* Abdulateef Al-Mulhim, columnist for (the Saudi-owned) ‘Arab News’: “On the anniversary of the 1973 War between the Arab and the Israelis, many people in the Arab world are beginning to ask many questions about the past, present and the future with regard to the Arab-Israeli conflict. The questions now are: What was the real cost of these wars to the Arab world and its people. And the harder question that no Arab national wants to ask is: What was the real cost for not recognizing Israel in 1948 and why didn’t the Arab states spend their assets on education, health care and the infrastructures instead of wars? But, the hardest question that no Arab national wants to hear is whether Israel is the real enemy of the Arab world and the Arab people.” [TG: -- Abdulateef Al-Mulhim is a retired Saudi Naval Commodore.]
* Al-Mulhim: “I decided to write this article after I saw photos and reports about a starving child in Yemen, a burned ancient Aleppo souk in Syria, the under developed Sinai in Egypt, car bombs in Iraq and the destroyed buildings in Libya.”
* Al-Mulhim: “If many of the Arab states are in such disarray, then what happened to the Arabs’ sworn enemy Israel? Israel now has the most advanced research facilities, top universities and advanced infrastructure. Many Arabs don’t know that the life expectancy of the Palestinians living in Israel is far longer than many Arab states and they enjoy far better political and social freedom than many of their Arab brothers. Even the Palestinians living under Israeli occupation in the West Bank and Gaza Strip enjoy more political and social rights than some places in the Arab World. Wasn’t one of the judges who sent a former Israeli president to jail an Israeli-Palestinian?”
* Fred Hiatt: “Obama likes to say that ‘the tide of war is receding,’ but saying so doesn’t make it so, and withdrawing America from the field of battle doesn’t necessarily end a war… The longer a president holds America back from its expected role as leader and shaper of events, the messier the dilemmas will be.”
Missing in action
* Victor Davis Hanson: “Let us confess it: Many of the things that are bothersome in the world today originate in the Middle East. Billions of air passengers each year take off their belts and shoes at the airport, not because of fears of terrorism from the slums of Johannesburg or because the grandsons of displaced East Prussians are blowing up Polish diplomats. We put up with such burdens because a Saudi multimillionaire, Osama bin Laden, and his unhinged band of Arab religious extremists began ramming airliners into buildings and murdering thousands.”
* Davis Hanson: “The world obsesses over Israel and the Palestinians because of the neurotic Middle East. The issue is not really the principle of a divided capital – or Nicosia would be daily news. Nor is the concern over refugees per se, since well over 500,000 Jews [in fact 800,000] were religiously cleansed from the major Arab capitals following the 1948 and 1967 wars. No one cares where they went or how they have fared in the decades since. Is the global worry really over occupied territories? Hardly. Lately it seems that every desolate island between China and Japan is equally contested. Are there special envoys to the Falklands, and do the islanders receive international aid? Will there be a U.N. session devoted to the Kuril Islands? Does Gdansk/Danzig merit summits? We are told ad nauseam that the Arab minority in Israel suffers – would that the ignored Coptic minority in Egypt had similar protections and freedoms.”
I attach three articles below and recommend reading all three if you have time.
Abdulateef Al-Mulhim’s courageous article is in many ways spot on, but I disagree with his assertion that “The Arab-Israeli conflict is the most complicated conflict the world ever experienced.” It certainly didn’t, and doesn’t, have to be this way.
The writers of the second and third articles, Fred Hiatt (the Editorial Page Editor of the Washington Post) and the historian Victor Davis Hanson (who is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution), are both longtime subscribers to this email list.
(You can comment on this dispatch here: www.facebook.com/TomGrossMedia. Please also press “Like” on that page.)
-- Tom Gross
(Thank you to all those who have picked up on these articles from this webpage, such as David Frum in The Daily Beast.)
“THE ARAB SPRING SHOWED THE WORLD THAT THE PALESTINIANS ARE HAPPIER AND IN A BETTER SITUATION THAN THEIR ARAB BROTHERS”
The Arab Spring and the Israeli enemy
By Abdulateef Al-Mulhim
October 6, 2012
Thirty-nine years ago, on Oct. 6, 1973, the third major war between the Arabs and Israel broke out. The war lasted only 20 days. The two sides were engaged in two other major wars, in 1948 and 1967.
