Tuesday, January 31, 2012

The Elephant in the Middle East

I just had the experience of earning the dislike of an ambassador from a major a trading nation. It happened at a lecture oragnised by the Institute of South Asian Studies (ISAS), on the topic of the Non-Proliferation Treaty, the cornorstone of the world's rules regarding nuclear energy. The lecture was conducted by His Excellency, Mr Oliver Caron, the French Ambassador.

The lecture itself was factual. His Excellency outlined what the treaty was about and described his views on where he thought things would be going. Then, question time came and things got interesting. Mr Ameer Jumabhoy, sicon of one of Southeast Asia's most prominent families brought up the issue of the “Elephant in the Middle East.” Mr Jumabhoy brought up the much valid but unmentioned point that while much has been made of Iran's alleged threats to “wipe Israel from the face of the earth,” and it's alleged attempt to gain nuclear weapons, nobody ever mentioned the fact that Israel has nuclear weapons and happily steals land with the blessings of the West.

His Excellency reffused to answer Mr Jumabhoy, dismissing what he said as a matter of opinion rather than a question. At that point, I phrased what Mr Jumabhoy had said into a question and then made the point that Western Powers, lead by the USA have been notoriousl quick to send troops into the Middle East against people who may have nuclear weapons but have very keen to negotiate with Asian states that openly test nukes and make it clear that they have every intention of using them. His Excellency fudged the issue and avoided getting into a long conversation with me or Mr Jumabhoy during the tea reception.

To be fair to His Excellency, addressing the issue of Israel's nuclear arsenal is tricky for Western Nations. Israel has mastered the art of controling powerful interest groups in Western Nations and in a wonderful exhibition of political judo, the Jewish Nation has turned the victimisation of the Jewish people at the hands of various European Nations through various times in history into an asset. When the European Nations started complaining about Israel's behaviour during the Second Intifada of the late 1990s, Shimon Peres, who was then foreign minister in Ariel Sharon's government, flew to Europe to remind the various European Head of Governments to remember their history against the Jewish people. The then foreign minister of a small desert nation with no resources to speak off was like a school master to a group of naughty boys towards the heads of governments of a group of the world's largest trading nations.

Like their American counterparts, European politicians criticise Israeli policies at their peril. When former Malaysia Prime Minister, Tun Dr Mohammed Mahathir made his 'infamous' remarks about Jews controling the world by proxy at the Organisation of Islamic Nations Conference (OIC), in 2003, the Europeans, lead by the US State department condemed him for being “Anti-Semetic.” Ironically, the condemnation by the West proved what many in the East suspected – the good doctor was right.

How serious is this? Well, it doesn't take a genious to realise that the Western World, which has shapped much of the rest of the world, is in a dilema. This is particularly true in an age where the Western World, lead by the USA has positioned itself as the “Guardian of Global Morality.” World Peace is basically “Pax Americana,” or peace and prosperity underwritten by America and the Western World that it leads.

Let's start with some obvious pointers. The West, especially America, has on the whole been a force of good. Even the rise of China and India has been fueled by American ideals and even in the most rapidly Anti-American parts of the Middle East, young people cannot wait to go to school in America or American institutions in the region.

Let's also aknowledge the fact that Europeans nations did commit attrocities against the Jewish people. Hitler's Germany masacred six million of them but that's not only case of Jews being abused. Russia for example has had a long history of having progroms against Jews.

The modern state of Israel is also a wonderous invention. Despite having no resources in a desert, Israel has managed to become an agricultural powerhouse and its economy built by an army of dynamic technology start-ups has given Israel a very boyant economy, despite the fact that Israel has been in a constant State of War since its inception. Small, dynamic Israel is particularly shinny when compared to the vast amount of poverty and illiteracy in its neighbours.

Having said all of that, it does not excuse actions by Israel, which are blatantly illegal and the Western World becomes complicit in Israel's crimes when it either ignores them or defends them – who can forget the image of Condoliza Rice proudly talking about “The Birth Pangs of a New Middle East,” as Israel proceeded to bomb Lebanon back to the “Stone Age,” back in 2006.

The facts of International Law are that Jewish Settlements in the West Bank and Gaza are illegal. The same is true of Israel's hold on the Golan Hights. Yet, no American or European nation has made a public criticism of continued land-grabs and building of illegal settlements. American politcians have even gone as far as condeming Israeli politicians who tried to do the right thing under International Law (Pat Robinson openly declared Ariel Sharon's coma as a punishment from God in retaliation for Sharon's removal of illegal settlements from the Gaza Strip). How does a neutral observer not come to the conclusion that the Western World endorses a violation of the same international law its trying to uphold when it kicks Sadam Hussein out of Kuwait for invading Kuwaiti soverignty but happily encourages Bibi Nethanyahu to build settlements in land that nobody recognises as Israel.

