Parties of God: The Bush Doctrine and the rise of Islamic Democracy
April 11, 2007 7:43 AM   Subscribe

"While the West debates whether the Islamic world is ready for democracy, an equally appropriate question is whether the West is ready for Islamic democracy." Parties of God, by Ken Silverstein, is an interesting read on democracy in the Middle East.
posted by chunking express (50 comments total) 6 users marked this as a favorite

 
Also of note is Harper's awesome redesign.
posted by chunking express at 7:45 AM on April 11, 2007


"[I]n the long run, stability cannot be purchased at the expense of liberty."

Don't you just hate those moments when you're suddenly reminded that the president of the United States actually doesn't hear a damn word that comes out of his own mouth?"
posted by Faint of Butt at 7:51 AM on April 11, 2007


I am old fashioned, I guess, but I see no useful purpose served in dealing with, say, hamas, when they are determined and have stated their ifntent to destroy the state of Israel. Can you believe anything they say if hey do not renounce their aim?

But another issue. Bush is hardly the first one to try to bring democracy to the Middle east. In fact Michael Oren's lates book is a history of the US and its interests in the middle east and the book begins with the Amrican revolution--that is how far back American in teress have gone...and from the onset, the idea of bringing democracy to them, whether they wanted it or not. Bush is simply another person, late to arrive, who believes all peoples want what we havel. I think he is wrong.
posted by Postroad at 8:10 AM on April 11, 2007


Don't you get it? By refusing to legitimize the "kill all Israelis" platform of these so-called Islamic democrats, you are hurting Middle Eastern democracy!
posted by Krrrlson at 8:28 AM on April 11, 2007


By refusing to legitimize the "kill all Israelis" platform of these so-called Islamic democrats, you are hurting Middle Eastern democracy!

Well, actually, yes. If Hamas said they wanted to hunt, kill and eat all American babies, and if we tried to keep them from running in a legitimate and free election, that would actually be un-democratic.

If our goal is to keep Israel from turning into a nuclear wasteland and keep oil prices low for our corporations, the last thing we want is middle-eastern self-determination.

Let's stop trying to have our cake and eat it too.
posted by rockabilly_pete at 8:44 AM on April 11, 2007 [1 favorite]


If you believe that anyone in the Bush administration truly gives a shit about bringing "democracy" anywhere, I've got some swampland in Florida to sell you.
posted by papakwanz at 8:53 AM on April 11, 2007 [1 favorite]


It's frightening how unstable the Middle East is, and how little our government chooses to understand anything about it.
posted by byronimation at 8:54 AM on April 11, 2007


I am old fashioned, I guess, but I see no useful purpose served in dealing with, say, hamas, when they are determined and have stated their ifntent to destroy the state of Israel. Can you believe anything they say if hey do not renounce their aim?

Good. Now start dealing.
posted by srboisvert at 8:55 AM on April 11, 2007 [1 favorite]


The idea that democracy will bring peace is related to the equally foolish "If we could just get everyone together and talk about things, we could work everything out" meme. They're both based on a viewpoint that privileges the speaker's worldview, that assumes everyone wants what we want. As long as there are different desires in different people, democracy will not equal peace.
posted by Pope Guilty at 9:06 AM on April 11, 2007


Also of note is Harper's awesome redesign.

What do you find awesome about the redesign, aside from the paltry amount of free content tagged with large-font subscription come-ons? The fantastic Readings section (reason enough for Harper's existence) is begging to be put in blog format.

Also, this bit I found particularly odd:

Cornell University Library/Making of America participated in a unique trade, granting us permission to use their scans of the first 49 years of Harper's. Oceana Wilson of Bennington University arranged for Harper's to receive an entire run of the magazine for scanning. Without the help and patience of these two institutions this project would have been very difficult to complete.

I always knew Harper's was a Mickey Mouse operation, but they really didn't keep a complete archive of the magazine? And Cornell and Bennington University (sic) did all that work just for it to be put behind a subscription wall?
posted by otio at 9:06 AM on April 11, 2007


also, "destroy the state of Israel" != "kill all Israelis" anymore than destroying the apartheid state in S.A. meant killing all the white people.
posted by bashos_frog at 9:07 AM on April 11, 2007


Postroad: I see no useful purpose served in dealing with, say, Hamas, when they are determined and have stated their intent to destroy the state of Israel. Can you believe anything they say if they do not renounce their aim?

Why does the intent to destroy a state have anything to do with truthfulness at all?

The Allies of WWII intended to destroy Nazi Germany, did that make all their statements mendacious?

