Welcome to the Middle East Today

The Middle East has traditionally been important for the world economy. The Middle East situation today has an impact on all aspects of life in America and much of the world.

Only by understanding the motivations of the various factions in the Middle East can we hope to understand how to promote peace and national security for Middle Eastern nations, Europe, and the United States.

Mar 29, 2010

Israel Bites The Hand That Feeds It


In several previous posts, I stated that since its creation in 1948, the Israeli government has been following an expansionist policy and has been committing ethnic cleansing to implement its Zionist ideology. “Eretz Israel”, greater Israel. Israeli aggressive policy has been in violation of U.N. resolutions, the Geneva Convention Treaty of 1949 and the International Court of Justice. Even Israeli human rights organization B.T. Selam has criticized Israeli expansion policy. It stated that, “The Israeli authorities have demolished more than 400 Palestinian-owned homes in East Jerusalem since 2004.” (The BBC News, Nov. 22, 2009).

U.N. officials have been warning Israel that such demolitions violate international law. Furthermore, since Israel occupied the West Bank in 1967, more than 300 Jewish settlements were built illegally on Palestinian land where approximately 500,000 Jewish settlers were living.

Condemnation from high-ranking international officials and organizations in many parts of the world is nothing but international acts of hypocrisy. Israeli politicians have gotten used to verbal condemnation since no penalty has been imposed on Israel for its violations of international law and its aggression against the Palestinians since 1948.

The U.S. government has used its veto power at the Security Council more than any other members to shield Israel from resolutions submitted by other members to put an end to Israeli violation of international law.

Israel has abused the U.S. trust and support given to them since 1948. American foreign economic and military aid have been consistent. More than $150 billion of American taxpayer money has been given to Israel with no questions asked. Some of that money was used to build Jewish settlements in the occupied land. Furthermore, Israel was provided with the best military armaments that even the closest allies of the U.S. did not get. The armament was used against Palestinians. This made Israel the fifth strongest military power in the world. However, when the U.S. asked Israel to cooperate in the start of the peace process, President Obama’s request was ignored. When Vice President Biden went to Israel to get their cooperation and start the peace process, the Israeli government announced the construction of 1,600 new housing units in East Jerusalem. This was a slap in the face of the vice president. As usual, Israel bit the hand that feeds it.

Despite all of Israel’s defiance, the Obama administration continued to say publicly that the U.S.-Israeli bonds are “unbreakable” and that the U.S. and Israel have “a common interest”. In reality, Israel has broken that bond frequently and has put its interest ahead of U.S. interest.

As usual, American politicians surrender to Israeli demands. This is attributed to the influence of the powerful Israeli lobby “AIPAC” and Jewish Zionist organizations in the United States. As Patrick M. Buchanan puts it, “The mighty superpower is a poodle of Israel”.

Aaron Miller, a former state department official, noted that the current American administration does not know what to do with Israel. Does it punish? Or pander? (BBC News, March 22, 2010).

The proper question that needs to be asked is, “Should Israeli interest supercede American national interest?” The obvious answer is, “No”. Recently, General David Petraeus said in front of the Senate Armed Services Committee that a perception of American favoritism for Israel was creating anti-American sentiment. He further stated publicly that his job in Iraq and Afghanistan was not being helped and that American lives were being endangered by the widespread bitterness engendered by the unresolved Arab-Israeli conflict. (BBC News, March 22, 2010).

Over the years, Americans have failed to put an end to Israeli abuse of the U.S. Israel has put its interests ahead of the U.S. on a consistent basis. Israel only pays lip service to other common bonds and interests between the U.S. and Israel. Secretary of Defense B. Gates stated publicly that the construction of Jewish settlements on Palestinian land endangers American National interests in the region.

