Talking With Islamists: The European Left and its “Dialogue” with the Arab World

by Thomas von der Osten-Sacken and Thomas Uwer

For some time now, political analysts have been trying to decipher the long-term political objectives that Europe, led by the famous Berlin-Paris “axis of peace”, is pursuing in the Middle East. With a certain perplexity, one has observed, for instance, how until his last breath Yasser Arafat was courted in European capitals and how millions of euros were transferred to the Palestinian territories, even though the evidence that EU money was being used to finance terror against Israel piled up so dramatically that it could hardly continue to be overlooked. German and French opposition to the Iraq War – gladly dubbed “European” opposition by its protagonists – suffered from a glaring lack of alternatives to the American policy. Consisting essentially of moral smugness, it activated anti-American resentment decked out as “critique of globalization” and gave the coup de grace to the in any case already ailing process of European unification. To this day, nobody – and least of all, the authors of the policy – can say what political, economic or strategic benefits the inflexible attitude of the Schröder government, even on the most charitable assessment, could have had. The Iraq War, as is well known, was not prevented, and in the process the “red-green” government managed to alienate all those regional actors militating for a democratic future for Iraq and the Middle East – to say nothing of the profound damage done to German-American relations. On the other hand, if one asks the opponents of American policy how terrorism is to be effectively combated and how the misery of Middle Eastern societies is to be overcome, the answer one usually gets is: “through dialogue”. Dialogue is the magic word invariably deployed whenever concrete political measures are demanded.

Such “dialogue” with Islamists of all stripes, representatives of Arab dictatorships and all sorts of self-appointed spokespersons for the Arab and Islamic world has been underway for over ten years now. Astonishingly, it is seldom asked what results it has in fact produced. Two years of “dialogue” with Iran over its nuclear program has, for example, brought no results whatsoever. Unperturbed, the Iranian Mullah Regime is sticking to its plans to build a bomb, just as if all the many positive rounds of discussion had never taken place. Nonetheless, a German Chancellor seeking re-election can base his electoral campaign on overt criticism not, for instance, of these Iranian ambitions to acquire the bomb, but rather of the American threat to prevent this, if necessary, by force. Thus, Chancellor Schröder could call across the Atlantic: “Take the military options off the table. We have seen that they’re no good.” [1] He was seconded by a new German “Left Party” [2] that warned against “putting pressure on Iran” and emphasized that “one has to keep talking”. It remains an open question how an Iranian regime that continually declares that it wants to have an atom bomb and would also like to use it against Israel is to be convinced through dialogue that it is, after all, much more reasonable to use its atomic energy for peaceful ends. Just as two years ago no one in the German Foreign Office was able to provide even just the beginnings of an explanation how, without military force, Saddam Hussein and his entourage were going to be persuaded fully to comply with Iraq’s international obligations to eradicate its weapons programs – let alone persuaded to give up power, accept free elections, and turn themselves over to an independent Iraqi judiciary.

What, then, is driving the “old” Europeans? Is it cowardice, as Matthias Doepfner recently suggested, [3] a preemptive capitulation to Islamism, as Bernard Lewis suspects, appeasement as Henryk M. Broder (“Europe – appeasement is your middle name”) has insisted, or a mix of stupidity and arrogance coupled with a large dose of anti-American and anti-Semitic resentments? Can it really be the case, as Nikolaus Blome recently put it in the pages of Die Welt, that a German Chancellor seriously defends the view that although Iran does indeed want the bomb, “this does not [threaten] world peace as much as that American President manically fixated on going to war”? [4] Even the most experienced observers of the so-called dialogue with Islam and the Arab world are left looking for answers.