Ben Gurion intended to drive out the Palestinians, did that make all his statements mendacious?

GWB intended to destroy Saddam's Baathist Iraq, did that make all his statements mendacious?

I think Hamas is one of the more honest players on the world stage. Brutal, violent, intransigent, etc. but honest.
posted by bornjewish at 9:09 AM on April 11, 2007


And wouldn't refusing to deal with Hamas over their desire to destroy Israel be hypocritical for a country that does business with China? In light of China's desire to claim Taiwan?
posted by Pope Guilty at 9:09 AM on April 11, 2007


The idea that democracy will bring peace is related to the equally foolish "If we could just get everyone together and talk about things, we could work everything out" meme.

Actually, I'm a firm believer in that meme. However, I also believe that to truly make it work, the disagreeing parties must be locked together in a small room with no food until an agreement is reached.
posted by Faint of Butt at 9:12 AM on April 11, 2007


srboisvert: You forgot to add: *SNAP*
posted by anotherpanacea at 9:14 AM on April 11, 2007


I always knew Harper's was a Mickey Mouse operation, but they really didn't keep a complete archive of the magazine? And Cornell and Bennington University (sic) did all that work just for it to be put behind a subscription wall?

Thanks for pointing out that Bennington is a college, not a university. I'll fix that.

Yes, we have a complete archive of the magazine, bound and stored behind glass in the conference room. But we didn't want to cut the spines off that copy for sheetfed scanning. Hand-scanning at 600DPI requires a lot of money and time, or outsourcing to another country. I figured if I kept costs way, way down and did the scanning in-house (and did some of it myself) we'd be able to offer the entire archive to all of our subscribers for free.

Bennington offered the archive to us, in fact--they clear up shelf space and we give them a break on archive access for the entire college. Cornell received 22 years-worth of scans from us (covering everything in the public domain that they had yet to scan), plus the pagination/title/author/subject/etc metadata associated with those scans (far more valuable than the scans themselves). They can use that data without any limits to expand the Making of America project, and we hope they do so.

Anyone with feedback, criticism, or questions regarding the site should feel free to send email to Paul Ford, ford@harpers.org.
posted by ftrain at 9:28 AM on April 11, 2007 [5 favorites]


By refusing to legitimize the "kill all Israelis" platform of these so-called Islamic democrats, you are hurting Middle Eastern democracy!

And by installing the Shah of Iran to replace a democratically elected leader, don't forget. That might hurt Middle Eastern democracy. Maybe.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 9:50 AM on April 11, 2007 [2 favorites]


I see no useful purpose served in dealing with, say, hamas, when they are determined and have stated their ifntent to destroy the state of Israel. Can you believe anything they say if hey do not renounce their aim?

By this logic, we should also 'not deal with' the Republican and Democratic parties because they, likewise, advocate large scale violence against nations. Actually, we should be much more concerned about the R's and D's, because they actually do have the power to wipe, say, Iraq off the map where Hamas probably isn't going to have the power to do the same to Isreal any time soon.

But to answer your question... no, you can't believe anything they say, ever. Or anyway, you can't just believe it because it comes out of their mouth. If it's a statement of fact, you have to check reliable sources to see if it's true. If it's a promise or a statement of intention, you have to ask how they will be held accountable if they don't live up to it. But so what? The same is true of every political organization in the world.

Bush is hardly the first one to try to bring democracy to the Middle east.

Bush isn't trying to bring democracy to the middle east, he's trying to drive it out. This article and common sense both make this clear. If you have evidence to the contrary, please cite it. If your evidence is the government he's created in Iraq (which the vast majority of Iraqis oppose, thus making it anti-democratic), I'll laugh in your face.
posted by Clay201 at 9:52 AM on April 11, 2007


The best way to ligitimize Hamas is to a) get them into the political process; then b) punish them for saying stupid stuff.

This is what democracy is all about. Violence prevents the rule of law. The wise people in this article understand that politics is about negotiation.

I especially liked the people saying, "I would vote for a woman". We didn't really start saying that until, what, a couple of decades ago.
posted by ewkpates at 9:57 AM on April 11, 2007


I can't fit into my Hummer anymore, so I can't amaze you anymore by eating burgers, talking on the phone and picking my nose as I merge onto an urban Interstate at rush hour. Democracy is great and Rush Limbaugh is a genius. Signed, A Murrican
posted by davy at 10:24 AM on April 11, 2007


Whenever people talk about democracy, I'm reminded of "this excellent article from the War Nerd.

To quote him at length:
People want democracy and peace and all that kind of stuff.

