The Sudanese chess champion resigned over having to pay an Israeli Jew
* Hisham Melhem: “Arab civilization, such as we knew it, is all but gone. The Arab world today is more violent, unstable, fragmented and driven by extremism – the extremism of the rulers and those in opposition – than at any time since the collapse of the Ottoman Empire a century ago.”
* “Is it any surprise that, like the vermin that take over a ruined city, the heirs to this self-destroyed civilization should be the nihilistic thugs of the Islamic State? And that there is no one else who can clean up the vast mess we Arabs have made of our world but the Americans and Western countries?”
* “No one paradigm or one theory can explain what went wrong in the Arab world. There is no obvious set of reasons for the colossal failures of all the ideologies and political movements that swept the Arab region: Arab nationalism, in its Baathist and Nasserite forms; various Islamist movements; Arab socialism; the rentier state and rapacious monopolies, leaving in their wake a string of broken societies.”
* Khaled Diab responds in Haaretz: “The domino-collapse of one state after another is not a sign of the death of Arab civilization, but is rather the result of the implosion of three bankrupt forms of despotism: That of the tyrannical Arab state, Islamist demagoguery and foreign hegemony… Once the crushing weight of the oppressive weed has been removed, future generations will have the space and opportunity to enable a true Arab Spring to bloom.”
* Dennis Prager: “At least since the early part of the 20th century, the Arab world has produced essentially no technology, medicine or anything else in the world of science. It has almost no contributions to world literature, art or to intellectual development. According to the most recent UN Arab Human Development Reports, written by Arab intellectuals, Greece, with a population of 11 million, annually translates five times more books from English than the entire Arab world. The total number of books translated into Arabic during the last 1,000 years is less than Spain translates into Spanish in one year.”
* “ArabianBusiness.com reports that about 100 million people in the Arab world are illiterate; and three quarters of them are between the ages of 15 and 45. As for Arab women, the situation is even worse…”
You can see these and other items that are not in these dispatches if you “like” this page: www.facebook.com/TomGrossMedia.
1. Debating the decline in Arab civilization
2. Head of Sudan’s Chess Association resigns over game with Israeli player
3. “The barbarians within our gates” (By Hisham Melhem, Politico)
4. “The death of Arab thuggery, not Arab civilization” (By Khaled Diab, Haaretz)
5. “What the Arab World Produces” (By Dennis Prager)
DEBATING THE DECLINE IN ARAB CIVILIZATION
[Note by Tom Gross]
I posted the first piece below (an essay by the veteran Lebanese journalist Hisham Melhem) the day it was published two weeks ago, on my public Facebook page. (I quite often post items there when I don’t have time to prepare a dispatch: www.facebook.com/TomGrossMedia.)
Since then, Melhem’s essay has become subject of considerable discussion among some Arab intellectuals. It is worth reading for those who haven’t seen it. Afterwards, I attach a response to it published two days ago in the left-wing Israeli newspaper Haaretz, by Khaled Diab, an Egyptian-Belgian journalist, currently living in Jerusalem. And another piece from Dennis Prager.
Hisham Melhem is the Washington bureau chief of Al-Arabiya, the Dubai-based satellite channel. He is also the correspondent for Annahar, a prominent Lebanese daily. Of note is that he barely mentions Israel in his article and certainly doesn’t blame Israel for the ills of the Arab world – unlike some western journalists who can barely hide their anti-Semitism in their eagerness to try and blame the problems of the Arab world on the Jews (just as other anti-Semites try and blame the problems of the western world, or the world as a whole, on Jews).
Melhem is a senior journalist -- President George W. Bush, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, President Barack Obama, and Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton have all granted him interviews in the past.
-- Tom Gross
HEAD OF SUDAN’S CHESS ASSOCIATION RESIGNS OVER GAME WITH ISRAELI PLAYER
The president of the Sudanese Chess Association has resigned and made a public apology after he played against an Israeli player at the World Youth Chess Championships in South Africa. He called it a “sports shame” to play an Israeli Jew. His father is Sudanese and his mother is Hungarian.
