Thursday, March 07, 2013
Who is the ‘imperialist tool’ in the Middle East?
Let’s examine claims from the radical academia currently hegemonic in North America and Europe. What is fascinating is that a well-informed observer can easily demolish such claims. That’s precisely why such people are not being trained today and those who do exist must be discredited or ignored to keep students (and the general public) relatively ignorant.
To paraphrase George Santayana’s famous statement, those who fail to learn from history make fun of those who do.
I know that the situation has become far worse in recent years, having vivid memories of how my two main Middle East studies professors—both Arabs, both anti-Israel, and one of them a self-professed Marxist—had contempt for Edward Said and the then new, radical approach to the subject. At one graduate seminar, the students–every single one of them hostile to Israel but not, as today is often the case, toward America–literally broke up in laughter pointing out the fallacies in Said’s Orientalism. Today, no one would dare talk that way, it would be almost heresy.
Let me now take a single example of the radical approach so common today and briefly explain how off-base it is. I won’t provide detailed documentation here but could easily do so.
The question is: Who in the Middle East was the tool of imperialism? Most likely the professors and their students, at least their graduate student acolytes, would respond: Israel. Not at all.
Before and During World War One era
It can be easily documented that the French subsidised and encouraged Arab nationalism before the war and during it the British took over, sponsoring the Arab nationalist revolt against the Ottoman Empire. Before the war, Islamism was sponsored by the Ottoman Empire in order to keep control over the region and battle Arab nationalism. For their part, the Germans sided with the Ottomans and encouraged Islamism.
What about Zionism? The British did not issue the Balfour Declaration, supporting a Jewish national home, because they saw Zionism as a useful tool in their long-term Middle East policy. In fact, they were interested in the wartime mobilising Jewish support elsewhere, specifically to get American Jews to support the United States entering the war on Britain’s side and Russian Jews in keeping that country in the war. Both efforts did not have much effect. At any rate, long-term British policy always saw maximising Arab support as its priority.
While having promised Jews a national home, British policy soon turned away from supporting Zionism and certainly from backing a Jewish state, even by the early 1920s, realising that having the Arabs as clients was a far more valuable prize. It was through local Arab elites that the British built their imperial position in the region. The French toyed a bit with Arab nationalism as a way to undermine British rule but also backed Arab elites. The new Soviet Union actually sponsored Islamism for several years as a way of undermining both British and French in the region.
The only exception was T.E. Lawrence (Lawrence of Arabia) and a few other visionaries who thought that both Arab nationalism and Zionism could co-exist under British sponsorship. That concept didn’t last very long and had no policy influence beyond the early 1920s at most.
Before and During World War Two
Realising that it needed Arab support to fight in the coming war, the British followed an appeasement policy that was quite willing to sacrifice the Jews for Arab help—or at least non-interference—in the battle. If the Arab side had cooperated with these pre-war plans, Arab Palestine might have emerged in 1948, with the Jews driven out or massacred shortly after.
Instead, the radical Arabs—both nationalists and Islamists—made a deal with the Axis. Germany and Italy supported these forces in order to destroy the British and French position in the region, just as the Germans had done in World War One.
While the British worked with the Zionists during the war on common endeavours, there was never any notion that a Jewish state would aid British interests in the region. Quite the opposite. The British focused on moderate Egyptian and Iraqi politicians plus the kings of Saudi Arabia and Jordan.
After World War Two
The British quickly sought to use moderate Arab forces to ensure their position. That’s why they were the real founders of the Arab League. The Zionists fought the British. The United States supported partition of the Palestine mandate and the creation of Israel but with no strategy of using Israel as a tool in Middle East policy. Indeed, the United States had no ambitions in the region at the time. Israel was largely ignored by the United States during its first two decades of existence.
The sole exception to the general pattern emerging was that the French did cooperate with Israel during several years of the 1950s, and the British for a briefer period at that time, to counter a radical Egyptian government (the Suez Affair of 1956) but in the British case that period lasted for a few months and ended decisively before the end of the year.
The U.S. government at first adapted the too-clever-by-half attitude that it could use the Arab armies as a modernising force that would be simultaneously anti-Communist and opposed to the corrupt old system. Then it thought perhaps Islamism would make a useful anti-Communist force. It helped stage a coup (or counter-coup) in Iran when it feared–with reason–that the Communists were becoming too strong. Mostly, though, it tried to use Iran, Turkey, and some moderate Arab forces (but not Israel) to counter the pro-Soviet Arab camp.
The Recent Era
Only after 1970, did the United States start to support Israel as part of the Cold War fight against the USSR and its local Arab allies. During the following decades, American policy also backed a number of Arab states which, for their own survival, also needed to ensure the Soviets and their allies didn’t triumph. At any rate, this was a defensive measure and if you believe that the Cold War struggle against Communism was a Western imperialist action then…you are probably a university professor.