The 1967 War lasted only six days. But, these three wars were not the only Arab-Israel confrontations. From the period of 1948 and to this day many confrontations have taken place. Some of them were small clashes and many of them were full-scale battles, but there were no major wars apart from the ones mentioned above. The Arab-Israeli conflict is the most complicated conflict the world ever experienced. On the anniversary of the 1973 War between the Arab and the Israelis, many people in the Arab world are beginning to ask many questions about the past, present and the future with regard to the Arab-Israeli conflict.
The questions now are: What was the real cost of these wars to the Arab world and its people. And the harder question that no Arab national wants to ask is: What was the real cost for not recognizing Israel in 1948 and why didn’t the Arab states spend their assets on education, health care and the infrastructures instead of wars? But, the hardest question that no Arab national wants to hear is whether Israel is the real enemy of the Arab world and the Arab people.
I decided to write this article after I saw photos and reports about a starving child in Yemen, a burned ancient Aleppo souk in Syria, the under developed Sinai in Egypt, car bombs in Iraq and the destroyed buildings in Libya. The photos and the reports were shown on the Al-Arabiya network, which is the most watched and respected news outlet in the Middle East.
The common thing among all what I saw is that the destruction and the atrocities are not done by an outside enemy. The starvation, the killings and the destruction in these Arab countries are done by the same hands that are supposed to protect and build the unity of these countries and safeguard the people of these countries. So, the question now is that who is the real enemy of the Arab world?
The Arab world wasted hundreds of billions of dollars and lost tens of thousands of innocent lives fighting Israel, which they considered is their sworn enemy, an enemy whose existence they never recognized. The Arab world has many enemies and Israel should have been at the bottom of the list. The real enemies of the Arab world are corruption, lack of good education, lack of good health care, lack of freedom, lack of respect for the human lives and finally, the Arab world had many dictators who used the Arab-Israeli conflict to suppress their own people.
These dictators’ atrocities against their own people are far worse than all the full-scale Arab-Israeli wars.
In the past, we have talked about why some Israeli soldiers attack and mistreat Palestinians. Also, we saw Israeli planes and tanks attack various Arab countries. But, do these attacks match the current atrocities being committed by some Arab states against their own people.
In Syria, the atrocities are beyond anybody’s imaginations? And, isn’t the Iraqis are the ones who are destroying their own country? Wasn’t it Tunisia’s dictator who was able to steal 13 billion dollars from the poor Tunisians? And how can a child starve in Yemen if their land is the most fertile land in the world? Why would Iraqi brains leave Iraq in a country that makes 110 billion dollars from oil export? Why do the Lebanese fail to govern one of the tiniest countries in the world? And what made the Arab states start sinking into chaos?
On May 14, 1948 the state of Israel was declared. And just one day after that, on May 15, 1948 the Arabs declared war on Israel to get back Palestine. The war ended on March 10, 1949. It lasted for nine months, three weeks and two days. The Arabs lost the war and called this war Nakbah (catastrophic war). The Arabs gained nothing and thousands of Palestinians became refugees.
And on 1967, the Arabs led by Egypt under the rule of Gamal Abdul Nasser, went in war with Israel and lost more Palestinian land and made more Palestinian refugees who are now on the mercy of the countries that host them. The Arabs called this war Naksah (upset). The Arabs never admitted defeat in both wars and the Palestinian cause got more complicated. And now, with the never ending Arab Spring, the Arab world has no time for the Palestinians refugees or Palestinian cause, because many Arabs are refugees themselves and under constant attacks from their own forces. Syrians are leaving their own country, not because of the Israeli planes dropping bombs on them. It is the Syrian Air Force which is dropping the bombs. And now, Iraqi Arab Muslims, most intelligent brains, are leaving Iraq for the est. In Yemen, the world’s saddest human tragedy play is being written by the Yemenis. In Egypt, the people in Sinai are forgotten.
Finally, if many of the Arab states are in such disarray, then what happened to the Arabs’ sworn enemy (Israel)? Israel now has the most advanced research facilities, top universities and advanced infrastructure. Many Arabs don’t know that the life expectancy of the Palestinians living in Israel is far longer than many Arab states and they enjoy far better political and social freedom than many of their Arab brothers. Even the Palestinians living under Israeli occupation in the West Bank and Gaza Strip enjoy more political and social rights than some places in the Arab World. Wasn’t one of the judges who sent a former Israeli president to jail is an Israeli-Palestinian?
The Arab Spring showed the world that the Palestinians are happier and in better situation than their Arab brothers who fought to liberate them from the Israelis. Now, it is time to stop the hatred and wars and start to create better living conditions for the future Arab generations.