No one in Sudan seems to have resigned over the Sudanese government’s slaughter of about 300,000 of their non-Arab population in the Darfur region, or the systematic rape of thousands of non-Arab women by Arab gangs known as the Janjaweed. (For details of those atrocities, please see past dispatches on this list.)
“ARAB CIVILIZATION, SUCH AS WE KNEW IT, IS ALL BUT GONE”
The Barbarians Within Our Gates
Arab civilization has collapsed. It won’t recover in my lifetime.
By Hisham Melhem
September 18, 2014
With his decision to use force against the violent extremists of the Islamic State, President Obama is doing more than to knowingly enter a quagmire. He is doing more than play with the fates of two half-broken countries – Iraq and Syria – whose societies were gutted long before the Americans appeared on the horizon. Obama is stepping once again – and with understandably great reluctance – into the chaos of an entire civilization that has broken down.
Arab civilization, such as we knew it, is all but gone. The Arab world today is more violent, unstable, fragmented and driven by extremism – the extremism of the rulers and those in opposition – than at any time since the collapse of the Ottoman Empire a century ago. Every hope of modern Arab history has been betrayed. The promise of political empowerment, the return of politics, the restoration of human dignity heralded by the season of Arab uprisings in their early heydays – all has given way to civil wars, ethnic, sectarian and regional divisions and the reassertion of absolutism, both in its military and atavistic forms. With the dubious exception of the antiquated monarchies and emirates of the Gulf – which for the moment are holding out against the tide of chaos – and possibly Tunisia, there is no recognizable legitimacy left in the Arab world.
Is it any surprise that, like the vermin that take over a ruined city, the heirs to this self-destroyed civilization should be the nihilistic thugs of the Islamic State? And that there is no one else who can clean up the vast mess we Arabs have made of our world but the Americans and Western countries?
No one paradigm or one theory can explain what went wrong in the Arab world in the last century. There is no obvious set of reasons for the colossal failures of all the ideologies and political movements that swept the Arab region: Arab nationalism, in its Baathist and Nasserite forms; various Islamist movements; Arab socialism; the rentier state and rapacious monopolies, leaving in their wake a string of broken societies. No one theory can explain the marginalization of Egypt, once the center of political and cultural gravity in the Arab East, and its brief and tumultuous experimentation with peaceful political change before it reverted back to military rule.
Nor is the notion of “ancient sectarian hatreds” adequate to explain the frightening reality that along a front stretching from Basra at the mouth of the Persian Gulf to Beirut on the Mediterranean there exists an almost continuous bloodletting between Sunni and Shia – the public manifestation of an epic geopolitical battle for power and control pitting Iran, the Shia powerhouse, against Saudi Arabia, the Sunni powerhouse, and their proxies.
There is no one single overarching explanation for that tapestry of horrors in Syria and Iraq, where in the last five years more than a quarter of a million people perished, where famed cities like Aleppo, Homs and Mosul were visited by the modern terror of Assad’s chemical weapons and the brutal violence of the Islamic State. How could Syria tear itself apart and become – like Spain in the 1930s – the arena for Arabs and Muslims to re-fight their old civil wars? The war waged by the Syrian regime against civilians in opposition areas combined the use of Scud missiles, anti-personnel barrel bombs as well as medieval tactics against towns and neighborhoods such as siege and starvation. For the first time since the First World War, Syrians were dying of malnutrition and hunger.
Iraq’s story in the last few decades is a chronicle of a death foretold. The slow death began with Saddam Hussein’s fateful decision to invade Iran in September 1980. Iraqis have been living in purgatory ever since with each war giving birth to another. In the midst of this suspended chaos, the U.S. invasion in 2003 was merely a catalyst that allowed the violent chaos to resume in full force.
The polarizations in Syria and Iraq – political, sectarian and ethnic – are so deep that it is difficult to see how these once-important countries could be restored as unitary states. In Libya, Muammar al-Qaddafi’s 42-year reign of terror rendered the country politically desolate and fractured its already tenuous unity. The armed factions that inherited the exhausted country have set it on the course of breaking up – again, unsurprisingly – along tribal and regional fissures. Yemen has all the ingredients of a failed state: political, sectarian, tribal, north-south divisions, against the background of economic deterioration and a depleted water table that could turn it into the first country in the world to run out of drinking water.