No. In fact, HELL no! Let me repeat your first lesson: consult your own experience instead of believing the talking heads. Do you care about those things -- I mean, compared to money and sex and taking revenge on the MR2 that cut you off a couple of blocks back? The only ideology I see around me is God. Most people in Fresno have a bad case of God. It takes up all their brain power trying to read the Bible and mind everybody else's business. They wouldn't care if Charles Manson took power as long as he said God and Jesus every few seconds. Out of all the people I've met, I can only think of one who cared about democracy: my Social Studies teacher. But he was one of these decent old Minnesota Swedes, goodhearted, too soft for Bakersfield, committed to ignoring reality. His wife, another big Secular Humanist, left him for a dyke, his students called him "Gums" and he admitted once to our class that he'd lost his Faith. That made him Public Enemy #1 with the Christians and he had to transfer to another school district. That's what believing in that stuff'll get you.

If this is a democracy, it's weird how the only people who go in for it are conmen and closet cases like Rove. No normal American would go near it. They know better. We all know local politics belongs to real estate developers at civic level and to the corporations at Federal level. Which is fine with me, and with most Americans, but why call it democracy?
posted by Tacos Are Pretty Great at 11:25 AM on April 11, 2007


Good. Now start dealing.

Disingenuous token motions from Bush -- bad. Disingenuous token motions from Hamas -- good. I gotcha. *wink*
posted by Krrrlson at 12:41 PM on April 11, 2007 [1 favorite]


OMG! The Islamiacs portrayed by this journo do not conform to our greyscale 2D image of their society. He must be lying pinko scum!

It's sad that a chunk of even a relatively liberal community like MeFi will automatically react this way when the Middle East is discussed. It's indicative of where the Overton window is situated on this topic. Any comment that is not implicitly pro-Israeli or anti-Arabic is treated with suspicion at the least, if not outright vilification. There is no chance of any lasting solution to the Islamic/Israeli/Western gordian knot if we cannot even enter into a debate about possible initiatives without fear of being drowned in bile.
posted by Jakey at 12:44 PM on April 11, 2007


Krrrlson: Disingenuous token motions from Bush -- bad. Disingenuous token motions from Hamas -- good.

They changed their charter, which is like their constitution. Leaving Bush out of this, where does the assumption of "Disingenuousness" come from?

Reflexive pro-Israeli sentiment is my guess, as Jakey also noted.

I grew up on the myths of Israel's founding, but I have since been exposed to the facts.

"Palestine belongs to the Arabs in the same sense that England belongs to the English or France to the French. It is wrong and inhuman to impose the Jews on the Arabs... Surely it would be a crime against humanity to reduce the proud Arabs so that Palestine can be restored to the Jews partly or wholly as their national home."
Mahatma Gandhi
posted by bornjewish at 12:56 PM on April 11, 2007


Musharraf is doing exactly what Mubarak has done in Egypt--turn to people on the outside and say it's either me or them (Islamist radicals), which is a totally false choice. Who is Musharraf's biggest supporter, advocate and protector? The Bush administration. Frankly, I don't think the Dems would be that much better. US Middle Eastern policy has sucked pretty much since the discovery of oil and the creation of Israel.

However, Washington and people in the US who are interested in the Middle East should take heed that the American sphere of influence in that part of the world is on the wane. Much of it can be blamed on the US obsession with Israel ("Israel uber alles"), US vulnerability to zionist pressure groups and thinking, at the cost of most of its other relationships there, its obsession with oil ("cheap oil uber alles"), and its orientalist attitudes toward the Middle East in general (Postroad's notion of 'democracy' being 'western' is a good example -- FYI, Athens is much closer to Beirut and Teheran than it is to DC, and culturally more similar to Beirut than London in others).

What is significant here is the censorship that occurs in the US press ... and the author's recounting of what happened to his article at the LA Times (a rather 'liberal' paper), that keeps an open and honest discourse from occurring. Knee-jerk reactions like Postroard and Krrrlson's are juvenile and boring. Even if X wants to destroy Israel, why should the US not engage with it? The US always kept the lines of communication to Moscow open during the Cold War, even though the Soviets actively wanted to destroy the US! Washington is not even Tel Aviv. Moreover, the Israelis are regularly in touch with Hamas (in fact, the Israelis funded and supported Hamas as a counterweight to the PLO!). Why should Washington not hold its national interest more dear to it than Israels?

