Opinion » Columnists

The Arabian Knights

Americans are friendly people, strong believers in freedom for individuals, respectful of minority rights, generally God driven, and endowed with the ability to generate material progress.
They were largely instrumental 60 years ago, in arresting the progress of two rogue nations in their attempt to control the destiny of their area of the world. Having achieved this, they proceeded to help those same nations join the ranks of the free and peaceful, all the while maintaining their own material dominance over the nations of the world.

You would think that we are referring to one of the world's truly mature nations, one that has developed over millenniums and progressively established its dominance, but no, this is one of the world's youngest countries, and it is isolated from all but a few other nations.

This physical isolation has not prevented it from developing strong bonds with most countries, even, including today, countries that were, in the past, adherents of social and political philosophies totally counter to their own.

We are, however, faced with a situation where people of one nation, the followers of Islamic doctrine, Muslims, mainly people of Arab descendance, have developed individually and collectively, an abhorrence of Americans, which is not justified by events and occurrences involving them directly with Americans or the United States of America. This hatred of anything and anyone American has increased measurably in very recent years.

Such strong emotions are not created overnight, but what occurred was an overflow, the last straw, the last inch of rain that bursts the levee, the spark that ignites the fuel. The invasion of Iraq was not that spark; there was even a certain acceptance of it being a necessity, a job that needed to be done. It is the manner in which it was carried out that made it unacceptable.

The U.S. military did not make the separation between the Iraq military, and Iraqi civilians. They proceeded indiscriminately to destroy installations that in their narrow view might be useful to the Iraq military. By then, Iraqi soldiers had hidden their weapons, disappeared into their civilian communities, and had become indistinguishable from innocent civilians. The U.S. military, the well intentioned Knights in Arabia, nevertheless destroyed water services, telephone and other forms of communication, electric power grids, many installations dedicated to the care of citizens, and even indiscriminately bombed civilian gatherings. In so doing, they openly professed their unconcern for Arabs and Muslims everywhere, and offended all Muslims and Arabs. That spark ignited fuel, which had been forming like dry wood for many years.

Americans like to think of themselves as the land of free speech and for the most part it is true, unless you suggest that there is a correlation between terrorism and America's strong position in favor of one side in the Palestinian conflict. This was well illustrated by the intervention of Rudolph Giuliani, a man  known to be intellectually spontaneous, when a member of the Saudi elite offered 12 million dollars to the 9/11 Fund. The then mayor of New York refused the gift, since the donor had voiced such an opinion. This insulting act alone carried significant meaning for the whole of the Arab people.

Criticism or even expressed concern regarding America's unconditional and total support of Israel is a subject that the National media in the United States considers to be an unacceptable media topic. American free speech traditions do not apply.  This is not surprising however, since a 2 % minority group in the U.S., solidly behind the Israeli side, controls close to 70% of the US national media, and anyone seeking election to public office had better be in line on that subject.

This is where reality and expectations fail to converge for the Arab people. Their hope is that the U.S. government would some day demonstrate a middle of the road attitude, apply equal pressure on both sides, and provide an acceptable plan. The U.S. government has done the exact opposite in recent years. They have promised greater military might to Israel, expressed greater disaproval of the Palestinian leadership, blamed Palestinians for each conflict and excused as justifiable Israel's use of advanced U.S. weaponry in shotgun retaliations.

Arabs see television news, in part, on foreign cable news networks, more specifically CNN, and are constantly reminded of the control in the hands of the 2% minority, by the dominance of their numbers as commentators and news analysts on that network. It is not surprising that news interpretation appears to them as it does to the rest of the world, as crystallized in favor of their biblical enemies. They rationalize that the U.S. government will never be free of this influence, and the result is that every American becomes in their eyes, another Israelite, their avowed enemy and usurper of their land.

Can there be hope? ever? Yes, hope springs eternal and out of hope can occur positive changes. What need to change are the narrow emotional constraints of Arab people towards Americans and of Americans for Arab people. If no possibility exists to induce changes in Arab people, the senior citizens of this equation, then the changes must come from the American people and be designed to stimulate in return, desirable voluntary changes from the Arab people.

There is an old saying that you cannot capture a bear with vinegar but you can with honey. The U.S. government must realize that their recent policy of intimidation has not and will never contribute to progress. They must undertake to deal with Arabs with compassion, and they must be prepared to be objective despite the influence exercised by the 2% minority, made possible by their successful acquisition of control over a  major segment of the American national media.

That minority itself must somehow exercise self-discipline, in the realization that their unidirectional influence has not benefited either the United States nor Israel.  As true Americans, they should now participate in the solution and that solution is not based on the availability of American might. The world is changing rapidly, and America's influence is waning. America's economy is dependant on foreign capital to offset trade deficits, is therefore financially overextended, and may in the foreseeable future be unable to support Israel as in the past. Israel's hardliners must be made to realize by their friends in the U.S. that conditions are not likely to improve for them in the future.

At present, Arab terrorist organizations are achieving their objectives. They are terrorists, and their aim is to terrorize. They are doing this currently very successfully.  With special thanks to the director of homeland security, terrorists have succeeded in having every American fear for their lives and the lives of their children, on a daily basis. If that is not successful terrorism, what is?

Any potential solution to this conflict must take the form of an agreement accepted by Palestinians of their own free will. For this to happen, perhaps new lines must be drawn in the sand, possibly providing Palestinians with a significant Mediterranean shoreline, uniting the West Bank with Gaza and ceding to Palestine the lands south of the West bank.

This could possibly create conditions for a lasting peace in the area, and perhaps engender a commercial and political union between Jordan and Palestine. It is also possible that Saudi Arabia, which would benefit greatly from an access to the Mediterranean Sea, might complete that alliance. Good commerce has been known to provide good peace.

Time might not be as plentiful as some far reaching thinkers in the U.S. government might believe. Though there is no indication that anything such as this is about to occur, America's new and powerful friend from Europe's far north, may also have its eyes set on improving its tainted image with the Arab world. To that end, what could be more productive, than to extend the hand of friendship and assistance to the people of Gaza?

Who will do it first?

Paul  Forest
Colchester,  Vermont
mail to: PolForest@aol.com

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