MISSING IN ACTION
No escape from the Middle East
By Fred Hiatt
The Washington Post
October 7, 2012
Before President Obama could turn to the regions and issues he believed should be foreign policy priorities in his first term, he felt he had to clean up the mess his predecessor had bequeathed him in the Middle East and Central Asia.
If reelected, he may confront a similar frustration in his second term.
Consider a few of the developments in that arc of conflict since his administration announced in 2011 an implicit downgrade of the importance of the region and a foreign-policy “pivot” to Asia.
A U.S. ambassador has been killed for the first time in more than two decades, in Libya, and weapons and fighters leaking out of that North African nation have fueled an al-Qaeda renaissance to the south. The United States has had to abandon its presence in Benghazi, the city whose population Obama once boasted of saving.
Civil war has consumed Syria, claiming more than 30,000 lives, many of them women and children, and displacing more than a million. The fighting is a magnet for Islamist extremists and a spur to Sunni-Shiite rivalries and Kurdish aspirations that are destabilizing Lebanon, Iraq, Jordan and Turkey.
Israel’s most important relationships in the region, its cold peace with Egypt and its once warmer friendship with Turkey, are deteriorating. Israeli-Palestinian peace seems more remote than ever, while a promised reconciliation between the divided halves of Palestinian territory has stalled.
September was the deadliest month in two years in Iraq as bombings and sectarian fighting set back a country that had been in recovery.
In Afghanistan, U.S. officials have given up on a key goal of their withdrawal strategy, a negotiated settlement with the Taliban, the New York Times reported. More than 50 U.S. troops have been killed this year by supposed allies in the Afghan army and police. These demoralizing insider attacks could prompt the allies to retreat even earlier than planned, NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen told the Guardian last week.
Negotiations with Iran have come to a standstill as that country accelerates its nuclear development program, racing toward a weapons capability that Obama has declared unacceptable.
Relations with a nuclear-capable, unstable Pakistan are rockier than ever.
Obama wasn’t wrong in wanting to shift U.S. attention and resources to the Pacific. Compare the economic dynamism of Indonesia, Singapore or Korea to Afghanistan, Yemen or Somalia, and you understand the logic. As China grows more assertive, its neighbors want a dependable, if discreet, U.S. presence.
But the world’s indispensable nation, as Obama has called the United States, doesn’t always get to choose its areas of concern. The president likes to say that “the tide of war is receding,” but saying so doesn’t make it so, and withdrawing America from the field of battle doesn’t necessarily end a war.
Sept. 11, 2001, was a wake-up call, and not only to the dangers of al-Qaeda and Osama bin Laden. A crucial arc of the world is unstable as one of the world’s great religions debates how and whether to accommodate to globalization and international norms of human rights. This isn’t America’s struggle, but it is a struggle America can’t ignore.
That doesn’t mean the United States needs to send troops into conflict, as Obama believed President George W. Bush did too readily. But when opportunities arise, the United States needs to be ready – to support democrats in Egypt, Libya, Bahrain and Tunisia, for example, or to help the Syrian opposition organize and equip itself. If the stakes in Afghanistan are worth sending U.S. troops into battle, as Obama proclaimed, then those troops should be fighting toward a goal, not a timeline.
Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney blames Obama for all the troubles in the region, just as Obama blamed Bush. In truth, every president will be at the mercy of events to some extent, no matter how prescient his foreign policy.
But Obama too often has left the United States on the sidelines. “It is time to focus on nation-building here at home,” he tells Americans, who understandably are receptive to that message. No doubt he’d like to focus a second term on domestic recovery and on foreign policy challenges he finds congenial: nuclear arms talks with Russia, say, as well as the pivot to Asia.
But recent events suggest that the next president, whether Romney or Obama, will get drawn into messy, difficult dilemmas in the Middle East and Central Asia. The longer a president holds America back from its expected role as leader and shaper of events, the messier the dilemmas will be.
“NOR DO WE ASSUME THAT A CURE FOR PROSTATE CANCER COULD EVER EMERGE FROM TRIPOLI AS IT MIGHT FROM TEL AVIV”
The Neurotic Middle East
The world tacitly exempts the Middle East from the rules of civilized behavior.
By Victor Davis Hanson
National Review Online
October 2, 2012
Let us confess it: Many of the things that are bothersome in the world today originate in the Middle East. Billions of air passengers each year take off their belts and shoes at the airport, not because of fears of terrorism from the slums of Johannesburg or because the grandsons of displaced East Prussians are blowing up Polish diplomats. We put up with such burdens because a Saudi multimillionaire, Osama bin Laden, and his unhinged band of Arab religious extremists began ramming airliners into buildings and murdering thousands.