There is no such perplexity, however, on the side of the partners in the dialogue. They know exactly why they never refuse an invitation to dialogue coming from Europe, but, on the contrary, conduct this dialogue with increasing satisfaction. Thus, for instance, early in the summer of this year – and against the openly-declared wishes of Israel and the United States – the EU decided that official contacts with groups like Hamas should be maintained. Hamas, Islamic Jihad and other such groups included in the US terror list are, after all – so goes the European reasoning – important social actors who one can by no means afford to marginalize. This decision had barely been taken when a high-level German diplomat met with Hamas leader Mahmoud Zahar in Gaza City in order, as it was said, to “inquire about the political developments on [sic.] the Palestinian arena”. [5] Hamas spokesperson Mushir al-Masri emphasized that his organization attaches great value to such meetings, since: “We are interested in keeping up this dialogue so as not to allow Israel to manipulate public opinion in the West.” Moreover, the discussions serve to make clear to the Europeans “that the resistance [against Israel] is legitimate and should not be seen as terrorism”. [6] This is more or less as if, in the name of forming a balanced opinion, one were to meet with a spokesperson of Al Qaeda, who then explained that the struggle against the United States needed to be understood as legitimate resistance. Is such a comparison exaggerated? Not at all – as some examples from the recent history of German-Islamic dialogue will demonstrate.

Dialogue at the 2004 Frankfurt Book Fair

In the aftermath of the Iraq War, which in Germany was widely rejected by politicians, the media, and the majority of the population, the German publishing industry decided to make the 2004 Frankfurt Book Fair into a forum for dialogue with the guest of honor: the “Arab world”, represented, more particularly, by the Arab League. German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder, who personally opened the Fair, explained: “If understanding, openness, tolerance and also curiosity reign, it will be impossible to drive a wedge between the Arab and the Western world” [7] The dialogue with the Arab World, Schröder let it be known, is the only alternative to violence, hatred, and war – as if the situation in the Middle East was, above all, the result of the West’s ignorance of Arab culture and the Islamic religion.

For the very concept of dialogue – and not only of cultural dialogue – suggests that the problem of the Middle East is not first and foremost a political one, involving real power as well as tangible economic and strategic interests, but rather a problem of communication. It is tacitly supposed, namely, that it is a matter of a quarrel between “East” and “West”: that Osama Bin Laden, the so-called Iraqi resistance, and the suicide attacks of the Palestinian terror organizations are not, therefore, expressions of the political crisis of an entire region, the states of which have been in continuous political and economic decline for decades now, but rather of a conflict between two “worlds” that has its basis in religious and cultural differences. Whoever wants, then, to understand this conflict must first understand Islamic and Arab culture, open themselves up to it, and, above all, recognize and accept its otherness. An image of the Arab and Islamic Near East is thereby created, whose residents are not principally guided by comprehensible individual interests and normal human understanding, but rather by cultural and religious factors such as honor, pride and tradition.

The choice of partner for this “dialogue”, whether it be inter-state or purely cultural, tells us something about the venture itself. Thus the Egyptian journalist Mohammad Salmawy got to open the Frankfurt Book Festival alongside Gerhard Schröder. Salmawy, editor of the French-language state-owned Egyptian magazine Al-Ahram Hebdo, has made himself known for many years now by denying the Holocaust and glorifying suicide bombings in Israel. [8] Either the Chancellor had no qualms about appearing with a notorious Holocaust denier, or the Foreign Office officials responsible for the German-Arab dialogue are not even well-informed about their more prominent interlocutors. Nor did the event’s organizers raise any substantial objection to the numerous well-known and self-professed Islamists on the guest list. On the contrary: the likes of a Dr. Mohammed Sa’id Ramadan Al-Bouti was a welcome guest and could hold forth on the topic of “Islam in a changing world”. Al-Bouti, a representative of the particularly strict Salafist tendency in Islam, openly extols suicide attacks as martyrdom and calls for the destruction of Israel. Moreover, he knows exactly who, apart from the USA and Israel, are the enemies of Islam: music, cinema and “the nicest singing voice, for which heads shake rapturously in artistic soirees and night clubs”. [9] If people with such views were not from the Middle East and were therefore unable to present themselves as partners in dialogue, it is hardly likely they would be offered such a platform. At the Frankfurt Book Fair, however, one listened devoutly to fervent anti-Semites, misogynists and Holocaust-deniers, secure in the conviction that one was taking part in a valuable exchange of different, but equally valid points of view, leading in the long run to rapprochement and peaceful coexistence between “East and West”.

