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The CHICKEN and EGG Question Remains, if anything More Urgent Than Ever

Reader comment on item: What Is Israel's Next Move In The New Middle East?

Submitted by Ron Thompson (United States), May 3, 2011 at 14:42

I agree completely with Daniel Pipes that if the Palestinians should suddenly turn to non-violent tactics in trying to get a State, Israel would be in serious trouble, as its leaders would be nonplussed, flummoxed, confused, and disoriented by such an unexpected tactic. And all those on the Left who see no wrong from the Palestinians and no right from the Israelis would feel those conclusions had been right all along. What would be a laudable tactic in most conflict situations could be a grave menace here.

But, fortunately or unfortunately, there is a 99-100% likelihood that this will not and cannot happen, because of the psychology of Islam. This psychology actively (in the form of malignant anti-Semitism, terrorism and suicide bombing from Hamas) and passively (in the form of the silent approval and conspicuous non-condemnation of those activities, as well as the relentless education in hatred of all young Palestinians by Fatah) promotes violence, intolerance, and no respect for the human or civil rights of others. Indeed Islam has little or no respect for the human or civil rights of most Moslems. So it is all but inconceivable that a people so led and so educated could turn on a dime and adopt a PEACEFUL tactic to get what they want, which in any event isn't primarily to establish a State for the Palestinians as it is to take away the State the Israelis have.

This could be a wonderful watershed time for the Arabs, Israel, the United States, and indeed the world because of the confluence of two titanic events. One is a mass event and the other is an individual, but hugely symbolic event.

The latter is the sudden, economical (in casualties), and dramatically successful killing of Osama bin Laden by US special forces rightfully ignoring the sovereignty of a semi-failed Muslim State whose intelligence or military forces had been sheltering him for years, despite being seen as an "ally" of the United States and receiving billions in (misplaced) aid.

The former is of course the mass uprising of thousands of Arabs in most of the Arab states seeking inchoately for some freedoms they have never known, freedom FROM oppression and State violence, and freedom FOR self-expression, assembly and other political and economic freedoms.

However, in neither of these great events, and in my view ominously, have we in the West answered the CHICKEN and EGG question, to use a humble metaphor. With regard to bin Laden, we never answered, or even clearly asked, was bin Laden the cause of the world-wide terrorism that exploded fully into our consciousness on Sept 11, or was Islam - mainstream Mohammed-the-Prophet-originated Islam, the cause of this mindless, indiscriminate violence? - as Osama himself repeatedly said, and as all his followers and many of his millions of passive admirers have always claimed. Indeed, if anything, we went out of our way to answer the question in the negative, our leaders claiming endlessly that Islam was "peaceful" (George Bush and Obama), that it had been "hijacked" (most academics) or that el-Queda's was a "perversion" of Islam (Tony Blair as recently as yesterday).

And now we are failing to ask the same question with regard to the 'Arab spring'. Specifically, is it reasonable to assume or hope that there is ANY future of democracy in any of these countries, leading to meaningful political, economic, and personal freedoms, if these protesters, and their well-wishers everywhere, don't ask whether genuine revolutions in Arab countries are only possible if they face the question and consider the possibility that ISLAM is the ultimate albatross around their necks, and not just the autocratic governments which are the immediate targets of their justified wrath and outrage.

If we fail to ask the question, and perhaps understand, that Islam was the ultimate cause of bin Laden (and not just his personal malevolence, undeniable as that was), and that Islam (its mainstream doctrines utterly opposed to democracy, etc, etc) bears the ultimate responsibility for the corrupt and autocratic governments of the Middle East, not to mention Islam's responsibility for all factions of the Palestinian leadership and most of its populace refusing to unconditionally accept the existence of Israel and its right to live in peace, then we will have failed in the first and most dramatic test of geopolitical statesmanship in the 21st century. (A test we already failed for the last third of the 20th century, right up to 9/11)

Of course if we continue to refuse to ask this Chicken and Egg question, then we will bear at least some responsibility if and when the 'Arab Spring' eventually fails or sputters out, and these countries regress and relapse back into stagnation, or worse. And perhaps we will bear the majority responsibility, because if we really are the 'developed' world, intellectually as well as economically, then we do have a responsibility to defend the present and the future against malevolent doctrines as well as terrible physical dangers.

Having just accomplished a small but brilliant and symbolic military victory, let us hope we may be equal to - politically, boldly, finally - asking the dominant political and foreign policy question of our age: is Islam compatible with Modernity, or is it it's chief enemy?


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