I wanted to respond to Sobek’s post on the recent troubles in North Africa and elsewhere. But I didn’t want to post such a long screed at Michael’s place and abuse his hospitality, so I’ll do it here.
Sobek hit on some very important things for us to keep in mind, things we should watch. >
It is important for all of us to remain vigilant.
An issue that is somewhat thorny is that of so-called “racial” profiling. This is the belief (or practice) that certain “races” (that is, people appearing to be of certain ethnic origins) should or ought to receive especial attention and scrutiny to prevent or thwart criminal activity. With regard to Islamist terrorism, the “races” or ethnicities targetted are often said or considered to be those of the Arabs and South Asians (namely, Pakistanis).
On the one hand, this makes perfect sense. Read the rest of this entry »
The following facts are very important to understand the Iraq War, as it is called, and the effects thereof. These facts are also important to understand the greater strategery of The United States with regard to the Middle East, Arab states, and various opponents and opposing entities.
As I do not want to give away sources and/or methods, all I will say is that the following facts have been more or less provided by a man who is currently a very powerful crown prince of an Arab statelet (not Saudi Arabia), set to soon succeed his aging and ill father. (Please remember that as seen through the eyes of Arabs and their governments, The United States unilaterally invaded Iraq and overthrew Saddam Hussein and his regime.) Read the rest of this entry »
Now, in discussions regarding Israel and its borders, people will have no choice but to bring up a thorny issue: the Territories. This refers to what Israel calls “Judea and Samaria”, what is known more commonly as “The West Bank” (that is, area on and around the west bank of the River Jordan), and what many Muslims and others sympathetic to the Arab claimants thereof call the “Occupied Territories” (that is, the (Arab) territories occupied by Israel as a consequence of the Six Day War in 1967). Some mistakenly may call it “Palestine”. (See note 1 below.) Others use “the Territories” to include the Golan Heights in the north and the Gaza Strip on the west; hereinafter “The Territory” will refer solely to the Territories of Judea and Samaria. Although theories and ideas have been floated to the effect that The State of Israel should or would withdraw from The Territory, in effect an uneasy division has taken place wherein The State of Israel maintains control and hold over Israeli settlements, upon key resources, and upon roads and the like, while the Palestinian National Authority maintains control and hold over Palestinian enclaves, which are necessarily separate from Israeli enclaves (in some cases, physically so). Often, the Israeli enclaves (called “settlements”) are considered a major obstacle in any peace process by which Palestinians are granted exclusive control over The Territory. The existence and spread of these enclaves necessitate The State of Israel to maintain a large amount of oversight and control and influence over the entire Territory. The only solution — so it is said — whereby The State of Israel would be able to fully withdraw and grant sovereignty to the Palestinians over the entire Territory is the dismantling of these enclaves and the total withdrawal of all Israeli entities or interests from The Territory. But this oversimplifies the actual reality of the situation: Israeli enclaves do not constitute the sole reason The State of Israel retains a vested interest in The Territory. There are two other reasons why The State of Israel ought to retain control and influence over The Territory: resources and the anti-Israeli plank of the Palestinian platform. Read the rest of this entry »
This may seem like a somewhat random post, but I’d like to point out an interesting aspect of political geography: the difficulty of grouping states together.
Consider, for example, Iran. Iran is often grouped into the “Middle East” (also known as the “Near East) but it differs markedly from other Middle Eastern states: it is Shiite rather than Sunni (Syria has a Shiite government with a Sunni population while Bahrain has a Sunni government with a majority Shiite population; Iraq has a significant Shiite demographic: but none of these is like Iran, where both the government and population are Shiite); it is ethnically Persian rather than Arab (and, consequently does not share the dominant language of the Middle East, Arabic); it has an elected theocratic government rather than the monarchies and dictatorships of most of the Middle East. Even historically Iran differs significantly in that most of the Middle East was part of the Sunni caliphate’ particularly the Ottoman Empire, while Iran had been under its own local regimes.
