November 26, 2006


This is a very interesting interview with the head of the organisation, MEMRI which transalates documents from the Arab world into English and other languages. MEMRI has often been accused of being a pro-Israeli organisation- its head Yigal Carmon was involved in Israeli intelligence right up until the early nineteen nineties. This interview though shows that Carmon is at least someone who likes complexity- who recognises for instance that Abu Mazen has spoken publically, on three separate occasions, not merely against the efficacy of terrorism as a strategy for the Palestinians but against its morality as well. Clive Davis notes on his blog how Carmon is also pretty subtle in arguing that European Islam is not a 'they' but a collection of individuals who respond in different ways to integration.

There are two more difficult aspects of Carmon's interview though that I find questionable. Firstly he paints a very rosy optimistic picture of the effect that George Bush has had upon the Arab world- that isn't the picture more generally given out and though I have no expertise in the matter I would be interested to see some evidence for Carmon's line that Bush has made things change. Secondly he attacks the idea of multi-culturalism and opposes it to the French system of republican citizenship. His quotations refer to ghettoising and I think that there is a difference between an approach of multiculturalism- effectively respecting other people's cultures but placing them under the same law and a policy of ghettoising which is placing them under different laws. In the first case- a Muslim girl who flees who patriachal father can claim the protection of the law- in the second her father can claim the right from his law to take his daughter's liberty. That is a key distinction.

Overall though its an interesting interview- and deserves to be read.