2005/03/19

Myth No.3: We believe in Arabism

Recently, scores of analysts all around the world are coming up with this big revelation: Arabism is Dying in Syria. How clever is that!! When the heck Arabism was alive in the first place for it to die? In the fifties or sixties, maybe, but we were lucky not to live in that miserable era of Big-looser Nasser and Associates. We, the Happy Generations of Syria who were borne after the Happy Revolution of 1963, never knew Arabism except in books, and we knew these are as bullshit as extraterrestrial creatures books. Political analysts and journalists need a story though, and if there is no one, they will invent one. The identity of Nothingness, (apology to Nietzsche and ZEN), which is exactly what most of us Syrians have, won't make a good story and won't sell books and articles. The Fall of Arabism on the other hand would. That is why you have scores of writings and blogs about the: taaadaa: Dying of Arabism.

Karfan is convinced that all those geniuses preaching about the Dying of Arabism in Syria, obviously never lived in Syria. Or as he puts it, never took a stinky microbus from a stinky half-built-house in Eishh Elwarar (an area that is the perfectly precise opposite to Beverly Hills) to a stinky governemental Istehlakya (An ingeniously screwed-up Syrian version of supermarkets) and wait for an hour to get a stinky 2kg of rice from a stinky employer yelling in your face. Now, only then tell me if they can find a trace of Arabism in people. They assumed that there was Arabism and they are making a living out of writing bullshit on how it is dying. In light of the absence of the above-mentioned inspirational experience, they base their wicked revelation on two wicked sources:
1. The writings of some Syrian geniuses intellectuals from the "Failure Generation", that is our fathers'. Those people want to give meaning to their failed lives in which they could not achieve what others achieved in even Burkina Faso, not mentioning Asia and elsewhere, so they write bullshit saying that they ""succeeded"" in: Leaving us the Legacy of Arabism. Yes in deed, they have left us that in books; we have tons of those for lucky falafel makers to wrap their sandwiches.
2. The interviewing of people in the streets by journalists and academics, which goes like this:
Happy western journalist: What identity do you believe in?
Miserable broken Syrian: I believe in Arabic identity. Oh, and by the way, we ALL love our president.
What on earth do you expect us to say we believe in?

"Kurds in Syria are joining the Baath party": what does Happy western academic 1 make of that? That Arabism is sooo convincing it would make people change their skin and blood.
"Kurds in Syria are revolting": what does Happy western academic 2 make of that? That Arabism is dying.

Karfan never met a single so called "Arab" that has a sense of unity or brotherhood with any other inhabitant of the other so called "Arab Countries". People who really want to fight Israelis are driven by religious animosity toward Jews not by Arabic enthusiasm. People who really want to unite with Gulf countries are driven by the wealth they think they can share not by Arabic enthusiasm. Didn't Iraqi soldiers killed and raped Kuwaiti men and women while still ""saying"" that they were serving the glorious dream of Arabic Unification?. Still, Happy western journalists and academics ignored the deeds, looked at the words, and interpreted that Kuwaiti Fiesta as a product of Arabism. But wait, good news is coming: Arabism is now dying.
Who said that only Hollywood makes stories out of nothing?

It is true that we have been drummed up day and night continuously with Arabism bullshit, but the only successful result of this policy is that we became conditioned to speak about it. We are Arabs, we love Arabs, Arab World, Urubaa, Blablabla, Just wards! In reality, a person from Tunisia might as well be from Honolulu and it wouldn't make a damn difference for us. Syrians will tell you that they are Arab because:
1. It is the only thing we were taught to say we are. What else is to say? We never been taught or allowed to learn anything else, we never knew any other vocabularies to say.
2. It is the only thing we were allowed to say. We all know that we are just Sunnis, Alawis, Murshdees, Druuz, etc to the end of the glorious list, but we are not allowed to utter that. It is the existing truth that no one is permitted to voice.
We were not even taught or allowed to say that we are Syrians, as this would be considered a deviation from the Holy Message of our Holy Arab Homeland-to-come. Only recently under the rule of "King Lion the 2nd", God Bless His Dynasty, people were allowed to say that they are Syrians without being accused and punished as Iqlimees (regionalists: One of the many ingenious swear words invented by the Failure Generation)!!

This Arabism might have had its glorious days back at the time of the big idiot Shareef Hussein and his clueless sons, or back in the days of Naser Don Kichote, maybe. But for us, the Happy Generations of Syria who were borne after the Happy Revolution of 1963, it existed in words in books and is now dying in blogs. Poor Arabism!