The idea in U.S. policy regarding Israel was that the country effectively combated radical, pro-Soviet clients to prevent the USSR and its allies from taking over the region. Israel was useless, however, regarding the oil-rich Persian Gulf. It is important to stress the point that the United States wanted Israel to defeat pro-Soviet Egypt and Syria. The idea, of course, was to resolve all of the contradictions by brokering an Arab-Israeli peace agreement so the United States could be allies with both sides at once and undercut the appeal or usefulness of the Soviet Union. This was the basis for American policymakers pushing Israel to make more concessions in the hope of achieving peace or at least of easing tensions. In Washington, or at least in the State Department, Israel was viewed as a liability because–parallel to the pre-1948 British view–it made it harder to gain and enjoy total cooperation from Arab clients. From a radical perspective, then, the truth is that Israel impeded rather than furthered ‘American imperialism’.
A lot more can be written on this subject but historically inasmuch as there was any European or American ‘imperialism’ it made use of Arab political factors along with, at times, Turkey. One major reason why the State Department generally opposed a pro-Israel policy is precisely because it interfered with their perceived need for Arab backing against the USSR and radical forces in the region. While various presidents and White House officials—beginning with Richard Nixon and Henry Kissinger—saw Israel as a useful ally in the Cold War (that’s when the aid and military sales originated), the goal in that context wasn’t building an empire but defending freedom from expansionist Communism and its allies.
Oh, yes, and the French thought they could use Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini in 1979 (as they once thought, in 1946, to use Palestine Arab leader and then-recent Nazi collaborator Amin al-Hussaini) to take over Iran and be nice to Paris. In neither case did things work out too well.
Of course, the debate today is so structured as to leave out the fact that local countries can also be imperialistic in that they seek to take over the entire region or most of it. The modern history of the Middle East has been characterised by a battle between Egyptian, Syrian, and Iraqi imperialism seeking to gobble up Lebanon, Jordan, Israel, the Palestinians, the Gulf monarchies, and each other. Today, the nationalist motives have simply been replaced by an Islamist-driven drive to gain hegemony in the region with Iran and Turkey added to the mix. There’s a long-term dream of reestablishing a caliphate. But the more realistic goal is that of old-fashioned imperialism, hegemony, and creating a sphere of influence for the country and regime involved.
Ironically, the Obama Administration pro-Islamist policy is in the tradition of the view that “more moderate” Arab forces can be used against radical threats. In this case, unfortunately, the purported moderates are “mainstream” Islamist forces like the Muslim Brotherhood who will supposedly combat al-Qaida and other Salafists. The point is that all this cleverness of using radical ideological movements almost always failed or even backfired.
This approach puts Obama into the strange company of a disastrously failed German policy that thought it could manipulate Islamists against the British and French, the French strategy of using radicals against the British and Americans, or the Eisenhower Administration that thought for a few years (1953-1956) it could help radical nationalists—notably Egypt’s Gamal Abdel Nasser—and then Islamists against pro-Soviet leftists. Of course, Nasser soon emerged as the main pro-Soviet leader, just as the Islamists will soon emerge as the main anti-American force in the region.
In fact, we’ve reached the point where–from a radical Arab point of view–one could say that the United States is trying to make Islamism a tool of Western imperialism! After all, isn’t the U.S. government backing a local ideology’s regimes and movements because it [albeit wrongly] believes that this is the best choice to secure its own objectives in the region?
And the Obama Administration has also been trying to do so alongside distancing itself from Israel somewhat. Those two factors matches the classic, historic British and French imperial strategy in the region. This wouldn’t be the first time that a Western country backed a supposed puppet that turned out to be a puppeteer-eating one.
The Region: What Obama faces in Israel
So what does Israel want to tell Obama and what is he likely to offer or do on his upcoming visit?
Presumably, Israel’s leadership will express a consensus view that its main concern is not who governs Syria but how they behave. There’s no sympathy in Israel for the Bashar Assad dictatorship, which has long sponsored terrorism against Israel. In addition, it is widely recognized that the regime’s fall means a defeat for Iran, which would be losing its principal ally.
The situation has also opened gaps between Iran and Turkey, which has been very friendly toward Iran (a point the Obama administration has ignored). And if Israel ever did attack Iranian nuclear installations, an anti-Iran Sunni-ruled Syrian regime is less likely to do anything in response.
In addition to all that, a successful Syrian revolution would weaken Hezbollah in Lebanon, which at the moment is the biggest threat on Israel’s borders (Hamas is more likely to attack but less capable of doing serious damage), and could well mean that the Lebanese terrorist group will be too busy and insecure to renew the kind of attacks seen in 2006 and earlier years.
Yet what will replace the current government of Syria? Israel will stress that it worries about a Muslim Brotherhood regime that will try to step up the conflict with Israel, including backing its own terrorist clients in Lebanon and Gaza.
Another point – which the Obama administration doesn’t seem to comprehend (though some of its officials worry about this) – is that such a regime would be permissive toward Salafist groups wanting to attack Israel across the border, along with a high degree of anarchy in that part of southern Syria, with the same effect.
Israel will also warn that lots of weapons, including some very advanced ones, are pouring into Syria that will not be secured after the civil war ends and that will end in the hands of terrorists to whom they will either be sold, or even given directly by the American-Turkish- Qatari-Saudi strategy. They might point to Libya as an example of this process. Perhaps some future US ambassador to Syria and other operatives will be murdered trying to get some of those weapons back.