Bahrain is maintaining a brittle status quo by the force of arms of its larger neighbors, mainly Saudi Arabia. Lebanon, dominated by Hezbollah, arguably the most powerful non-state actor in the world – before the rise of the Islamic State – could be dragged fully to the maelstrom of Syria’s multiple civil wars by the Assad regime, Iran and its proxy Hezbollah as well as the Islamic State.
A byproduct of the depredation of the national security state and resurgent Islamism has been the slow death of the cosmopolitanism that distinguished great Middle Eastern cities like Alexandria, Beirut, Cairo and Damascus. Alexandria was once a center of learning and multicultural delights (by night, Mark Twain wrote in Innocents Abroad, “it was a sort of reminiscence of Paris”). Today Alexandria is a hotbed of political Islam, now that the once large Greek-Egyptian community has fled along with the other non-Arab and non-Muslim communities. Beirut, once the most liberal city in the Levant, is struggling to maintain a modicum of openness and tolerance while being pushed by Hezbollah to become a Tehran on the Med. Over the last few decades, Islamists across the region have encouraged – and pressured – women to wear veils, men to show signs of religiosity, and subtly and not-so-subtly intimidated non-conformist intellectuals and artists. Egypt today is bereft of good universities and research centers, while publishing unreadable newspapers peddling xenophobia and hyper-nationalism. Cairo no longer produces the kind of daring and creative cinema that pioneers like the critically acclaimed director Youssef Chahine made for more than 60 years. Egyptian society today cannot tolerate a literary and intellectual figure like Taha Hussein, who towered over Arab intellectual life from the 1920s until his death in 1973, because of his skepticism about Islam. Egyptian society cannot reconcile itself today to the great diva Asmahan (1917-1944) singing to her lover that “my soul, my heart, and my body are in your hand.” In the Egypt of today, a chanteuse like Asmahan would be hounded and banished from the country.
The jihadists of the Islamic State, in other words, did not emerge from nowhere. They climbed out of a rotting, empty hulk – what was left of a broken-down civilization. They are a gruesome manifestation of a deeper malady afflicting Arab political culture, which was stagnant, repressive and patriarchal after the decades of authoritarian rule that led to the disastrous defeat in the 1967 war with Israel. That defeat sounded the death knell of Arab nationalism and the resurgence of political Islam, which projected itself as the alternative to the more secular ideologies that had dominated the Arab republics since the Second World War. If Arab decline was the problem, then “Islam is the solution,” the Islamists said – and they believed it.
At their core, both political currents – Arab nationalism and Islamism – are driven by atavistic impulses and a regressive outlook on life that is grounded in a mostly mythologized past. Many Islamists, including Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood (the wellspring of such groups) – whether they say it explicitly or hint at it – are still on a ceaseless quest to resurrect the old Ottoman Caliphate. Still more radical types – the Salafists – yearn for a return to the puritanical days of Prophet Muhammad and his companions. For most Islamists, democracy means only majoritarian rule, and the rule of sharia law, which codifies gender inequality and discrimination against non-Muslims.
And let’s face the grim truth: There is no evidence whatever that Islam in its various political forms is compatible with modern democracy. From Afghanistan under the Taliban to Pakistan and Saudi Arabia, and from Iran to Sudan, there is no Islamist entity that can be said to be democratic, just or a practitioner of good governance. The short rule of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt under the presidency of Mohamed Morsi was no exception. The Brotherhood tried to monopolize power, hound and intimidate the opposition and was driving the country toward a dangerous impasse before a violent military coup ended the brief experimentation with Islamist rule.
