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Switch to Forum Live View I have a question, I'd like to hear Jewish perspective on...
7 years ago  ::  Oct 25, 2007 - 10:36PM #1
armchair_theologian
Posts: 155
Given the turmoil in the Middle East,  (The Islamic infighting, as well as the anti-Semitic stances of the governments there.)  and that there was a time, before the Crusades when Jews, Christians, Muslims and Pagans all lived together peacefully (for the most part) in Jerusalem...

Do you think that a lot of the anti-Semitism and anti-Christianism(?) could have been avoided if the post WWII United Nations (read United States) had done a better job diplomatically in creating the Israeli state?  Would it have even been possible to do this without leaving the Muslims angry?

Secondly, if the US (and some European countries) hadn't played around at controlling the various governments through supporting coups and performing assassinations in the Arab countries, often at the behest of big business, (oil companies) would things be any better?  My primary examples are that the US put Hussein in power in Iraq, which WAS a democracy before that, and the Carter administration was instrumental in removing the Shah from power in Iran.  Admittedly the Iranian people weren't better off with the Shah than with the Ayatollah, but still WE caused that situation...  The US supported the Taliban in the fight against the Russians, and we all saw how well that worked out for us. 

So what are your thoughts on this?  Would the Mid-East have the same or similar problems either way, or is the world now reaping what the US has been sowing for the last 60 years?
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7 years ago  ::  Oct 25, 2007 - 10:42PM #2
Pam34
Posts: 2,655
I think I wouldn't be quite so quick to blame the US for all the world's problems. The rest of the world's peoples don't sit around waiting for the US to do something they can respond to. Sometimes they go and do things all on their own for their own reasons. I also don't think your statement  "before the Crusades when Jews, Christians, Muslims and Pagans all lived together peacefully (for the most part) in Jerusalem..." is very close - for the most part.

But I think this is the kind of discussion that is supposed to be somewhere else, except with this new format, I don't know where 'somewhere else' is supposed to be.
Blessed are You, HaShem, Who blesses the years.
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7 years ago  ::  Oct 25, 2007 - 10:52PM #3
armchair_theologian
Posts: 155
I'm not blaming the US for all the world's problems.  But the US government has had a penchant for meddling in the affairs of "third world" countries when it probably shouldn't, and this all started after WWII. 

Since most of the conflict with the Islamic groups and countries is theoretically about religion and about how wrong they believe the Jews and Christians are, and that it's ok to kill us because of it, I thought I'd ask the opinion of our own Jewish community.  (Although it could easily have gone under the "Moral Issues" heading...
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7 years ago  ::  Oct 26, 2007 - 10:00AM #4
nieciedo
Posts: 5,617
First, the Carter administration wanted to KEEP the Shah in power. The Shah was our ally, which is one major reason why the Islamic Revolutionaries wanted to get rid of him.

You are focusing on nation-states, but that is in an illusion propagated by bourgeois ideology.

The real issue is economics, specifically the web of capitalist exploitation between the core and the periphery. The military and political actions of nation-states is based on and for the most part exists to protect and promote that network.

The real cause of turmoil in the Middle East is that its sitting on top of most of the world's oil. So, if you need to blame someone blame the dinosaurs who died there miilions of years ago and had their carbon converted into petroleum. :-)

Always look to the material basis of a crisis and there you will find the truth. The fact that technology evolved to be so dependent on oil and the fact that oil is so concentrated in one region of the world made it inevitable that that region would be the center of contention.

There was "peace" in the Middle East when it was ruled by European colonial empires and tribal chiefs and petty kings and when industry was in its infancy. The dramatic increase in industrialization and the ever greater dependence on oil manifested fully the time of the Second World War made the Middle East the center of geopolitical strategy. The powers that controlled the Middle East could control the world's economy. Thus, the only options were an uneasy balance of power or open war -- the arrival of nuclear weapons made this option dangerous. So, the great powers needed to make sure that no one nation or bloc of nations could dominate the oil fields. The Second World War had broken the might of most European empires leaving the US and the USSR as the major contenders. Since open war was dangerous, both sides opposed each other vicariously by supporting or opposing the various governments of the region.

Of course, the local regimes could benefit from such competition, playing one side against the other, and could gain a tremendous amount of wealth and influence if they played the game right.

More importantly, of course, the people of Middle East were none to thrilled to be exploited by foreign imperialists and their native lackeys. The vast differences in culture made Islam the perfect thing that most residents of the Middle East shared and which defined them as unique against the Americans and Soviets. This is the origin of radical Islam. "Religious distress," as Marx wrote, "is at once an expression of real distress and a reaction against real distress." Religion gave them an identity and moral support, but making it about religion masked the real  economic issues at work.

And then, of course, there's Israel. I don't think there is anything that the US/UN could have done other than what was done. Israel was seen (and essentially was) a US client state in the Middle East -- and thus a threat to the Soviets. Open war in support of Israel was impossible, so diplomatic solutions were attempted that are obviously not perfect.

