NB. Most of the postings (and the regularity of) the Gleanings comes from Fabian Pascal (oao), who blogs at The PostWest.
Benny Morris: The Islamic Reformation (MUST READ)
The target of the ire of various newspapermen and spokesmen was not the murderous mobs in Mazar e-Sharif and Kandahar who did to death relief-bestowing UN representatives, but the American pastor Terry Jones who had burned a copy of the Muslims’ sacred text. Yet the burning of Bibles around the Islamic world—in Egypt, Nigeria, Pakistan, Iraq—is an almost daily occurrence and goes unremarked, and in these parts it is often accompanied by the arson of churches and the murder of parishioners. And these acts never trigger murderous responses by Christians thousands of miles away. And few will publicly and explicitly utter in this connection that awful phrase and truth, “clash of civilizations.”
Peter Day: Extremism in power (MUST READ)
The emergence of the Muslim Brotherhood (technically illegal under Mubarak) as a fully-fledged political player is in line with the changed position of the United States, which has direct relations with the Army. The US provided Egypt under Mubarak with aid of around $1.3 billion a year – principally military aid for the Army – on the tacit understanding that the regime would continue to keep the Brotherhood away from the levers of power.
That position however has undergone a radical shift. After many years of assiduous lobbying of US officials and Washington foreign policy wonks by Brotherhood representatives, President Obama now says that the Egyptian Islamists should have a ‘seat at the table’ of power in Egypt. The Egyptian army has taken him at his word. The army’s management of arrangements for forthcoming national elections more or less guarantees a powerful position for the Brotherhood in the new parliament. It is the new groups that were so prominent in the Tahrir Square demonstrations after January 25 which will be left out in the cold…
The parliament elected in September will be responsible for drafting a new constitution for the country. A strong Brotherhood presence will produce a constitution based on an even bigger role than at present for sharia – Islamic law.
Needless to say, this is extremely bad news for all non-Islamist and minority groups, including Egypt’s indigenous Coptic Christians (about 10 per cent of the population), human rights activists, writers, intellectuals, and so on. And of course for women.
It also raises significant national security issues for Australia, along with much of the rest of the world. Every year, thousands of Muslim students from around the world – including from some of Australia’s near neighbours — flock to Cairo to sit at the feet of the scholars of Al Azhar, the Islamic world’s oldest and most prestigious university. They will now find themselves among Islamists who are in the throes of converting mass support into real political power. For many of the students, this may well turn out to be a heady revolutionary experience – one that they could want to take home with them.
The Muslim Brotherhood has the financial backing of Saudi Arabian and Gulf sheikhs possessing untold wealth. It already operates on a huge scale in Europe and the United States, as well as in the developing world, through dozens of front groups. It also has a below-the-radar presence in Australia. To the extent that the Brotherhood now acquires direct access in Egypt to the resources of a fully fledged nation-state, it will be an even more formidable global actor.
The Obama administration is largely discounting the risks inherent in all this and acting on the basis of a benign view of the Brotherhood. The cautionary tale of the Americans’ dealings with Nasser, as outlined below, suggests that the consequences of being wrong about this may well be severe, far reaching, and of long duration.
Politically influential observers such as the New York Times, which recently expressing surprise at the emergence of friendly relations between the Army and the Muslim Brotherhood, would also do well to look more closely at the history of both these institutions, both in the recent and not so recent past.
… The New York Times ruefully commented on March 24 that the emergence of the Brotherhood’s ‘links’ with the military regime is a development that ‘surprises many’. In truth, the development of a closer relationship between the Army and the Brotherhood has been underway for years.
The Brotherhood is well represented in the military, certainly among the junior officer corps and perhaps much higher than that. How high is anyone’s guess. Increasingly, officers identify the army’s core mission with the cause of Islam, rather than with an inclusive Egyptian national identity. Coptic Christian conscripts in the Army complain of relentless pressure by superior officers to convert.
Roger Kimball: Terry Jones and Preemptive Capitulation (MUST READ)
No, what we see in the Terry Jones case is the latest outbreak of preemptive capitulation in the face of Muslim incitement … Bottom-line question: What are we willing to give up in order to appease a bunch of murderous thugs who approach the world with a pocket full of Semtex and say, “Do — and don’t do — what I want or I will blow myself and you to smithereens”?
There’s the Lindsey Graham-Joe Klein-Yale UP-and (I very mush regret to say) David Petraeus answer: “OK. You tell us no cartoons of Mohammed: we won’t draw or publish any. You say, no burning of the Koran, we will prohibit that, too.” The problem is, as I noted about another incident of Muslim insanity some years ago,
the list of the things Muslims are offended by would take over a culture. They don’t like ice-cream that (used to be) distributed by Burger King because a decoration on the lid looked like (sort of) the Arabic script for “Allah.” They are offended by “pig-related items, including toys, porcelain figures, calendars and even a tissue box featuring Winnie the Pooh and Piglet” appearing in the workplace. They take umbrage at describing Islamic terrorism as, well, Islamic terrorism and have managed to persuade Gordon Brown to rename it “anti-Islamic activity.” But here’s the thing: one of the features of living in a modern, secular democracy is that there is always plenty of offense to go around. No Muslim is more offended by cartoons of their Prophet than I am by their barbaric reaction to the cartoons. But their reaction when offended is to torch an embassy, shoot a nun , or knife a filmmaker. I write a column deploring such behavior. You see the difference.