Of course, the idea of this “cultural dialogue” is not just of some fireside chat about different values and traditions aimed at drawing people closer together; it always has also a political dimension. Dialogue with Hamas or Egyptian anti-Semites can only take place on the assumption that the other is a legitimate interlocutor and that existing differences of opinion remain within the bounds of the acceptable. Thus, all at once, statements expressing overt and unwavering hostility to democracy, parliamentarism and individual liberty and calling in a language of uncommon violence for the destruction of Israel, if not of Jews in general, become part of the discussion. If the problems of the Arab or Islamic world are attributed not to the repressive regimes that prevail in the region, to state control, the oppression of women, the lack of a free media and the glorification of violence – in short, to the form of government – but instead simply to a different cultural understanding, then all the basic human rights standards commonly defined as universal – and therefore as subjects not fit for dialogue – are reduced to political manifestations of “Western Christian culture” and thus rendered negotiable. At the same time, the political circumstances of despotic rule in the Middle East are rendered immutable, since any potential political change would appear as foreign to the indigenous cultural predispositions. If the Middle East is ruled by dictatorships on account of deep cultural causes and not rather because elites who have enjoyed decades of impunity maintain such regimes in their own interest, then hardly anything can be changed in this state of affairs. Moreover, the European seekers of dialogue constantly act as if the parties, groups and governments with which they are talking want something other than what they say they want, even though neither Hizbullah nor Hamas, neither the Syrian nor the Iranian government, do anything to conceal their political ideas. On the contrary, their statements and political programs leave nothing to the imagination.

As is entirely to be expected, then, no one has been able to claim even the least success in separating Islamists or Arab nationalists from their fundamental convictions by way of “constructive dialogue”. On the other hand, the Western dialogue partners often tend to assimilate the mental world of their Middle Eastern opposite numbers so closely as to cross over into it. This is a result of the very nature of the dialogue, in which the preferred partners are Islamists and dictatorial regimes rather than members of the opposition or liberals from the region. Since every dialogue requires making concessions to the other side, the Western partners always find themselves obliged to adopt positions that approximate the lunacy of the Islamists and Pan-Arabists and thus to take their distance from the hitherto shared values of the democratic nations. Even a little compromise with beheaders and terrorists is more than a humanistic outlook can tolerate. The Iranian government is no more likely to be talked into giving up the nuclear bomb than self-professed Islamists are to be dissuaded by argument from pursuing their goal of a sharia-based social order. “Dialogue” is an end in itself, serving, in the best of cases, to cover up one’s own helplessness. In the worst, it amounts to openly cozying up to the enemy of one’s enemy.

That both complicity and desperate adherence to a hopeless cause can be at work at the same time is shown by two conferences that took place last year in Beirut and were jointly organized with Hizbullah.

Dialogue with German Social Democrats and Hizbullah in Beirut

Between 17 and 19 February 2004, the Social Democratic Friedrich Ebert Foundation (FES), organized a conference in Beirut under the telling motto “The Islamic World and Europe: From Dialogue to Understanding”. The Hizbullah-linked Consultative Center for Studies and Documentation (CSSD) was a co-organizer of the event, to which were invited, along with a variety of prominent German Middle East experts, the crème de la crème of Islamist intellectuals. Besides the controversial Tariq Ramadan [10], there was, for instance, the British Islamist Azzam al-Tamimi, Jamal al-Banna from the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood and Sheikh Naim Qasim from Hizbullah. Arab liberals or women’s rights activists were not to be found. In Lebanon itself, there was vocal criticism of the fact that apart from members of Hizbullah, no other Lebanese were invited. [11] Instead, financed by German and Austrian taxpayer money [12], representatives of Islamic Jihad, the Iranian Mullah establishment and Hamas came to Beirut to exchange views with their European counterparts on such topics as “resistance” and “democracy”.

