Saturday, March 18, 2006

This is a sad story; the story of an Arab intellectual who now is willing to join the chorus of Arab/Muslim intellectuals who are willing "to dance with a rope" for the pleasure of Western audiences (I borrow that line from a letter that Jubran wrote expressing his fears of his celebrity in US). I am not ashamed to admit that this person, Al-`Afif Al-Akhdar, had tremendous influence on my thinking, and helped steer me away from Leninism. I never met him, but knew his friends and disciples back when he was the prophet of Anti-Leninist Marxism. His principled attacks on orthodox communism in the Arab world, and on trendy Arab intellectuals, were eye-opening for me in my college years. Now, he has joined the ranks of vulgar Arab liberals--and with that journey he is less interesting and less original, and admits to be living off a subsidy from pro-House of Saud, pro-Moroccan royal family, `Uthman Al-`Umayr (former editor-in-chief of Ash-Sharq Al-Awsat). I used to read his articles and books several times over to absorb his insights. He was never a systematic writer or intellectual, but I enjoyed him nevertheless. As much as I admired him back then, as much as I disrespect his ideological journey, and his internalization of vulgar Orientalist cliches. Sometimes he sounds more like Fallaci, than like the early Al-Akhdar. Of course, Israeli and Zionist publications and propagandists have now discovered him. Ask them, how come they did not discover him when he was anti-Zionist, back when he was in the DFLP. How convenient.