The Olympics have become an armed camp, not because the Cold War Soviets once stormed Montreal or the Chinese have threatened Australia, but largely because Palestinian terrorists butchered Israelis in Munich 40 years ago and established the precedent that international arenas were ideal occasions for political mass murder.
There is no corn or wheat cartel. There are no cell-phone monopolies. Coal prices are not controlled by global price-fixers. Yet OPEC adjusts the supply of oil in the Middle East to ensure high prices, mostly for the benefit of Gulf sheikhdoms and assorted other authoritarian governments.
Catholics don’t assassinate movie directors or artists who treat Jesus Christ with contempt. Jewish mobs will not murder cartoonists should they ridicule the Torah. Buddhists are not calling for global blasphemy laws. But radical Muslims, mostly in the Middle East, have warned the world that Islam alone is not to be caricatured – or else. Right-wing fascists and red Communists have not done as much damage to the First Amendment as have the threats from the Arab Street.
The world obsesses over Israel and the Palestinians because of the neurotic Middle East. The issue is not really the principle of a divided capital – or Nicosia would be daily news. Nor is the concern over refugees per se, since well over 500,000 Jews were religiously cleansed from the major Arab capitals following the 1948 and 1967 wars. No one cares where they went or how they have fared in the decades since. Is the global worry really over occupied territories? Hardly. Lately it seems that every desolate island between China and Japan is equally contested. Are there special envoys to the Falklands, and do the islanders receive international aid? Will there be a U.N. session devoted to the Kuril Islands? Does Gdansk/Danzig merit summits? We are told ad nauseam that the Arab minority in Israel suffers – would that the ignored Coptic minority in Egypt had similar protections and freedoms.
The oil-rich Middle East is just different from other regions. We don’t expect another Cal Tech to sprout in Cairo in the way it might in either Bombay or Beijing. Nor do we assume that a cure for prostate cancer could ever emerge from Tripoli as it might from Tel Aviv. The world will not be flooded by Syrian-made low-cost, durable products that make our lives better – comparable to what comes from South Korea. There will be not a Saudi or Algerian version of a Kia. High-speed machine lathes will not be exported from Pakistan as they are from Germany. I doubt that engineers in Afghanistan or Yemen will replace our iPads. The Middle East’s efforts in the production of biofuels will not rival Brazil’s. Libya will not send archaeologists to the American Southwest to help investigate Native American sites.
In other words, in politically incorrect terms, the world tacitly gives exemptions to the Middle East – and expects very little in return. It assumes that the rules that apply elsewhere of civility, tolerance, and nonviolence are inoperative there – and perhaps have reason to so be. Money is made in the Middle East either by pumping out oil that others have found and developed or, less frequently these days, by catering for tourists who wish to see the remains of what others built centuries earlier. Few foreigners decide to spend a relaxing week in Egypt, or to sunbathe on the beaches of Gaza, or to enjoy the wine and cheese of Libya, or to snorkel in the waters off Syria, or to study engineering in Algiers. How many tourists choose to mountaineer in Afghanistan or visit Persepolis or unwind in Pakistan?
The world also assumes a sort of Middle Eastern parasitism: Daily its millions use mobile phones, take antibiotics, hit the Internet, fire RPGs, and play video games, and yet they not only do not create these products that they rely upon, but largely have antipathy for those who do.
Asymmetry is, of course, assumed. One expects to be detained for having a Bible in one’s baggage at Riyadh, whereas a Koran in a tote bag is of no importance at the Toronto airport. The Egyptian immigrant in San Francisco, or the Pakistani who moves to London, expects to be allowed to demonstrate against the freewheeling protocols of his hosts, while a Westerner protesting against life under sharia in the streets of Karachi or Gaza would earn a death sentence. What is nauseating about this is not the hypocrisy per se, but the Middle Eastern insistence that there is no such hypocrisy. We expect the immigrant from Egypt to deface public posters and call it freedom of expression; we expect Mr. Morsi, who enjoyed American freedom while he studied for his Ph.D. and then taught for three years in California, to deny it to others and trash his former host.
So how do we make sense out of this abject nonsense? Superficially, it occurs because the world is cowardly, and we accept that terrorism is far more likely to emanate from the Middle East than elsewhere. Principles or tastes do not explain why movies mock Christ and not Mohammed. Fear does, and all sorts of empty pontifications must dress up the necessary compensatory selectivity.