But where else, then, could Iran be grouped into? Iran is certainly not Central Asian or South Asian (despite the Persians’ influence on the latter). And Iran shares closer relations to and with Middle Eastern states than Central Asian or South Asian states. As such, the common inclusion of Iran in the “Middle East” makes sense.
And what of Turkey? Like most Middle Eastern states, it is Sunni. Unlike most Middle Eastern states, it has a popularly elected governmen and has little, if any, connection with Arabic culture and civilization. Yet, like Iran, it has shared close relations with other states of the Middle East: indeed, for centuries it ruled the Middle Eastern states (except for Iran, but it battled with Iran, figuratively and literally, for dominance and influence over the area). Can Turks and Arabs (or, for that matter, Persians and Arabs) be lumped together?
One example that amuses me is Egypt (and can include or be used for any of the Arab states of Northern Africa, beginning with Egypt and stretching to Morocco on the Atlantic Ocean): are Egyptians Arabs, Middle Easterners, or Africans? And as Egypt has been considered to be in Africa for centuries now, can Egyptians, as Africans, claim benefits or special arrangements for Africans or people of African origin?
And what about Mediterranean states? Should they not also be considered to be a group unto itself? Does not a state’s location on the Great Sea play an important part in its character, politics, culture, and tendencies?
And how about Afghanistan? Is it Middle Eastern, South Asian, or Central Asian? Or this a case, as some say is with Turkey, that parts belong to different areas (the Pashtun areas being South Asian; the Tajik and Uzbek areas being Central Asian; the more Persian or Dari areas being Middle Eastern)?
It is not easy to group states together into useful categories or geopolitical regions, yet doing so makes considering the world and its manifold issues easier. And, indeed, in some cases such categorization even makes sense as far as issues go. But there has yet to be a comprehensive system developed: all systems in use are debated and problematic to some degree.
As such, while we ought to consider a state’s location, we should not put all of our understanding of a state’s problems or issues solely in the context of geopolitical location. In some ways, each state is an entity unto itself or may involve issues, characteristics, or aspects common or dissimilar to the states around it.
Many people in the Middle East…in fact, many people throughout the world believe that Israel is a puppet under the command of The United States. It is believed that Israel does nothing without The United States’ orders or, at the very least, permission. Such characterizations are most evident in anti-Israeli propaganda when Israel makes the unforgivable mistake of trying to save itself from hostile forces. Consider, for example, how the recent Israeli-Lebanon war was characterized as one between Israel and The United States on one hand and poor, amateurish, ill-equipped freedom fighters (that is, the terrorists of Hezbollah) on the other hand. Except for supporting Israel and agreeing to speed up arms deliveries, The United States had no role with or upon Israel whatsoever.
Shortly before the near-miraculous Six-Day War, Israel consulted with the government of The United States regarding its situation. The Government made it perfectly clear, with no unmistaken terms, that The United States would not support any preemptive strike whatsoever. Were Israel to be attacked by Arab forces (Egypt, Syria, and Jordan were mobilizing to attack Israel), The United States would rush to Israel’s support; but were Israel to strike first, Israel would be in the situation alone, without any help, assistance, or support from The United States. All this notwithstanding, Israel struck first, in essence discarding the stern warning from The United States’ government. Read the rest of this entry »
If you would like to see how deceptive the Arab media is with news and events regarding Arabs (including and especially Palestinians) and Israel, I suggest checking out Elder of Ziyon. The Elder of Ziyon does an excellent job of revealing discrepancies between reports in English and Arabic, as well as highlighting how much of Arab suffering is because of Arabs, although one would not know this if one is reading Arab media in English (or even in Arabic, in some instances).
Sidenote: “Ziyon” comes from a closer transliteration of the word usually rendered as “Zion”. This word is (ציון, tziyon) and occurs quite frequently in Jewish/Hebrew prayers.
Sometimes, the civil war in the Palestinian Territories is amusing in a tragic way.
