By Alan Caruba
“President Pushes for Mid-East Peace” was the lead story in the Monday edition of my local daily and I suspect others around the nation.
You could have opened a newspaper on any day since the 1919 Versailles Treaty and found a similar headline. The real question is why.
The first reason is that the culture of the Middle East is Arab and Arabs do not trust one another. They have a saying among themselves, “I against my brother. My brother and I against our cousins,” and so on. Arabs are raised in a family context that pits one family against another and in a tribal context that pits one tribe and sect against another. They are hard-wired for conflict, but mostly for an inability to collaborate and cooperate.
This mindset is so foreign to Americans who create new organizations at the drop of a hat to address common issues and concerns that it is literally incomprehensible.
When you layer in the contempt that the majority Sunni sect of Muslims have for the Shia sect, you have the reason why blowing up each other’s mosques is perfectly acceptable to them and, by extension, burning Christian churches is as well. The Middle East is a sinkhole of intolerance and one in which violence in the name of Islam is sanctioned.
The President was in Israel to attend the ceremonies to celebrate the 60 years that nation has been in existence. It has suffered seven wars and a long standing Intifada or resistance movement. When not fighting the Israelis, the late Yassir Arafat’s Fatah finds itself under attack from Hamas.
Those called Palestinians have been in existence since the founding of Israel. Many have failed to peacefully integrate into the many Arab nations that surround Israel. Often they were not permitted to do so. An exception to this is Jordan which is composed primarily of Arabs who either lived in the former disputed territories or who were members of the Hashemite tribe led by the monarchal family of the Husseins.
In 1917 the British Balfour Declaration announced its approval of a Jewish homeland.
After World War I when the Middle East was carved up between England and France from the dead body of the Ottoman Empire, the British were given a mandate to help establish a Jewish National Home in an area designated as Palestine. The land allocated to the Jews—early Zionists—those already there or expected to migrate was considerably larger than the 1967 borders Arabs keep insisting the Israelis “return” to.
In fact, in 1920-21 Winston Churchill was instrumental in giving away three-quarters of the British mandate over the area to create Trans-Jordan for the Hashemites, an Arab tribe who had fought with them to expel the Turks (Ottomans) that had controlled much of the Middle East for centuries. That’s how Lawrence of Arabia gained fame as the British emissary. The Hashemites had lost out to the Saudis for control of that vast peninsula.
The British turned a blind eye to the Arab terrorism aimed at the early Zionist migration to their holy land. Later, those Jews seeking escape from Europe as the Nazis gained power often had few other places to go.
At no time did a Palestinian nation or state exist. Those Arabs living in the area considered themselves as residing in southern Syria and, after Jordan was created, as Jordanians.
Even after the Holocaust, the British tried to thwart the influx of Jewish survivors. The movie, “Exodus”, tells the story of efforts to force their departure so that progress toward the establishment of a Jewish state could progress. The Israelis would endure to date seven wars to destroy them.
The notion that there has been peace in the area is simply wrong.
No American president from the days of Woodrow Wilson to the present has ever been able to bring peace or enforce it in the Middle East. Today, our troops are in Iraq to defend the new state emerging from the former dictatorship as well as protecting the Gulf States against any aggression from Iran. Without our presence, it is likely that the entire Middle East would be in flames.
Pan-Arabism, advocated by Egypt’s Nasser, lies in the ruins of comparable attempts to unite the Middle East. Lebanon is again in turmoil, threatened with yet another civil war. The Turks keep an eye on northern Iraq’s Kurds, positioning troops on its border. Kuwait only exists due to an earlier U.S. military intervention.
So President George W. Bush can urge peace all he wants and whoever the next president will be can do the same. It’s not going to happen.