Much is made of the fact that Israel is “The ONLY democracy” in the Middle East. Yet when the Palestinians elected Hamas to their Parliament in 2006 in an election established as “fair” by international observers, the Western World lead by the USA couldn't place sanctions on the Palestinians fast enough. Funnily enough, the Western World hasn't made life for “the good” Palestinian in the shape of President Mahmoud Abas any easier either. The Palestinians who follow Hamas are branded as terrorist and placed under sanctions. The Palestinians who follow Abas are merely squeezed out of their homes as Israel continues to grab more of their land for illegal settlement building – either way the Palestinians are screwed.

As a neutral observer, it's virtually impossible not to see why the Palestinian people are frustraed and angry and very willing to take things out on the West. When they break a law its called terrorism. When the Israeli side breaks it, its called “righteous self-defence” and the West, lead by the USA endorses genocide. Khalid Almaeena, the former editor of Arab News summed it up best when he said:

“When you say Hezbollah and Hamas, you MUST say backed by Iran. When you say Israel you are not allowed to say backed by USA and UK.”

These examples are only enforced by the nuclear issue. Today, the world is making a song and dance of the Doomsday scenario of Iran ever getting hold of weapons grade plutonium. Say what you like about the regime in Tehran but it has signed up to the NPT and IAEA. Iran for all its faults has signed up to play by international rules and international rules also provide Iran with scope to do certain things. Yet, despite all of this, every Western Politician can't place sanctions on Iran quickly enough and every candidate in the upcomming American Presidential Election is declaring “ALL Options are on the table.”

By contrast Israel has not signed a single treaty – hence the Israeli's have exempted themselves from playing by International Rules. Israel's official stance is, “We neither admit nor deny.” Former US Defence Secratery Robert Gates was slapped by the media for suggesting that Israel had Nuclear Weapons. In Israel's case there is no obligation to play by the rules and the Western world is perfectly fine with that.

I can be branded as an “Anti-Semite” for pointing these facts out. Yet, how does a reaonable mind not come to the conclusion that “Western Fairness” is exceedingly selective when it comes to dealing with Israel? Its terrorism when Palestinians vote for Hamas but its democracy in action when Israel has Avigdor Liberman as a deputy Prime minsiter.

Nobody has ever said that Israel does not have the right to self-defence. However, why is it such that Israel's right to self-defence includes ownership of Weapons of Mass Destruction and theft of land that it does not own. If the West endorses theft and violations of international law in the case of Israel, how does it claim any moral right to police the world and administer International Justice.

During September 11, 2001, many Americans were shocked that someone wanted to damage them. In the American mindset, they are the good guys. Americans could not get it round their head that someone would want to hurt them. To a large extent Americans are right, they are good people. However, when you look at the crimes they've endorsed by Israel, its clear why this group of people have an issue with the USA and the Western World.

I think of President Obama's former pastor, the Rev Jeremiah Wright, who quoted an American Ambassador to Iraq who said that “America's Chickens had come home to roost.” The man was villified as a “nut job.” This is a pity, Rev Wright makes sense and has a good grasp of issues and if his views are adapted by American and other Western politicians, we might find that the Elephant in the Middle East gets smaller and may become more bearable for the rest of the world.

The youtube clips of Rev Wright's speeches. Tell me if you think this is a nut job or as close to a sensible Godly man as America gets?


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qERRO5rXUuk&feature=related
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Onr6RwCqqcM&feature=related
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rt3fBvp6j_w&feature=related

2 comments:

GOODSTUFF said...

I am reminded of the classic tale of blind men and the elephant

I guess you did not get the memo. - Netanyahu 'Humiliated' by Obama Snub

It's plain to see that Americans and Europeans don't see Israel as the underdog any more.

Why would you use quotes by Dr Mohammed Mahathir, Pat Robinson and Rev Jeremiah Wright (who was using some one elses quote)?

now is a good time to review and understand current events concerning this Elephant in the Middle East

Tang Li said...

Whenever a White American tells me that I don't understand events in the Middle East, I feel like I'm being lectured by a Bushman from the Kalahari Desert about the ipad

This comment actually enforces everything I've said. The fact that one uses Fox News sums it up. Look at the argument here:

a - Bibi proceeds to embarrass the US Administration by building settlements on the day the US VP visits. Yet despite doing this, Fox News finds it upsetting that Obama gives him a diplomatic snub.

b - Fox News reports that Bibi shows lots of flow charts to show he's not responsible for the new settlements. Erm, he's only the Prime Minister of Israel...please don't tell me he couldn't have ordered a halt to the settlements which are incidentally illegal under International Law.

c - If Americans no longer see Israel as the "underdog" why is every American Presidential Candidate rushing to offer Israel more security and aid it doesn't need?