James Clay Fuller

Things We're Not Supposed to Say

Sunday, July 30, 2006

Racism at core of Mideast viewpoints

A man who described himself as an older Jewish American allowed in a very brief email to me that he found “a bit of truth” in what I said in an essay a few days ago about western nations not wanting large numbers of Jewish immigrants after World War II.

That, however, was the only hint of truth he found in my writings, obviously. Equally obviously, he is not a man to consider that any criticism of Israel could be true. I can reasonably make that assumption because of his command that I go do something anatomically impossible.

(Ah, how I treasure rational discourse on difficult issues; what steps toward enlightenment we can take in that manner.)

I mention this only because my correspondent's terse note raised a claim that I hadn't read nor heard in at least two decades – that Israel “has done the world's dirty work in the Middle East since it was created.”

That is a powerful statement, though probably not in the way the writer intended.

I'll match his tiny concession to me. I think it holds a grain of truth, and how very sad and disgusting is that thought. It oozes with racist hatred and the belief that it is acceptable, even right, to put our boots on the necks of Arab peoples.

It can mean only that the rest of the world – well, the portion we call the “developed” world – looks to Israel to provide our button men, to terrorize (yes, terrorize) the Arab world into weakness and prevent Arabs from taking control of their own resources and land and their own destinies, choosing their own leaders.

In this view, Arabs are the Indians, and the Israelis are a combination of the settlers, the cowboys, the prospectors and the U.S. Cavalry and let's round up them thar savages and put them on the rez, where they cain't git in our way.

(Yes, some Arab royal families – installed by western nations, for the most part, just as was the Shah of Iran – have acquired the wealth of Solomon through milking their countries' oil reserves. Most of them fail to share well with their countrymen, and most, if not all, owe their increasingly shaky holds on their positions to the western power elite. The Saudi royal family, those bosom buddies of the Bushes, and the king of Jordan are not truly representative of the Mideast's Arab population, as becomes ever more clear.)

Next I expect to hear another long-missing justification for confiscating any Arab property that someone else covets: They were just squatting on that land, not doing anything useful with it, and Israel moved in, took over and “made the desert bloom.”

There was a time when that claim, with that exact phrase, was so common you could find it frequently in every daily newspaper in the United States, Canada and Great Britain. Probably not quite so often elsewhere.

Think of the racism embedded in those two positions.

The West backs Israel in order to control the Arabs and keep them from living their own lives in their own lands as they see fit. Assumptions: We have the right to what we want in the Mideast; Arabs are not white folks and therefore need to be controlled like children. It's the Raj again, the conquering of the West, the dividing of China into western “protectorates.” And the Israelis are our hired enforcers.

Secondly, the Arabs “weren't doing anything” with the land, which lay useless until Israel was installed. Assumption: The Arab way of life (like the AmerIndian way of life?) was/is inferior because it uses the land differently from the way we want to use it, and can use it, given massive financial aid not available to the Arabs.

How can we possibly think we have any chance of creating peace in the Mideast by imposing through intimidation a foreign form of government, a foreign way of life and a foreign social/religious outlook on the people native to the lands? The arrogance or our leaders is astonishing and their racism is blatant.

Push people and eventually they will push back – and the Arabs are people who really know how to push back. We've been screwing them over – just in modern times – since the British deliberately conned them into World War I. Add desperation and despair and you create yourself an enemy of such ferocity as to be unconquerable.

Of course some Arabs, Palestinians in particular, have been filled with hate and hungry for vengeance since the very creation of Israel. They were a minority. I'm not sure they are now.

Now it's our bloodthirsty terrorists against their bloodthirsty terrorists, but we call ours an army and so far it kills and maims a lot more people than their terrorists do, and it has turned hundreds of thousands into refugees who have lost everything they ever had.

Leaders the Arab people are likely to choose now will be a terrible lot – the same kind of people who are committing the ghastly crimes in Iraq. And we're pushing the Palestinians, the Lebanese, the Jordanians and all the rest into their arms and armies, just as we did in Iraq.

It would take many years of honest interaction before we could get peace now, and I don't see our leaders going for honesty. The current crop don't know how to commit honesty; it's as foreign to them as empathy. But some time we have to start. In the meantime, the bloody madness will go on and on.