Particularly when such an interest led the US to invade Iraq (thanks to the neo-cons, who all were coincidentally rabidly zionist), and may lead the US into a further (and more costly) conflagration with Iran.
posted by Azaadistani at 1:13 PM on April 11, 2007


Tacos: I guess that makes me a conman or a closet case. But then I suppose I am, after all, the "honest knave."

But it's possible to be selfish *and* democratic, right? George Washington? Thomas Jefferson?
posted by honest knave at 1:25 PM on April 11, 2007


I read this article in the magazine and thought it was really interesting. You would never know that from the comments in this thread, however.

I happen to personally believe that democracy in the Middle East is possible, desirable, and necessary for long-term stability. Palestine is probably the best place to start in terms of the type of people that live there, but it's getting worse all the time without permanent status of the territories. It's ludicrous to think you could have anything approaching "democracy" in a place under military occupation with only the semblance of a functioning economy and with institutions disintegrating rapidly. The Palestine of 10 years ago would never have elected Hamas in the first place.
posted by cell divide at 1:41 PM on April 11, 2007


I am old fashioned, I guess, but I see no useful purpose served in dealing with, say, hamas, when they are determined and have stated their ifntent to destroy the state of Israel.

They may have stated that at one point, but is that their current goal? People's minds change and so do political parties. By talking to people, you can some times get them to agree to things less then their ultimate goal. Not "dealing" with them means no progress at all, more death and destruction. And if they win elections? Then why the hell are you trying to "promote" democracy.

The whole "we won't talk to people we don't like" accomplishes absolutely nothing.

Don't you get it? By refusing to legitimize the "kill all Israelis" platform of these so-called Islamic democrats, you are hurting Middle Eastern democracy!

That's true. Does this mean you oppose Middle Eastern democracy? If so then why have you been supporting the war?

---

I think bush and the neocons were naive enough to want democracy in Iraq and the middle east. They were fucking stupid, and they got exactly what they wanted, in Iraq and Lebanon. Now that they've realized people don't support them, they're backing off. Maybe they thought they could manipulate the process the same way they thought they could manipulate the process here.
posted by delmoi at 2:02 PM on April 11, 2007


A Hezbollah leader hs the quote of the day:

Musawi, who had forthrightly condemned the September 11 attacks when I saw him during my first visit to Lebanon, again spoke scornfully of bin Laden and his followers. “Al Qaeda and the Taliban and the Salafist movements in Algeria and Iraq are movements outside the framework of Islam,” he said. “Their relationship with Islam resembles George Bush’s relationship to democracy.”

Inteesting thought on a day when the Salafists of Algeria are blowing shit up at home.
posted by rdone at 5:55 PM on April 11, 2007 [1 favorite]


I am old fashioned, I guess, but I see no useful purpose served in dealing with, say, Hamas, when they are determined and have stated their intent to destroy the state of Israel.

I am old fashioned, I guess, but I see no useful purpose getting involved in entangling foreign alliances with either Israel or Hamas when it does not nothing to enhance our liberty or our security.
posted by jonp72 at 7:44 PM on April 11, 2007


Democracy is a logical concept, not a cultural one, despite what some people want to "believe." It's like asking if the world is ready for hygiene or voodoo.
posted by Brian B. at 9:49 PM on April 11, 2007



Tacos: I guess that makes me a conman or a closet case. But then I suppose I am, after all, the "honest knave."

But it's possible to be selfish *and* democratic, right? George Washington? Thomas Jefferson?


I'm not saying that nobody cares about democracy. But it's a pretty low priority for most people, and that's a real important thing to remember.
posted by Tacos Are Pretty Great at 11:01 PM on April 11, 2007


hard for americans to see that they are the bad guys in the movie
posted by zouhair at 1:56 AM on April 12, 2007


They need death's head logos.
posted by srboisvert at 4:00 AM on April 12, 2007


While I agree with almost everything else he said...

Azaadistani claimed that: The notion of democracy being western is a good example of orientalist attitudes toward the Middle East in general. Athens is much closer to Beirut and Teheran than it is to DC, and culturally more similar to Beirut than London.

But the physical distance between Athens & DC or the culinary similarity between Athens and Beirut is not particularly relevant to the history of the notion of democracy. This notion (Born in Athens) has had a serious following in the west for a few hundred years now, not so of the "East" or of the Muslim world. It is a concept associated with the west, it correllates to the those nations described as "Western." It even gets Japan, of all nations, described as "Western" in some contexts.

Physical proximity and cultural similarity are no guarantee of similar political notions. Just look at Israel and the Arab nations around it. Sharing semitic languages, Falafel & being neighbors for over 70 years have not had much success in aligning the political views of the two entities.