When the Simon Wiesenthal Center and others protested the Friedrich Ebert Foundation’s sponsorship of the event, the FES press office laconically declared that, “only critical dialogue can facilitate the strategy of change through rapprochement.” Or, in other words, anyone who stands in the way of dialogue with Islamists and the ideologues of international terrorism is preventing a “change” to which no alternative is envisaged. Thus the FES treats organizations such as Hizbullah, which feeds the millions of viewers of its satellite TV channel al-Manar openly anti-Semitic propaganda and aims at the destruction of Israel, as if it was something like an Eastern bloc country in the 1970s and not rather a terrorist organization. On the other hand, it consigns institutions such as the Simon Wiesenthal Center to the role of rabble-rousers and obstructionists.

A majority of the conference’s invited speakers deny Israeli’s right to exist, justify terrorism against Israel and support the so-called Iraqi resistance. There was, for example, Munir Shafiq, a former Marxist, who under the influence of Roger Garaudy [13] and the Iranian Revolution became one of the leading intellectual lights of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad. In 2003, Shafiq took part in a conference on Palestine in Iran whose final resolution states that “the participants in this conference consider the annihilation of the Zionist regime as a prerequisite and precondition for democracy in the Middle East”. [14] The Egyptian Jamal al-Banna, brother of the founder of the Muslim Brotherhood, spoke in Beirut about “democracy – a flexible concept”. Al-Banna is considered to be the leading thinker of the Islamist movement in Egypt. He is a supporter of the avowed antisemite Garaudy and defends the concept of jihad in Palestine. But he never tires of emphasizing the peaceful character of the Muslim Brotherhood: the fanaticism of some Islamist groups is, he claims, not the result of their ideology, but only of oppression and exclusion. The event would not have been complete without a representative of the “Iraqi opposition”. Of course, Abd al-Amir al-Rikabi is only opposed to the American occupation regime, whereas under Saddam he was one of those exiles courted by the Iraqi leadership. Following a visit to Baghdad in 1992, the then Iraqi Foreign Minister and later Vice President, Tariq Aziz, praised those “opposition forces” who represented an authentic “national opposition” and did not collaborate with foreign powers. [15] In October 2002, Saddam Hussein personally invited Rikabi and other Iraqi exiles to come to Baghdad in order to participate in a “government of national unity”. [16]

So, it was with such people – who, albeit in a somewhat more civil form, talk the language of jihad and whose program differs from that of Bin Laden at most just in nuances – that one held highly official discussions for two days. Christoph Zöbel, spokesperson for the SPD’s “Near and Middle East Discussion Group”, opened the conference. When asked about the background of such dialogue partners, who at least in the case of Israel justify suicide bombings, he explained: “we know that the central conflict in the Middle East, that between Israel and its neighbors, is marked by violence of many kinds. We would be getting an unrealistic view of the situation, if we did not also come upon reflections from any of our partners on how the situation can be changed through the use of violence. In the Israeli-occupied territories, in Israel itself, violence is used every day, the individual cases of which can be assessed differently, but which is still violence.” [17]

And so the circle is closed. Israel – along, of course, with the USA – is itself held responsible for the escalation of violence, and the actions of the Israeli state are placed on the same level as those of the terrorist organizations. Zöbel, and with him innumerable German Middle East experts, thus provide exactly what the Hamas spokesperson wants from a dialogue with “Europe” – and in the final analysis, it does not matter whether the European side is merely being manipulated or itself genuinely agrees with the strategy of the Islamists. The effect of conferences like that in Beirut is to promote radical Islamists to the status of serious negotiating partners.