Pat J. Buchanan, in his article “The Poodle Gets Kicked” (Outlook Web Access Light, March 18, 2010) noted numerous incidents which violate the trust between the U.S. and Israel. He stated that Israel keeps its own interests foremost in mind, and when these dictate actions inimical to U.S. interests, Israel acts unilaterally. Here are some examples:

1) David Ben-Gurion did not seek Dwight Eisenhower’s permission to attack Egypt in collusion with the French and British in 1956, enraging Ike.
2) Israel did not consult JFK on whether it could steal enriched uranium from the NUMEC plant in Pennsylvania for its atom bomb program.
3) Israel did not consult us on whether it could attack the American U.S.S. Liberty in the Six Day War which lead to the killing of 34 crewmen and wounded another 112.
4) Israel did not inform the U.S. that Jonathan Pollard was looting our security secrets and transferring our weapons technology to China, but they went ahead and did it, knowing the Americans would swallow hard and take it.
5) Ehud Olmert did not consult President-elect Obama on whether to launch a war on Gaza and kill 1,400 Palestinians.
6) B. Netanyahu did not consult us before Mossad took down the Hamas man ( al mabHooH) in Dubai.

As a result of the mass media, frequent references to Israeli insult of the Obama administration, AIPAC called on the president to handle his differences with the Israelis privately in a manner “befitting strategic allies”. AIPAC’s intention is to cover up insult of the Obama administration. The influence of AIPAC on American foreign policy was noted by ex-Senator Fritz Holling, who stated that, “The role of the American Israeli public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), the most important pro-Israel lobby group in Washington, is determining U.S. policy in the Middle East. You can’t have an Israeli policy other than what AIPAC gives you around here.” Furthermore, he noted that, “No president takes office – I do not care whether it is a Republican or a Democrat – that all of a sudden AIPAC will tell him exactly what the policy is and senators and members of congress out to sign the letters.” (Charleston Daily Post Courier, May 6, 2004).

Recently, Israeli aggression has been challenged by the U.N. Human Rights Council in Geneva, by passing a resolution condemning Israeli expansion policy. The council demanded that Israel end its occupation of the West Bank and stop its ethnic cleansing and military suppression of Palestinians. 31 members out of 47 voted in support of the resolution. The U.S. and members of the European union voted against it. As usual, this was expected. (aljazeera.net, March 25, 2010).

Before the departure of the Israeli prime minister from the U.S. to Israel, Mr. Netanyahu declared publicly that, “Construction in Jerusalem will continue. It is the capital of Israel and not a settlement.” He continued to say that Jerusalem was built by the Jewish people three thousand years ago, and that they will continue to build the capital.

The trouble with Mr. Netanyahu is that he is lying and misleading the public in terms of his historical accounts, either intentionally or as a result of ignorance or perhaps both. Jerusalem was established by the Caanonites before the Semitic Bedouin tribes (Arabs and Jews) migrated to the West from the Arabian Peninsula around the second millennium B.C. Also, many ethnic indigenous groups lived in Palestine before and after the Semitic group’s arrival in that part of the world. ( For more detailed regarding Jerusalem see Professor Juan Cole’s 'Informed Comment': "Top Ten Reasons East Jerusalem does not belong to Jewish-Israelis" 3/23/2010)

The point I am trying to get across to the readers is that the people who have lived in Palestine during the past 5,000 years were a mixture of many ethnic and racial groups who interacted socially and biologically. Palestine should be a secular bi-national state where Israelis and Palestinians can live.

Israel Bites The Hand That Feeds It

In several previous posts, I stated that since its creation in 1948, the Israeli government has been following an expansionist policy and has been committing ethnic cleansing to implement its Zionist ideology. “Eretz Israel”, greater Israel. Israeli aggressive policy has been in violation of U.N. resolutions, the Geneva Convention Treaty of 1949 and the International Court of Justice. Even Israeli human rights organization B.T. Selam has criticized Israeli expansion policy. It stated that, “The Israeli authorities have demolished more than 400 Palestinian-owned homes in East Jerusalem since 2004.” (The BBC News, Nov. 22, 2009).

