I was with the neocons– (Then I went to the Middle East)

Discussion in 'Politics' started by sameeh55, Aug 15, 2009.

  1. I was with the neocons– (Then I went to the Middle East)
    by Greg Eow
    August 13, 2009
    Mondoweiss wrote:
    In April, Greg Eow wrote a letter to a professor he had met in graduate school at Rice University, Ussama Makdisi, describing his political transformation. Eow. . . shares it with us.

    Dear Professor Makdisi,

    I don’t know if you rem ember me, but I finished my PhD in the Rice history department in 2007. I was one of Thomas Haskell’s students. We ran into each other a handful of times, including once when I helped you with some of the microfilm machines in Fondren Library. Anyway, this is a strange e-mail, both to write and most likely to receive. But I wanted to tell you about some recent experiences which have profoundly changed my view of the Israeli-Palestinian issue. You have demonstrated an interest in changing how people think about the issue, and so I thought you might be interested in what for me has turned out to be a transformative event.

    First of all, a quick word about presuppositions. I confess that I previously never paid a great deal of attention to the Israeli-Palestinian issue. Insofar as I did follow the issue, my sympathies were with neoconservatives. Samuel Huntington and Bernard Lewis were my guides. They were realists, I would tell myself, whereas those who quarreled with them, for instance colleagues at Rice who were more interested in postcolonial studies than I, had political axes to grind. Not for me the romance of resistance. I was a good skeptic, an empiricist; and if there was a problem in Israel it was clear to me it had to do with Muslim fundamentalism, terrorism, and the clash between Enlightenment values and democracy on the one hand and premodern tribalism and totalitarianism on the other.

    Flash forward a couple of years.
    I’m through with grad school, I finally have some time and money, and I embark on a self-directed course of study on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. I have my feelings, sure, but I realize that I don’t know a whole lot, that a lot of smart people disagree with me, and now I want to make a good faith effort to learn about the issue and test my prejudices against the scholarship in the field. I read Rashid Khalidi, Edward Said, Benny Morris, Patrick Seale, David Fromkin, Juan Cole, Efraim Karsh, Tom Segev, William Cleveland, Bernard Rougier, Albert Hourani. I read your book and article on anti-Americanism. And I spend two weeks traveling through Syria, Lebanon, Jerusalem and the West Bank. In sum, I read about forty books from a number of different standpoints and travel through the region to see what is going on with my own eyes.

    The result? Well, the whole experience essentially knocked me on my butt. I was wrong about a great many things. And not just wrong but deeply wrong. Wrong to a degree that to realize it has left me shaken, wondering how exactly I got to be so intellectually, and in this case morally, obtuse. Just a taste of the data that undid my worldview:

    1) The Arab people I met in Syria, Lebanon and the West Bank (and Jerusalem), the vast majority of them Muslims, were almost uniformly lovely, warm, and welcoming. I wasn’t expecting passersby in the street in all of these places to invite me into their homes for tea to discuss how much they "hate George Bush, but like Americans." (This happened too often to count.) Pretty much everyone thought U.S. policy was a disaster. But they were angry about policy and lovely to me in ways that make the "they hate us for our freedom" line not only inaccurate but criminal. Among the people I met: a 20 year old Shiite Muslim named Mohammed whom I met in the Bequaa Valley. Mohammed supports Hezbollah because of their 1) resistance to Israeli incursions into Lebanon (he didn’t say anything about Hezbollah provocations) , 2) their welfare programs, and 3) their support of the Palestinian cause (all his words). He’s been to Mosque no more than twice in his life, eats pork, and likes nothing more than going dancing in Beirut. That is to say, he is entirely secular. With Bernard Lewis and Samuel Huntington as my guides, I have no way to make sense of such an encounter.

    2) Driving through the West Bank at night allows one to see the proliferation of illegal Israeli settlements with immediate and striking force. They are everywhere, some small, some huge, in the high ground lit up like prisons. I thought the reason why the two-state solution had failed was Palestinian intransigence. A look at the settlements – even a quick look – demolishes such a simple explanation. Traveling through the West Bank at night, and later visiting and talking with people in Ramallah, reinforced an essential point: Israel, at least powerful forces within Israel, is actively pursuing policies to colonize and annex the West Bank while simultaneously making life so difficult for Palestinians that they will pick up and leave. The evidence was there for anyone with eyes to see, irrefutable and horrible in its obviousness. How I got duped by the "Israel wants peace behind the 1 967 borders but extremists deny it to them" line is a question I will be asking myself again and again with embarrassment and not a little shame.

