Thoughts that just come to me...
The Middle East Existed Long Before Bush
Published on July 20, 2006 By Genghis Hank In Current Events
I am very tired of the world laying all their troubles on the United States. In specific, the issue of all the problems in the Middle East. Sure, our hands aren’t any cleaner than anyone else’s. But to hear the rhetoric today, it sure sounds like most of the world, and many in our own country, are convinced that the USA single-handedly took the world to the brink of Armageddon!

The chaos there today is not about the oil. At least, not really. Last I checked, Lebanon wasn't exactly a net exporter, neither were Gaza or the West Bank. It's not about the president. Every president since Carter has tried to tackle this issue. It's not about the British. They were only trying to pick up the pieces from the broken Otterman Empire. It's not about '67 or '48 or any particular year. It's not about the UN resolutions or the Holocaust or anything to do with the British.

It's about Jerusalem. Specifically, it's about Haram al-Sharif and the Temple Mount. Everything else is BS. All the reasons that don't mention it are either so that people can take the religion out of the argument, or propaganda meant to give one side or the other the advantage.

The Jewish people can not give up the enduring symbol of who they are, or they are lost as a ethnic group. They must keep Jerusalem and hope against hope that one day they will rebuild the Temple of Solomon, the place where God exists on earth, the only place where a Jewish Priest may be consecrated (if that’s the right word). Without Jerusalem, they are a wondering band of multicultural misfits tied together by a religion. And the bands of that religion would be weakened by abandoning the hope of reacquiring the single strongest symbol on earth of that religion, the Temple.

There are many in Israel today that wouldn’t give two cents for the Temple Mound, or at least they would have you believe that. For them it’s just about us against them. This is our place and we don’t want to give it up or let them win. Don’t believe it. If Israel gave in and surrendered Jerusalem, in a generation or two Israel would revert to Palestine with a Muslim majority.

Neither can the Palestinians give up the hope of gaining Jerusalem, the third most holy city of Islam. Their identity is too wrapped up in beating the Jew and the Infidel and keeping Islam safe. Their ethnic pride is too wounded to be generous to a Western world that too often shows them how far left behind they fell while Europe and America went through the industrial revolution. They dance with joy when misfortune befalls us because they see a certain karmic or divine justice at work, for how else to explain why the nations of Islam are not blessed 10 fold beyond what the heathen are. To ask that one of the enduring symbols of their past supremacy, the Dome of the Rock, now be handed over to those they prevailed over nearly 1000 years ago is too much to bear. Better to die fighting the good fight.

So each side has a cause to build on. After that, it becomes a case of I fight you because your father fought my father because my grandfather fought your grandfather because... Along the way, mistakes were made by both sides, and wounds festered and grew the more putrid. What do you say to two peoples when both honestly believe they are fighting for their, in their view, literally, god given homeland?

Along the way, bad things happened, as they tend to do in wars rooted in emotions and faith. Each side built a laundry list of things to get even for. And those around them took notice and with each piece of aid given, or insult received, built their own interest and investment in seeing one side or the other win.

Now you can add in the oil to this discussion. Or more specifically, now you can show me the money. After all, wars are won and lost not with bullets, but with money. With enough of it, you can stay in power. Just ask your local congressman on that score. But also ask the Saud family. But just money isn’t quite enough. You need more to maintain the people if they are poor, hungry, and looking for someone to blame, as the Shaw of Iran learned the hard way.

Enter Yasser Arafat. He can, for a price, do some PR work for you. He knows exactly who to blame. Look at Israel! How can they have so much when we have so little? How can we leave them in possession of Jerusalem? How can those that aid Israel go unpunished?

And a conflict that was being played out over an area somewhat smaller than the size of New Jersey suddenly becomes global. Arafat’s legacy, in my opinion, should be no less than that of Hitler or Stalin for the harm he has done to the cause of world peace. So how on earth did he win the Nobel Peace Prize again? May God have mercy on his soul, as may he on all of ours.

Half the ills of the world revolve around this single issue. Iran wants nukes because with Iraq in chaos, Iran hopes to become the de facto leadership for the Islamic world, just as Saddam hoped to do before the war. In Saudi Arabia, the government stays in power by redirecting it’s peoples discontent to the Palestinian issue. Al Quida, well if you can’t figure where they tie in, you haven’t been alive for the last five years. And yes, even the United States must get involved in the issue and deal with those we would prefer not to, because (and yes, here is where you get your bone…) of oil. But the point is, we didn’t cause this issue. We are as caught up by it as the rest of the world. But because we survived the cold war as the “lone superpower”, everybody thinks that we must be responsible for everything that isn’t to their liking. It must be a plot!