The turmoil in the Middle East is a product and consequence of the capitalist mode of production. Peace will only come with the overthrow of the capitalist system.
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7 years ago  ::  Oct 26, 2007 - 10:37AM #5
rocketjsquirell
Posts: 16,181
I  will try to take a stab at answering your questions, although this is probably not the place on this board for this discussion and I am probably not the best person to answer these rather complex issues.

1. There were tensions between the three religions prior to the Crusades.

Prior to the Crusades, the Catholic Church had a number of internal battles which resulted in the suppression of various "heresies". The suppression of those heresies were often violent and bloody and often included the killing of Jews, sometimes as collateral damage, sometimes directly because they were thought to be in league with the "heretics" . The Church after about the 3rd century also had a program of suppression and sometimes violence against Jews and Judaism, and encouraged the subjugation and abuse of Jews.

Prior to the Crusade, their was a good deal of infighting among Muslims (some of which is continuing today and which you can see played out in Iraq - how George Bush and Co. didn't know about this is a staggering questions but not for this board) The Muslims also had a program of the subjugation of non-Muslim peoples and communities. Christian and Jewish communities were favored in the subjugation as they were not usually as forcibly converted. However, they were granted dimi status. Dimi status, which is what the "Palestinians" and other Arabs offer to Jews today - if only we would relinquish the land of Israel to them, is a second class citizenship (at best) with very limited rights. This is similar to the status that Jews had in Christian Europe from the fall of Rome till the enlightenment.

Jews were persecuted by Muslims and Christians prior to the Crusades.

Muslims persecuted Christians and Jews prior to the Crusades.

Christians persecuted Jews and Muslims prior to the Crusades.

Jews didn't persecute anyone probably because they had no political power to do so. (I would like to think that it was due to some 'better character' or 'better behavior based on religious teaching' but such a position is unverifiable and probably a bit naive)

The Crusades made everything worse. We are still living with the consequences of the Crusades, which are ancient and forgotten history in most of Europe and America but a festering wound in the Muslim World and a constant thorn in the hearts of Jews.

Prior to the re-establishment of Israel there were tensions (what a nice word) between the native Jewish Communities (as supplemented by newer arrivals) and the more recent arriving Arab population (also supplemented by newer arrivals).  There had never been a national people or a national state called Palestine. There had been a national state and a national people called Israel. Prior to the re-establishment of the State of Israel all "Palestinian" national groups were comprised of Jews - The Palestinian Brigade of the British Army was Jewish, the Palestinian Symphony - was Jewish, etc...

During WWII the Arab powers sided with Germany and to greater and lesser extents participated in Germany's anti Jewish programs. Please note many Muslims, like many Christians - fought the Nazis and many risked their lives and property to save their Jewish neighbors. (People do not always agree with their Government's policies).

After WWII an exhausted world sought to resolve the competing interests of various communities in the world. One of the areas of competing interests was the land of Israel.  In order to address the problem a number of partition plans (two state solutions) were proposed by the UN. Each one of these was accepted by the Jews and each one was rejected by the Arabs. Eventually one partition plan was accepted by the UN (although not the Arabs) and the State of Israel was declared to be re-established. At that time the new State was attacked by all of the Arab nations and managed to fend them off. the results after that war were a state with different borders than the UN partition plan.  at that time there was no national "Palestinian" movement as there was not yet a "Palestinian" national identity. Instead the Arab world was embracing the political view of pan-Arabism.  While the Arab world remained hostile to the State of Israel and continued its attacks, Israel was not hostile to the Arab World.

Following the 6 day war in 1967 Israel re-conquered various territories from Jordan (which had been part of the administrative territory known as Palestine - under the Ottoman Empire and the British mandate) Egypt and Syria. At that time that the Arab populations of those territories began to form themselves into a "national" group and the long process of the development of the "Palestinian" people began. (It is still a work in progress).

Unfortunately, as the Arab world would not accept a non-Arab, non-Muslim state anywhere is "Islamic" lands (which includes Spain, and portions of Eastern Europe) there was little that could have been done to make the Arab world any happier with the re-establishment of the State of Israel.

Just so you don't forget - there were more Jewish refugees from Arab Countries following the War of Independence than Arab refugees from Israel. Israel, however, made the decision to welcome the refugees and incorporate them into Israeli society. On the other hand, for political reasons the Arab World made the decision to segregate and oppress the Arab refugees from that war.  the plight of the "Palestinians" was caused by the Arab world and it is their responsibility to address those problems. It is unlikely that they will do so.
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7 years ago  ::  Oct 26, 2007 - 11:35AM #6
Bunsinspace
Posts: 5,929

armchair_theologian wrote:

...Would the Mid-East have the same or similar problems either way, or is the world now reaping what the US has been sowing for the last 60 years?



I agree with the latter.  There have been no US presidents that have been concerned with global peace since the Founding Fathers began this nation by displaing existing nations.  Everything in the US at the Federal level is done only for the benefot of the US and everything in the US at ALLlevels of government is done for profitt only - even above security or the common good of the people.