    I could go on, but this (unsolicited) e-mail has gone on long enough and you get the point. What I’m saying is this: keep writing, keep telling U.S. citizens to better inform themselves about what is going on in their name and with their tax dollars. If they’re honest, and they go see for themselves what’s going on, I can guarantee that the reasonableness of what you and others have written on the matter will soon become apparent.
  2. Arab mentality is revachism (which is a mentality of losers) Getting back at USA+Israel and the western world for interfering with the affairs in the middle east. That arab countries are uniformly backward in their governance is not fault of the west, it comes from the "original material"
  3. This is waaaay too funny! This Greg fella should be a comedian...
  4. The real Arab Personality

    The critical phenomenon in its importance to Arab-Islamic society is honor...A woman’s honor is `ird (also meaning her pelvis). The woman grows up with her honor, and her most important role is to preserve it...The Arab individual is caught up throughout his whole life in intensive activity to avoid shame and advance his honor. The central means for this was vengeance. Honor is restored only when vengeance has been carried out in public and is known to all. The other means to promote honor were giving shelter to a stranger: honorable – that is, generous – hospitality.

    Arab society ... is “a shame society”, in which everyone must behave according to the accepted norms and internalize his own feelings in the system of group behavior.

    Jews and Christians internalize the guilt. The Jews extend one cheek in the sense of, “We have sinned, we have transgressed, we have committed crimes,” while Christians extend the second cheek, in the sense of “mea culpa”. In contrast, the Arabs externalize guilt: “Do I have a problem? – You are guilty!” Among them, there is no attempt to compromise. They have no tolerance for the justice and rights of the other. From their vantage point, justice and rights are totally on their side, and nothing will divert them from their total, one-sided position. Among Arabs, you will not find the phenomenon so typical of Judeo-Christian culture: doubts, a sense of guilt, the self-tormenting approach, “Maybe we were not entirely OK,” or “Maybe we need to act or react differently.” These phenomena are totally unknown in Arab-Islamic society, towards outsiders. They have no doubts about their positions or the justice of their side. They have no sense of guilt that they may have erred. They have neither twinges of conscience nor any regrets that they may have done wrong to anyone else. From their viewpoint, they have no problem concerning unbelievers, and no difficulty accusing or acting against those who do not live in dar al-harb. The phenomenon of the murderers by suicide, sometimes called suicide bombers, is an absolute indication. There is no condemnation, no regret, no problem of conscience among Arabs and Muslims, anywhere, in any social stratum, of any social position. For the most part, there is total support without reservations. And if there are doubts, they have to do with the effectiveness of the phenomenon, not with condemnation of it.

    A significant phenomenon that typifies the Arab is a basic lack of trust, indeed, suspicion, and hostility toward the “other”, even if he is a neighbor and member of the same clan. This is a central phenomenon in social life, which goes to an extreme of course when non-Muslim foreigners are involved. All the mechanisms of receptions and the intensive activity of welcoming and hospitality are meant to create a defensive barrier, to soften the threatening interpersonal encounter.

    This is a culture where rumors are an integral part of social activity, and they quickly become absolute truth that cannot be challenged. It has to do with exaggerations, flights of fancy, and especially, in a society that believes in conspiracies, a society wherein every date is important, that remembers everything and forgives nothing. This is a society wherein the lie is an essential component of behavior patterns, and lying is endorsed by religious sages.
    In all forms of interpersonal communications, there are several phenomena: exaggeration in describing events (mubalaghah), personal boasting of one’s deeds (mufakharah), and repeated stressing of words (tawqid). Even Peres took pride – explaining his usual failures – and asserted that the role of the word in the Arab world is totally different from that in the West. “Among us, a word is a commitment, and among them a word is a decoration.”
  5. Exploiting these people and diminishing their survival land is the right of capitalist. Great motto!:confused:
  6. Excuse me but we pay them up to $150 a barrel of oil. Some exploitation. These people are exploited by their sheiks and mullahs, their Husseins, Assads, Gaddafis and Ahmadinejads... And their "survival land" is 99.7% of the middle east. Yes, Israel occupies the remaining whopping 0.3% of the middle east (if you include the WB and Gaza). Let alone non-arab muslim land, let alone the muslim expansion into the US, Australia, Russia and especially Europe... Land deprived people Arabs/Muslims are not.
  7. Exactly right. Oil sheiks are riding around in mercedes and sending their kids to study in the "hated" west. Without oil(and US&European markets), those oil sheiks would be eating dirt and riding camels.
  8. maxpi


    Israel does more with their .3% of the Middle East than the entire rest of them put together!!

    I've known Iraqi and Iranian expats in So Cal.. they will tell you that the entire Middle East is a Zoo.. their words, not mine... I don't like bombing them any more than I would want to bomb the local Zoo because a lion got loose but hey, what else are you going to do? The world is a big cage fight and when it's your country's turn in the cage, better to be strong than weak...
    #10     Aug 16, 2009