According to “Made by Islamic Jihad” by Elder of Ziyon: as various factions attack Israel, factions are upset that they are not getting enough credit. Not that Palestinians are not getting enough credit but that one’s own militia/gang of thugs is not getting enough credit. So, in order to get credit among Palestinians for their “brave” attacks on Israel (and to show the Palestinian how much they are “fighting” for them), they have begun labelling their rockets. In Hebrew. So that the Israel media can identify which terrorist group attacked them, so the group’s prestige among Palestinians will rise.
So the Palestinian civil war can be amusing in its own way.
“The Other September 11th” by Baron Bodissey of Gates of Vienna. Do read this post. (Thanks to “The Other 9/11: Back To 1683” by Michael van der Galien of Liberty and Justice.) Read the rest of this entry »
The most important thing in Mecca (officially known as ألمكة المكرمة, al-makkah al-mukarramah) in the Holy Mosque (ألمسجد الحرم, al-masjid al-Haram) or the Noble Sanctuary (ألحرم الشريف, al-Haram ash-sharīf). This Mosque is important because of a variety of holy elements within its walls. Here are the important elements: Read the rest of this entry »
Personally I’m mad Israel didn’t do more.
Indeed. I am still quite displeased, and my displeasure has been increasing with reports that the Israeli government is negotiating with terrorist regimes. I understand their desire to get back their abducted soldiers, but to continue this cycle of “kidnap and negotiate release of prisoners” is unacceptable.
I am usually very supportive of the Israeli government, but I am finding more reasons to oppose it than to support it. I have always been a fan of Likud – even though its prime ministers have not been hawkish enough for my tastes – and I think it is time Kadima were laid to rest.
I believe Kadima was founded by Ariel Sharon for his own political uses. I do not believe an actual centrist coalition exists. What “centrist” coalition may be said to exist is in reality Israelis united behind Ariel Sharon. As soon as Ariel Sharon became incapacitated – and it seems that God will be recalling him soon – Kadima’s raison d’etre expired.
Maybe Hezbollah was surprised by Israel’s reactions. I think being surprised is stupid: Israel knew Hezbollah was going to strike and had prepared beforehand to strike back. For Hezbollah to move into a position to fire first and not to see Israel’s preparations to respond is utterly ridiculous. I don’t buy it. But Hezbollah’s swift acceptance of and, so far, overt adherence to the ceasefire indicates to me that Hezbollah direly needed the attacks to end.
Which would be reeeaaal nice. They started the war when they wanted, and they ended the war when they needed it to end. Neither Lebanon nor The United Nations will disarm Hezbollah: indeed, Hezbollah’s rearmament has begun.
The Arabs will not do the responsible thing and eliminate Hezbollah. The Lebanese authorities are still spineless, Syria and Iran are supporting Hezbollah, and The United Nations doesn’t care either way.
All we can do is prepare for the next round, whenever it begins. It doesn’t help that the threat across the Lebanese border hasn’t gone away while Israel needs to put into place measures to protect itself from Iran. *throws hands in the air* The Second Coming should just come already.
According to a news story going around (for example, “Hezbollah head didn’t foresee such a war” by The Associated Press, article courtesy of Yahoo! News), Hassan Nasrullah, head of Hezbollah, claimed that if he had known Israel would respond the way it did, he would not have ordered the Israeli soldiers to be kidnapped.
This almost sounds too good to be true. My first instinct is to see this as an attempt trying to lull us (his enemies) into a false sense of security, so he can rearm while we sit back.
Some advice for traveling Muslims and Muslim-looking people (especially South Asians):
1. Try, if possible, to speak English and no other language even when speaking with others of your party.
2. Wear Western clothes.
3. If you can, a clean-shaven look will go a long way in your favor. Especially for the women.
4. Try not to use cell phones. If you must, speak in English and at such a volume that if someone nearby wants to hear you, they can. But don’t disturb anyone. This way people won’t think you’re hiding something.