19 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I disagree. Arabism is not a myth. We are victims of our governments which used Arabism as a tool for their own interests. Baath and other authoritarian regimes talked and talked about Arabism, shouted slogans for decades, but actually did the contrary. This, however, does not mean that Arabism, as an ideology, is wrong. For me there is a huge difference between Honolulu and Tunisia. And the only difference between a Syrian in Tartous and a Lebanese in Tripoli is a stupid line drawn by a French General. Arabism will live again when democracy prevails.

20/3/05 10:57  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Man I want to congratulate you and your karfan friend for this wonderful blog, To be honest I enjoyed reading it, as I lived in Syria.

Keep on going like this, because only when we feel pathetic, talk like losers, and be pessimistic are we going to change our future. Only when we show the negative sides of Syria and add some bullshit, and some nonesense are we gonna give the right image of the country, and stop the "lies".

It is a shame that you put links to such great blogs like the Damascene blog, when you have such an attitude.

21/3/05 14:11  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Author,

This is a great blog. I hope you will keep writing so we get as much as we can before THEY GET YOU :)

21/3/05 15:05  
Blogger Beatnik said...

Good God am cluless about syria and i am a syrian well half but i see myself as one never lived in syria but for 8 and 9th grade because of invasion of kuwait but I loved it do(living in syria not the invasion LOL)
am glad you guys have an outlet now through the net even though we are facing somewhat of an openess in syria(am i delussional?) but this is great neverthless and well it only makes me glad to be in syria for the summer for four months and know ppl like you guys exist.

21/3/05 15:58  
Blogger Solomon2 said...

It is true that we have been drummed up day and night continuously with Arabism bullshit, but the only successful result of this policy is that we became conditioned to speak about it.I can guess there is another, more subtle, effect: you may have lost the language of freedom, as the terms usually used to describe it have been abused or even re-defined.

This seems to have been a problem for the Russians in the last days of the Soviet Union. When discussing reforms, they couldn't pick the right words to express what they wanted to mean, they could only look at a Western example and say, "Come and see this, maybe this is something we can learn from..."

Another, more obvious example: During Nazi rule, Germans were conditioned to greet each other with "Heil Hitler!", and it may have been difficult at times to even think of starting a conversation any other way.

21/3/05 21:08  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks Karfan for your rant. I'm a Lebanese American raised mostly in America, and my dad is definitely of the failed generation. 15 years of civil war in Lebanon didn't destroy his commitment to the idea of Arabism.
Your essay makes me think that his commitment is like that of Communists I know, who just won't give up their ideals even though they have nothing to do with the reality on the ground anywhere.

However, the Communists and children of Communists I know in America are the people who do the most amazing work for peace, justice and social welfare on the ground. They're used to being on the side of lost causes so they just keep on. Go to any pro-Palestinian or anti-Iraq war rally in Berkeley, California and you will find more Jews than Arabs. 99% of those Jews with a conscience will be the descendants of Communists or Socialists. And if there's any idea that's more dead than Arabism, it would be Communism (or socialism).

MEanwhile, my Arab nationalist father has lived out his days mostly in America, trying to help any Arab student he finds anywhere in the world. When we traveled in France, he would try to get Algerian waiters we met into his college in the States, offering help with I-20 visas etc. He's a Christian but he claims he's an Arab first, and if there's an Arab who needs help in his town he will help him.

So on the one hand these ideals seem like BS and fantasies to you, and yet on the other hand they may live on in ways you wouldn't expect. I certainly have no interest in the Communist party, but I can't help noticing that all the Jews I have been able to befriend in America have this Communist (or often Socialist) connection. Maybe Arab nationalism is dead, maybe it never existed except as a mirage, but perhaps there are some ideals - transcending sectarianism, egalitarianism - that might survive and get transmitted.

Power to the people! You really hear that in Berkeley still. It can work.

21/3/05 21:32  
Blogger Anton Efendi said...

Karfan, you have a great sense of humor. But more importantly, you are speaking the truth with great insight. The writer Robert Kaplan wrote an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal yesterday that mirrored what you wrote about Arabism and Syrian identity. He said:

"Syria's pan-Arabism was a substitute for its weak identity as a state."

Of course, your formulation is so much funnier!

Keep up the great work!