U.N. officials have been warning Israel that such demolitions violate international law. Furthermore, since Israel occupied the West Bank in 1967, more than 300 Jewish settlements were built illegally on Palestinian land where approximately 500,000 Jewish settlers were living.

Condemnation from high-ranking international officials and organizations in many parts of the world is nothing but international acts of hypocrisy. Israeli politicians have gotten used to verbal condemnation since no penalty has been imposed on Israel for its violations of international law and its aggression against the Palestinians since 1948.

The U.S. government has used its veto power at the Security Council more than any other members to shield Israel from resolutions submitted by other members to put an end to Israeli violation of international law.

Israel has abused the U.S. trust and support given to them since 1948. American foreign economic and military aid have been consistent. More than $150 billion of American taxpayer money has been given to Israel with no questions asked. Some of that money was used to build Jewish settlements in the occupied land. Furthermore, Israel was provided with the best military armaments that even the closest allies of the U.S. did not get. The armament was used against Palestinians. This made Israel the fifth strongest military power in the world. However, when the U.S. asked Israel to cooperate in the start of the peace process, President Obama’s request was ignored. When Vice President Biden went to Israel to get their cooperation and start the peace process, the Israeli government announced the construction of 1,600 new housing units in East Jerusalem. This was a slap in the face of the vice president. As usual, Israel bit the hand that feeds it.

Despite all of Israel’s defiance, the Obama administration continued to say publicly that the U.S.-Israeli bonds are “unbreakable” and that the U.S. and Israel have “a common interest”. In reality, Israel has broken that bond frequently and has put its interest ahead of U.S. interest.

As usual, American politicians surrender to Israeli demands. This is attributed to the influence of the powerful Israeli lobby “AIPAC” and Jewish Zionist organizations in the United States. As Patrick M. Buchanan puts it, “The mighty superpower is a poodle of Israel”.

Aaron Miller, a former state department official, noted that the current American administration does not know what to do with Israel. Does it punish? Or pander? (BBC News, March 22, 2010).

The proper question that needs to be asked is, “Should Israeli interest supercede American national interest?” The obvious answer is, “No”. Recently, General David Petraeus said in front of the Senate Armed Services Committee that a perception of American favoritism for Israel was creating anti-American sentiment. He further stated publicly that his job in Iraq and Afghanistan was not being helped and that American lives were being endangered by the widespread bitterness engendered by the unresolved Arab-Israeli conflict. (BBC News, March 22, 2010).

Over the years, Americans have failed to put an end to Israeli abuse of the U.S. Israel has put its interests ahead of the U.S. on a consistent basis. Israel only pays lip service to other common bonds and interests between the U.S. and Israel. Secretary of Defense B. Gates stated publicly that the construction of Jewish settlements on Palestinian land endangers American National interests in the region.

Pat J. Buchanan, in his article “The Poodle Gets Kicked” (Outlook Web Access Light, March 18, 2010) noted numerous incidents which violate the trust between the U.S. and Israel. He stated that Israel keeps its own interests foremost in mind, and when these dictate actions inimical to U.S. interests, Israel acts unilaterally. Here are some examples:

1) David Ben-Gurion did not seek Dwight Eisenhower’s permission to attack Egypt in collusion with the French and British in 1956, enraging Ike.
2) Israel did not consult JFK on whether it could steal enriched uranium from the NUMEC plant in Pennsylvania for its atom bomb program.
3) Israel did not consult us on whether it could attack the American U.S.S. Liberty in the Six Day War which lead to the killing of 34 crewmen and wounded another 112.
4) Israel did not inform the U.S. that Jonathan Pollard was looting our security secrets and transferring our weapons technology to China, but they went ahead and did it, knowing the Americans would swallow hard and take it.
5) Ehud Olmert did not consult President-elect Obama on whether to launch a war on Gaza and kill 1,400 Palestinians.
6) B. Netanyahu did not consult us before Mossad took down the Hamas man ( al mabHooH) in Dubai.