Once again, the West and Israel are proving Albert Einstein's other great pronouncement: Doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results is a definition of insanity.


(Mostly things you're unlikely to see in the corporate press or hear on the air.)

*I know almost nothing about the man, but I did take note of an essay by Paul Craig Roberts, assistant secretary of the Treasury in the Reagan administration, that is being circulated on the Internet. It is a harsh assessment of what is going on in the Mideast and Washington, and accuses Israel of “ethnic cleansing” in southern Lebanon. The essay is so nasty in tone I'd like to dispute it, but, unfortunately, the facts supporting his arguments seem to be accurate. It is impossible for me to disagree with his claim that the leadership of both the United States and Israel “are too full of hubris and paranoia to admit their terrible mistakes.”

Frankly, I haven't decided if the guy is over the line or simply has more guts than the rest of us.

*While all of the attention is on Lebanon, we should not forget that the slaughter also continues in Gaza. My local rag did take notice of that last Thursday, though it generally passes on the subject. The Thursday story said 23 people died and 76 were wounded in Israeli air and artillery attacks the day before.

The story, from the Associated Press, raised another issue, though not intentionally. It declared flatly that 16 of those killed were “militants,” and conceded that the others included a woman and her two young daughters (5 years old, 8 months old), another 3-year-old girl and two unidentified men. No mention of the last victim.

Our press routinely states how many of the dead in any given Israeli attack were “militants” or “insurgents” or something of the sort.

Israelis aren't on the ground where the killing is taking place; the chaos created by shelling and bombing makes immediate accurate gathering of such information impossible. The propagandists make up numbers on “militants” killed, conceding just enough innocent civilian deaths to give them credence, and our broadcasters and corporate publishers state them as fact. The other side also tells how man civilians were killed, but its numbers, though probably closer, aren't real counts either. Years of experience suggests that if doctors, hospital and morgues give numbers, they're probably pretty much true.

Given my decades in the news business, sometimes where estimates of crowds, victims, protesters or others were being made, I can assure you that the numbers are not accurate. How close they are depends on the sharpness and sometimes the outlook of the person doing the estimating. When you see a story that says “up to 85 Palestinians died,” it's probably in the ballpark; the guesses about how many are “militants” are fantasy/propaganda.

*A letter to anyone who might publish it – few will – by ten acclaimed writers makes a claim I will try to verify. The names and reputations of the writers, including Noam Chomsky and Harold Pinter, incline me to believe it is accurate.

The ten say that the latest mayhem between Israel and the Palestinians began not with the capture of three Israel soldiers but with the abduction of two civilians, a doctor and his brother, from Gaza by Israeli soldiers. The incident was reported in the Turkish press, and almost nowhere else, the writers claim. The first abduction of an Israeli soldier by Palestinians came the next day, and those captors immediately proposed a prisoner exchange, the writers say. The Palestinians wanted more Arab prisoners than just the doctor and his brother back.

Do we know where the present mess started? Probably not. The propaganda machines are working so hard that I'd bet the house that the story our news outfits told us is false.

*The New York Times and other publications and agencies have reported during the past few days that support for Hezbollah has grown enormously throughout the Arab world since Israel invaded Lebanon and began killing civilians (deaths now are several hundred and going up daily). Even the Saudi royal family and King Abdullah II of Jordan, “who were initially more worried about the rising power of Shiite Iran, Hezbollah's main sponsor, are scrambling to distance themselves from Washington,” the Times reported Friday.

*Another topic, just in case you thought the Bush was doing anything differently domestically these days: The NewStandard reports that the Sierra Club is fighting as best it can to prevent the approval of George the Puppet's nomination of John Correll to head the Interior Department's Office of Surface Mining. That's the outfit that sets and monitors environmental standards for surface-mining operations.

Remember all the coal mine deaths of the past couple of years? Since 2002, Correll has been deputy assistant secretary of the Mine Safety and Health Administration, which sets standards and enforces safety compliance in the mining industry. Before that he was an executive with two mining companies.

The Sierra Club says Correll has a history of undermining regulations and weakening health and safety standards.