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April 20, 2001
A Lack of Rigor

by Ayman Anabtawi


NileMedia commentary: Ayman Anabtawi is new to our page. We welcome his initial contribution, while expressing a little sadness that the subject matter is something we have all wasted too much effort on. From the amount of mail we received by fans of Israel Shamir, It is obvious that they do not take kindly to those of us who have remarked on Shamir's chosen method of delivering a very unique and unmistakable message. We would have liked to avoid this whole controversy; yet feel that it was appropriate to addresss these issues in a straight forward manner. Now, we will move on, hopefully stronger in our resolve to tackle the very real challenge of Israeli repression of the native people of Palestine. That is the expressed desire of all concerned, including Israel Shamir. So, Ayman will have the last word on this. We look forward to publishing more work from this very promising writer.

By Ayman Anabtawi

One of the wonders of the Internet is the instant universal distribution of information to the masses. Without the Internet, writers like Israel Shamir would be available to a rather limited audience with access to the limited range of publications courageous or independent enough to publish him. The Internet brings Israel Shamir into our living rooms in real time, instantly freeing him of the shackles of censorship.

But there is another side to this coin. The Internet also allows the rest of the world into Israel Shamir's living room too. Whereas once one would have had to have substantial literary or academic qualifications to engage Shamir on an equal footing in a public forum, the Internet allows those equipped with nothing more than a computer and modem to invade our email boxes with commentary or critiques that fail the test of rigor.

Rigor: (Webster's) Exactness without allowance, deviation, or indulgence; strictness; as, the rigor of criticism; to execute a law with rigor; to enforce moral duties with rigor; -- opposed to lenity.

Rigor was one discipline sorely lacking in the Abunimah/Ibish critique of Israel Shamir. Rigor means ensuring that one engages Shamir at his level of intellectual, literary and historical thinking. Just as Alan Greenspan would be abhorred at a criticism from Shamir regarding the nuances of interest rate economic policy, so should we tread carefully in Shamir's world. Shamir's brilliance, a result of hard work and rigorous thinking, extracts the raw materials from the mines of literary, religious and historical knowledge and fashions them into swords he uses to tear mountains of hypocrisy and injustice. Shamir's style is uniquely suited to tackle the moral high ground occupied by sophisticated Zionist thinkers who have convinced the world, and themselves, that they have a divine right to dispense untold misery in pursuit of the purity of the Jewish purpose.

Shamir is targeting his ruthless critical genius at the sophisticated, sensitive Jewish thinker who has allowed his conscience to turn a blind eye at the stunning transformation of the Jews from abused to abuser. This in effect is the only hope Palestinians have of achieving their aspirations of justice and self-determination, as it is plain that America has been beaten into sickening submission by the Zionist anti-Semitic stick.

Let Shamir do what he does best, without being lectured to about anti-Semitism, a concept he is well versed in, by those incapable or unwilling to rise to his level of rigor. Palestinians should instead concentrate their efforts at weeding out corruption and complacency of our leadership such that we might help, and capitalize on, the efforts of those Jews enlightened and emboldened enough to put a stop to the injustice to our people.