As a result of the mass media, frequent references to Israeli insult of the Obama administration, AIPAC called on the president to handle his differences with the Israelis privately in a manner “befitting strategic allies”. AIPAC’s intention is to cover up insult of the Obama administration. The influence of AIPAC on American foreign policy was noted by ex-Senator Fritz Holling, who stated that, “The role of the American Israeli public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), the most important pro-Israel lobby group in Washington, is determining U.S. policy in the Middle East. You can’t have an Israeli policy other than what AIPAC gives you around here.” Furthermore, he noted that, “No president takes office – I do not care whether it is a Republican or a Democrat – that all of a sudden AIPAC will tell him exactly what the policy is and senators and members of congress out to sign the letters.” (Charleston Daily Post Courier, May 6, 2004).

Recently, Israeli aggression has been challenged by the U.N. Human Rights Council in Geneva, by passing a resolution condemning Israeli expansion policy. The council demanded that Israel end its occupation of the West Bank and stop its ethnic cleansing and military suppression of Palestinians. 31 members out of 47 voted in support of the resolution. The U.S. and members of the European union voted against it. As usual, this was expected. (aljazeera.net, March 25, 2010).

Before the departure of the Israeli prime minister from the U.S. to Israel, Mr. Netanyahu declared publicly that, “Construction in Jerusalem will continue. It is the capital of Israel and not a settlement.” He continued to say that Jerusalem was built by the Jewish people three thousand years ago, and that they will continue to build the capital.

The trouble with Mr. Netanyahu is that he is lying and misleading the public in terms of his historical accounts, either intentionally or as a result of ignorance or perhaps both. Jerusalem was established by the Caanonites before the Semitic Bedouin tribes (Arabs and Jews) migrated to the West from the Arabian Peninsula around the second millennium B.C. Also, many ethnic indigenous groups lived in Palestine before and after the Semitic group’s arrival in that part of the world. ( For more detailed regarding Jerusalem see Professor Juan Cole’s 'Informed Comment': "Top Ten Reasons East Jerusalem does not belong to Jewish-Israelis" 3/23/2010)

The point I am trying to get across to the readers is that the people who have lived in Palestine during the past 5,000 years were a mixture of many ethnic and racial groups who interacted socially and biologically. Palestine should be a secular bi-national state where Israelis and Palestinians can live.

Mar 22, 2010

Arab Women Day

In the previous post, references were made to Arab women gaining political rights, but only a small percentage was elected to public positions. Arab women and girls are still among the most repressed in the world.

From a historical perspective, Arab women have been marginalized and not permitted to participate in public life for a very long time. However, things began to change at a slow pace during the later part of the 19th/beginning part of the 20th centuries. A few luminous and prominent writers began to advocate the liberation of women in Arab societies. Kasim Amin, Ahmad Lutfi al-Sayyed, or all Sheikh Imam Muhammad Abdo championed women’s rights in their writing. The later, specifically, urged that Egyptian women be given the rights that were granted to them by Islam. They all advocated that women become active in public life alongside men, in order to build a better society for the benefit of all people.

These writers and others began to influence public views in Egypt. Feminist movements began to develop during the first part of the 20th century. They also participated in the public political protests against British occupation of Egypt. Women began to pursue higher education on a smaller scale. This increased substantially in most Arab states during the second half of the 20th century.It led to the emergence of professional women groups in various fields, such as medicine, engineering, academia, social sciences and other areas of specialty.

