The Middle East as ‘Tinderbox’

The chaos in the Middle East has little to do with Israel and the United States and everything to do with Muslims crushing Muslims.

No doubt, the Middle East is surely a tinderbox. Jimmy
Carter has called it such in a recent editorial, but I would have
expected better from this world-weary and world-experienced man.

Better metaphor at least.
Internationally, hands are wrung (mostly) over Israel. One or two
think to blame negotiation-failure, no matter that the Arabs won’t have
and won’t allow progress in that arena..
The focus is on Israel’s intrusive existence, although it’s well
into its second half-century of that condition in a God-forsaken,
stony, inhospitable but biblically important part of the world. Current
crises, coming hard on the heels of one another, tend to forget or
wrongly attribute blame as to how Israel got there. The mistakes are not all Western, not all (although initially) the fault of ‘infidels.’
Western errors go back eighty or ninety years, their arrogance and
strategic duplicity attributable to having ruled too much of the world
for too long and off-handedly undervaluing the societies they governed.
The derogatory camel-jockey’ andrag-head’ for these proud Arabs are the stinging reminder of toxic times and attitudes.
Israel was a mistake, no doubt of that. It is always in error to
give away someone else’s land in order to solve your own difficult
problem. The ‘problem’ of the world’s Jews was 90% European and
Europeans chose to give away Middle Eastern lands to solve that
problem. Why? As Newt Gingrich said in other circumstances, ‘because we
Well, certainly we could, and 89 years after Britain’s James Balfour took on the mantle of God’s messenger in delivering His ‘promised land’ to the Jews, we (and they) are still trying to hold on to it.
Old history. A Brit Earl giving a faraway land to someone else, then
off to shoot driven birds and a jolly brandy by the fire. Unchangeable
(yet unforgivable) history. A mistake nonetheless and inconvenient,
providing countless Arab firebrands a rally point for Muslims whose
complaint is elsewhere.
The Arab complaint isn’t (or shouldn’t be) so much Israel or
Palestine or even the American incursion into Afghanistan and Iraq. The
Arab complaint should more equitably focus on what occurred in their
lands since Balfour and the resulting opportunities their own sovereign
governments wasted.
This is the reckoning that needs to happen between Arab and Arab,
before any peace will come to the region. Because that reckoning has
not yet happened, all negotiations between Israel and the Arab world
are doomed to failure and continued bloodshed.
Oil changed it all. Amazing how, politically and environmentally, oil took a mere hundred years to wreck the planet.
Desert sheikdoms, the overly-romanticized nomadic culture of these
empty lands, suddenly turned (in the 1920’s) into fabulous reserves of
an underground wealth no one knew was there. Not only didn’t they know
it was there, but had no use for it. Not until the replacement of coal
by this new-found oil, combined with the rise of the automobile and the
modern-day ubiquity of plastics.
Enormous wealth poured into the Middle East. The opportunities that
untold wealth offers to poor countries is, without fail in history,
squandered among the elite power structure. It was (and is) no
different in the Arab world. It’s a slap in the face of Christian as
well as Muslim justice that a Saudi (or Iranian, Jordanian, Syrian, you
name it) self-sustaining hierarchy is allowed to point an accusatory
finger at Israel. What a travesty.
These above-named Arab societies (with the exception of Iran, which
is not Arab) have done not a thing with their accidental riches but to
keep the poor poor and themselves wallowing in comfort. As that
inequity became more and more apparent to Islamic clerics in the poorer
nations, they took over and became the very evil they proclaimed as
enemy. In the rich nations, clerics were bought-off with money and
social position, as well as madrasahs–the fundamentalist schools that
exist almost entirely to teach a reactionary Koranic interpretation
that vilifies the West.
West-oriented hatred and (by default) Israeli hatred was encouraged
by the kings, sheiks, dictators and mullahs, because it served as an
escape-valve for pent-up discontent and provided a handy straw-man. A
versatile distraction to the thievery. The evil West and it’s evil
client, Israel, became state-supported targets of civil disobedience,
obscuring just who it was that horded all the oil-riches.
Arab against Arab was reinvented and became all Arabs against
Israel, including the ‘West’ that supported Israel. Thus was born
Palestinian Hamas and thus was conceived the Lebanese Hezbollah.
Israel is a fact and its patrons are too powerful for it to fail. The
kingdoms, dictatorships and false democracies of the Middle East are on
the brink of civil collapse. It serves Iran and Saudi Arabia, the two
most powerful (with the most to lose) uncommonly well to allow an
endless state of mutual torture among the populations of Israel,
Lebanon and Palestine.
Hamas and Hezbollah have quite different ambitions. While Saudi and
Iran strive to hold on to a power in decline, Hamas and Hezbollah
represent powers ascendent, subject only to the extinguishing drench
that peace between adversaries would bring. Their resident populations
(as in all countries of the world) thirst for peace, caught as they are
between the ambitions of militancy and the greed of sovereign leaders.
But when have the needs of civil society ever counted for much among power-brokers?

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