Like the Islamists, the Arab nationalists – particularly the Baathists – were also fixated on a “renaissance” of past Arab greatness, which had once flourished in the famed cities of Damascus, Baghdad, Cairo and Córdoba in Al-Andalus, now Spain. These nationalists believed that Arab language and culture (and to a lesser extent Islam) were enough to unite disparate entities with different levels of social, political and cultural development. They were in denial that they lived in a far more diverse world. Those minorities that resisted the primacy of Arab identity were discriminated against, denied citizenship and basic rights, and in the case of the Kurds in Iraq were subjected to massive repression and killings of genocidal proportion. Under the guise of Arab nationalism the modern Arab despot (Saddam, Qaddafi, the Assads) emerged. But these men lived in splendid solitude, detached from their own people. The repression and intimidation of the societies they ruled over were painfully summarized by the gifted Syrian poet Muhammad al-Maghout: “I enter the bathroom with my identity papers in my hand.”
The dictators, always unpopular, opened the door to the Islamists’ rise when they proved just as incompetent as the monarchs they had replaced. That, again, came in 1967 after the crushing defeat of Nasserite Egypt and Baathist Syria at the hands of Israel. From that moment on Arab politics began to be animated by various Islamist parties and movements. The dictators, in their desperation to hold onto their waning power, only became more brutal in the 1980s and ‘90s. But the Islamists kept coming back in new and various shapes and stripes, only to be crushed again ever more ferociously.
The year 1979 was a watershed moment for political Islam. An Islamic revolution exploded in Iran, provoked in part by decades of Western support for the corrupt shah. The Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan and a group of bloody zealots occupied the Grand Mosque in Mecca for two weeks. After these cataclysmic events political Islam became more atavistic in its Sunni manifestations and more belligerent in its Shia manifestations. Saudi Arabia, in order to reassert its fundamentalist “wahhabi” ethos, became stricter in its application of Islamic law, and increased its financial aid to ultraconservative Islamists and their schools throughout the world. The Islamization of the war in Afghanistan against Soviet occupation – a project organized and financed by the United States, Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Pakistan – triggered a tectonic change in the political map of South Asia and the Middle East. The Afghan war was the baptism of fire for terrorist outfits like the Egyptian Islamic Group and al Qaeda, the progenitors of the Islamic State.
This decades-long struggle for legitimacy between the dictators and the Islamists meant that when the Arab Spring uprisings began in early 2011, there were no other political alternatives. You had only the Scylla of the national security state and the Charybdis of political Islam. The secularists and liberals, while playing the leading role in the early phase of the Egyptian uprisings, were marginalized later by the Islamists who, because of their political experience as an old movement, won parliamentary and presidential elections. In a region shorn of real political life it was difficult for the admittedly divided and not very experienced liberals and secularists to form viable political parties.
So no one should be surprised that the Islamists and the remnants of the national security state have dominated Egypt since the fall of Hosni Mubarak. In the end, the uprising removed the tip of the political pyramid – Mubarak and some of his cronies – but the rest of the repressive structure, what the Egyptians refer to as the “deep state” (the army, security apparatus, the judiciary, state media and vested economic interests), remained intact. After the failed experiment of Muslim Brotherhood rule, a bloody coup in 2013 completed the circle and brought Egypt back under the control of a retired general.
In today’s Iraq, too, the failure of a would-be authoritarian – recently departed Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki – has contributed to the rise of the Islamists. The Islamic State is exploiting the alienated Arab Sunni minority, which feels marginalized and disenfranchised in an Iraq dominated by the Shia for the first time in its history and significantly influenced by Iran.
Almost every Muslim era, including the enlightened ones, has been challenged by groups that espouse a virulent brand of austere, puritanical and absolutist Islam. They have different names, but are driven by the same fanatical, atavistic impulses. The great city of Córdoba, one of the most advanced cities in Medieval Europe, was sacked and plundered by such a group (Al Mourabitoun) in 1013, destroying its magnificent palaces and its famed library. In the 1920s the Ikhwan Movement in Arabia (no relation to the Egyptian movement) was so fanatical that the founder of Saudi Arabia, King Abdul-Aziz Al Saud, who collaborated with them initially, had to crush them later on. In contemporary times, these groups include the Taliban, al Qaeda and the Islamic State.
Yes, it is misleading to lump – as some do – all Islamist groups together, even though all are conservative in varying degrees. As terrorist organizations, al Qaeda and Islamic State are different from the Muslim Brotherhood, a conservative movement that renounced violence years ago, although it did dabble with violence in the past.