Sorry, but the problems of the Middle East have their roots in things that happened hundreds and even thousands of years before we stuck our fat noses in it. And there is plenty of other players that should be called on the carpet if you want to call us out. We’re just doing the best we can, same as the rest of you. But I’ll tell you this. If you think any piece of paper peace treaty, or any 10 Oslo Accords will solve this, you are oblivious to history.

The Palestinians and those supporting them are fighting a holy war, and they are fighting to win. Not by any silly rules of warfare developed by European knights and refined by the western world when we discovered how frightening post industrial revolution warfare can be. We had better pay attention. We can deny this is a holy war. We can call it a “War on Terror” if that makes the civil libertarians and atheists happy. But those fighting on the side of Islam know better.

Just a parting thought. Why do they always condemn Israel and the United States in the same breath? Why do lawyers always sue the people or companies with the big money along with the person who committed the act? I bet the answer is similar.

Comments
on Jul 21, 2006
This artical was inspired by comments on a couple of different forums I frequent. It seems that it is in vogue these days to simply blame Bush, Oil, and the USA in general whenever something goes wrong in the Middle East. While I agree that the US foreign policy has not been brilliant (to say the least), I felt it was time to point out that we were not the architechs of the events playiing out now.
on Jul 21, 2006
"It seems that it is in vogue these days to simply blame Bush, Oil, and the USA in general whenever something goes wrong ..."

That's because the United States have been wrongfully elavated by some to the status of an Empire.
on Jul 21, 2006
One of the most well written, thoughtful and insightful articles I have ever read here at JU.



IMO, it should be permanently featured.
on Jul 21, 2006
That's because the United States have been wrongfully elavated by some to the status of an Empire.


The irony is, if the USA was truly interested in empire, we could probably muster enough force to supress the problems for a little while. Not solve them, mind you...

One of the most well written, thoughtful and insightful articles I have ever read here at JU.IMO, it should be permanently featured.


[blush] Thank you! [/blush]
on Jul 21, 2006
"supress the problems for a little while. Not solve them"

Yep, something empires have found throughout history

It seems to me that Iran and Syria are trying to establish satellite states in Lebanon and Palestine by means of Hamas and Hezbollah. Gets that defacto empire building started in the Middle East, with Israel being the impetus for it.
on Jul 22, 2006
One of the most well written, thoughtful and insightful articles I have ever read here at JU.

IMO, it should be permanently featured.

I was thinking the exact same thing.

Using my "comic book guy" voice. Best epsiode, ever!
on Jul 22, 2006
Instead of blaming the Arab nations for all that is wrong with the middle east and then going on to pontificate about the backwardness of Arabs, why do you not ask a fundamental question that even most Arab radicals will find tolerable: Why does Israel not go back to its 1948 borders and then the problem of Jerusalem can be sorted out Historical claims dating back to the fall of the Roamn Empire in AD 69 cannot be entertained today and then a whole new set of issues froths to the ground.
on Jul 22, 2006
Enter Yasser Arafat. He can, for a price, do some PR work for you. He knows exactly who to blame. Look at Israel! How can they have so much when we have so little? How can we leave them in possession of Jerusalem? How can those that aid Israel go unpunished?


Palestinian discontent towards the Israelis has been around since the first wave of Jewish immigrants swarmed into already inhabited areas of Palestine and declared it their own. This was well before WWII. British domestic issues meant that they only stopped Jewish immigration when the Palestinians revolted and then slowly let the trickle of immigration go back up as soon as the Palestinians were back in their homes.

The resentment didn't emerge with the skilful manipulation of the media exhibited by Arafat. He merely made it more presentable, a task made a great deal easier by Israel's fairly brutal (and perhaps justified) approach to opposition.

Sorry, but the problems of the Middle East have their roots in things that happened hundreds and even thousands of years before we stuck our fat noses in it.


The problems of the modern Middle East are common to nearly all post-colonial regions. I don't see much point in ascribing 'thousands of years' of history to the cause when the most likely one can be found in clearly documented divisions created less than a hundred years ago.

\Why do they always condemn Israel and the United States in the same breath? Why do lawyers always sue the people or companies with the big money along with the person who committed the act? I bet the answer is similar.


