Wednesday, January 04, 2012

The Problem In The Middle East Is Arab vs Arab Violence, Not Israel

In a world where the primary assumption continues to be that peace between Israel and the Palestinian Arabs will result in stability and peace for the Middle East, there is a need to see the larger picture of the history of the region.

And Yoram Ettinger does just that.

Ettinger gives An Intro To The Middle East:
Western policy-makers and shapers of public-opinion would benefit from studying writings by some key historians and scientists, whose research reaffirms that fundamentals in the Middle East have remained largely intact for the last 14 centuries.

For example, the late Iraqi-born professor and leading historian of the Middle East Eli Kedourie, from the London School of Economics, wrote in Islam in the Modern World (Mansell publishing, 1980): “The fact that political terrorism originating in the Muslim and Arab world is constantly in the headlines must not obscure the more significant fact that this terrorism has a somewhat old history…which would not be easy to eradicate from the world of Islam.”

Meanwhile, the late Egyptian-born professor P. J. Vatikiotis, from the London University School of Oriental and African Studies, another preeminent Middle East historian, wrote in Arab and Regional Politics in the Middle East (Croom and Helm, 1984): “The use of terrorism by [Arab] states or rulers…has been for domestic, regional and international political purposes.… Rulers of this provenance and background are hegemonists of power.… If Islam and those who claim to represent it and wish to implement its law and rule over man, society and the polity reject all other human forms of law and rule…then clearly there is an unbridgeable gap between them and all other social and political arrangements.… The dichotomy between the Islamic and all other systems of earthy government and order is clear, sharp and permanent; it is also hostile.”

The assumption that the stormy Arab winter of 2011 is a temporary glitch that can be cured by a constitutional panacea is detached from long-standing realities in the region. Moreover, most Arab rage has been directed toward Arabs, and was expressed long before the 2011 turmoil and butchery gripped the Arab street. In the 1970s and '80s, some 200,000 Lebanese were killed in internal violence; in 1982, Hafez Assad slaughtered tens of thousands Syrians; Saddam Hussein murdered some 200,000 Iraqis while an additional 300,000 Iraqis were killed during the 1980-1986 war against Iran; about 2 million Sudanese were killed, and 4 million were displaced, during the 1983-2011 civil war; public executions and decapitations are regularly held in Saudi Arabia, and those are just several examples.
Hey, welcome to the neighborhood!

The important thing to understand is the natural volatility of the region--and that the Arab vs. Arab violence should be a clear indicator that blaming Israel for the tensions in the region simply miss the point.

Unfortunately, such a misunderstanding of the Middle East by Western leaders are having far-reaching and regrettable consequences.

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