Wednesday, May 18, 2011

What Can The US Do For Israel Now?

Being surrounded has never been a comfortable situation for any country.  But the way Israel is behaving as its neighbors topple dictatorships one by one, flies in the face of what has been United States public policy for decades: support for the idea of democracy in the Arab world

However many diplomatic or undiplomatic moves Israel makes to forestall the Arab spring, or turn it to what it perceives as its advantage, nothing is going to stop the tide.  What will Israel do when it is surrounded, not by dictatorships with a more or less pronounced Muslim orientation, but by peoples demanding ‘life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness’ as protesters across the Middle East are doing?

Anyone doubting this turn of events should read Paul Amar’s article in the May 23rd issue of The Nation, under the title Egypt After Mubarak . It spells out in detail where the ‘revolutionaries’ are coming from, and that is from the very same places as middle class citizens from developed countries who are out on the streets protesting the consequences of the financial crisis.

In the age of smart phones, BBC International and Al Jezeera, entire popuations have broken free of the Middle Ages to call for freedom.  In Egypt, the five month old movement that forced Mubarak to step down wahts him tried before an army tribunal - as they are being tried, or that both should be tried in front of civilian courts.

Not surprisingly, the Arab spring that calls for human rights and democracy includes in its goals freedom for the Palestinians. Yesterday on Democracy Now, a Palestinian human rights activist named Fadi Quran called for ‘a larger, humanistic type of approach.  We want freedom, justice and dignity and we won’t give up until we achieve those goals.The United States needs to understand that what Palestinians are asking for is what makes America great.’

Referring to the border crossings by Palestinians from Syria and other neighboring countries into Israel on the 63rd anniversary of ‘The Nakba‘ or ‘catastrophe‘, that expulsions of Palestinians by the newly declared Israeli state represent, he said:  Pointing out that ‘they only wanted to return home. Quran noted that Israel was created under a racist ideology, the need to get rid of Palestinians, which was easily seen as ‘anti-Semitism’ and even a desire to see the Israelis driven out. Now Palestinians just want to catch up with the democratic societies, the new alliance between Fatah and Hamas recognizes that as is so often the case in history, their people are ahead of them.

As for Israel, what can Washington possibly do to protect the ‘only Democratic country in the Middle East’ from having to become a team player in a newly democratic neighborhood?

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Middle Eastern Press on bin Laden's Death

Courtesy of BBC News online, here are some of the reactions to the death of Bin Laden that appeared in various Middle Eastern newspapers.

Note the comparison one makes between Osama and Che, and various assessments of the cause of bin Laden's influence, that echo my yesterday's blog: Osama and Che.

I have not yet added Al Jazeera to my bookmarks, but the BBC is my internet home page.

Nasuh al-Majali in Jordan's Al-Ra'y

The killing of Bin Laden by his enemies will definitely deal a fierce moral blow to the al-Qaeda movement, whose symbol he was, but it will also give al-Qaeda an excuse for more violence and for proving its presence… The thing that feeds this organization and provides it with supporters and followers in the Islamic world are the imperialistic policies, invasion and occupation campaigns by the West and Israel against Arab peoples.

Mashari al-Dhayidi in pan-Arab Al-Sharq al-Awsat

Osama has evolved since 11 September 2011 into the icon of Islamic anger in the same way as the Argentinean communist Che Guevara became the icon for leftist Latin anger against the West.

Editorial in Egyptian Al-Jumhuriyah

Following Bin Laden's crimes, the US manufactured an excuse to wage an unholy war on Muslim countries… Now, after US President Barack Obama's announcement of Osama Bin Laden's killing, will the end of the war against terror be declared or does the US still have outstanding goals?

Hasan Khadr in Palestinian Al-Ayyam

It was a paradox that Bin Laden died at a time when millions of Arabs are taking to the streets to ask for freedoms that have no place in his personal lexicon or religious ideology... His death ended a very dark decade.

Editorial in Saudi Arabian Al-Watan

Osama Bin Laden's killing in this way could have had a negative effect, had it taken place at the end of last year. But, today it will pass just like that, and if it has an effect, it will be very limited because the Middle East of 2011 is not like before. The Middle East today has a new vision… that is far away from the influence of al-Qaeda or any other jihadist organisation.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Osama and Che

Che Guevara was killed in Bolivia on October 9, 1967, at a time when that country was under U.S. economic and military influence.  Today, Bolivia has a social-democratic government under an indigenous president, Evo Morales, a powerful voice for world change.  Latin America as a whole has moved decisively to the left, with Brazil’s former president Lula da Silva feeling sure enough of his international status to team up with Turkey to offer Iran a way out of its fuel reprocessing problem.

So what can we expect from the death of Osama bin Laden?  It will not take 40 years for the Muslim world to complete its transition to modernity, with its own version of social democracy.

Commentators are just now catching on to the fact that the upheavals in the Middle East are partly between Sunni and Shi’a, and partly between nationalists, modernists and tribalists.

Whatever happens, let’s not try to implement former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld’s ‘snowflake’ memo quoted in his recent book: Lets “pick ‘eight or ten important countries, asking ourselves what we would like them to look like five or ten years from now, and then fashioning plans to achieve that.’

It’s just been announced on TV that the government will release a photograph of bin Laden’s body.  Just like it did with Che. Let’s not repeat a century of interference in Latin American in the Middle East.  Let’s turn our energies toward home, and create our own social democracy.