Nonetheless, most of these groups do belong to the same family tree – and all of them stem from the Arabs’ civilizational ills. The Islamic State, like al Qaeda, is the tumorous creation of an ailing Arab body politic. Its roots run deep in the badlands of a tormented Arab world that seems to be slouching aimlessly through the darkness. It took the Arabs decades and generations to reach this nadir. It will take us a long time to recover – it certainly won’t happen in my lifetime. My generation of Arabs was told by both the Arab nationalists and the Islamists that we should man the proverbial ramparts to defend the “Arab World” against the numerous barbarians (imperialists, Zionists, Soviets) massing at the gates. Little did we know that the barbarians were already inside the gates, that they spoke our language and were already very well entrenched in the city.
“THE DEATH OF ARAB THUGGERY, NOT ARAB CIVILIZATION”
The death of Arab thuggery, not Arab civilization
By Khaled Diab
Oct. 3, 2014
* The Arab world’s 100-year political order is in its death throes. Like dying wild animals, the nationalist, Islamist and foreign mafias and despots clinging to power are at their most dangerous when fatally wounded.
In an influential essay in Politico, the veteran Lebanese journalist Hisham Melhem who is the Washington bureau chief of Al Arabiya, sounded the death knell for Arab civilization. “Arab civilization, such as we knew it, is all but gone,” was his bleak prognosis. “The Arab world today is more violent, unstable, fragmented and driven by extremism… than at any time since the collapse of the Ottoman Empire a century ago.”
Melhem then goes on to detail a long list of ills plaguing the Arab world: From the apparent defeat of the Arab Spring revolutions in most countries to the failure of Arab secular and monarchist regimes, not to mention the proliferation of fundamentalist violence.
“Is it any surprise that, like the vermin that take over a ruined city, the heirs to this self-destroyed civilisation should be the nihilistic thugs of the Islamic State?” he asks.
But to my mind, the domino-collapse of one state after another is not a sign of the death of Arab civilization, but is rather the result of the implosion of three bankrupt forms of despotism: That of the tyrannical Arab state, Islamist demagoguery and foreign hegemony.
Despite the massive differences in the forms of government and the nature of the governed, most post-independence Arab states shared one thing in common: They all served a narrow elite to the detriment of society as a whole. Wherever you turn your gaze, you will find, almost without exception, local masters seated in the place of the previous imperial overlords.
In addition, the foreign rule of yesteryear did not go away, it just changed its face and modus operandi. The loose-knit Ottoman empire in which local leaders and elites paid lip service and tribute to the Sultan but sometimes behaved like independent leaders, such as in Egypt, was replaced by the British and French who spoke the language of independence but often engaged in direct rule.
When the United States muscled out the old-world European powers, it spoke the language of self-determination and anti-imperialism but created its Pax Americana empire which exercised control through vassal leaders in client states and a ruthlessly punitive approach, including crippling sanctions and invasions, towards those who rejected its hegemony. The upshot of this is that Arab populations have lived under a double oppression: That of their native rulers and that imposed on them from distant capitals.
Just like Washington tolerates little regional dissent, Arab regimes have shared, to varying degrees, a ruthless attitude to domestic opposition. This had the dual effect of robbing their societies of a clear cadre of effective alternative leaders and empowering ever-more extreme forms of opposition by side-lining or decimating moderates.
Although a lot of attention has been directed at regime crackdowns against the Islamist opposition, especially the various chapters of the Muslim Brotherhood, less well-known is that secular dissidents suffered repression easily as harsh or more so, especially leftists.
This is to be expected of the Gulf monarchies whose claim to legitimacy is founded on dubious religious pretexts. However, the revolutionary republican regimes of Egypt, Syria and Iraq, despite their reputation for having been closet communists and pro-Soviet in America, not only dealt ruthlessly with the liberal opposition but were also bitterly anti-communist.