I despise Zionism and what it has done to the values of my people, but I still see that in today's world "Democracy" is a western value. Spreading elsewhere, at least hopefully, but with its modern origins in the west, by way of ancient Athens. Which, in its day, was a "Western" power.
posted by bornjewish at 7:17 AM on April 12, 2007


@bornjewish

hehe you are so funny, how do you think the so-called "west" gets that Greek philosophy if there was no muslim to gather all that knowledge, and you think maybe those muslims scientist and philosopher just grab it as a hot potatoe and send to the almighty westerners?
posted by zouhair at 11:54 AM on April 12, 2007


I still see that in today's world "Democracy" is a western value.

That's completely ridiculous. No culture, anywhere, at any time in history, has a monopoly on a given "value." To say otherwise is either racism or some other equally unpleasant -ism.

If Arabs don't value democracy, why were they marching in the streets of Iraq, demanding a US pullout? You don't consider that democracy? What about Hamas winning elections and building public support in the Palestinian territories and Lebanon? What about Al Jazeera?

There's plenty of evidence out there that Arabs are just as interested in democracy as the rest of us.
posted by Clay201 at 5:15 PM on April 12, 2007


@Clay201

thanks for some words of common sense, i'm being fed up with those "thought-they-are-nice-talking-guys" that think they are talking about other people as some inferior race, i'm realy fed up with it.

It's like those stories about white people that were against slavery but won't acept by any mean that their sons or daughters mary black girls or black guys.

"The Road To Hell Is Paved With Good Intentions"
posted by zouhair at 11:07 PM on April 12, 2007


They changed their charter, which is like their constitution. Leaving Bush out of this, where does the assumption of "Disingenuousness" come from?

Things like this this.


That's true. Does this mean you oppose Middle Eastern democracy? If so then why have you been supporting the war?

It might be said that what is essentially a corrupt dictatorship where a government of murderers presides over a population routinely incited to violence by Islamic fanatics is not exactly a democracy. Nevertheless, I do support the Palestinian right, as a population, to decide they want to kill Israelis. In such a situation, I also support the Israeli right to defend themselves by whatever means they deem necessary.

In the spirit of unwarranted assumptions, does your response mean you support the killing of Israelis? (See what I just did there?) And, uh, which was are you talking about, exactly?
posted by Krrrlson at 12:38 AM on April 13, 2007


If Arabs don't value democracy, why were they marching in the streets of Iraq, demanding a US pullout? You don't consider that democracy?

Nope, a march forced together by al-Sadr's cronies, who will do their best to establish a brutal theocracy if their demands are met, is not democracy. You know where else people marched a lot in support of something?
posted by Krrrlson at 12:41 AM on April 13, 2007


And, uh, which was are you talking about, exactly?

That should be "which war," of course.
posted by Krrrlson at 12:42 AM on April 13, 2007


@Zouhair & Clay:

This is about "Political Systems" and the luck of geography. It has nothing to do with race.

I completely acknowledge the important role of the Caliphates in transmitting the texts of the classical world to the west. But that is not the same thing as "Embracing a particular value" held therein.

The Muslim world showed no interest in applying either Greek or Western (Which it got a glimpse of during the Crusades) political science. It had the words written down in texts, but that was all.

During the Crusades the westerners were backwards (Compared to the Muslims) in so many ways. Most ways in fact. But there were two fields in which the Crusaders had the more modern tech. Armor and PoliSci.

The Magna Charta was signed during the 3rd Crusade. The west was developing a culture where the leaders had responsibilities to the ruled. (It wasn't democracy yet, it really wasn't much more than "Feudal Responsibilities" that were often ignored.) The east had only absolutism. Arab scholars noted this. I can cite them if you want.

Also, I never said anything about "A monopoly." I meant "A value clearly associated with the west. A value that has matured in the west." Not "A value that no others can hold." If I am to be called arrogant, let it be for believing that Democracy & Freedom ARE "Universal Values." (I just understand that they are not equally distributed geographically and/or temporally.)

Let me be clear. I am ashamed of how the USA removed an elected gov't in Iran & replaced it with a King. I am ashamed of how we have supported Arab autocrats to facilitate our addiction to cheap oil. But I stand by my moderate words. Which did NOT deny that Arabs can value democracy in any way shape or form. In fact, I believe that if we had not interfered so much, democracy would be much further advanced in the Arab world.

Are you familiar with "The Crusades through Arab Eyes" by Amin Maalouf? This Arab author makes it clear how the Muslims of the 12th & 13th centuries rejected all SOCIAL technologies from non-Muslim societies. They were willing to explore the material technologies of others, but not the social techs of "Barbarians." The muslim reaction to the Crusades and Mongols was clear, "No social mores of the barbarians should be emulated."

