Somewhere on A1A...

Friday, March 28, 2003

I've posted often about my belief that Samuel Huntington's Clash of Civilizations explains much of what has happened in the world, at least since September 11, 2001. I've also argued that the conflict between the Israelis and the palestinians is a misnomer. It is now, and has been from the beginning, an Arab-Israeli conflict. Animosity and hate towards Israel exists throughout the Arab world as they continue to deny Israel’s right to exist. And the connection between the United States and Israel makes the US a target of the same hate and animosity.

Unfortunately, most Americans are in denial about that linkage. No matter how much our Arab “friends” tell us our support of Israel is what angers them, we naively insist that issues are separate, and even more naively ignore Arab hatred of Jews. Meanwhile that hatred is the REAL obstacle to peace in the region. Because we support Israel, most Arabs suspect our motives in all of our dealings with the Arab world.

In the past week, Thomas Friedman’s little documentary (broadcast on the Discovery channel Wednesday) highlighted the connection between the US and Israel and its effect on the Arabs. Micah Halpern in today’s’ Israel Insider talks of Saddam’s prism of Reality. Barbara Lerner in the National Review Online talks of the connection and the Arab hatred towards Jews. (hat tip Ted Belman) You can find countless other sources, dating back decades, which show that our relationship with Israel is seen as an attack on Arabs. Millions of Arabs don't believe that a Jewish state should exist.

Simply supporting Israel is viewed as an attack on Arabs. We cannot continue to ignore it. Halpern gives us one view:

Along with the Iraqi ruler, the Muslim and Arab worlds view this war, the one the U.S. has dubbed "Iraqi Freedom," not as a series of military maneuvers. For them, that's practically inconsequential. For them, this war is a great clash of cultures. They pray for the destruction of Israel and the United States, their West.

If you doubt this just pick up any Arabic newspaper from Egypt to Indonesia.

For Muslims, this war epitomizes the conflict that they have with Israel and the West. The Muslim world yearns for a revolution and an ousting of Western tradition and values. They want to destroy the equality they do not approve of. They want to destroy the licentiousness they see in Western civilizations.
I share Halpern's optimism in the ultimate victory of freedom for everyone in the region. I'm not so optimistic about that happening any time in the near future unless we recognize and deal with the Arabs both as individual states AND as a distinct culture that is completely at odds with our ideas of freedom, plurality, and tolerance.

We've been clashing with that culture at least since 1979, and there is no end in sight. I hope we don't make Israel sacrifice even more than they already have as the island of hope in the region.

For more on the Arab perspective of US policy: Eric Leslky


free hit counter