Wednesday, July 19, 2006


Maybe the media doesn't do it on purpose.  Maybe they too are obfuscated.  But none of the analysis, opinions, reporting, takes into account THE central fact about the Middle East conflict:  the left/right divide.

No one reminds the public that Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Jordan, and the Arab Emirates "support" Israel because Israel's enemies, to varying degrees, espouse populist, "left" ideologies: Bashir El Assad is a Ba'athist, Hezbollah, Hamas, Iran's president, are populists. Israel is, in effect, the U.S. proxy in the Middle East for a "liberal" path to "progress" that keeps the Saudi Princes, the Arab Emirs, the Jordanian King, the Egyptian president in power.  Ahmadinejad's populist rhetoric got him elected in Iran, NOTWITHSTANDING his religious zealotry.  The Palestinians yearning for independence welcome the fighting capabilities of religious movements like Hamas and Hezbollah because what counts most is independence.  These organizations run schools and hospitals for the poor, prefiguring a socially oriented future.

To find their way in the seeming maze of Middle Eastern conflict, Americans need to realize the crucial role played by the concept of equity in a world that never knew McCarthy.

Irony: Syria is accused of having murdered the former Lebanese Prime Minister, Rafik Hariri, last year.  That event led to the cedar revolution and the departure of Syrian troops that had been in Lebanaon for thirty years.  Now, Lebanese fleeing the Israeli attacks, have nowhere to go on land but into Syria...... The United States supports whatever "liberal" regime may be in power in Lebanon, as opposed to a Syria-inspired leftist regime.

Read:  To get a down to earth idea of what the Middle East was like before the Declaration of the State of Israel, read Jean Said Makdidi's memore: "Teta, Mother and Me".  Jean is the sister of the well-known academic the late Edward Said, and the description of her childhood and young adulthood in "Greater Syria" shows how the Syrians, the Lebanese, and the Palestinians were a vast, borderless community that spilled over into Egypt.  We will never understand the subtleties of Middle East alliances and allegiances without that background.

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