Self-interest explains a lot too. It is not just that nearly half the world’s oil comes from the Middle East. The money paid for it means enormous opportunity for recycling profits. An American university that would oust a student for uncivil speech at home has no problem with rampant anti-Semitism and religious intolerance in its Middle Eastern affiliate – as long as the students pony up $60,000 in annual petrodollar-fed tuition and expenses.
The present low-down age counts as well. The West is not as it was right after World War II, when it was not shy about defending its values and believed that the future of democracy and free markets it offered would mean liberty and security for hundreds of millions. Today, utopian pacifism, multiculturalism, and moral relativism arise out of self-doubt and fears of decline – at precisely the time when radical Islam is more confident than ever before that its own less liberal future is assured.
The paradox is not just that the well-off in London, Paris, and Washington are diffident, while the impoverished in Cairo and Tehran are fanatic, but that there comes also a certain sick awe in the self-loathing West for those who can at least be zealous in their self-righteousness, however repellent in the abstract that may be. One could see all this in Piers Morgan’s CNN interview with Mahmoud Ahmadinejad: The more the latter spouted his anti-Semitic and anti-Western hatred and homophobia, the more the liberal former seemed mesmerized by such surety – in a way he most surely is not by Sarah Palin’s mild conservatism.
Finally, what accounts for Middle Eastern neuroticism? A sense of collective inferiority, a feeling that life is pretty miserable, when it need not be – and that the causes are foreign rather than homegrown. Exasperated Arab secular intellectuals sometimes confess that tribalism in place of meritocracy, statism in place of free markets, authoritarianism in place of consensuality, religious fundamentalism in place of tolerance, censorship in place of transparency, and gender apartheid in place of sexual equality combine in the Middle East to ensure poverty and violence.
The latest round of radical Islam arose – in the manner of Nazism in the 1930s, Communism in the 1940s, and Baathism and pan-Arabism in the 1960s – not to address the self-inflicted causes of such failure, but to indict others: Jews, Western democracies and Western capitalists, non-Arabs and heretics, and, above all, powerful Americans. The whines and lamentations gain credence when the Arab Street watches NBC and CNN, when the engineering student attends an American social-science class, when Hollywood endlessly shows the world the evil CIA agent behind the latest Middle Eastern scandal or the white male CEO whose company’s pollution causes cancer. Western self-loathing is offered as proof of Western culpability. Radical Islam then steps in, assuring the Middle Eastern Street that an absence of piety explains why a once-great civilization now bows to decadent Western infidels: The more a believer memorizes the Koran, supposedly the less power the Westerner has over him, and thus the less the beloved iPhone he uses each day can corrupt him.
What can be done? A psychiatrist treating a delusional neurotic attempts to bring him slowly back to reality. In the case of the Middle East, that would mean in the long term defending vigorously the values of free speech, tolerance, and constitutional government – and not giving exemptions on the basis of fear or multicultural relativism. More practically, the U.S. must develop fully all its energy supplies – coal, nuclear, natural gas, oil, and alternative fuels – to reduce the strategic importance of the Middle East in U.S foreign policy. At some point we must be honest: The American self-righteous green zealot who opposes almost all production of new finds of natural gas is not just the fanatical bookend of the Middle Eastern Islamist, but also the means by which the latter gains money and clout.
In the short term, reciprocity would be wise. If violence should continue against American personnel and facilities, we can gradually trim foreign aid, advise Americans not to visit Egypt or Libya, put holds on visas for students from Middle Eastern countries that do not protect Americans or that contribute to terrorism, recall our ambassadors and expel theirs. Reopening our embassy in Damascus and dubbing Bashar Assad a “reformer” did not improve relations with Syria or temper Syrian extremism. A reduced security profile in Libya did not create good will for our ambassador. Two billion dollars in aid to Egypt did not win hearts and minds. The Palestinians are not fond of us, despite millions of dollars in annual aid.
Having Mr. Morsi on the USC campus did not bank good will for the future, any more than, long ago, Sayyid Qutb’s subsidized travel throughout America earned us a soft spot in the heart of the Muslim Brotherhood. I don’t see how welcoming in Egyptian journalist Mona Eltahawy and giving her airtime on CNN and MSNBC has enriched the United States by providing us a keener understanding of Egypt – not when she uses spray paint to deface public posters that she personally finds objectionable.
To sum up, the West should just say, “No.”