The US government will talk about the prospects for democracy in Syria, how the Muslim Brotherhood there is going to be moderate and pragmatic, and how the aim of US policy is to use the Brotherhood to restrain the Salafists.
Israeli officials will be very polite in discussions, and sarcastic when they talk among themselves afterward. The two countries’ interests may not clash, but since the Obama administration isn’t pursuing real American interests, that doesn’t help matters. The United States will help install in Syria a regime that is likely to be hard-line anti- Israel (as opposed to soft-line anti-Israel) that might well form an alliance with Egypt and Hamas, try to destabilize Jordan, and give help and weapons to anti-Israel terrorists.
That might be an improvement over what exists now but if America would help the Syrian moderates that would be far preferable.
Presumably, the US delegation and Obama will emphasize their optimism about negotiations with Teheran and express wishful thinking that the June election will result in a more moderate government after President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad leaves office. In other words, they will preach hope and patience.
In addition, they will stress that all options are being kept open and that the United States will never accept Iran having nuclear weapons. How the US government is going to stop this is quite unclear. Personally, I don’t believe that Obama will ever attack Iranian nuclear facilities or support such an Israeli operation.
I’m not saying he should do so; I’m just predicting he won’t do so.
There might also be talk about covert operations, perhaps even based on US-Israel cooperation, and intelligence- gathering efforts on Iran’s drive to obtain nuclear weapons.
What’s not clear is how much Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu will emphasize the idea of an attack on Iranian facilities. Presumably, he will say that he is happy to give the United States and other Western countries time to try non-military means, including sanctions. He will warn them that negotiations won’t work. He might say something to the effect that Israel will wait out 2013 but when 2014 comes and Iran’s drive continues, that would be the moment for a military response.
The reality is, however, that Obama will continue to deny that his strategy is one of containment. That will go on until Iran gets nuclear weapons and Obama switches to an open containment strategy. It might be too early to discuss – and Israel might not want to do so lest it reduce potential US support for an attack – but it is important to understand that there’s “good containment” and “bad containment.”
On that point I need say only two words: Chuck Hagel.
He will likely be US secretary of defense. Want four more words? John Kerry, John Brennan. They will be secretary of state and CIA chief. The problem of terrible ideas meeting terrible incompetence.
If the United States is going to end up focusing on containing Iran – stopping it from using nuclear weapons or giving them to terrorists – it better be done well. As for containing Iran strategically, the Egyptian and Syrian revolutions are largely doing that job.
At the end of the meeting, everyone will then state publicly that the talks show the continued strength of the US-Israel alliance and that Obama is a great president and a wonderful friend of Israel. Then Obama will return to Washington to get back to the business of installing or helping anti-Israel Islamist governments in Egypt, Tunisia, Lebanon, Syria and Turkey; making sure Israel is never too tough against Hamas in the Gaza Strip; and losing credibility with America’s anti-Islamist Arab and other friends.
The author is director of the Global Research in International Affairs (GLORIA) Center (www.gloria-center.org) and blogs at The Rubin Report (rubinreports.blogspot.com)
Singing while Rome burns
Monteverdi’s 1643 evocative opera ‘L’incoronazione di Poppea’ strikes a resonant chord even today.
It was certainly a trailblazer in terms of the storyline, as it was one of the first operas to use historical events and real characters. It tells the tale of political intrigue and troubled love affairs in the most dramatic fashion and describes how Poppaea, mistress of Roman emperor Nero, manages to fulfill her ambition to be crowned empress. But that achievement comes at a heavy price, as the emperor gradually descends into madness, and his world eventually crumbles around him.
“This is an extraordinary work,” says Averbruch. “The most incredible thing about it is its modernity. It is just so much more advanced compared with what was written later. It doesn’t have the structure of the classic opera, with arias and duets. It is far more parlando (a speech-like form of singing).
Monteverdi developed this style a lot.”
Monteverdi also pioneered the use of specific musical devices to signify moods and situations.
The libretto, he says, is also a progressive creation. “Busenello belonged to a group called [Accademia degli] Incogniti, an academic group of people with liberal ideas based in republican Venice, which is surrounded by princedoms.
And both Busenello and Monteverdi lived in Mantua [in northern Italy] under the madman.” The latter refers to Vincenzo II, who was a vicious and mentally unstable ruler.
Not surprisingly, the opera has a strong political message to convey.
“Busenello wrote a political work, per se, and Monteverdi comes along and adds his own content to it,” explains Averbruch. “There was no tailoring done between the libretto and the music. Sometimes it all flows along nicely, and sometimes it doesn’t.”
In addition to Nero and Poppea, one of the main characters is firstcentury Stoic philosopher Seneca, who keeps his nimble fingers firmly on the imperial strings.
The plot of the opera is highly complex, and the audiences at the time would have had to be conversant with the source material in order to follow the onstage action.
Averbruch surmises that was the case.
“We are talking about a 17thcentury Venetian audience who probably knew the writings of [firstcentury Roman historian] Tacitus by heart. The members of the audience were also able to appreciate that what they were seeing on the stage was a variation on historic events but with lots of irony interwoven into it.”