5. If you have a business card, especially one that lists your title and gives an indication of your duties, keep it with your passport. When you open your passport, make sure the card is visible.
6. If you can, keep your passport on you.
7. Act calm and reasonable. Don’t do anything weird or strange. Be inconspicuous (even though 75% of the plane will be watching you).
8. Smile. Smile and nod to passengers. If you’re among Americans, engage in polite small talk.
9. Do not talk about the following topics: politics (especially American politics), terrorism, Islam, persecution of Muslims, anti-Semitism.
10. If offered somethin haraam, smile and shake your head and say, “No, thank you.” Do not look, sound, or seem offended.
11. Try not to pray or to use Islamic utterances (especially takbeer or shahaadah).
Finally: If for some reason you are asked to deboard, do so politely, calmly, and without a fuss. There is no need to make an issue of it.
Don’t be upset with the West or its people because of this: Take your anger out on the Arabs and South Asians who make such measures necessary for us.
There are a variety of people who root for terrorism-sympathizing peoples. This includes rooting for Hezbollah, Hamas, other Palestinian militant organizations, Islamist regimes and societies, and so on. This includes protesting against those people who are fighting these threats; these valiant warriors against oppression and terrorism include Jews, the State of Israel, the Israeli Defense Forces, the Armed Forces of The United States, The Government of The United States, and so on and so forth. This amuses me because these same people, in the lands for which they are protesting or rooting, would be oppressed, suppressed, prosecuted, persecuted, and most likely (considering their outspoken nature) killed.
Such categories, from which such amusing protestors come from, are: Read the rest of this entry »
Christopher Taylor mentioned this webpage in a comment section, and I think it’s very insightful. “The Jews are NOT the problem” by Bithead of BitsBlog. It contrasts Muslim Nobel Prize winners with Jewish winners, and offers some suggestions as to how this disparity can be overcome.
Thank you, Christopher Taylor.
Another interesting discovery: it seems that a number of Israeli Arabs refer to themselves not as “Israeli Arabs” but as “48 Arabs” or “Arabs 48” and other like permutations, and that this appellation is used by other Arabs to refer to Israeli Arabs. “48” refers to 1948, when the State of Israel was established. Evidently “48 Arabs” means “Arabs according to 1948, before the State of Israel was established.” This is evidently used to focus that they aren’t Israeli as much as they are Arab.
What significance could there be in the fact that these Arabs identify not with Israel but with pre-Israel Palestine?
Is it any wonder that Israeli Arabs (especially their politicians) are wont to ignite storms of criticism by Israeli society, accusing them of treason or undermining the state?
What does this say about the possibility of non-Arabs (primarily Jews) and Arabs coexisting in the same state?
Let us take a look at Syria for a moment.
Like many Middle Eastern states (especially Lebanon and Iraq), Syria is a state within which there are a number of groups. The major groups in Syria are the Sunnis, Nusayri Shiites (also called Alawi Shiites), Isma’ili Shiites, Twelver Shiites, Druze, and Christians. The ruling regime (consisting of the top military brass) consists of Nusayri Shiites. Read the rest of this entry »
According to a post (““The Real Winner in Lebanon””) by the inimitable Jeff Goldstein of protein wisdom, it may be possible that there is more than meets the eye regarding the Lebanon issue. More may be going on, more may have been planned, and more may be intended than what we can see on the surface. Read the rest of this entry »
It seems that Olmert may be in trouble. The very circumstances that bouyed the popularity of his government might lead to his own undoing. Read the rest of this entry »
In “A Sailor’s Parable” by HayZeus of HayZeus, Inc., there is a link to “A difficult lesson” by The Braden Files. This post consists of a story told by someone who was in the Air Force; the poster uses that story as a parable to describe how Israel can put an end to its terrorism tzoris (troubles) once and for all. It’s very enlightening and certain made me think. I was a little shocked by what he had to say, but I must admit that he has a very good point. I want to say I agree with him.