Among other things, this has become possible because European Islamists, partly from conviction and partly from opportunism, have now nearly perfectly mastered the use of a vocabulary that dovetails seamlessly with “left-wing” ideas and programs. Just as in the case of Tariq Ramadan, who found an enthusiastic audience at the European Social Forum in Paris, so the success of the British Islamist al-Tamimi derives from his consciously relating his Islamism to the discourses of anti-Americanism and the anti-globalization movement. Thus, in an essay on Arab anti-Semitism, he writes that “In essence, the Zionist project is a Western colonial enterprise whose success depends on two main factors. The first factor is the determination of a powerful West to see this enterprise continue. The second factor is the weakness of the Arabs and the Muslims who have been robbed of the possibilities of defending themselves”. [18] In the same measure as the “Muslim world” is presented as the victim of the “New World Order”, he proposes it as the bearer of a more just one. “Evidently, the Muslim world is witnessing a massive awakening that will transform its weakness into strength. When the Arabs and Muslims again achieve strength and confidence, this will coincide with a retreat of the World Order due to dwindling material and military resources and as a result of the escalation of the current crisis. Then the end of the Zionist project will also have come and the State of Israel will no longer exist.” Packaged in academic language, Tamimi presents the same program of global jihad as that expressed in cruder form by Osama bin Laden and al-Qa’ida. The resistance to a “New World Order” controlled by Israel and the Zionists will succeed if it can exact a rising military price through a multiplication of conflicts and so sap the enemy’s strength. The call to murder could hardly be more soberly stated. And this is in fact essentially the program followed by the Ba’thists and Islamists in Iraq since the fall of Saddam.

It is precisely the use by the Islamists of a supposedly anti-capitalist language, invoking the higher values of humanity – they protest against “neo-colonial exploitation”, just as they do against environmental destruction – that makes them of interest for a European Left that has lost its traditional moorings. A tendency for prominent representatives of radical Left currents to turn to political Islam has long been apparent, and not only in France. Islamist attacks on US troops and so-called collaborators in Iraq are greeted by parts of the European Left with sympathy, just as German peace groups like to present the Palestinian suicide bombings in Israel as a form of “desperate” resistance. Indeed, leaving aside his demand that all Americans convert to Islam, Osama bin Laden’s letter to the American people of summer 2002 already reads like a hodgepodge compiled from the writings of Greenpeace, Attac and the peace movement. [19] From the Kyoto Protocol through Vietnam to the oppression of black people in the USA, the same litany of reproaches is systematically recited. The conclusion is clear: either America obeys al-Qa’ida’s orders or the murdering continues. Tamimi’s program for global jihad is very similar. This specifically Islamist variant of a sort of anti-capitalism that explains both the complex mechanisms of the world economy and political developments in the Middle East as the work of the same highly personalized set of actors, is all too compatible with a particular variant of the leftist worldview within which Israelis likewise appear only as “Zionists” and “imperialists” and Israel as a “bridgehead” of the West.

Dialogue between the Anti-Globalization Left and the Iraqi “Resistance”

It is therefore not surprising that in Beirut in September 2004, a second conference took place with virtually the identical cast, during which, however, the language employed was less guarded. This time, over 200 antiwar and anti-globalization groups from all over the world came together to exchange views on the way forward at the invitation of Hizbullah and other Lebanese organizations. The co-organizer was Walden Bello, head of the Thai NGO “Focus on the Global South”, who back in April 2004 had hailed the “insurgents” in Fallujah as the vanguard of the global movement. Bello summarized the meeting’s program: “to defeat the USA in Iraq and Israel in Palestine.” [20]

The participants heaped special praise on their hosts Hizbullah and its decades-long “liberation struggle” in southern Lebanon. Ali Fayyad, a Hizbullah intellectual, who had also been invited to the FES conference, proudly declared to the gathering that his organization’s struggle provided a model for the global victory of the movement. As a reporter from Islam-Online remarked with satisfaction at the time, the networking of the Western activists with their Islamist counterparts was in general a major part of the Beirut meeting.

