Gleanings, 16.04.11

NB. Most of the postings (and the regularity of) the Gleanings comes from Fabian Pascal (oao), who blogs at The PostWest.

Lee Smith: Will They Be Devoured? (MUST READ)

To be sure, the Muslim Brotherhood is bound to play a role in post-Mubarak Egypt. But it will bide its time. It has little to gain by claiming ownership of the country’s daunting economic problems. Those who do want to become Egypt’s rulers, meanwhile, are already playing the populist card. Mohamed ElBaradei, former head of the International Atomic Energy Agency and a likely contender for president, says that if the Israelis attack Gaza, Egypt will declare war on Jerusalem—a warning that Iran might very well read as an invitation to accomplish a longstanding strategic goal by trashing the Camp David accords. Recent calls for the U.N. to impose a no-fly zone over Gaza were spearheaded by Amr Moussa, the front-runner for president.

… Many press accounts reported that there was precious little anti-Israel sentiment in Tahrir Square. The fact remains, however, that Egyptian officials know this is a powerful card they can play to win support. And the issue is not simply opposition to Zionism or Israeli policies. It’s anti-Semitism. This is the subject of much of Bargisi’s work with EULY. He considers anti-Semitism the telltale sign of an illiberal society.

… “They brought in the food, the blankets, they took care of people,” says Hassan. “When night came, it was the Brotherhood who camped out at Tahrir, not the young middle-class activists. At first they denied that the Brother-hood was there, but then after the camels, it became impossible to deny. The Brotherhood protected the activists, and they got a lot of credit for it. And all of a sudden the rhetoric changed. Now it was okay that the Muslim Brotherhood was there, so long as they served the same objectives, even though the young activists had no sense of how they’d deal with the Brotherhood after the revolution.”

… Around the region, Mubarak’s successors and peers have drawn their own lesson from the Egyptian revolution. To wit: When the Americans tell you to reform, tell them to jump off a cliff, because regardless of your standing with the World Bank, the White House will abandon you when your own people rise up. Accordingly, a month after Mubarak resigned, the Bahrainis rejected the Obama administration’s demands for reform and national dialogue and instead invited in a Gulf Cooperation Council Force to quell their Shiite population. The Saudis turned a deaf ear to calls for reform and simply bribed their population with $93 billion in pay raises, subsidies, housing benefits, and so on. As it happens, that medieval monarchy can afford the bribe; pity the Syrians, whose cash-strapped regime can barely pay for the bullets it uses to shoot its own protesters in the street—reform Damascus-style.

Mark Silverberg: Next Steps in the Middle East (MUST READ)

Such attitudes suggest an enormous ethical and moral divide separating Palestinian and Israeli cultures. What the Obama Administration and the Europeans fail to understand — or pretend not to understand — is that Hamas was elected in 2006 because its very rationale for existence — the destruction of Israel as a Jewish state – – reflects the prevailing attitude of mainstream Palestinian society. For the Palestinians, terrorism is not a weapon borne of desperation or poverty; it is a strategic choice. Supporters of both Hamas and the Palestinian Authority both seek the annihilation of Israel, as is openly stated in their charters.

… The US administration and the Europeans are misguided in believing that there is “no military solution” to the problems caused by Iran, Hamas and Hezbollah throughout the Middle East. Multicultural tolerance, appeasement, concessions, and utopian pacifism do not work well against radical Islamists who seek absolute power.

… One thing is certain – only a society freed from the mental illness that now controls it can evolve into a proper state that can take its rightful place in the family of nations. The imaginary rewards of “martyrdom” — an act never performed by the children of leaders or dispatchers — and the aggression that epitomizes Hamas and Hezbollah must be defeated. Anything short of this merely prolongs the conflict; delays reconstruction; sows the seeds for future conflict, and renders peaceful Middle East impossible.

David Pryce-Jones: In the Phony “Spring,” Arab Politics Stay the Same

Moammar Qaddafi and Bashar Assad are making sure to smash up their own cities, killing at random by way of exercising power. It is the same in Yemen and Bahrain, and might well replicate elsewhere, for instance Jordan and Algeria. The Iranian regime shoots and executes its people on a horrifying scale, and sees fit to support Assad’s repression in Syria while condemning the repression in Bahrain. Such cruelty and hypocrisy may look like evidence of bad character, but more to the point derive from the fact that the Arab and Muslim order does not have, and never has had, any agreed means of handing power over peacefully. Those in power or who want it have to be ready to resort to violence. At this moment rival forces — Islamists, secular Westernised folk, the military — are frustrated because absolute power so far has escaped their grasp, and now they have the chance to grab hold of it. Ersatz nations are dissolving as their constituent sects and tribes jostle with each other for supremacy.

What is passed off as a Spring, in other words, is really a repeat of the brutality that is the age-old instrument of everyone who has ever sought power in the Arab and Muslim order. The process is self-perpetuating, as vital as it is lethal. The would-be power-holder has only his family, tribe or sect to rely on, and he has to be rid of everyone in his way, exactly as Qaddafi and Assad and the rest of them are doing. So the former Tunisian and Egyptian ministers are already in prison. So the Egyptian security forces are already arresting dissidents and beating them to death in prison. As the French proverb puts it, the more things change the more they stay the same.

Finally a train of thought for the pundits and politicians: What induces the likes of Barack Obama and Tony Blair to keep on trying to breathe life into the defunct peace process? It defies history, custom and political reality to believe that a Palestinian state will abolish violence in the Middle East. In Gaza and the West Bank they too have only set up tribal or sectarian tyranny. Meanwhile Israeli Arabs are going about their business peacefully instead of holding mass demonstrations in some central public place. They’re the only Arabs living in a real democracy and maybe that enables them to recognize a phony Spring when they see it.

Jim Wald: Barghouti

Like students at Berkeley and elsewhere, Barghouti gets to endlessly complain about his movement being silenced, even as jets around the planet delivering his message and penning articles that routinely get published in major newspapers. Like the BDSers who endlessly claim to be showing great courage by standing up to “Jewish power,” he rails against fantasy threats knowing full well that a late night knock on the door by his alleged oppressors will never materialize.

If the global leadership of the BDS movement resides anywhere, it resides at Tel Aviv University where a graduate student who does not seem to engage in any academic activities gets to dwell in highly-subsidized perpetual adolescence, jetting around the planet in luxury condemning the very institutions that support a comfortable lifestyle. In this role he takes no risks while claiming great courage, the ultimate middle class warrior acting as a stand-in for the repressed of the world.

One Response to Gleanings, 16.04.11

  1. El Baradei’s “war declaraton” on Israel is propaganda. Look at the context in which the reference was made.

    Desperate people will continue the shrill tactic of linking anti Zionism with anti-Semitism. An argument wearing mighty thin for those with half a brain.

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