According to Aristotle, good legislators should have more respect for friendship than for justice. Thus, in true friendship lies the supreme idea of society’s perfection. Friendship is a virtue. Furthermore, says Montaigne, who has written the definitive treatise about friendship, "there is nothing to which nature seems so much to have shaped us for as to be social" .
Generosity and selflessness are the marks of true friendship. The exchange that takes place in true friendship depends on mutuality, reciprocity, and pre-supposes true equality. This is where the virtue that is friendship and the idea of justice intersect, since justice strives to restore equality.
Friendship may be a moral asset in our life but what makes it a humanistic reservoir of good is that it is a natural instinct, a genuine flow of positive energy. Human essence tends towards social harmony, mutual solicitude and peaceful existence. It naturally abhors conflict and war and violence. To shun friendship in favour of enmity is an unnatural desire. We tag such behaviour as anti-social, a rupturing influence in the fabric of productive and prosperous life.
Which is why I am shocked whenever I encounter examples of people rejecting friendship as a vice and an immoral initiative, when faced with a project for rapprochement to overcome past enmities and reach a more normal state of relationship. As in the following example:
"Why are the Amazigh [Berber people] - or some of them, let's not generalize - launching an Amazigh-Israeli friendship association?"
The rejectionist: Yahya Abu Zakariya, Algerian writer:
"Fuad, let me make it clear that, in principle, the Amazigh, throughout the history of the Maghreb... did a great service to Islamic civilization, and contributed to it to the greatest degree. The fact that such calls are emerging from the Arab Maghreb - the calls for rapprochement with the Zionist entity, which as the entire world knows, has penetrated our territory, and taken away our security... These calls are, obviously, dubious."
"There has been a transformation among certain groups, which are saying that the Arab Maghreb has nothing to do with the Arab world, that there are no bridges connecting this region of North Africa with the Arab world, and that relations with the Zionist entity must be rebuilt. Unfortunately, such initiatives receive official blessing." [...]
"If Only the Arabs Had Believed in Friendship with the Jews All These Years, We Would Not Be Seeing Rivers Of Blood Flowing"
The advocate: Ahmed Adghrini, Secretary-General of the Moroccan Amazigh Democratic Party:
"With regard to the Jews, I don't have to tell you that their history in our region goes back to 1000 BCE. The history of the Amazigh in North Africa goes back 2,957 years. In 40 years or so, we will have 3,000 years of history behind us, throughout which the Jews lived together with us. For the Jews too, Arab identity is of no concern, just as it is of no concern to the aboriginal residents of North Africa. He was talking about the Arab period in North Africa, whereas we go back thousands of years before that."
"He used an infamous term. He said that the Amazigh are suspect. This is an ugly expression, which I ask him to retract, because it reflects badly on him more than on us. We are not suspect in our own country. He should retract all his ugly statements about the Amazigh."
"With regard to the association, you and those listening know that is has to do with friendship, which is a humanist value for the benefit of all peoples, including the Arabs. The Arabs replace friendship with enmity and war.... I am convinced that friendship is better than war. If only the Arabs had believed in friendship with the Jews all these years, we would not be seeing rivers of blood flowing, among the Arabs themselves, and between the Arabs and the Jews. Therefore, I find it objectionable that anyone - whether Arab, Amazigh, or Jewish - could have an aversion to the word 'friendship.'"[...]
Or this example (Via Mick Hatrley):
A rising Egyptian film star who plays the son-in-law of Saddam Hussein in a British Broadcasting Corporation drama faces a possible ban on performing in Egypt for acting with an Israeli in the film.
Which reminded me directly of this:
In other words, Omar Sharif is under fire for affirming religious freedom instead of anti-Semitism and dhimmitude. Even worse, from this noxious point of view, is the fact that "the actor did not deny making such remarks with regards to his grandchildren and attempt to calm the storm of Anger." A friend tried to calm the waters on his behalf: "On a different note, his good friend Egyptian actress Nadia Lutfi denied that Omar made such comments stressing that he would never say such a thing."
It is a sad commentary on the Islamic world today that such remarks would stir controversy -- just as it is sad that in Toronto a young woman received death threats for pro-Israel statements, and a neo-Nazi spoke at an Islamic conference. The anti-Semitism is so thick today that Sharif also drew controversy for defending kissing a Jew: in the same controversial interview, he said, "My philosophy is that when I go out of my room, I’m prepared to love everybody I meet, unless they’re bad. If they’re bad, I’m prepared not to love them and to dislike them independently of the fact if they’re Jewish or they’re Black or White or Christian or Muslim. It’s like when we did 'Funny Girl' during the Six Day War. A lot of the Arab press naturally said, 'This man is a traitor. He’s kissing Barbra Streisand who’s giving dollars in favor of Israel.' There was a lot of press asking, 'What do you think of this press saying that you kissed Barbra Streisand?' I said, 'Nor in my professional nor in my private life do I ask a girl her nationality or her religion before I kiss her. That has nothing to do with it.'"
Blooging on this subject are:
"Civilization is not self-supporting. It is artificial. If you are not prepared to concern yourself with the upholding of civilization -- you are done." (Ortega y Gasset)
Wednesday, August 29, 2007