28 thoughts on “Real ‘Birth Pangs of a New Middle East’ – Tikun Olam תיקון עולם إصلاح العالم
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  1. “democracy, or whatever’s happening in Egypt ain’t gonna wait a generation or even a year. It’s comin’ and comin’ fast.”

    I think you are right in this assessment… change is acomin’

    But I saw some televison images that make me wonder just what that something (“”whatever”) is taking shape in Egypt. I would hope it is some form of democracy, but it could be a wave that also brings along some extermists looking for a foot-hold.

    One of the reasons I say this is that last night on TV I saw two distinctly different images of large demonstrations (comments by some of these demonstrators). One, report, shown on Israel’s Channel 10 had a reporter pose to some crowd members the question of is this demonstration also aimed against Israel… the people caught on tape said basically: “No” (some even emphaticallly) … that this is a strugle against Mubarak and his dicator-like rule… against the terrible economic policies etc. a chance for them to speak out and let their voices be heard… it is not about Israel or other countries, but about ( “we”) Egyptians looking for freedom (I’m trying to paraphrase what Iremember from last night’s broadcast).

    Then, I watched a different channel… in this case CNN, where the reporter (name escapes me) was in the middle of a different crowd…. these people were also against Mubarak. Yet they were saying… because he is a friend or puppet of the US and Israel… that Israel is the true enemy. I want to be careful and not mis-quote them, but they were basically saying that they hate Israel… “they”, Israel were the enemy.

    I’m sure that if a democracy is formed in Egypt, They would challenge Israel about its policies against the Palestinians… push for an end to the conflict and get a Palestinian state erected. OK… that’s what a Democracy can do… That is a far cry from a regime that would arise saying we hate Israel and that Israel (and the West?) are the enemy.

    So, two very different “whatever”s going to what is going on over there and only time (and not a lot of that perhaps) will tell what it will really lead to.

    1. Yes, that’s precisely right. And in Iran the Green MOvement did precisely the same thing. The protesters said this is not a battle with Israel, this is a battle within Iran for what shape the future will take. Leave Israeli out of it.

      There are cross currents battling within Egypt as to what form the future gov’t & system will take. It could do either way. You & I both hope people will focus on creating a viable democracy that isn’t subject to base attacks on Jews & Israel as a Nazi state, etc. But the truth is that Israel’s policies even up to last night are so retrograde, so out of touch, so reactionary (not just regarding the Occupation but regarding Egypt relations itself) that it’s easy to understand where such hate comes from. Were Israel more forthcoming, more in touch, more flexible, then attitudes like these in Egypt wouldn’t have such fertile ground.

    2. Make no mistake, no democratically-elected government anywhere in the Arab or Muslim worlds would be an ally of Israel or the United States. Why do you think the U.S. and Israel are so afraid of real democracy preferring the “democracies” they impose and control, such as that great “infant democracy” in Iraq.

      1. Care to define “real democracy”, or give an example of a state with such a regime, especially in the “Arab or Muslim worlds”?
        Frankly, its really hard for me to understand how the situation in israel affects the “Arab or Muslim worlds” so much that no “real democracy” based state in those “worlds” can be USA’s or our allies.
        You practiclly claimed that Israel and USA are hated (or at least disliked) by all the Muslims or Arabs around the world. Makes me wonder why people like You prefer to live in the USa then, and not somewhere in one of your “real democracies”, and how come we see thousands of new muslim refugees coming to Israel from Africa (via the Muslim and Arab Egypt, where they’re – judging by your logic – should have prefered to stay) every month.

        Even if what You say is true, it only proves people like Mubarak and Assad have done a really good job on convincing their people Israel is the one to blame in all of their troubles, as I doubt theres any correlation between civil wars in Africa, lack of water in Egypt and Syria and the occupation of Palestine.

        1. There are no perfect states nor no perfect democracies. But our democracy here, with a few major hiccups, works decently (again, though not perfectly).

          As for Arabs & Muslims hating Israel & the US, I don’t think it’s true that the U.S. is universally hated. Certainly, we are hated by leaders of Iran, the Taliban, Pakistani militants, etc. and some other Arab/Muslim states. But universally? No. I just listened to UW prof. Ellis Goldberg in Cairo say that the demonstrators there hardly mention the U.S. at all in their chants or demands. Israel, of course, is a diff. story & once (if ever) it resolves the dispute with its neighbors enmity will abate gradually.

          As for African refugees. If the U.S. was where Israel is there would be 10,000 times the number of refugees attempting to cross the border. As it is, Israel’s economy is far stronger than whatever they’re attempting to flee. If you think they’re coming because they love your government or democracy, you’re mistaken.