That, says Averbruch, is not necessarily the case today. “I would doubt that all contemporary audiences appreciate that they are witnessing a satirical rendition of historical events,” he says.
“The opera is very cerebral. The two protagonists are Nero and Seneca, and the relationship between them is very complex. In the opera, we catch up with Nero in his later stages, after he has been in power for five years, at the interface between Nero as a balanced person and Nero as a crazy man.
Busenello marks the coronation of Poppea as the point at which Nero loses his reason and moves on from being an enlightened ruler, who rules through Seneca the philosopher, and who is his mentor.”
They say that love conquers all, and in Nero’s case, romance led him straight into the arms of catastrophe and marked the beginning of the end.
“Nero marries Poppea and divorces Octavia, who is the natural heiress of the Roman imperia dynasty. Seneca tells Nero that he is going against the Roman people and against the senate, and Nero tells him – in far less polite words – that the senate and the people can take a running jump,” says Averbruch.
The emperor’s former teacher tries to explain that such a show of force is not a particularly wise move. “Seneca tells Nero that when you use excessive force, you only weaken yourself,” continues Averbruch, adding that the plot could seamlessly fit into today’s current affairs.
“The opera demonstrates the close connection between sex and politics.
Nero says: ‘The law is for servants. If I want, I can rescind the old law and make a new one.’ When Seneca tells him to be wary of using too much force, Nero says: ‘The strong will always be right. Power is the law.’ Doesn’t that sound just a little familiar in this day and age?” says Averbruch.
The action and messages conveyed in L’incoronazione di Poppea, not to mention the music, have proven to be hits over the centuries in various versions. After its premiere in 1643, the opera was ignored until revived in Naples in 1651 but was once again neglected until the rediscovery of the score in 1888. It became the subject of scholarly attention in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, and since the 1960s the opera has been performed and recorded numerous times.
Besides enjoying a good evening’s entertainment, the audiences here may very well go home with some food for thought.
L’incoronazione di Poppea will be performed on March 15 at 1 p.m. & March 16 at 8:30 p.m. at the Gerard Behar Center in Jerusalem. For tickets, call 052-383-6601.
Kerry Gulf visit: shift in US regional policy?
Analysis: American policy is to support the Muslim Brotherhood as a “moderate” group to block the more radical Salafists.
By “moderate,” Kerry must have been referring to the opposition that is not affiliated with jihadist groups such as the al-Qaida-backed al-Nusra Front. However, this shows that other members of the Islamist-dominated opposition are seen as “moderate” by the US, despite the fact that the Muslim Brotherhood and other Islamists do not share US values or long-term interests according to analysts.
This follows the administration’s view of the Brotherhood regime in Egypt, which it views in a similar fashion – a bulwark against more radical Islamists.
While they may not share al-Qaida’s ideology, the main common interest is the removal of Syrian President Bashar Assad from power.
Prof. Barry Rubin, the director of the GLORIA Center and a columnist for The Jerusalem Post, wrote in his Rubin Reports blog that “US policy is to support the Brotherhood as a ‘moderate’ group to block the even more radical Salafists.” He goes on to say that this policy is flawed because the Brotherhood itself is radical.
In regard to Iran, Kerry said in a Monday meeting with Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal that time was running out for Iran to cooperate with the international community.
“Talks will not go on for the sake of talks, and talks cannot become an instrument for delay that in the end make the situation more dangerous. So there is a finite amount of time,” he said, according to The New York Times.
This comes as an apparent US shift, as President Barack Obama previously had been cold to any significant intervention in the Syrian war and the appointment of Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel was seen by analysts as a sign that he would not act militarily against Iran, but move towards a containment policy.
Iranian Press TV echoed this apparent shift with the headline, “Kerry Continues Tradition of Appeasing Saudis.” The article stated, “This constant show of respect to the Saudi monarchy is a travesty, since Saudi Arabia is a famously repressive theocracy, with an almost complete lack of rights for its people.”
Ignoring the fact that this perfectly describes the Iranian regime itself, the comment has some truth since the US did not publicize any criticism of Saudi foreign or domestic policy involving minorities, women or human rights.
Brandon Friedman, a researcher at Tel Aviv University’s Moshe Dayan Center for Middle Eastern and African Studies, told the Post that he agrees with this assessment, saying that the Americans and Saudis are not completely comfortable with each other, but that the absence of mentioning these issues may just “be part of the texture of the relationship” going forward.
Friedman thinks that while there are a lot of tensions in the relationship, there are more similarities in their stances on Iran than on the Syrian crisis. “Fundamentally, I think the Saudis are probably not sure where Obama stands and that drives a lot of their interactions with American officials and their public comments.”
He goes on to add that Obama seems to be making an effort to have a better relationship with the Saudis in his second term. “The Saudis wanted to talk to Kerry about Syria first and foremost,” notes Friedman.
The Book of Esther: A political analysis
The Region: The Book of Esther, which is read on Purim and to which that holiday is dedicated, has been interpreted many ways.
While drunk, he orders Queen Vashti to come to the banquet to display herself. She refuses, for unspecified reasons, and his advisers urge him to depose her and select a new queen. A young Jewish woman, Esther, is among the candidates.
