By Barry Rubin
A couple enters a diner
Man: What have you got?Continue reading Debate in the Mainstream Arabic-Speaking Universe: Only One Flavor Available
Waitress: Well, there’s egg and bacon; egg sausage and bacon; egg and spam; egg bacon and spam; egg bacon sausage and spam; spam bacon sausage and spam; spam egg spam spam bacon and spam; spam sausage spam spam bacon spam tomato and spam,,,,or Lobster Thermidor au Crevette with a Mornay sauce served in a Provencale manner with shallots and aubergines garnished with truffle pate, brandy and with a fried egg on top and spam.
Wife: Have you got anything without spam?
Waitress: Well, there’s spam egg sausage and spam, that’s not got much spam in it.
–Monty Python, “spam skit”
Westerners tend to believe that the debate in the Arabic-speaking universe is sort of like debate in the West. Despite differences there is supposedly pragmatism, a strong sense of reality, and the underlying desire for material prosperity, stability, and peace. Of course, such things exist but often there is a strong element of fantasy and a powerful dose of hatred. Consequently, the policies and results are commensurate with that input.
And remember that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said that al-Jazira is a source we should look to for real news. Here is a pretty typical example of a recent al-Jazira program. The Russian guest is a vicious antisemite who writes articles accusing Israel of being responsible for all of the world’s problems and especially those of the Middle East. He supports the Syrian regime. The Arab guest is a supporter of the Syrian revolution. But both of these men–who are on the opposite side– agree that the Jews are behind everything!
Oh, yes, and they also agree that America is the other source of all evil. The Russian says that the United States is financing the revolution against the Assad regime while the Arab says the United States is keeping Assad in power. The Arab guest argues that the Zionists, who originally came from Russia, are killing Syrians; the Russian says that only Russian weapons have saved Syria from the evil Zionists.
Barry Rubin is director of the Global Research in International Affairs (GLORIA) Center and editor of the Middle East Review of International Affairs (MERIA) Journal. His latest books are The Israel-Arab Reader (seventh edition), The Long War for Freedom: The Arab Struggle for Democracy in the Middle East (Wiley), and The Truth About Syria (Palgrave-Macmillan). His latest book is Israel: An Introduction, to be published by Yale University Press in January 2012. You can read more of Barry Rubin's posts at Rubin Reports, and now on his new blog, Rubin Reports, on Pajamas Media
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