Monday, April 4, 2011

Inconvenient truths about Middle East: The Original

A shortened version of this was published in the Waterbury Sunday Republican on March 27, 2011 and also appears on the PRIMER Blog. This is the original as submitted by Attorney Gary L. Broder.

The continuing chaos in the Arab world should give us all a great deal of concern. It also should cause us to examine some "inconvenient truths" about the Arab Middle East.

One would like to be hopeful, for example, about the possibility of real democracy in Egypt. However, in at least 4000 years of Egyptian history, there has never been a democratic government there. Mubarak's dictatorship took over from Sadat's dictatorship, which took over from Nasser's dictatorship, which took over by military coup from a King. Was Mubarak really that different from the Biblical Pharaoh?

In fact, there is only one real democracy in the Middle East - Israel. All the other countries are either dictatorships (military or civilian), kingdoms or principalities. Ironically, the country in the Middle East where Arabs enjoy the greatest amount of freedom is Israel. Arabs born in Israel are Israeli citizens. Arabic is one of the official languages of Israel. There are Arab political parties and Arab members of the Knesset (Parliament). One would like to say the same reciprocal relationship exists for Jews who live in Arab lands. Unfortunately, despite the fact that Jews lived for hundred of years in countries like Algeria, Iraq, Syria and Yemen, they were forced out or fled.

The United States has only one real ally in the Middle East - Israel. All of the Arab countries there either engage in terrorism, fund terrorism (either openly or secretly) or allow terrorists to operate out of their country with impunity.

The Arab Middle East hates Israel, and, frankly, doesn't feel that much better about the United States. This is based on two factors.

One is anti-semitism (and please don't tell me Arabs can't be anti-semites because they are semites as well). This is denied by Arab countries, who claim they are not anti-semites, just anti-Zionists. Although on could distinguish the two theoretically, in reality there is no difference. The modern State of Israel has been in existence for over 60 years. It is not going away.

The second reason is not often discussed in the media. The Arab countries hate Israel because Israel is Western and they are not. Despite Israel's physical location, it is much more like the United States that its Arab Neighbors. By any measure or criterion, Israel is seen by the Arab world as America's outpost in the Middle East. In other words, the very facts that make Israel America's only ally in the Middle East make the Arab world hate Israel and distrust the United States.

I would not dare to predict what will happen in the Arab world. Obviously, once again, our CIA wasn't very good in that regard. I think only Yogi Berra makes any sense right now. However, there are some conclusions to be drawn and lessons to be learned.

First, America is partially at fault. Once again, we backed stability over democracy. Indeed, this has been our foreign policy for most of the 20th century, not only in the Middle East, but in most of the world. I understand that politics is not that simplistic, but by the very choices we have made, we engage on a national level in the kind of immorality that the Arab world accuses us of on a personal level.

Second, we have sold our souls for Arab oil for decades. When are we going to learn? We know what we need to do, and we have started to do it. We need to accelerate the pace: Alternative fuels, greater energy efficiency, reduction in consumption, etc.

Third, cut back on most foreign aid, especially in the form of military armaments, to non-democratic Arab countries. Put in real controls to prevent those countries' leaders from stealing it for themselves. Let wealthy Arab nations provide economic assistance to their poorer brethren. If the United States still thinks assisting these countries is in our national interest, dramatically increase the Peace Corps presence there, which will better provide direct help to those who need it most.

Fourth, the media (including this newspaper) need to stop calling terrorists "militants". If groups in Canada started firing rockets across the border into Maine, would we call them "militants" or terrorists? And if those attacks continued, and the Canadian government said it couldn't control them, how long do you think we would wait before we went over the border into Canada and did something about it?

Fifth, the media need to increase the amount of their coverage of foreign affairs, not just when there is a crisis. We could do this by cutting back on the incredible amount of junk we now broadcast as news and entertainment. Isn't our concept of "reality TV" an oxymoron? Unfortunately, the media are cutting back on their coverage of foreign affairs, not increasing it.

Sixth, since Israel is our only real ally in the Middle East, start treating it more like that were true. That revolves mainly around the issue of the so-called "Palestinians". I say "so-called" because there are really no such people. I am not being facetious. There are obviously thousand of Arabs calling themselves Palestinians, but who are they? Where did they come from? How long have they been in existence? If one used the term "Palestinian" between 1917 and 1948, then one would be referring to Jews living in the land of Israel. The so-called Palestinians have no claim to any of the land they now seek because it was never theirs. What they are really saying is that they are the representatives of all Arabs in the Middle East who have waged war against Israel in the past. But, how many times can you attack a country, lose the war and then pretend that it never happened and that there are no consequences? Israel's historical claim to the Land of Israel, as detailed in the Torah over 3,300 years ago, not only includes present-day Israel, Gaza and the so-called West Bank, but also parts of Lebanon, Syria and Jordan. The so-called Palestinians can ask for anything they want, but that does not translate into historical entitlement.

The American failure to correctly assess this situation is based upon two misconceptions. The first is that appeasement of the so-called Palestinians will stop their commitment to terrorism and the destruction of Israel. It will not. The second is that the other Arabs really care about the so-called Palestinians. They do not. They are incapable of running their own countries. If they did care, they would have taken them into their own countries, provided them with financial assistance (other than illicit military equipment), etc.

Now is the time to insist on justice in the Middle East, but real justice, based upon principles that only the United States and Israel currently share in common.

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