Though the reasons varied, the decades-long oppression of secular opposition forces in the Arab world had far-reaching consequences. One was the decimation of viable alternative leaders, which was acutely felt when the leaderless Arab uprisings did not manage to assemble a credible leadership quickly enough to consolidate their gains.
This, along with the weak, corrupt, incompetent and dysfunctional nature of Arab secular regimes – not to mention the “democratic” fig leaf the West used to disguise its interests – led to the discrediting of secularism in the minds of many, and, after decades of being in vogue, Westernization became a dirty word rather than something to aspire to.
This left an ideological and political void which radical, anti-authoritarian Islamism managed to occupy, for a time.
To counter both the secularist and Islamist threat to their legitimacy and rule, a number of Gulf states went on the offensive and actively exported, lubricated by petro-dollars, their own brand of Islam, such as the ultra-conservative Wahhabi ideology from Saudi Arabia or Salafism from Qatar.
For a while, political Islamism’s simple “Islam is the solution” formula apparently won a lot of supporters as a counter to the failure both of secular pan-Arabism and conservative monarchism, but this is waning.
Though the secular opposition forces may have been down, they were definitely not out. This was reflected in the progressive, leftist, pro-democracy nature of the 2011 Arab uprisings, especially in Tunisia, Egypt and Syria.
This set alarm bells ringing in what had become the trinity dominating Arab politics: The Arab autocracies (whether republican or monarchist), the Islamist opposition and the U.S.-led West. And each of these set in motion their own anti- or counterrevolutionary forces.
The one country where these forces did not manage to cause major mischief is the only place where the Arab Spring has been a relative success: Tunisia. For a time, Egypt looked like it might also escape this fate but, instead, turned into a battleground for regional and international forces.
But the worst proxy battleground has been Syria. Caught between the intransigent and murderous Assad regime and its allies in Russia, China and Iran, on the one hand, and the unholy alliance between the United States and the conservative Gulf monarchies, on the other hand, the peaceful, secular uprising didn’t stand a chance.
What the above reveals is that it is not Arab civilization that has died, but the political order put in place almost a century ago following the collapse of the Ottoman empire is going through its death throes. And like dying wild animals, these beasts are at their most dangerous when fatally wounded.
Despite the surface decay in Arab society, submerged underneath are the fresh shoots of a robust, youthful, dynamic civilization kept from blossoming by the stranglehold of the suffocating weed on the putrid top soil of the established order. This is visible in the courageous youth who led the revolutionary charge against despotism, neo-liberalism and socioeconomic inequality. It can be seen in how tens of millions of Arabs have lost their deference to their leaders and their awe of authority. It can be traced in the innovative reinvention of religion and in the growing assertiveness of secular Arabs, not to mention in the pent-up creative social, economic and even scientific energies eager to be unleashed and harnessed.
Once the crushing weight of the oppressive weed has been removed, future generations will have the space and opportunity to enable a true Arab Spring to bloom. But the road to recovery and then progress is long, hard and gruelling.
100 MILLION PEOPLE IN THE ARAB WORLD ARE ILLITERATE
What the Arab World Produces
By Dennis Prager
Sept. 30, 2014
At least since the early part of the 20th century, aside from oil, the Arab world has produced and exported two products.
It has produced essentially no technology, medicine or anything else in the world of science. It has almost no contributions to world literature, art or to intellectual development.
According to the most recent United Nations Arab Human Development Reports (2003-2005), written by Arab intellectuals, Greece, with a population of 11 million, annually translates five times more books from English than the entire Arab world, population 370 million. Nor is this a new development. The total number of books translated into Arabic during the last 1,000 years is less than Spain translates into Spanish in one year.
ArabianBusiness.com reports that about 100 million people in the Arab world are illiterate; and three quarters of them are between the ages of 15 and 45.
As for Arab women, the situation is even worse. Nearly half of the Arab world’s women are illiterate, and sexual attacks on women have actually increased since the Arab Spring, as have forced marriages and trafficking. And the exact number of women murdered by family members in “honor killings” is not knowable. It is only known to be large.
