Sanity Injection

Injecting a dose of sanity into your day’s news and current events.

Posts Tagged ‘Arabs’

Fouad Ajami gives the Arab world a wake-up call

Posted by sanityinjection on August 6, 2009

Sometimes, an op-ed column stands out not because it presents some profound new insights, but because it represents an oasis of truth amid a field of BS, and simply by doing so seems like a breath of fresh air.

So it is with Fouad Ajami’s WSJ piece on the status of the Arab world today. Ajami’s excuse for writing is last month’s UN Arab Human Development Report – which should really be called the Arab Human Non-Development report given the lack of progress in just about every area. Ajami boldly suggests that Arab regimes, and not America or Israel, are to blame for their own problems. He argues that the Bush Administration’s policy initiatives in Iraq and Lebanon (of which he is a well-known supporter) shook up Arab complacency, but that the new Administration seems content to let them shuffle back into complacency by blowing smoke up their casbahs.

Anyone interested in Middle Eastern politics should take a moment to read Ajami’s essay.

Posted in Foreign Affairs | Tagged: , , , , , | 4 Comments »

Palestinian suffering caused by Arabs?

Posted by sanityinjection on March 19, 2009

I urge you to read this column from the European edition of the Wall Street Journal. The author, Nonie Darwish, is an Arab who grew up in the Gaza Strip in the 1950s.

The main point of Mrs. Darwish’s article is that much of the suffering of the Palestinian people has been caused rather deliberately by their Arab “brethren” in order to keep pressure on the state of Israel. This is a point that I frequently make when discussing the Palestinian question, but I am rarely believed because the point is almost never made in the mainstream media, where most people get their inofrmation about the Middle East, so of course it must be a wild and unfounded accusation. Perhaps it will be more credible coming from an Arab with no particular reason to love Israel (Mrs. Darwish’s father was assassinated by the Israelis.)

The point here is not that Israel is blameless or has never done anything to exacerbate the situation. The point is that for 30 years the Palestinian question was aggravated and exploited by the Arab nations to further their goal of driving the Jews into the sea, which was their proposed solution to the problem. In doing so, they have actually created the minority population they continue to oppress in their own countries.

My consistent position is that Israel should always be measured against the standards set by its neighbors.  Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians is no worse, and in many cases is better, than their treatment at the hands of their fellow Arabs.

Posted in Foreign Affairs | Tagged: , , , , | 1 Comment »

Obamawatch: Interview with Arab TV

Posted by sanityinjection on January 27, 2009

President Obama gave the first formal TV interview of his Presidency to the Arab satellite TV network al-Arabiya. In the interview, Obama told Muslims that “Americans are not your enemy” and called for a new relationship “based on mutual respect and mutual interest.”

Oh, good. Now that we got that cleared up, let’s cure cancer.

I don’t have a problem with Obama doing this interview. It makes for good PR. I just hope he’s not naive enough to believe his own rhetoric – that the Arab world is going to come around just because we talk nice.

The truth is that a significant segment of the Arab world not only hates America – they enjoy hating America. It’s a nice escape from the frustrations of their daily lives. It feels good to blame the Americans for everything. And the Arab governments which claim to be our friends quietly encourage their people to continue blaming us and hating us because it distracts them from blaming and hating their governments.

The US and Arab countries do not have “mutual respect and mutual interest.” They think we’re corrupt, immoral, and arrogant. We think they’re backward, cruel and intolerant. (Here’s a secret: They’re right about us and we’re right about them.) That’s not a good basis for a productive relationship.

In fact, the only reason we ever developed a relationship with the Arab world is that we wanted their oil and they wanted protection. That is the true basis for our interactions. In the 21st century, however, there are other countries who can and will develop and buy Arab oil, just as we are confronting the need for alternative fuel sources. So the motivation on each side to continue the relationship is waning.

Now granted, Obama can’t come out and say any of this stuff in an interview. I’m just hoping that, behind closed doors, he knows it.

Posted in Foreign Affairs | Tagged: , , , , | 3 Comments »

Keeping Israel in perspective

Posted by sanityinjection on January 21, 2009

With the Gaza violence finally coming to an end, at least for the time being, Israel’s public image is not in great shape. Even those who understand Israel’s need to defend themselves against Hamas rocket attacks cannot help but be dismayed by the level of devastation in Gaza, much of it suffered by ordinary Palestinians who may or may not have anything to do with Hamas.