After all, it was not only representatives from Fatah, Palestinian Jihad and the so-called “Iraqi resistance” who participated. There were also representatives of Attac from Sweden, Norway and Japan, and of the Austrian Social Forum and peace activists from Europe, the USA and numerous Third World countries. Abd al-Amir al-Rikabi again traveled from Iraq to appear, as he had at the February FES meeting. This time he openly appealed for solidarity with all forms of resistance to the occupation in Iraq, including therefore the butchering of hostages and the massacre of Iraqi civilians. Although the final declaration, much to the chagrin of the Iraqi resistance delegation, does not explicitly refer to this appeal, it states: “the liberation of the Iraqi and Palestinian peoples is crucial to build global justice. Their struggles are ours.”

Solidarity with Hizbullah was openly expressed and Walden Bello, the holder no less of an “alternative Nobel Prize”, again stressed that the “resistance” in Iraq must receive the full support of the peace and anti-globalization movements – it being, in his words, the “our Spanish Civil War”. [21] Bello welcomed the rapprochement with the Arab and Islamic “activists”.

While the FES and with it Germany’s “red-green” government have proceeded cautiously [22], seeking talks with the Islamists, but keeping at least a formal distance from them, swathes of the anti-globalization movement have long since entered into an open alliance with radical Islamists, pan-Arab terrorist groups and Middle Eastern dictators. As the icon of the anti-globalization movement, Arundhati Roy, put it at the World Social Forum in Bombay: “We must not only support the resistance in Iraq, we have to become the global resistance to the occupation”. [23] Radical leftists in Europe have been collecting money for the “resistance” for years now. [24]

As regards this section of the Left at least, the answer to our initial question as to what the aim of dialogue might be is already apparent. By way of “dialogue”, it attempts to create a forum for cooperation between the different currents of the anti-democratic, anti-Israeli and anti-American movements. The extra-parliamentary European Left, i.e. those marginalized radical groups who collect money for the terror in Iraq in the pedestrian zones of Dortmund and Vienna and who imagine that everything from the extension of shop hours to free elections in Iraq is part of the same giant capitalist conspiracy, are the least dangerous element in all this. They have neither mass support nor a serious terrorist wing of their own – which also helps to explain why they look with so much appreciation and respect to the Islamist terror groups. More significant is the fact that a consensus seems to be forming going beyond these fringe groups to embrace broad sections of the moderate Left in the anti-globalization movement, trade unions and Social Democratic parties. According to this consensus, there is a direct link between the perceived threats of modernization with its accompanying social upheaval and the confrontation between the USA and Israel, on the one side, and Arab nationalist and Islamist governments and movements, on the other. Or in other words, a linear relation is made between historical colonialism, the global economy and the war in Iraq, such that, without its having to be said, the choice is implicitly limited to one between a militarist imperialism based on subjugation and exploitation, on the one hand, and a legitimate resistance fighting for self-determination and cultural identity, on the other. Therefore, as Walden Bello puts it, it is necessary for “the global movements and the Arab movements to forge firm, organic ties of solidarity in the struggle against corporate globalization and against imperialism.” [25]

Even when the actions of the terrorists – for example, in the case of Iraq – are half-heartedly condemned, there is, nonetheless, still agreement on their causes, which are supposed to lie in American aggression and an ongoing Jewish land grab in the Middle East. It is hardly to be wondered, then, that a Tariq Ramadan is inundated with invitations from scientific and socio-political institutions, whereas at the same time he is scheduled to speak in October at a conference in Italy that has been openly organized as a gesture of support for the terrorist “resistance” in Iraq. [26]

The danger that this development presents was already made evident by the German “red-green” government’s attitude in the run-up to the Iraq war. While Germany reaped no perceptible benefit – such as, for example, better relations with the Arab or Islamic countries – the idea gained credence that the roots even of internal social problems lie outside one’s own society: in the much-maligned process of “globalization” and thereby, more specifically, in the USA. Or, as Franz Müntefering, the SPD General Secretary, put it: in transnational capitalists who, like a “plague of locusts”, are supposed to be descending on the German economy. Clearly, neither the solution to Europe’s economic problems nor the response to the dangers posed by global terrorism is to be found in this direction. The exit from terrorism leads through the Middle East. Those who reject any move towards democracy there as Western interference and pursue dialogue precisely with those forces blocking all development in the region, will not forever be able to avert the war that Germany’s “red-green” government so loudly opposed.