In Egypt, the largest Arab country, 91 percent of women and girls are subjected to female genital mutilation, according to UNICEF. Not to mention the number of women in the Arab world who must wear veils or even full-face and full-body coverings known as burkas. And, of course, Saudi Arabia is infamous for not allowing women to drive a car.
Another unhappy feature of the Arab world is the prevalence of lies. To this day, Egypt denies that it was the Egyptian pilot, Ahmed El-Habashi, who allegedly crashed an EgyptAir jet into the ocean deliberately. Vast numbers of Arabs believe that Jews knew of the 9-11 plot and avoided going to work at the World Trade Center that day.
So, then, is there anything at which the Arab world has excelled for the past two generations? Has there been a major Arab export?
As it happens, there are two.
Hatred and violence.
The Arab world has no peer when it comes to hatred - of the Western world generally, and especially of Israel. Israel-hatred and its twin, Jew-hatred, are the oxygen that the Arab world breathes.
Two of the most popular songs in Egypt over the past decade have been “I Hate Israel” and the ironically named “I Love Israel.”
Lyrics of the latter song include:
“May it [Israel] be destroyed. May it be wiped off the map. May a wall fall on it. May it disappear from the universe. God, please have it banished.”
“May it dangle from the noose. May I get to see it burning, Amen. I will pour gasoline on it. I am an Egyptian man. I am not a coward.”
“I Hate Israel” is so popular that it was the song which Egypt’s pop star Chaaboula sang at the largest music festival in the Arab world, Morocco’s Mawazine. The festival, one of the biggest in the world, featured Alicia Keys, Justin Timberlake, Ricky Martin and Kool and the Gang.
Some of the lyrics:
“I hate Israel, and I would say so if I was asked to.
“Two faces of the same coin, America and Israel. They made the world a jungle and ignited the fuse.
“About that [Twin] Tower, oh people. Definitely! His friends [Israel] were the ones who brought it down.”
The other major Arab product and export has been violence.
It is difficult to overstate the amount of violence in the Arab world. Mass murder and cruelty have characterized the Arab world.
Regarding Iraq under Saddam Hussein, Dexter Filkins, the New York Times correspondent in Iraq from 2003-2006 wrote: “Here, in Hussein, was one of the world’s indisputably evil men: he murdered as many as a million of his people, many with poison gas. He tortured, maimed and imprisoned countless more. His unprovoked invasion of Iran is estimated to have left another million people dead.”
Syria, too, has been a country of mass murder, torture, and brutal totalitarian rule – under the rule of Hafez Assad (in power 1971-2000), and his son, Bashar, the current killer-dictator who, among other atrocities, used Sarin gas against his own people in 2013.
In the ongoing Syrian Civil War, according to the United Nations, between March 15, 2011 and April 30, 2014, 191,000 Syrians, about a third of them civilians, were killed. In addition, 2.5 million people have fled Syria to neighboring countries, and 6.5 million have fled their homes within Syria.
In Algeria in the 1990s, Islamist terrorists engaged in wholesale murder of their fellow Algerians. That war cost Algeria about 100,000 lives, mostly civilian.
In Sudan, the Arab government’s atrocities against the non-Arab population in the region of Darfur led to about 300,000 deaths and over a million refugees. In addition there was systematic rape of untold numbers of non-Arab women by Arab gangs known as the Janjaweed.
And then there was the terror unleashed by Palestinians against Israeli civilians in restaurants, at weddings, on buses, etc. The Palestinians are the modern fathers of terrorism directed solely at civilians.
There are two possible reactions to this description of the Arab world. One is that it is an example of anti-Arab “racism.” That would be the reaction in much of the Arab world, on the left and among most academics – despite the fact that the description is of a culture and that the Arabs are not a race. The other is that is that it is tragically accurate. That would be the reaction of some in the Arab world and anyone who cares about truth. One such individual is an Arab. In Politico Magazine two weeks ago. Hisham Melhem, Washington bureau chief of Al-Arabiya, the Dubai-based satellite channel, titled his article “The Barbarians Within Our Gates.” The subtitle is “Arab civilization has collapsed. It won’t recover in my lifetime.”
Islamic State, which is overwhelmingly Arab, is just the latest manifestation.