Tony

21/3/05 23:40  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I recall that the Arab countries that participated in Desert Shield and Desert Storm had few qualms about the Shield part, that is, the defense of Saudi Arabia from any Iraqi invasion from Iraq or Kuwait or both. They were reluctant to move out of Saudi Arabia and attack Iraqi troops in order to liberate Kuwait. The reason given was reluctance to fight "their Arab brothers." They were referring to Iraqis, but what about the Kuwaitis? They did eventually agree and participate in Desert Storm.

US military leadership was convinced that it was essential to invade a small part of Iraq near the border in order complete the defeat of the Iraqi Army to the extent desired. The Arab forces refused to cross the Iraqi border as it had existed before the seizure of Kuwait.

Michael in Framingham

23/4/05 01:28  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Arabism is very funny because arab is not a culture, a religion or even an ethnicity but a langauge! It would be the equivalent of englishism. The arabs are not united by anything but a shitty language

26/4/05 03:59  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The WHO are not united by anything but a language?

10/5/05 14:04  
Anonymous Young Arabs who believe in Arabism said...

What a bunch of BS! Tell this "Arabism does not exist" BS to the Algerian Sunni working in the restaurant in my university in London who gives me bigger portions because I'm Syrian.. or to the Lebanese Maronite girl who keeps telling everybody with joy the story of how "2 Arabs" (me and her) met by sitting next to each other by coincidence in the first lecture of the year.. or tell it to the Palestinian Orthodox student who gets tears in his eyes whenever he see me talking passionately about Palestinian issues.. or tell it to the Iraqi Shiite student who formed the Arab Student Society in Campus.. or to the Saudi half Sunni half Shiite girl who invited all the Arab students (even Christians) to a Ramadan Iftar!

Karfan and co... I hope that people reading this blog do understand that it is way beyond exaggerated and cynical.
If you haven't met any young Arabs who do believe in Arabism my friend then this does not mean that they do not exist.. in fact this simply means that you don't go out much!

17/6/05 06:10  
Anonymous Karim Elsahy said...

My whole blog is set up to promote a new Pan Arabism based on its economic value to us, as Arabs. I had posted a comment on your site telling you to come check it out before I read this post. Now I really want you to come ;) See you there

21/6/05 16:16  
Anonymous Karim said...

As an Arab from Morocco, I totally disagree with the above blog entry.

It is a fatalist viewpoint. Arabism has nothing to do with Arab failures.

Yes Arab countries can be quite different but so what. That is called diversity.

Arab Unity is still in our dreams and aspirations, there is nothing wrong with that.

One day we might be able to achieve that unity, it has not died yet.

It is mostly opposed by our rulers, not the actual people.

22/10/05 03:42  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

To, the many negative responders; It is natural for people who share a common language to be attracted to one another socially in a foreign nation…

In fact this phenomenon does not occur only among Arabs. It actually occurs among all people who exit their home society and enter into a foreign nation. Often they are so desperate for a feeling of home they spend time with people they would never consider spending time with at home.
The pathetically idealized attraction one respondent out lined quickly disappears when you go back home to the middle east and realize your not a foreigner anymore -- No on is going to cuddle up with you just cause you’re the only person in the room who speaks the same language when you are in a room full of people who speak the same language

Resistance to defending Kuwait did not result from a real concern for Iraq’s Arab nature; please do some real research… It had much more to do with inter Arab resentment for Kuwaitis and a lack of real human compassion for their plight.

Communists murdered over ten times as many people as Hitler did, so it is probably better that they stay on the loosing side before they start back up their gulags and
“Reeducation” camps. In fact they really ought to just get a job like everyone else and stop looking for handouts from people who actually work for a living.

And finally the author is correct; nil-ism is the only escape for a thinking nation who recognizes the folly of their parent’s generation and their current situation. A nation who is in touch with a great deal of anti western ideology, yet as time goes buy recognizes that in spite of a great deal of inherited bigotry and ignorance they find again and again the west to be superior in it’s freedoms, peace health and welfare.
Generation after generation flees to the west for Jobs, freedom, law and order and peace… Peace they cannot find in their parents broken and pointless ideologies that serve only to highlight the folly of the current Arab system.
A great deal of excuses exists for Arab failures -- Failures in peace, failures in health and welfare failures in social freedoms. Unfortunately as a people we refuse to recognize the foolishness of our parents’ false ideals. Ideas that have brought nothing to our people but spiritual and social poverty so profound that we have become blight upon the world.
Unable to find peace unable to recognize the problems we create for the rest of the world with our backwardness, and anti0western bigotry masquerading as brotherhood. We flee and lie to ourselves. We say we are brothers we say we are superior yet we find our jobs, our futures and our homes on foreign soil. In the homes of Americans, Swedes and Europeans who have opened their doors to use with compassion we could never develop on our own. Instead we condemn their religions, and their beliefs blind to the fact that something about their culture has brought them success, freedom and peace we have never attained. In our entire recorded history!
Why do we condemn those who treat us with compassion, who invite us into their homes, and their nations, give us a safe place to sleep and the ability to pursue our dreams in ways we will probably never have at home.

