctor Waheed. “For all the talk of cultural imperialism, most people still love Hollywood and blue jeans and Burger King.”

I wonder if that’s a good thing. It seems to me that a lot of what the wacko Islamist right want to get rid of is the same as what the wacko ultra- right Christians decry as having fouled America. I’ve read the remarks of some of these Islamic Osama wannabees. They hate homosexuals having power, the power of Hollywood to fill young minds with—in the words of James Bond—gratuitous sex and violence, the crapola fast food chains, and, well, you know some of the other things that sets off ultra con guys like Pat Robertson. You may even agree yourself. So we all are in some agreement here. It just strikes me as odd how two such divergent mindsets can be teed off at the same thing.

I mentioned to Khalil and Babak that this Dr. Waheed had called for the destruction of Israel. Babak’s answer: “The guy’s a looney. 99% of Muslims aren’t going to follow this guy. Look at Iran, like 90% of the young people love America and don’t care about either Israel or Palestine.” To which, I said, “I sympathize with Palestinians. I’d love to ask my fellow Nebraskans if they can imagine being occupied?”

So I’m asking you? What would you feel if big soldiers with ten times your firepower came into your home there in (fill in the blank with your town’s name) and shot your fifteen-year-old brother? This kind of activity happens daily in Palestine. One of today’s most interesting stories in the Gulf News was “Generation of Israelis is Tripping to Escape”. Written by Megan Stack of the LA Times but sent from Israel, the story told of young Israelis who finish their mandatory military service and run off to developing countries to lose themselves in drug- induced stupors. Stack quotes one young Israeli woman as saying, “The ideological center has collapsed, and people have started questioning.” In a way, the woman was echoing ex Prime Minister Barak when he said that Israel had lost its moral authority.

So Israeli youth are suffering angst. But they aren’t the only ones. Emirate young men, increasingly unemployed and trapped in a lifestyle of money and materialism, are dying in car accidents as they speed at 120 mph down the freeway searching for thrills. Other Arab youth rebel by joining Al Qaida. And what about American youth? Seems like quite a few are broiling in the Iraqi desert, also unsure of where they are going.

Have you thought about where we as a nation are going? Seriously?

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About the author: Scott Sutton teaches English in the United Arab Emirates.

Email: sutton8596@yahoo.com


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