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Challenging the New Orientalism: Dissenting Essays on the “War Against Islam”

January 30, 2007 No Comment

By Dr. M. Shahid Alam, 30 January 2007

The essays in this book – written after 9-11 – challenge the new Orientalists at several levels. They show that their essentialist construction of an unchanging Islam, opposed to ‘Western’ values and incapable of adapting to the modern world, is misleading and dangerous. The not-so-hidden objective of the new Orientalism is to package the US and Israel’s imperialist thrust into the Islamic world as both a security imperative and a civilizing mission. Alam argues that the new Orientalist’s claim of clashing dichotomies between Islam and the West is based on a tendentious reading of the history of Islam and the West. While recognizing the political and economic failings of the Islamic world, Alam shows that these are legacies of two centuries of Western imperialism and are shared – to varying degrees – by all regions at the periphery of global capitalism. If the Islamic world lags behind China and India, this is because of two factors that have given a new edge to Western imperialism in West Asia and North Africa over recent decades: oil and the Zionism. Alam argues that Israel is a powerful destabilizing factor in this region, whose survival depends upon turning the West-Islam conflict into a hot war. Not surprisingly, many of the new Orientalists are strong partisans of Israel.

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