          1. Richard, the United States and its policies are pretty universally resented, if not despised throughout the Muslim world. The resentment is based on U.S. actions in that part of the world, U.S. hubris, U.S. hypocrisy, U.S. ignorance, and of course U.S. all-out support for Israel’s excesses.

            People in those parts of the world generally think of American people in a different way than they think of the U.S. government. They think of Americans as decent people who are both naive and uninformed about the world. They are often baffled as to how such basically decent people can continue to voluntarily elect and support people to their government who behave so badly. That was especially true during the eight terrible years of Bush.

            They also do see the United States as a place where people enjoy a great deal more freedom, security, and a higher standard of living. Resentment of the United States’ policies and behavior does not stop people from finding fault with their own governments, and wishing to live in a country where they can be free, secure, and prosperous.

          2. PS A lot of people I know are no longer interested in emigrating to the U.S., but, if they are considering emigration at all, are looking at Australia, New Zealand, Canada, and Europe instead.

          3. Of course there are no perfect states
            and of course democracy in the usa works decently. Thats my point exactly, Richard. I also dont think an average citizen of any average arab state (even places like Syria) is busy hating israel/usa 24/7.

            I was just wondering how come people like Shirin have the hutpza to diss the USA so much, when they themsleves chose to live there, as they enjoy “a great deal more freedom, security, and a higher standard of living” there than they had in their countries of origin.
            Also, no one prevents from shirin to go to lets say Syria, and to help a “true democratization” process there somehow, but we all know she wont do it, because its way easier and nicer to live in the “free and secure” USA, where ur actually allowed to criticize the government, and to convince yourself there are no such places in the “Arab or Muslim” world only because the USA’s “resented foreign policies”.

            As it is, Israel’s economy is far stronger than whatever they’re attempting to flee. If you think they’re coming because they love your government or democracy, you’re mistaken.

            Yes, they come because of the economy, but this proves what You and I’ve said: An average muslim/arab around the world probably cares x100 about his everyday problems like steady income or food for family than he cares about USA’s “resented foreign policies” or “Israel’s excesses”.

          4. The avg. Arab or Muslim understands that the reason his life is a living hell is due in large part to whichever U.S. supported tinpot dictator happens to be ruling them. That’s a big reason why they resent & sometimes even hate us.

          5. The avg. Arab or Muslim understands that the reason his life is a living hell is due in large part to whichever U.S. supported tinpost dictator happens to be ruling them. That’s a big reason why they resent & sometimes even hate us.

            That and the habit the United States has of periodically bombing people into submission – sorry, “democracy”.

            And the average Arab or Muslim is overall far more sophisticated and rational in international matters than is the average American. They understand the distinction between a country’s government and political policies and its people. Therefore with rare exceptions they do not despise the American people, but rather the State and its policies. They do not hate American freedoms or the American way of life. On the contrary, they desire at least some of its elements. What angers them is the terrible impact the policy of empire has on their lives and the lives of others.

            And, ironically, what Americans despise about Arabs and Muslims Americans’ misguided fantasies about the Arab/Muslim “way of life” as if Arabs and Muslims were somehow a very different, and completely inscrutable species instead of just a another subset of human beings with the same core needs and values as every other human being on earth.

          6. Y, please do tell me what is my country of origin? I would be most interested to hear since you seem quite confident that you know the answer.

          7. no one prevents from shirin to go to lets say Syria…but we all know she wont do it, because its way easier and nicer to live in the “free and secure” USA…

            If you only knew what a perfectly hilarious illustration of your utter ignorance of reality that statement is!

          8. Yes, I picked up on that too. I guess he hasn’t bothered to read your dare to him to respond. At least I haven’t seen any reply. Idiot’s delight I guess. I didn’t want to reply to that one since it would’ve been so delicious for you to have the opportunity. But alas, he hasn’t nibbled.

        2. Y, before it will be possible to have a meaningful conversation on this topic you need a basic general course in the history of western, most recently U.S., meddling in Middle Eastern and Muslim countries and its negative and downright destructive effect on self-determination, and, yes, democratic development. Does the name Mohammad Mosadegh ring a bell? That incident is a classic example of the United States directly acting with the intention of scuttling democracy in Iran. And look at what has flowed from that action.

          And by the way, in many cases – Pakistan, Afghanistan during the Russian occupation, and more recently Iraq come immediately to mind – the United States’ enforcing its own perceived interests in contradiction to the interest of the subject country and its people has empowered extreme “Islamist” elements to the extreme detriment of moderate, educated, more western-leaning groups and individuals. Hoist on your own petard is one expression that comes to mind. Shooting yourself in the foot is another.