This is a common enough attitude. China was similarly dissmissive in its day. And the west has a bad case of this kind of arrogance today.

For the record, I support democracy in the Middle East. I call for the US to stop supporting the Saud and Mubarak dynasties, to allow Islamist parties to take power. It will be painful in the short term, for everybody, but in the long term political Islam must be given space to fail. It was insufficient as a political system to face Europe in the 1700's. (Have you ever seen muslim political cartoons of the day, criticizing the sleepy ulema?) It remains insufficient today. Like Communism, the best way to face it down is to "Let it fail."
posted by bornjewish at 5:30 AM on April 13, 2007


@Krrrlson

Where does your assumption of "Disingenuousness" come from? The fact that some cleric is rabid? The fact that not all Hamas members agree with the new policy? I agree, they are split. But the compromisers won the round and the language was deleted from the charter. Simply put, Internal conflict is not evidence of lying. They seem to be making the same journey the PLO did.

Will Israel encourage this journey? Or will they work to undermine it?

If the past is a guide, they will undermine it. Last time around they undermined the PLO by funding and encouraging Hamas as a counter. That was a smooth move in the same category as the American funding of the Taliban to oppose Soviet plans in Afghanistan.

Also, you said:
"It might be said that what is essentially a corrupt dictatorship where a government of murderers presides over a population routinely incited to violence by Islamic fanatics is not exactly a democracy."

However:
1) Israel, America, etc. have plenty of corruption too.
2) The charge of "Dictatorship" is plainly false. They have divided gov't now fer cryin out loud!
3) Israeli leaders have just as much blood on their hands as Palestinian leaders do. (In fact, just before "The Stroke" the Israeli Leader of the day was "The Current Ruler with the most blood on his hands in the entire Middle East.")

They just have the big battalions so that they don't need to target civilians to kill more civilians than the Palestinians do. And when the big guns were in other hands, we Jews used terrorism too. (In fact, we invented it! See "Zealot" and "Sicarii" of Roman times.)

You see, the original sin here is ours. It is Jewish, not Arab. Let me let those who know speak. In my next post...
posted by bornjewish at 6:01 AM on April 13, 2007


"We must expropriate gently, the private property on the estates assigned to us. We shall try to spirit the penniless population across the frontier by denying it employment. Both the process of expropriation and the removal of the poor must be carried out discreetly and circumspectly."
Theodore Herzl, "Complete Diaries," 6/12/1895 entry.

"We must expel Arabs and take their places."
David Ben Gurion 1937, from "Ben Gurion and the Palestine Arabs" Oxford University Press: 1985

"Palestine belongs to the Arabs in the same sense that England belongs to the English or France to the French. It is wrong and inhuman to impose the Jews on the Arabs. What is going on in Palestine today can not be justified by any moral code of conduct. The mandates have no sanction but that of the last war. Surely it would be a crime against humanity to reduce the proud Arabs so that Palestine can be restored to the Jews partly or wholly as their national home."
Mahatma Gandhi, In "Harijan," his magazine (11/38)

"I should much rather see reasonable agreement with the Arabs on the basis of living together in peace than the creation of a Jewish State. Apart from practical considerations, my awareness of the essential nature of Judaism resists the idea of a Jewish State, with borders, an army, and a measure of temporal power, no matter how modest. I am afraid of the inner damage Judaism will sustain"
Albert Einstein. (He was invited to be President of Israel, but declined.)

"If I were an Arab leader, I would never sign an agreement with Israel. It is normal; we have taken their country. It is true God promised it to us, but how could that interest them? Our God is not theirs. There has been anti-Semitism, the Nazis, Hitler, Auschwitz, but was that their fault? They see but one thing: we have come and we have stolen their country. Why would they accept that?"
David Ben Gurion from "Le Paraddoxe Juif" (The Jewish Paradox) by Nahum Goldmann, pp. 121-122

"We must use terror, assassination, intimidation, land confiscation, and the cutting of all social services to rid the Galilee of its Arab
population."
David Ben-Gurion, May 1948, to the General Staff. From Ben-Gurion, A Biography, by Michael Ben-Zohar, Delacorte, New York 1978