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7 years ago  ::  Oct 26, 2007 - 12:10PM #7
rocketjsquirell
Posts: 16,181
Nieciedo

It’s almost impossible to know where to start replying to you.

1. Everything is not about oil. Israel has no oil (or at least very little) and granted the oil fields it developed in the Sinai, and which gave it energy independence, to Egypt in an attempt to achieve peace.

2. Israel is NOT a client state of the US. In fact, the U.S. did not support Israel until the 6 Day War. Prior to the 6 day war France was the major supporter of Israel.

3. There was no peace in the Middle East before industrialization and there is none now. The Middle East has been a rather un-peaceful area throughout recorded history. Immediately prior to WWI (The War to end all Wars - that worked out well - didn't it?) the Middle East was largely ruled by the Ottoman Empire which controlled the are, much the same as the Soviet Union controlled its constituent parts. (Through violence and threats of violence, and corruption).

4. Throughout history there have been competing interests and pressures in the middle eat, they have been religious, ethnic, political, and economic. Most of the time these interests have been intertwined. (It works the same way everywhere else in the world, so why not in the mid-east?)  At different times, different interests predominated and strife was caused by particular problems, many of which we see as insignificant today.     

5. Never assume that there are "native peoples" anywhere. The Arabs were foreign imperialists when the swept out of Arabia fired by their new religion Islam and conquered most of the Middle East and a great portion of the Mediterranean from the Byzantine Empire and other earlier arriving peoples. (such as the Jews - who inhabited Israel, Judea and Samaria - prior to the Arab arrival and continued after their arrival). The Turks who conquered the area and established the Ottoman Empire - which you seem to admire for its peacefulness, were also not native. This is why various ethnically Turkish minorities all over the Middle East have such problems. Of course the Mongols who swept through the area weren't native either nor were the Europeans who came at various times.

6. The partition of the remaining portion of the administrative district known as Palestine (remember before the creation of Israel - the UK partitioned Jordan from the Palestinian Mandate - without any approval from anybody and in direct contradiction of the Mandate) and the subsequent re-creation of the State of Israel had many causes, and was an attempt to create peace - where none had existed and an attempt to address the conflicting claims of various peoples to limited resources - mostly land. It was not primarily and economically motivated action.

7. The world is not a gigantic conspiracy. It is, however, a complex mixture of competing interests all of which a striving to advance themselves.
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7 years ago  ::  Oct 26, 2007 - 12:14PM #8
rocketjsquirell
Posts: 16,181
bunsinspace

The job of the President and for that matter the government of the United States is to advance the interests of the United States. That is one of the reasons we have governments - to advance our interests. You can always argue about whether or not they are doing that properly - or advancing the correct interests (goodness knows they get that wrong all the time).  the US has been medling in foreign countries since our founding (remember the Monore Doctrine? Manifest Destiny? and all of that). Every nation meddles in every other nation's affairs and every nation seeks to gain the upper hand. The world is a state of constant negotiation.
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7 years ago  ::  Oct 26, 2007 - 3:25PM #9
nieciedo
Posts: 5,617
My entire response got eaten by the internet gremlins.

Suffice it to say, Rocket, that it would be a good idea to actually read and comprehend what someone writes before you respond.

Every single one of your points is either irrelevant or misguided.
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7 years ago  ::  Oct 26, 2007 - 5:53PM #10
ishmael_10
Posts: 317
First of all, armchair, I would just like to say that I am in love with your screen name.  I'm really bored with mine and my Hebrew name is Akiva, so it's a bit odd that I use his academy's antithesis for my name on Beliefnet-- but I did my first hermeneutics study on the unhappy family of Abram, Sarai, Hagar, and Ishmael, so there you go.  Perhaps Nieciedo will spare me and not point out how irrelevant this point is!  (Just a joke, Nieciedo, this thread seems wildly out of control...sort of like the Holocaust thread...that one was my fault.)

In response to your question, Armchair, I believe that a lot of flagrant anti-Semitism would have been avoided had the Israeli State never been created.  This may seem like a moot point, but what I mean is this:  I sincerely believe that Jews living in North Africa, while perhaps impoverished, received better treatment under the Muslim governments than the Jews living under Christian governments in Europe.  Anti-Semitism was undoubtedly present, though when Western powers carved out a piece of land from what the Arabs believed rightly theirs, Near Eastern anti-Semitism climbed exponentially. 

But could the Americans have done a better job diplomatically?  No, and here's why.  As Nieciedo says, it is an economic issue.  After a thousand years of second-class citizenship under Islamic rule, after centuries of keeping their faith inside their home, after not having, in some cases, constitutional or judiciary rights, Jews founded their own nation in their own land, based on modern jurisprudence, democracy, and not Judaism, but absolute religious freedom.  And not only that...not only were they ranked equal to the Muslims (an impossiblity!) in the Middle East...they excelled economically and built a powerful nation, and began to live prosperously.  They outdid the Islamic regimes sitting right beside them.  And that pissed people off.  It may sound romantic...but after two thousand years of subjugation and being a landless nation, our people finally rebuilt their place on earth.
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