However, after the 1967 Israeli-Arab war, attitudes, behaviors and opinions began to change. A new Islamic conservative trend emerged as a result of the defeat of the Arab armies. The new slogan was “Islam is the solution.” Those involved in this movement advocated the replacement of secular ideology with Islamic beliefs. This trend began to be observed in many parts of the Arab world. Many young girls and women began to wear the veil in large numbers as a symbol of the rising Islamic conservative trend, and despite the controversial view that the veil has nothing to do with Islam. Furthermore, Islamic political views that a woman’s natural place is at her “home” to take care of her children and husband were advocated. In addition, the Sharia Law was tilted in favor of males regarding marriage and divorce, child custody, inheritance, personal law and women freedom. For example, a woman could not obtain a passport or travel without her husband’s permission. Those who are not married must have their father or brother’s signature. This law was revoked in Egypt, but still prevails in some other Arab countries.

Another sociological barrier to women rights in the Arab world is the high illiteracy rate. More than 40% of Arab women are classified as illiterate. Traditionally, the education of males has been emphasized more than females, especially in rural areas, and despite the fact that many Arab states have adopted compulsory education irrespective of gender.

A recent social survey was conducted in 18 Arab states by the U.S. based Freedom House organization on “Women rights in the Middle East and North Africa: progress and resistance.” (The Daily Star, 3/9/10).

The survey revealed that, “The Middle East remains the most repressive region when it comes to women rights, but we have noticed some modest gains which have led to a cautious optimism in the fields of education, labor participation and voter participation.” The survey revealed that, “Lebanese women enjoy the fourth greatest degree of freedom in the Middle East and North Africa region, after women in Tunisia, Morocco and Algeria.”

The report also revealed that, “Yemen and Saudi Arabia trailed significantly behind their regional neighbors.” It also found that, “An average of 28% of Arab women in the 18 countries were considered ‘economically active.’” This is the lowest rate in the world. Nevertheless, “there are more women entrepreneurs, more women doctors, more women PhD’s, and more women in universities than ever before.”

In spite of this somber account, Arab women movements are active and continue to push for more political rights. Seldom a day passes by without reading in the Arab mass media issues related to women rights. For instance, during the past few weeks the Egyptian State Administrative Court refused the appointment of women judges. However, the Egyptian highest constitutional court ignored such refusal and supported the appointment of women as judges.

In Saudi Arabia there has been serious discussion regarding women rights to vote during the 2011 mayoral election (Aljazeera.net, 3/19/2010). The higher political authority in the kingdom is studying the proposal.

However, while there is in general a movement toward advancing the right of women in the Arab world, there has also been some regressive measures undertaken by some conservative groups. The Hamaas government of Gaza issued an order to forbid male hairdresser from cutting women hair! In the United Arab Emirates, Dubai, an Indian couple was sentenced to jail for two months for sexual text messages sent to each other. From the authority point of view, the couple was planning to ‘ commit a sin’!

In conclusion I would like to say that although Arab men in general are conservative, and tend to be an obstacle towards the liberation of women, nonetheless Arab women are making progress toward achieving equality with men. It should also be make clear that gender stereotyping is a universal problem that women are trying to overcome.

Mar 15, 2010

International Women's Day

The United Nations has just celebrated its annual International Women’s Day (3/8/10). The objective behind this event, which started in 1977, is to acknowledge the fact that women and girls worldwide are still discriminated against, politically, economically and socially.

The UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon noted “gender equality and women’s empowerment are fundamental to the global mission of the United Nations to achieve equal rights and dignity for all. This is a matter of basic human rights, as enshrined in the UN Charter and the Universal Declaration. Furthermore, equality for women and girls is also an economic and social imperative. Until women and girls are liberated from poverty and injustice, all goals: peace, security, sustainable development, stand in jeopardy.” (The Daily Star 3/9/10).

For many decades, anthropologists have noted that “worldwide, cultures have been designed to favor males over females. This cultural definition is definitely not based on gender’s ability or capability, mentally or physically. Cultures in all societies define roles and performance based on a person’s gender status. This definition led to discrimination against women worldwide in all walks of life. Nevertheless, during the past two hundred years, women began to organize (in Western societies) and demanded equal rights with men. New Zealand was among the first to grant women the right to vote, in 1893. The Scandinavian countries followed the new trend. Moreover, in many western societies, such as the USA, Britain, France and others, women are still discriminated against despite the political and economic reforms that were achieved in the 20th century.