You can bet that we will be hearing with renewed fervor the drumbeat of those who call Israel a racist state that persecutes Arabs and violates their human rights. With this in mind, I offer for consideration the recent decision by the Israeli Supreme Court allowing Arab parties to stand in Israel’s upcoming elections.

The Israeli election authority had moved to ban Israeli Arab parties from taking part in the elections. These are Arab politicians who live in and are citizens of Israel proper, not the West Bank or Gaza. The Israeli parliament has long had a handful of Arab legislators.

The reason for the ban was that the Arab parties, which openly sympathize with the Palestinians, had supported terrorism by traveling to Arab nations such as Lebanon and meeting with groups like Hamas and Hezbollah. The ban was only on the parties themselves, and not on any individual politicians. However, the Israeli Supreme Court overturned the ban by a unanimous vote.

What is the significance of this? Just that if you are an Arab living in Israel, while you may face social discrimination from the Jewish majority, your freedom of speech and due process rights are protected under Israeli law. You have the right to vote and to run for office.

In the vast majority of Arab countries, on the other hand, even Arabs do not enjoy these rights. In no country do they enjoy all of them. And God help you if you’re a non-Arab, or a non-Muslim in say, Egypt or Saudi Arabia.

In short, if we are going to talk about human rights in the Middle East, Israel is not immune from criticism, but it is hardly the place any rational person would single out as their primary target. Israel treats even its minorities better than Arab countries treat their own people.

Posted in Foreign Affairs | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | 14 Comments »

Interesting discrimination case

Posted by sanityinjection on January 6, 2009

The ACLU has announced that the federal TSA and JetBlue Airways have agreed to settle a lawsuit by Raed Jarrar for $240,000. Mr. Jarrar sued after he was asked to cover a T-shirt with Arabic writing in order to board the plane:

There are some interesting aspects to this case. First, Jarrar complied with the request and was allowed to fly. He therefore has no proof that the authorities intended to refuse to allow him to fly if he had declined. If he had wanted to sue, he should have refused, then he would have grounds.

Second, Jarrar had to know that as a Middle Eastern-appearing person with a goatee beard and an Arabic  name, wearing a T-shirt with Arabic writing to an airport is a little like waving a toy gun around. I do agree that the Arabic writing alone should not be grounds for being banned from a plane, but Jarrar should well have expected to be the absolute center of attention throughout his flying experience, including being moved to a seat where the flight crew could keep an eye on him (Airlines can move your seat at any time for any reason.)

So I think Jarrar probably would have lost the case had it gone to trial, but obviously the defendants had an interest in avoiding bad publicity. Now he can afford to fly all over the place on JetBlue’s and the taxpayers’ dimes.

What if Jarrar’s T-shirt had featured a photo of Osama Bin Laden? At what point does the airline’s concern about a possible disruption on board the flight outweigh an individual’s right to freedom of expression? I think there is a gray area here. Certainly we do not want to get to a point where “Flying while Arab” constitutes a crime, yet I also do not believe it is inherently discriminatory that people of obvious Arab origins be scrutinized.

There are some interesting comments on this story here:

Posted in Politics | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Brief comments on Israel’s action in Gaza

Posted by sanityinjection on January 5, 2009

I have no doubt that there will be plenty of opportunities in 2009 to discuss the Israeli-Palestinian issue in depth, so I’m not going to do that now. But I did want to briefly comment on the current military action by Israel in Gaza against Hamas.

Consider this: If a terrorist group were firing rockets from foreign soil into the US and killing civilians indiscriminately, would we take seriously calls for “restraint” in retaliating against the perpetrators? It simply is not rational to expect Israel to sit by and do nothing while their people are murdered. Thus I feel the Gaza action is entirely justified.

That having been said, it would behoove the Israelis to be as surgical as possible in their strikes. I know that’s not easy because the terrorists deliberately use civilian areas and homes as a shield for their attacks. But it is nevertheless true that every time Israel blows up somebody’s house that wasn’t a terrorist, they create new terrorists. Over the past half-century we have seen the Palestinian population become increasingly radicalized by poverty and deprivation of civil rights (for which their fellow Arabs are largely to blame.) It will become impossible for Israel to negotiate peace if there is no one left to negotiate with.

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