I would think the US and Israel are tarred with the same brush because the US is the only country who consistently supports Israel's wilful neglect of UN regulations and human rights. The are linked by the public and the media because they are so closely tied in reality. I don't think you need to reach for conspiracy in this case.
on Jul 22, 2006
First, let me thank all of you for your comments!


and then going on to pontificate about the backwardness of Arabs, why do you not ask a fundamental question that even most Arab radicals will find tolerable: Why does Israel not go back to its 1948 borders and then the problem of Jerusalem can be sorted out


It was not my intent to single out any particular group for "pontification". I was trying to illustrate that each side has interests that surpass "reason" and move into the realm of emotion, faith, and ego, and to then demonstrate how other groups (including the US) have involved themselves until they too are invested in the problem.

As for the '48 borders, I submit that if that were enough for peace, there wouldn't be any '67 borders. Israel's neighbors found the 1948 borders insuficient for peace, so they attacked Israel in '67. Now to say, "We take it back, give back what you took" is a little insincere. Add to this, Israel tried this experiment, so called "land for peace", with Gaza and Southern Leabanon and it earned them the attacks that lead to the current conflict.

As an aside, if 2000 year old claims of territory are not valid, then why are 40 year old or 60 year old claims more valid? Is there a time limit?

Yet this diversion still proves my point. Israel agreed in 2000 to do exactly what you ask, and with the single exception of Jerusalem, return to the '48 borders. Arafat turned them down. He couldn't surrender Jerusalem, and even if he had tried, he would have lost all support at home, even if it granted full soverignty and peace for Palastine in the deal. And so too, Israel could not give Jerusalem back, and for much the same reason.


The problems of the modern Middle East are common to nearly all post-colonial regions. I don't see much point in ascribing 'thousands of years' of history to the cause when the most likely one can be found in clearly documented divisions created less than a hundred years ago.


Yes, I concede that there are other dynamics at work here. But Jerusalem represents an additional issue, and one that can not be approached in the same way as the others. Furthermore, Jerusalem, and the Israel question at large becomes the banner issue for all the other ills that the regonal and colonial issues brought forth. You will not be able to fix the others through diplomacy until the issue of Israel is solved, and you can not solve the Israel question without addressing Jerusalem.
I would think the US and Israel are tarred with the same brush because the US is the only country who consistently supports Israel's wilful neglect of UN regulations and human rights.


Hmmm. First, I could go onto a whole other topic on the UN and the good and ills of world government. I think a forum for discussion is an excellent idea, but when you move to the realm of a body such as the UN making law or binding resolutions, I have some major concerns. But just a though here, why should Israel be held accountable to the rules when those around them are not? For instance, the UN ruling that Hezbolla and other "milita groups" disarm.

on Jul 22, 2006
But Jerusalem represents an additional issue, and one that can not be approached in the same way as the others. Furthermore, Jerusalem, and the Israel question at large becomes the banner issue for all the other ills that the regonal and colonial issues brought forth. You will not be able to fix the others through diplomacy until the issue of Israel is solved, and you can not solve the Israel question without addressing Jerusalem.


I've always liked the idea of making Jerusalem an independent city-state a la Monaco or the Vatican. It has a large enough population and a clear source of income (tourism) so would probably do quite well out of it. And, being independent politically but wholly dependent economically on the tourism income of Jews, Muslims and Christians it would likely be a powerful voice for peace in the region.

Of course that's never going to happen. But I think it should.

But just a though here, why should Israel be held accountable to the rules when those around them are not? For instance, the UN ruling that Hezbolla and other "milita groups" disarm.


The US used UN sanction breaches as a reason to invade Iraq; the fact it doesn't enforce those same resolutions on its allies smacks of hypocrisy. Hypocrisy breeds discontent and discontent breeds war. It's a fairly simple progression. it's a surprise to me that Hezbollah has allowed US citizens to escape Lebanon unscathed. It makes me wonder what they're up to.
on Jul 23, 2006
In the space of time all the fighting has taken place over Israel in the last century, the Arabs could have had it all back by now. How you ask? Not by strapping on an explosive vest or firing a weapon. They could have inter-married the population to the point now that Israel would be an Arab nation, at least by proxy. Sure there would be some fanatical Jews, but it would much smaller population by now. Their rockets would be very easy to locate. Arabs would be the dominate group in Israel. Most Jewish people would have an Arab relative somewhere in there family, and who wants to fight family, right?

Okay, this is a satirical post. But it's so crazy it might just work. Of course the reality of it would be the high rate of heart attacks that hard core parents of faith have when they find out their son or daughter married the enemy.
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