Jul 02 2008

The Arab “street”: Really Alien, or just biding its time?

Category: Uncategorizedharmonicminer @ 9:11 am

A recent poll of “the Arab street” has produced some some interesting results.

In all six countries surveyed (those polled were all non-Palestinian Arabs), Arabs favored Hamas over Fatah.They also wanted to see a Palestinian unity government. Palestinian polls that Telhami mentions in his paper keep showing some advantage for Fatah, but also that the leader of Hamas in Gaza would defeat Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in a head to head election (47 percent for Ismail Haniyeh, 46 percent for Abbas).

Telhami asked in the poll: “What step taken by Washington would most improve your views of the United States?” The options he presented the participants in the poll were:

Pushing for the spread of democracy in the Middle East even more.
Providing more economic assistance to the region.
Stopping economic and military aid to Israel.
Withdrawing American forces from Iraq.
Withdrawing American forces from the Arabian peninsula.
Brokering comprehensive Arab-Israeli peace.

As for what they choose: “Fifty percent of the public identified brokering Arab-Israeli peace based on the 1967 border as the single most important step to improving their views of the United States.”

The incomprehensible aspect of this is that Hamas does not recognize Israel’s right to exist. Israel’s destruction is official Hamas policy. So “the Arab street” prefers the government that wants to destroy Israel, and wants the USA to broker a peace between these two parties, and return Israel to its (indefensible) 1967 borders.

Here are maps of the pre-Six Days War boundaries. Between them you can see how small is the space between the former borders and Israeli cities. You can see the attack vectors for Syria, Jordan, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Lebanon, Iraq, etc., taking advantage of this very small distance. It was a war of double sixes: Six Days, and Six Arab Nations against Israel. Click the maps for more. You don’t suppose the countries polled here were the same six that attacked Israel, do you? Nah…

So not only does the Arab street want the impossible, it also wants to dictate the (impossible) terms under which it might happen. In the meantime, whenever Israel makes a concession, the obvious response is to launch more missiles at civilians in Israel.

It’s difficult to think of an analogy for supporting the government that wants to kill the country you want the government to make a deal with. Let’s see: is it as if the German people in 1938 supported the NAZI government (with its announced aims) but wanted the British and French to broker a peace deal between the NAZIs and the Polish Jews? I dunno… it’s hard to think of an analogy to such lunacy. But I’ll keep trying.

Does the Arab street also want the Tooth Fairy to make peace with the American Dental Association, and return all the missing teeth in the bargain? One can only wonder if the ADA is busy hurling HIV infected dental implements at the last known address of the dastardly Ms. Fairy…. all the while blaming the Easter Bunny because negotiations didn’t produce Ms. Fairy’s instant surrender.

Not to be accused of cultural bigotry, I should point out that 80% of Americans think the government is hiding knowledge of the existence of aliens (oddly, only 54% think intellient life exists off the Earth… presumably the remaining 26% think the government is hiding the knowledge that there are no aliens), 64% think aliens have contacted humans (do the other 10% think that non-existent aliens contacted humans?), and 37% think aliens have contacted the U.S. government. (I could have told them that… most of them are in Congress, including one senator from California, and a few are in the state department.)

The best I can say is this: if the polls are to be believed, the Arab street seems to be less informed, and less realistic, about the Israel/Palestine problem than Americans are about UFOs. This does not bode well for reaching any kind of solution, anytime soon. And it reveals the essential fecklessness of determining policy based on what will “appeal to the Arab street”.

Of course, I could be wrong about the aliens. Maybe they HAVE contacted the government…. just not OURS.

There is only a single perspective I can see that makes sense of the reported opinions of the Arab street. That is if they see the agreement of Israel to return to its pre-Six Days War boundaries as a mere preliminary step to the eventual destruction of Israel. That would make any preliminary agreement on boundaries a mere hudna, in Islamic law a temporary “truce” essentially employed as a tactical tool to gain the upper hand over an enemy, when complete victory is not yet in reach. Odds are that most Arabs know all about hudna, and accept that any agreement Israel made with Hamas would be temporary… which is why they see no cognitive dissonance between being for Hamas, and wanting the USA to broker a hudna between Hamas and Israel. And if they can get Israel to withdraw completely to 1967 pre-Six Days War boundaries, so much the better. It will make the eventual reconquest that much easier.

This is not encouraging, of course, but it means that our leaders must be very wise and discerning in what kinds of pressure, and how much, they put on Israel to “make a deal”…. like, no particular pressure at all.

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