3/5/06 07:11  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I totally agree with the previous anonymous who said that it is natural for people who share a common language to be attracted to one another socially in a foreign country.

Personally I don't really believe that Syrian people are Arabs. I would say that they got used to "arabize" through the last centuries, forced by their authors and mostly due to their geografic position. As far as I know, the name "Syria" is greek. In the ancient times, many greeks used to visit your area and named your nation "Assyrian people". Assyrians were a friendly and hard-working nation that used to live around to the northwestern area of Mesopotamia. About 1 million Assyrians (christians in majority) were slaughtered by Young Turks before the end of the First World War. The Assyrian Genocide is the biggest after the Armenian and the Greek-Pontic Genocides but unfortunately there are no official statements, and of course no official recognition of the genocide. An independent Arab Kingdom of Syria was established in 1920 when the Turkish troops defeated by the army of Prince Faisal (along with the help of the British).

I visit Syria every year and must confess that your country becomes even better everytime. You work hard and you try to increase your national incomes and your life style as well. You should be very proud about it.

I am a greek-cypriot from Cyprus and the only negative that I have to charge you is the fact that you don't have the right to the free speech. You are not allowed to express yourselves in anyway you wish. Here in Cyprus (and also in Greece), is a legal paradise for the people and the mass media. I hope that one day you can make it and ask for more rights, as we did in the 60's.

5/1/09 12:50  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am of Syrian origin although never actually lived there, my grandparents having migrated to France in the 1950s. I have always found the whole "Arabism" stuff to be in the worst possible taste. In France where i grew up, there are large moroccan and algerian communities and me being of syrian origin did not particularly endear myself to them. In fact they always made fun of my syrian accent and i was threatened with stabbing when i became too friendly with an algerian girl at college. I now live in the UK and yes, if i meet someone from another arab country i will have no hesitation in inviting him for lunch or coffee but that is simply because living in a western society, it is always nice to meet someone who has shared cultural or religious values. I certainly would not invite a stranger from algeria for cofee if i bumped into him in souq hamidiyeh!

In my view the whole Arab nationalist rubbish has been used by Arab rulers as a means to cover up their very serious deficiencies. Instead of bringing about real change for their people through democratic reforms, economic progress, education, health care etc., our despotic rulers have promised us this "Arab" utopia which is gonna deliver us from all evil. Of course it is complete nonsense. Sadat knew that and at the first opportunity he made peace with Israel and got all his land back. Arab unity could go take a running jump as far he was concerned. He put Egypt first and rightly so. Hussain was always talking to the Israelis behind the backs of his beloved Arab brothers and Morocco, despite all the rubbish it churns out in the name of Arab unity, is Israel's best friend. As Syrians, we have always had a problem in carving out a proper national identity for ourselves. And that is because we have always been divided along sectarian lines. So our beloved "royal family" has found the perfect solution. We are all part of this glorious Arab nation. What a load of bull!! Our only common thread with other Arab countries is that we speak the same language, give or take the odd funny dialect. Nothing more and nothing less. Since when did i have anything in common with a guy from Mogadishu?? We syrians have become too meek. We have been cowed down for way too long and i don't see things getting better any time soon. The blessed "royal family" can talk to us about the glory of the Arab nation as much as they like. Its a dead slogan, almost as dead as our hopes and aspirations for our sad, poor but oh so beautiful country.

25/3/09 03:30  
Blogger Pan Arabism said...

Arabism is racism!

http://pan-arabism.blogspot.com

The wild racist
virus on a vicious campaign of burning all non-Arab ethnicities down, main
victims include: Kurds, Jews (not just in Israel), Berbers, Persians, Assyrians, Asians, Africans (not just in Sudan genocide), etc.

1/2/10 18:34  
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