As I said above, Terry Jones is a pathetic buffoon. But what we should be alarmed about is not his stunt but the alacrity with which our leaders and commentators rush to curtail free speech because they fear the reprisals of barbarous people addicted to violence and intoxicated by a repulsive, freedom-hating ideology. The spoiled child says, “If you don’t do what I want, I’ll hold my breath till I faint.” The overgrown spoiled children of Islam require the same sort of medicine, though age adjusted, that little Johnny does.
Victor Davis Hanson: A Middle East Policy in Shambles
Almost every promise, almost every reset proclamation from Barack Obama about the struggles against, and those within, the radical Muslim world has either been withdrawn or proven bankrupt.
Aaron David Miller: Obama’s 21st-Century War
In America’s latest wars, leaving — not winning — seems to be the yardstick for success. But that goal is all the more difficult if the objectives and reasons for getting in aren’t clear from the outset.
Lee Smith: Fashionable (MUST READ)
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad is every bit as dangerous and thuggish as his autocratic counterparts across the Middle East, yet for some reason Washington continues to embrace him
Raymond Ibrahim: Obama’s Misguided Libya Policy
President Obama’s recent explanation for militarily engaging Libya is yet another example of how U.S. leaders increasingly rationalize their policies by sentimental and idealistic platitudes, rather than reality, the long view, or just plain common sense. As even Obama explained it, not only does his decision to intervene militarily in Libya fail to serve any tangible American interests, it directly serves the interests of the Islamists.
Washington Times: Israel vindicated
In February 2010, President Obama’s genocide muse, National Security Council senior director of multilateral affairs Samantha Power, harshly criticized Israel’s reaction to the controversial Goldstone report on the 2008-2009 Gaza War. “Is the correct strategy fighting Goldstone on all fronts?” she asked. Turns out it was; good thing the Israeli government ignored Mrs. Power … Mr. Obama still doesn’t seem to understand what separates the legitimate use of force from terrorist violence. After a March 24 terror bombing in Jerusalem in which one woman was killed and 38 wounded, Mr. Obama expressed his “deepest condolences.” But in the same note, he expressed sympathy to Palestinians killed in an Israeli counterstrike against Hamas missiles launched against Israeli cities from crowded residential areas in Gaza. The implicit message was that Israel is on the same moral plane as the terrorists. Since Mr. Obama is racking up scores of civilian deaths by Hellfire missile in Pakistan, it’s strange he’s not more sensitive to this critical distinction.
From Alexander Joffe:
Middle Eastern politics
“Defund the UNRWA.” Wall Street Journal Europe, 1 April 2011. With Asaf Romirowsky.
At the beginning of March a disabled Palestinian boy from a ‘refugee’ camp in Lebanon was turned out of a hospital because his parents couldn’t pay the bill and UNRWA wouldn’t pay. This is a tragic example of how UNRWA exists to prevent Palestinians from establishing normal lives, and abets some of the worst elements in Palestinian society. Asaf and I argue that the US and EU should follow the example of Canada and defund UNRWA.
In a predictable response that would be amusing if it weren’t so pathetic, UNRWA spokesman Christopher Gunness attacks us in a letter to the Wall Street Journal
Letter to the Editor: The UNRWA Deserves Funding, Wall Street Journal, 6 April 2011.
The original version of his letter claimed that UNRWA facilities are not used by groups that name events like soccer tournaments after terrorists. This is a typically mendacious UNRWA move. He knows full well that these things are permitted to go on at UNRWA schools, after official hours. Alas, thus fact-checked, the claim was removed from the letter.
“The Archaeology War.” Jewish Ideas Daily, 31 March 2011.
The Islamic Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (ISESCO) recently held a meeting about Israel’s ‘Judaization’ of Jerusalem. In yet another example of ‘lawfare’ against Israel, they are now threatening to bring the case to The Hague. My prediction is that one day an Israeli archaeologist or cultural official will get off a plane in London or Madrid and find the police waiting with an arrest warrant issued at the behest of a Palestinian NGO or ISESCO.
Egypt’s Antiquities Caught in the Revolution Middle East Quarterly, Spring 2011.
Egypt’s relationship with its past was brought into focus during the revolution earlier this year when the Cairo Museum was looted, along with other sites. How Egyptians think about their pasts – Pharaonic and Islamic – is a telling indication of how they think of their identities and their future. Anger at Mubarak, the latest Pharaoh, the Muslim Brotherhood’s drive for Islamization, and the economic role of tourism are all factors.
One correction: When this piece went to press the ubiquitous Zahi Hawass had resigned as minister of state for antiquities, but now it appears he is back. This suggests that the new military regime recognizes that antiquities and tourism are crucial to the Egyptian economy, and the Hawass is the best salesman they have in that department. It also suggests that he will again be appearing on American TV seven nights a week. Sigh.
The page of my web site with book reviews was just redone and a couple of items were added, including links to my comments on Ofira Seliktar’s important book Doomed to Failure? The Politics and Intelligence of the Oslo Peace Process. There still a backlog of about one hundred archaeology book reviews to add. Please bear with me.