Urged by her uncle Mordecai, she conceals her religion and ethnicity, enters the competition, and eventually wins.
At this point, the story introduces a new theme. The king makes Haman prime minister. Mordecai, for unspecified reasons, refuses to bow to him. On discovering Mordecai is a Jew, Haman resolves to destroy all the Jews in the empire.
The story provides a sophisticated analysis of anti-Semitism: First, Haman’s antagonism toward all Jews springs from a personal conflict. This has often been true in history.
Second, that conflict is then dressed up in political language to justify it to the ruling authority and the masses.
Third, Haman provides the classic, non-theological statement of anti-Semitism that could easily fit into the 19th and 20th centuries, or even today, mirroring the kinds of things hinted at, for example, by nominee for US secretary of defense Chuck Hagel: “There is a certain people, scattered and dispersed among the other peoples… of your realm, whose laws are different from those of any other people and who do not obey the king’s law, and it is not in your majesty’s interest to tolerate them.”
In other words, the Jews comprise what would later be called a separate national group. It is impossible to assimilate them; they have dual loyalties; and despite their apparent weakness they plot against you.
Fourth, antagonism against the Jews camouflages a desire to loot their wealth.
The king agrees – after all, his most trusted courtier tells him it’s a kill or be killed situation – and issues the decree for genocide.
In contradiction to these claims is Mordecai’s good citizenship. It would later become a major theme of Jewish assimilation – I don’t use the word in a pejorative sense here – that Jews must prove they are the best, most loyal citizens. Mordecai saves the king by uncovering a real plot against him. By his example, Mordecai shows Jews are not disloyal subversives.
Especially remarkable is the behavior of Esther. Warned of Haman’s plan, Esther wants to do nothing. After all, she is a fully “assimilated,” even hidden, Jew. She believes her situation makes her immune from anti-Semitic retribution. But Mordecai reminds her: Do not imagine that you will escape because of your high position.
It’s easy to suggest that this can be compared to the Nazi desire to kill all Jews on a “racial” basis. But there are many types of such situations.
What’s especially interesting is that Esther’s situation shows how Jews, in an attempt to protect themselves or even to prosper from persecutions, can try to set themselves apart: converted Jews against stead- fast ones in medieval times; Modernized, semi-assimilated Jews against traditionalist immigrants in America and Western Europe; and anti-Israel Jews against pro-Israel ones and Israel itself today.
Esther, fortified by her beloved uncle’s advice and the hint of a divine role – that her position was the Creator’s doing so she could fulfill this task – risks her life to stop the mass murders.
For his part, Haman reveals part of his motivation. All his wealth, influence and power, he explains, mean “nothing to me every time I see that Jew Mordecai sitting at the palace gate” and refusing to bow to him. In other words, Haman’s anti-Semitism exceeds the bounds of rational calculation. Out of blind hatred, he is willing to risk his own destruction to wipe out those whose existence he refuses to accept. That’s pretty relevant for our times.
In contrast is Mordecai’s behavior.
Made prime minister with absolute power by the king in Haman’s place, Mordecai does not seek to make the Jews the rulers (belying The Protocols of the Elders of Zion and Islamist ideology) but only utilizes his authority for defensive purposes.
The king’s decree permitted the Jews to “Assemble and fight for their lives, if any people or province attacks them” and inflict unlimited vengeance. True, the retribution is horrible in modern-day terms, extending to the innocent members of families, but limited in the con- text of that era.
In contrast to Haman’s claims, they do not take their enemies’ property nor do they seek to conquer the empire, the Middle East, or the world. They just want to live and be left alone.
What does this story mean for us today in political, strategic and intellectual terms? The indecisive “Esthers” who so often populate the ranks of West- ern elites should take notice of how she resolved her dilemma. True, in their modern societies they can escape persecution because of their high positions. Indeed, by joining the lynch mobs they can even secure or better their positions. Yet in doing so they are not so much betraying a people they do not recognize as the principles of justice and intellectual honesty they claim as their new, post-ethnic and post- religious loyalty.
And, finally, the Hamans of our age are gunning for them, not solely because they are Jews – since this applies equally to their Christian counterparts – but because of their countries’ policies and their societies’ values.
Haman could have lived in peaceful coexistence with the Jews. Only since he behaved otherwise could the king decree, “Let the evil plot…
recoil on his own head.” In the Middle East’s modern history this has often happened. Those who have sought to destroy Israel have brought disaster onto their own heads and that of their own peoples.
Yet it is equally true, in the Middle East and in lands far away, that the ideology of Haman remains very much alive, even unto Persia itself.
The author is the director of the Global Research in International Affairs (GLORIA) Center.
The Region: Hand over your property!
The world is constantly held up by terrorists and nowadays it tends to give in to the narrative being imposed on it.
Armed men stopped their car.
While the two Finns didn’t speak Arabic they were quickly made to understand that the men wanted their UN vehicle and their other possessions.
Similar things have happened to Belgian and Italian soldiers in the UNIFIL force in southern Lebanon.
In short, the supposed representatives of the world’s community were being mugged and they could do nothing about it, or at least nothing but to give in.