In general, the status of women in the Arab world is negative. Women and girls are discriminated against politically, economically, socially and religiously. Their status in Arab countries reflects a regression from the well-known historical background of the region.

The first woman ruler in the world lived in Egypt around 1500 B.C. More than 3,500 years ago, Queen Hatshsepsut was the first female pharaoh. Another female ruler, Queen Cleopatra of Egypt (69 B.C.) ruled over Egypt over 2,000 years ago. Organized women’s movements began during the early part of the 20th century in Egypt. However, it was in 1956 that women gained political rights to vote and in 1957 could enter the Egyptian parliament. In 1952, Lebanon granted women political rights, followed by Syria in 1953. Following this, many Arab states granted women the right to vote: Tunisia in 1959, Mauritania in 1961, Algeria in 1962, Sudan, Morocco and Libya in 1964, Yemen in 1967, Jordan in 1974, Iraq in 1980, Qatar in 1990, Oman 1994 and Kuwait in 2005. However, as of 2010, women in Saudi Arabia have still not been granted the right to vote. The majority of Arab countries began electing women to parliaments before the end of the 20th century. Those who were elected are still few in number.

Despite the meager political gains which Arab women have achieved recently, there is still a long way to go to reach equal rights with men. There are several sociological variables that need to be examined to assess the reasons behind the slow trends for the liberation of women in the Arab world. This will be discussed in the following post.

Mar 1, 2010

Lack of Credibility Toward US Middle Eastern Policy

The L.A.T reported (2/21/2010) on the second US Islamic Forum held in Doha.
The objective of the Forum was to discuss the prevention of “a global clash of civilization.”
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton attended the meeting in order to gain support from the participants to pressure Iran to end its nuclear program.
It has been reported that nothing significant was gained by the US at the meeting.
The lack of US support is attributed to the disappointment Arabs and Muslims felt due to President Obama unfulfilled promises in settling the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. The Israeli government did not comply with President Obama’s request to freeze the construction of Jewish settlement in the occupied West Bank. President Obama instead of pursuing his request, he rather retracted. This change resulted in the lack of credibility that the Arab world felt toward the American administration.
The Secretary of State, nevertheless, tried to assure her audience by saying that “the US is determined to settle this conflict once and for all.” But, she warned that the “US role was limited, since it would be up to the Israelis and Palestinians to make the decision.”
The pit fall of US foreign policy is that American politicians do not have the courage to stand up to Israel’s arrogance and defiance and to question the support of AIPAC and other Jewish Zionist organizations in the US toward Israel. Israel’s interest has always superseded American national interest.
It is obvious that President Obama has backed away from his previous position on the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. This must be due to a’ behind the door’ warning from his close advisors not to pressure Israel if he wants to implement his national agenda.
The majority of the Congress strongly supports Israel and will not hesitate to challenge the President’s Middle Eastern policy. Furthermore, the Democratic Party has already begun preparing for the 2012 presidential campaign.
President Obam is a realist, and definitely wants to run for a second term. Hence, it will not be wise on his part to take a risk and pressure Israel. He will end up antagonizing its supporters in the American political arena.
In an article published by the Charleston Daily Post Courier (5/6/2004), ex-senator Fritz Holling of South Carolina was quoted saying that “the role of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) is the most important pro-Israel lobby group in Washington in determining US policy in the Middle East. You can’t have an Israeli policy other than what AIPAC gives you around here. No president”, he further said “takes office – I don’t care whether it is Republican or Democrat- that all of sudden AIPAC will tell him exactly what the policy is.”
During the past five decades, Arab political leaders have failed to understand how US foreign policy toward the Middle East is formulated and who is formulating it!