          1. Shirin, i didnt ask you what the usa has done to ruin possible democracies around the world. I asked you 2 or 3 other questions, which u only partially answered (still waiting to learn what a “true democracy” is).

            Resentment of the United States’ policies and behavior does not stop people from finding fault with their own governments, and wishing to live in a country where they can be free, secure, and prosperous.

            “Free, secure, and prosperous”. Sounds like the USA might be closer to “real democracy” than those countries the people you’re talking about are escaping.
            Shirin, you and people you mention hate USA not because of its “foreign policies”. You hate it because u were taught to do so and unfortunatly people like you, who’ve chosen to come to the “Free and secure” America, still prefer to treat it as some punch bag, especially when talking to liberals like Richard.
            I dont know what u gain from your america/israel hate, but i somehow doubt you really believe its USA or Israel who prevent “Real democracy” in the muslim world.
            Yes, USA has failed with that in.. 3 countries out of a few dozens, but it has nothign to do with the situation in most of the others, not to mention at the moment a possible-democratization process started in Egypt – usas great ally – we’ve heard obamas administration talking in favor of protesters and not Mubarak, so theres no reall “hipocricity” in here either)

          2. OK, I’m going to remind you of a very important comment rule: you don’t put words in other’s mouths. You don’t say what Shirin feels or believes unless you quote her words. If you try to tell us she hates the U.S. you violate the rules. Don’t if you want to stay here. Further, you make a typically huge error when you conflate criticism of a nation’s policies with hatred of the country itself. That’s precisely what people try to say about my views about Israel. I don’t hate Israel, I hate the injustice brought about by the Occupation & policies maintaining it.

            The next time you come even close to breaking the rules you’ll find yourself moderated or worse. Read them before commenting again.

  2. Hello Richard,

    Dissected and processed so well, with razor sharp precision, as usual, thanks for another good one. I do hope the Jordanians and Saudis study the Egyptian uprising and consider the implications. Although I do believe that Jordanians actually like their king and adore his wife, not so for Saudi Arabia. Nevertheless, change is coming however inconvenient it is for the Israeli government or their despotic neighbors.

  3. The anonymous cabinet minister states:
    “but Arab societies demand “a longer term democratization process”, one accompanied by education reform that would encourage the elections of moderates”.
    Well, those education reforms, ‘encouraging the election of moderates’ apparently failed in Israel. But at least, they managed to make the desert bloom . . .

    I guess those guys have been reading “The Arab Mind” by Raphael Patai:
    http://www.amazon.com/Arab-Mind-Raphael-Patai/dp/1578261171

    1. hah! I have that book in my personal library. When I need an emetic I pull it out and read a bit of it. Works like a charm.

      1. I use Alan Dershowitz’ “A case for Israel” for that purpose. I hardly have the time to reach the sink 🙂

  4. What puzzled me, was the instant leap which the BBC’s John Simpson and others made, from some demonstrators praying in public for those killed in earlier riots, and “religious extremism”. No, these were just ordinary men praying for the fallen before getting on with the job of trying to win the freedoms their fellows fell for.

    And the Muslim Brotherhood actually said, I think to one of the more sensible members of the reporter swarm the BBC sent to Cairo (Jeremy Bowen?) that they didn’t intend to lay claim to the protest movement, because their members were only one part of it.

    There’s a very disagreeable tendency to portray all religious expression as extremism these days. My local paper even published a letter from someone who explained the rape and murder committed by James Hanratty on dead Man’s Hill, Clophill, in terms of his being “religious”. One suspects a strong element of militant atheism in any attempt to posthumously promote a persistent petty thief like Hanratty to the status of “Christian Terrorist” and, next thing we know, they’ll unearth evidence of Harold Shipman having been to Church at least once in his life.

  5. Yes, I picked up on that too. I guess he hasn’t bothered to read your dare to him to respond

    Actually i have, but its under moderated status, and its not that i have too much to do about your moderation.

    Anyway, even if shirin is NOT in the usa atm
    it doesnt make her statements about “sophisticatin” of the average arab any clever / less full of racism.

    As always double standarts for your friends and others work perfectly here.

    1. It makes you a hubristic ignorant dolt. But I’ll let her explain why. She has more knowledge of the Arab world in her little finger than you in your entire body.

      I put you on moderation because you violated the comment rules. I’ll take you off so you’ll have one less thing to moan about. But if you violate them again you go back on again.

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