A Finnish officer explained that the men weren’t in fear of their lives; the gunmen just wanted their property.
Now let me make it clear that I’m not criticizing the two soldiers. What are you going to do when you are unarmed and terrorists with guns hold you up? Yet this little story struck me as incredibly symbolic on several levels.
The world is constantly held up by terrorists and nowadays it tends to give in, if not to the specific operations, than to the narrative being imposed on it. We do see rescue operations sometimes – as in the Algerian army’s disastrous “rescue” in which all the technicians being held hostage at a gas field were killed – and sometimes we don’t, as in Benghazi, while the US government stood by as men it had sent into a dangerous situation were murdered.
Yet what happens is that even if the terrorists don’t always win in their military operations, they succeed in intimidating the West to hand over its intellectual property – by suppressing its own debate – and sometimes to pay tribute money as well.
AS A reward for failing to fulfill its commitments and cheering on terrorist attacks, the UN’s General Assembly assigned non-member state status to the Palestinian Authority. Billions of dollars of US aid go to Pakistan, which helps the Taliban and shields al-Qaida.
Arms are handed over to Syrian Salafists and the Muslim Brotherhood. The Turkish government backs a terrorist group to create a violent confrontation with Israel (the IHH in the Gaza flotilla) and US President Barack Obama declares that regime to be his soul mate.
Even after an official report that Hezbollah carried out a terrorist attack in Bulgaria, the European Union won’t put it on the terrorism list. There is a long list of such items.
Terrorism mugs the West and gets paid off as long as it doesn’t over-reach too much. Not attacking the World Trade Center is enough to make some group America’s “friend.”
One reason the West tends to yield is that it is “unarmed.” Not literally, of course, but unarmed in terms of its ideas, analysis, and understanding.
As for a good case study, take Lebanon, a few miles from where the two Finns were mugged. In 2006 the UN and the US government promised Israel, as a condition for ending its war with Hezbollah, that a muchenlarged UN force would keep Hezbollah in southern Lebanon and help stop arms’ smuggling from Syria to Lebanese terrorists.
Hezbollah has walked all over the UN (UN Resolution 1701) and the US commitments without any cost. UN observers have been regularly intimidated by Hezbollah, which has moved back into southern Lebanon and built new fortifications. See here and here.
THE UN and the White House have not only done nothing but they haven’t even criticized Hezbollah for this behavior.
General Alberto Asarta, the Spanish general who commands UNFIL forces in southern Lebanon, cannot praise Hezbollah enough. The area, he explains, is “the best and most stable in the whole of the Middle East” thanks to Hezbollah’s cooperation. It is “the most successful model when compared to the experiences of other UN peacekeeping missions around the world.”
And Hezbollah has actually helped combat terrorist groups that sought to attack UNIFIL. Indeed, the cooperation with Hezbollah is called – I kid you not – “The Partnership Against Radical Islamic Terrorism.”
Memo to police forces: This could be a model for The Partnership against Crime to be formed in alliance with the mafia.
Did I mention that having won the last Lebanese elections – with a little help from violent intimidation and assassination of opponents – Hezbollah now runs Lebanon? And did I mention that the new CIA Director, John Brennan, is an apologist for Hezbollah and has advocated normalizing relations between the United States and that terrorist group? And, of course, unless hit with an Israeli air attack, Syria and Iran smuggle any weapons into Lebanon they wish without US or UN objection or blockage. The effect of this smuggling is not only to set the stage for future Hezbollah terrorism against Israel and a possible war, but helps to guarantee that Lebanon will continue to be in the hands of a terrorist group that is closely aligned with Tehran and advocates genocide against Jews.
Oh, and Israel is supposed to be the bad guy because it defends itself against muggers.
It’s bad enough to be mugged repeatedly but it’s even worse to provide the weapons and money for the assailants, while also praising them. But that’s precisely the moral of the story as far as Obama Administration policy is concerned: Except for a few exceptions who won’t play nice (ie, al-Qaida) if you’re nice to the terrorists and they’ll be nice to you.
Oh, by the way, this is how most of the “international community” advises Israel to behave.
The writer is director of the Global Research in International Affairs (GLORIA) Center http://www.gloria-center.org.
The Region: ‘Children of Dolhinov’
Being a historian, I decided that it was ridiculous for me not to have researched my own history.
At the time, I began my search with only two words: Poland and 1908 (the year of my grandparents’ arrival in America). That was it. My parents gave me no names of people or places and I literally had no relatives.
But, my parents said, we hadn’t lost anyone in the Holocaust. From what I’ve heard, that isn’t an atypical pattern among American Jews.
A second experience that ultimately led to this effort happened in the Paris flea market in 1963, a trip that was my bar mitzvah present. At one of the stalls, a woman who saw me gasped and started crying. She explained that I looked just like the son she had lost 20 years earlier.
She held up an old photograph. She was right.
Being a historian, I decided years later that it was ridiculous for me not to have researched my own history. And given the massive amount of help available on the Internet now – especially Jewishgen and Ancestory.com – what was unimaginable a short time ago is now achievable. And so unrolled the story of Dolhinov.