"In general international law, the principle holds true that no citizen loses his property or his rights of citizenship; and the citizenship right is de facto a right to which the Arabs in Israel have much more legitimacy than the Jews. Just because the Arabs fled? Since when is that punishable by confiscation of property, and by being barred from returning to the land on which a people's forefathers have lived for generations? Thus, the claim of the Jews to the land of Israel cannot be a realistic claim. If all nations would suddenly claim territory in which their forefathers had lived two thousand years ago, this world would be a madhouse. I believe that, politically speaking, there is only one solution for Israel, namely, the unilateral acknowledgement of the obligation of the State towards the Arabs - not to use it as a bargaining point, but to acknowledge the complete moral obligation of the Israeli State to its former inhabitants of Palestine"
Erich Fromm

"The first fact is that at the time when we entered into an alliance (an alliance, I admit, that was not well defined) with a European state and we provided that state with a claim to rule over Palestine, we made no attempt to reach an agreement with the Arabs of this land regarding the basis and conditions for the continuation of Jewish settlement.
This negative approach caused those Arabs who thought about and were concerned about the future of their people to see us increasingly not as a group which desired to live in cooperation with their people but as something in the nature of uninvited guests and agents of foreign interests (at the time I explicitly pointed out this fact).
The second fact is that we took hold of the key economic positions in the country without compensating the Arab population, that is to say without allowing their capital and their labor a share in our economic activity. Paying the large landowners for purchases made or paying compensation to tenants on the land is not the same as compensating a people. As a result, many of the more thoughtful Arabs viewed the advance of Jewish settlement as a kind of plot designed to dispossess future generations of their people of the land necessary for their existence and development. Only by means of a comprehensive and vigorous economic policy aimed at organizing and developing common interests would it have been possible to contend with this view and its inevitable consequences. This we did not do.
The third fact is that when a possibility arose that the Mandate would soon be terminated, not only did we not propose to the Arab population of the country that a joint Jewish Arab administration be set up in its place, we went ahead and demanded rule over the whole country (the Biltmore program) as a fitting political sequel to the gains we had already made. By this step, we with our own hands provided our enemies in the Arab camp with aid and comfort of the most valuable sort - the support of public opinion - without which the military attack launched against us would not have been possible. For it now appears to the Arab populace that in carrying on the activities we have been engaged in for years, in acquiring land and in working and developing the land, we were systematically laying the ground work for gaining control of the whole country."
Martin Buber

"We walked outside, Ben-Gurion accompanying us. Allon repeated his question, 'What is to be done with the Palestinian population?' Ben-Gurion waved his hand in a gesture which said 'Drive them out!'"
Moshe Dayan, address to the Technion, Haifa, from Haaretz, Apr 4, 1969

"All those stories about the huge danger we were facing because of our small territorial size, an argument expounded once the war was over, had never been considered our calculations prior to the unleashing of hostilities. While we proceeded towards the full mobilization of our forces, no person in his right mind could believe that all this force was necessary to our defence against the Egyptian threat. To pretend that the Egyptian forces concentrated on our borders were capable of threatening Israel's existence does not only insult the intelligence of any person capable of analyzing this kind of situation, but is primarily an insult to the Israeli army."
General Mattitiahu Peled, Chief Quartermaster-General's Branch, Israeli Defence Forces, General Staff. Le Monde, June 3, 1972

"It is the duty of Israeli leaders to explain to public opinion, clearly and courageously, a certain number of facts that are forgotten with time. The first of these is that there is no Zionism, colonialization, or Jewish State without the eviction of the Arabs and the expropriation of their lands."
Ariel Sharon, Addressing a meeting of the Tsomet Party, Agence France Presse, Nov 15, 1998
posted by bornjewish at 6:12 AM on April 13, 2007


By the way, this is getting lengthy. My email (For Metafilter purposes) is bornjewish@hotmail.com

I would welcome further discussion there.
posted by bornjewish at 6:21 AM on April 13, 2007


a march forced together by al-Sadr's cronies

You honestly think all those people in Iraq are being compelled to March by al-Sadr, and not by the crap conditions the US has left the country in?

Yeah.
posted by chunking express at 7:07 AM on April 13, 2007


a march forced together by al-Sadr's cronies

There were a lot of groups represented in that march; only some of them were affiliated with al-Sadr. And as for "forced," I see no evidence that anyone pointed a gun at their heads in order to get them to do it. Sadr's supported by people who think that he represents their interests and the same is true for all the other groups who are resisting the US occupation, including Sistani's, which has reounced violence. Everyone's looking for a way to have their interests represented, seeking a piece of the government pie, trying to get their voice heard. That's democracy.

In any case, the march wasn't in support of theocracy and dictatorship but, rather, against it. Which is to say, it was in support of a US withdrawal. They seem to have this ridiculous idea that since the majority of people in their country favor the withdrawal, it should happen. Again, that's democracy.

