In its zeal to praise Hezbollah for its ‘historic victory against the Zionists’ the Arabic press has no place for the views of dissidents like Ferhat Mehenni, who speaks for the repressed Kabyles of Algeria and is a leading advocate of Kabyle autonomy.
The Berber Kabyles, like the Jews, are the indigenous peoples of North Africa. What Mehenni has to say is relevant to the Jews because his worldview is similar: Jews have achieved, and Berbers aspire to, self-determination or autonomy in what Arab Muslim regimes have always considered their fiefdom by rights.
In his article on a Kabyle site (with thanks: a Kabyle friend) Mehenni acknowledges that the Hezbollah conflict was a media war. Wars soon become tiresome if they lack televisual images of suffering women and children. He berates the West for lending legitimacy to the Hezbollah ‘resistance’ while the world ignores the hundreds of thousands killed in Darfur and uprooted by Arabist and Islamist militias. Writes Mehenni:”The West is wrong to consider… that it has interests not values.” The lessons of 9/11 seem not to have been learned.
The Arab countries, guiltily silent about the plight of Kabylia, plunged into an anti-Israel media frenzy. The 3,500 rockets fired at Israeli citizens were each a victory and a blessing from God; but not a word of condemnation was heard for the 2,000 Sh’ites or Kurds on average killed by Sunnis every month for the last three years in Iraq. Would these massacres qualify as ‘resistance’ ?
In Algeria, the politicians do not see that incitement to hatred against the Israeli enemy will stoke Islamist resistance against the Algerian state. Even in Kabylia there is a ‘more-royalist-than -the king’ solidarity with Arabism and Islam, and seven million dinars is going to Lebanon in aid – more than was ever raised for the victims of the Kabyle ‘Black Spring’*. ( This reminds one of how the Jews in Arab and Muslim states have historically been forced to show their loyalty to the state through anti-Israel statements and financial contributions – ed).
Finally Mehenni sees Arab and African states sitting on the powderkeg of an unholy colonial and post-colonial mess. Emotional images of war and incitement can only serve to ignite it.
*In April 2001, 126 Kabyles were killed in rioting and hundreds wounded and tortured following the murder by Algerian police of a young Kabyle.