I WANT to stress that this isn’t just a book about the Holocaust – which takes up a relatively small, albeit emotionally intense part of the book – but rather about the far longer and more complex history of Jews in eastern Europe. But it is also two other things: an attempt to explain to people how events that took place before they were born formed them, and how a small town interrelated with far grander events and trends in world history.
It is hard to convey the people, stories and happenings that populate this book. I had the thrill of meeting remarkable people, the unequaled experience of being “reunited” with distant relatives after a century, the insights into my own character and life as being shaped by individuals I had never heard of and events I never knew about.
Such a project is also something of an adventure and a detective story, and took me to six countries, including to Dolhinov itself, where I had the moving experience of cleaning my great-grandfather’s tombstone.
Many of the things I experienced I had already “known” about from books. But such knowledge is shallow compared to learning and seeing on a personal basis. For example, one thing I learned firsthand was the tremendous love and mental involvement of those shtetl Jews with the Land of Israel in their art, religion and education (both religious and later secular).
Another was the complex relationship between the Jews and their neighbors as, on the very same day, some of the latter saved Jewish townspeople and others turned them over to the Nazis, not only due to hatred but to a desire to loot their possessions.
Then, too, there was the profoundly important role of the individual in history.
My book was only possible because a Soviet commissar, a tremendously decent man who had Jewish friends from before the German invasion, saved hundreds of lives both on his own and, at tremendous personal risk, with his partisan group; because three Polish policemen let two dozen Jews escape, as their comrades machine-gunned others a few blocks away; and because of the courage of Jews who became partisans or performed selfless deeds.
As I said, though, the Jewish history of the period was comprised of far more than the Holocaust. It was amazing to see a town whose Jewish community had almost all been involved in some sort of adult education, from discussing psalms to studying Talmud.
And while Dolhinov was never a secular town – the main act of rebellion prior to the 1930s was maybe sneaking a cigarette on Shabbat – the creation of a Polish-funded, Zionist yet Yiddish-speaking school continued that tradition of exalting study.
And it was a place where the community’s basic unity was so tremendous that the local branch of the left-wing Hashomer Hatzair youth movement was completely composed of fully Orthodox Jews.
I’m sorry if space constraints here force me to speak in images that might already be all too familiar to you. The breadth of the book enables the telling of individual stories, which is what this is all about. If I had to condense all this down to a single sentence, it would be what I told the contemporary residents of Dolhinov – with no Jews left after a 400-year-long stay – while standing in the old Jewish graveyard.
But the point applied to them as well: “If we don’t respect those who came before us, and who made our existence possible, how can we expect anyone to respect us?”
The writer is the director of the Global Research in International Affairs (GLORIA) Center http://www.gloria-center.org
New! GLORIA Free Books project featuring 13 books, free and full-text to be read online or easily downloaded:
- The Arab States and the Palestine Conflict
- Assimilation and Its Discontents
- Cauldron of Turmoil
- Children of Dolhinov
- Hating America: A History
- Islamic Fundamentalists in Egyptian Politics
- Istanbul Intrigues
- The Long War for Freedom
- Modern Dictators
- Paved with Good Intentions
- Secrets of State
- The Tragedy of the Middle East
- The Truth About Syria
NEW! By Barry Rubin
“There have been many hundreds of books for and against Israel but no volume presenting the essential information about its domestic politics, its society, as well as its cultural life and its economy. This gap has now been filled.”—Walter Laqueur, author of A History of Zionism
“A sound, basic survey without a rigid agenda, useful for students, tourists and those planning aliyah.”—Kirkus Reviews
“[An] essential resource for readers interested in learning the truth about the Zionist project in the 20th and 21st centuries.”—Sol Stern, Commentary
“Offering in-depth perspectives with encyclopedic breadth on the makeup of the Jewish state, focusing only briefly on Israel’s struggle for self-preservation. The section “History” provides a masterful summary of Israel’s past from its socialist beginnings before independence to the modern struggles with the Iranian regime. . . .”—Publishers Weekly
“A well-written portrait of a vibrant nation at the center of turmoil in the region.”—Jay Freeman, Booklist
“It is indeed just a starting point, but Israel: An Introduction, if disseminated among our universities to the extent it deserves, will at least allow students of the Middle East and of Jewish history to start off on the right foot. A glimpse into the real Israel may do more for the future of U.S.-Israeli relations than any amount of rhetoric ever could.”—Daniel Perez, Jewish Voice New York
Written by a leading historian of the Middle East, Israel is organized around six major themes: land and people, history, society, politics, economics, and culture. The only available volume to offer such a complete account, this book is written for general readers and students who may have little background knowledge of this nation or its rich culture.
CLICK HERE for more information or to order a copy.