If someone put Sadr in office, might he try to seize power permanently? Sure. But that's a danger with any leader. That's why you have to keep them on a short leash. How do you do that? Say it with me: democracy.

Or, if you prefer, we could just tackle it this way: If Ghandi came back from the dead and showed up in Iraq to lead a resistance effort against the Iraq occupation, what would he do? Well... I think there's an excellent chance he'd get a bunch of different groups together to march peacefully in protest.
posted by Clay201 at 7:34 AM on April 13, 2007


The Muslim world showed no interest in applying either Greek or Western (Which it got a glimpse of during the Crusades) political science...

You're talking about stuff that happened hundreds of years ago. And even if it were relevant, you'd still be using the fact that Arabs didn't develop democracy to prove that they couldn't develop democracy. For hundreds of years, westerners held slaves. Does that mean they were incapable of freeing those slaves? Gee, Ms. Stowe and Mr. Douglas and Mr. Brown... we've heard your powerful arguments against slavery and we'd really like to do something about it, but, see, the problem is... there's this long history of Europeans owning and oppressing Africans. Therefore, it's impossible for things to be any different. Nothing personal; that's just the way history works, I'm afraid.

Also, I never said anything about "A monopoly." I meant "A value clearly associated with the west. A value that has matured in the west."

The problem with this kind of discussion is that it seeks to discover what's in peoples heads and/or to define the character of entire cultures. Yeah, I know historians often operate that way, but that doesn't mean it isn't bullshit.

Whether people support democracy or not often has a lot to do with the number of guns pointed at their heads. Fidel Castro's a dictator and he still has enormous support in Cuba; this probably has a lot more to do with (a) fears that the US will invade and occupy the island and (b) the social and economic programs Castro has implemented than it does with any cultural development or lack thereof. Hitler's rise to power had a lot to do with Germany's relationship with the rest of Europe; if they hadn't felt like they were getting shit on by France and England and if they hadn't been looking down the barrel of a war with Russia (which absolutely everyone, correctly, believed was on its way), who knows who or what they may have put into power.

There are no laws of history. Damn near anything can happen at any time. But it's generally true that dictators need fear in order to operate. And not just fear of god or eternal damnation; it's got to be something relatively tangible and, at least in the minds of the population, likely. Invasion, genocide, sneak attack; that sort of thing. Al Queda and their affiliates certainly benefit from this sort of fear. Given the number of guns aimed at the various middle eastern countries, it's not too surprising that you see some inclinations toward fascism.

Finally, in order to build a case that Arabs are only interested in replacing US (or US proxy) rule with dictatorships, you're going to have to refute about 75 percent of the article linked up there at the top of this page. I don't think you can do that.
posted by Clay201 at 8:23 AM on April 13, 2007


@Clay

The problem is that you have misread my words. I am NOT, repeat NOT, attempting to prove that Arabs couldn't develop democracy. It seems to me that you are confusing me and my position with that of Krrrlson.

Let me quote parts of my post you must have missed:

1) This is about "Political Systems" and the luck of geography. It has nothing to do with race.

2) I never said anything about "A monopoly." If I am to be called arrogant, let it be for believing that Democracy & Freedom ARE "Universal Values."

I am not making predictions about the future.
I am not saying that Arabs could not develop democracy.

I was merely pointing out that Zouhair's argument about "Islam providing the west with Greek learning" is not relevant. For centuries the Muslim world rejected social change. This has had a lasting effect on today's situation, but I agree that is NOT BINDING on the future.

Let me quote you:
"In order to build a case that Arabs are only interested in replacing US (or US proxy) rule with dictatorships, you're going to have to refute about 75 percent of the article linked up there at the top of this page. I don't think you can do that."

I AGREE! Lucky for me I am not even attempting to build such a case. I would argue that we should allow/assist/insist the Arabs to vote freely, that they will likely choose Islamist parties in the near future, and that we should allow that because Islamist solutions will not work and they will have to move on to more pragmatic choices.
posted by bornjewish at 9:01 AM on April 13, 2007


@ Clay

Here is some edited dialogue between Krrlson & myself that should clear this up for you...

Krrrlson: It might be said that what is essentially a corrupt dictatorship where a government of murderers presides over a population routinely incited to violence by Islamic fanatics is not exactly a democracy.

Bornjewish: The charge of "Dictatorship" is plainly false. They have divided gov't now fer cryin out loud!
posted by bornjewish at 9:07 AM on April 13, 2007


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