Thomas von der Osten-Sacken and Thomas Uwer are independent journalists and members of the aid organization Wadi (, which is active in Iraq. Their book Amerika, Der War on Terror und der Aufstand der Alten Welt [America, the War on Terror, and the Revolt of the Old World] was published in 2003 by Ça Ira Verlag.

Translation from the German by Transatlantic Intelligencer
© 2005 Transatlantic Intelligencer. All Rights Reserved.

[1] “Kanzler warnt vor Militär-Aktionen gegen den Iran”, AFP, August 13, 2005.

[2] [Formed through the fusion of Oskar Lafontaine’s “Work and Social Justice” Party and the post-Communist PDS. – Editor’s Note.]

[3] Mathias Doepfner, “Let’s face facts, Europe’s being run by cowards”, The Australian, August 1, 2005.

[4] Nikolaus Blome, „Kanzler und Geschichte“, Die Welt, August 15, 2005.

[5] “Hamas: We met with senior German official”, Jerusalem Post, June 19, 2005.

[6] Ibid.

[7] Middle East Online, October 4, 2004 (

[8] Thomas von der Osten-Sacken, “Chancellor Schroeder inaugurates Book Fair in Frankfurt Together with notorious Holocaust-Denier”, October 7, 2004, on (

[9] Dr. Sa’id Ramadan Al-Bouti, “Super Star; The Nicest Grave for the Most Wretched Nation” (

[10] On Ramadan, see in particular Lee Smith, “The Gentle Jihadist”, The American Prospect, vol. 15, no. 3, March 1, 2004.

[11] Markus Bickel, „Die Grenzen des Dialogs“, Der Standard, February 24, 2004.

[12] Apart from the Friedrich Ebert Foundation, the Deutsche Orient Institut in Beirut and the Austrian Embassy in Lebanon also sponsored this meeting.

[13] [A leading intellectual of the French Communist Party in the 1960s who later converted to Islam and was found guilty by a French court of defending historical revisionist theses. – Editor’s note.]

[14] Bill Samii, “Israel’s ‘Annihilation’ Demanded at Tehran Conference”, Radio Free Europe, September 1, 2003.

[15] “Al-Rikabi might preside over an Iraqi government”,, October 24, 2002 (…/2002102416.html).

[16] According to the Jordanian newspaper Al-Arab al-Yum, October 23, 2003.

[17] Interview with Christoph Zöbel in Jungle World (Berlin), February 25, 2004.

[18] Dr. Azzam Tamimi, “Hamas and Anti-Sematism”, November 2002 (

[19] “Bin Laden’s ‘letter to America’”, The Guardian, November 24, 2002 (consultable at…/0,11581,845725,00.html.)

[20] Bello’s speech is reproduced on the “Focus on the Global South” website at…&file=article&sid=285.


[22] For once, the FES last year placed itself in a positive light in this connection by supporting a meeting against the Berlin Al-Quds day, an annual event in whose organization the Iranian government and Hizbullah play a decisive role. At the other extreme, however, Michael Dauderstädt, head of the FES section for international policy analysis, has openly reflected on the need for a dialogue with al-Qa’ida. See Michael Dauderstädt , “Negotiating with Terrorists – An Option not to be Foregone”, consultable at…/KOMDAUDERSTAEDT.PDF.

[23] Cited in Jungle World (Berlin), 20 January 2004.

[24] The campaign “10 euros for the Iraqi resistance” is coordinated from Austria by a group calling itself the “Antiimperialistichen Koordination” or “Anti-imperialist Camp”.

[25] Walden Bello, “Unser Marsch aus der Marginalisierung”, Junge Welt, October 14, 2004.

[26] Internationale Irak-Konferenz, October 1-2, 2005. See