Search This Blog
- administrative (45)
- Afghanistan (23)
- Algeria (2)
- antisemitism (31)
- Arab reformers (3)
- Azerbaijan (1)
- Bahrain (2)
- Brazil (1)
- Briefings (1)
- Canada (2)
- caucasus (1)
- Central Europe (9)
- china (6)
- Christians (2)
- counterterrorism (1)
- education (38)
- Egypt (163)
- energy (1)
- EU (20)
- Europe (13)
- France (3)
- Gaza (33)
- Globamaman (6)
- Gulf (8)
- Hamas (43)
- Hizballah (30)
- Iran (119)
- Iran and al-Qaida (3)
- iran nuclear (19)
- Iranian internal politics (6)
- Iraq (19)
- Islamism (76)
- Islamists (33)
- Israel (138)
- Israel Defense Policy (11)
- israeli policy (12)
- isrel (1)
- J Street (4)
- Jews (1)
- Jordan (4)
- Korea (1)
- Kurds (1)
- Lebanon (60)
- Lessons of the Past (215)
- libya (19)
- media coverage of Middle East (145)
- Middle East Economics (4)
- Middle East politics (73)
- military strategy (1)
- miseducation (1)
- Morocco (1)
- Muslim Brotherhood (11)
- Netherlands (4)
- North Africa (1)
- Norway (1)
- Obama (17)
- Obama and the Middle East (12)
- Obamea (1)
- Pakistan (12)
- pal (1)
- Palestinian internal politics (27)
- Palestinian policy (41)
- Palestinians (75)
- peace process (7)
- romneypresident (1)
- Russian policy (10)
- satire (20)
- Saudi Arabia (16)
- Shoah (2)
- Spain (1)
- sudan (5)
- Syria (101)
- terrorism (27)
- Tunisia (10)
- Turkey (83)
- u (1)
- U.S policy and Iran (34)
- U.S-Israel Relations (12)
- U.S. Military and Middle East (7)
- U.S. policy (273)
- U.S. policy and Iran (16)
- U.S. policy and Iraq (2)
- U.S. policy and Islamists (20)
- U.S. Policy and Israel (18)
- U.S. policy and Israel-Palestinian Issues (66)
- U.S. policy and Syria (7)
- U.S.policyandSyria (10)
- UAE (1)
- UK policy (18)
- un (7)
- Understanding the Middle East (92)
- women’s status (1)
Thursday, March 7, 2013
And today, more than three years after the Rhode and Clinton statements, this same situation continues.
What makes this even more scandalous is that I’m not aware of any major journalistic or government investigation about what Pakistan’s rulers knew and when did they know it, followed by demands of punishment or firing for Pakistan officials and officers involved, and failing that followed by a reduction in U.S. aid and relations with Pakistan.
Did I mention that the Pakistani government is getting billions of dollars in U.S. aid, even at a time of great spending deficits in the United States?
The fact that nobody is even talking about this is another proof about how decadent U.S. politics and foreign policy have become. Obama gets praise for killing bin Ladin but not responsibility to do something about the reason why bin Ladin was able to remain safe for a decade after September 11 and continue planning attacks on America.
. Why not make a tax-deductible donation to the GLORIA Center by PayPal: click here.
Barry Rubin is director of the Global Research in International Affairs (GLORIA) Center and editor of the Middle East Review of International Affairs (MERIA) Journal. His latest book, Israel: An Introduction, has just been published by Yale University Press. Thirteen of his books can be read and downloaded for free at the website of the GLORIA Center including The Arab States and the Palestine Conflict, The Long War for Freedom: The Arab Struggle for Democracy in the Middle East and The Truth About Syria. His blog is Rubin Reports. His original articles are published at PJMedia.
Wednesday, March 6, 2013
. Why not make a tax-deductible donation to the GLORIA Center by PayPal: click here.
Tuesday, March 5, 2013
Published on PJMedia.
. Why not make a tax-deductible donation to the GLORIA Center by PayPal: click here.
Monday, March 4, 2013
. Why not make a tax-deductible donation to the GLORIA Center by PayPal: click here.
And the New York Times gives the official line on this aspect also:
Sunday, March 3, 2013
. Why not make a tax-deductible donation to the GLORIA Center by PayPal: click here.
Despite periodic slights and verbal distancing, the purely bilateral link remains good on practical matters. There is absolutely no sense in making the relationship with the United States worse than it is now. Finally, the continuous disappointment in the administration’s expectation, the crises and betrayals it will face by the revolutionary Islamist regimes and movements, Iran’s intransigence, and the very disrespect the situation entails may force U.S. policy–at least on certain issues–to improve.
Donate to the GLORIA Center
We depend on your contributions. Donations from the U.S., UK, and Israel are tax-deductible.
- Stocks Poised to Repeat Triple-Digit Gain
- Author: Fed Policies Fuel ‘100% Fake’ Recovery
- Forbes: Fed and Stocks Like ‘Steroids in Baseball’
- Do You Support Obama’s Gun-Control Plan? Vote Here
- These Five Things Activate Cancer in Your Body
- Economist: Too Late to Save Healthcare from Obama
- Study: Low Interest Rates Backfiring
- Obamacare: Massive New Rules Revealed for 2013
Donate to The GLORIA Center in the UK
Donate to the GLORIA Center in North America
Receive Rubin Reports Via Email
Add Rubin Reports to Your Technorati Favorites
To See More of Barry’s Writings and the MERIA Journal He Edits CLICK on Picture Below:
- ▼ 2013 (48)
- ▼ March (6)
- ► February (22)
- ► January (20)
- ► 2012 (284)
- ► 2011 (622)
- ► 2010 (565)
- ► 2009 (519)