Mid East: Affluence, Education Key To Peaceful Co-Existence
by Dan Ehrlich

Upheavals Won't Alter Religious Bigotry
Liberal westerners seem to have difficulty comprehending tribal and religious sensitivities in underdeveloped nations. The idea that everyone must live in peaceful co-existence is a basic fantasy of the left, one currently being tried out in the diverse European Union.

Yet the historic European border changes and ethnic hatreds there have been quelled since WW2 by war weary people wishing to move on in their lives in more materialistic societies. And, when compared to the Middle East mosaic of tribal and religious hatreds, Europe seems passive.

I have said in the past the only long-term solution to the endless Israel-Palestinian conflict is for the post WW1 owners of the occupied territories, Egypt and Jordan, to take them back as the only established nations capable of handling terrorism emanating from there.
Chaos reveals true nature of people
However, as chaos envelops the Arab world with bouts of democratic nationalism, the true nature of some countries are being highlighted to those in the west who conveniently have escaped reality.

· Bahrain, ruled by a Sunni Muslim minority, is being attacked by its Shiite majority. Other Gulf states have sent a military force to reinforce the Sunni Sheik.

· Iraq, which was founded after WW1 by the British as a Hashemite Kingdom, is bitterly divided between a Shiite majority and Sunni and Kurdish minorities.

· Lebanon, which evolved after the fall of the Ottoman Empire, as a moderate Christian Arab ruled nation, is now a factional mess with conflict between various Arab and terrorists groups.

· Syria will brutally suppress any dissent. The late dictator Hafez al Assad wiped an entire village that rose against him.

· Saudi Arabia, possibly, by western standards, the most brutal Arab nation with its extreme Wahhabist belief, is also America’s BFF. Currently suppressing dissent there and in Bahrain.

· Egypt is the biggest and possibly the most diverse Arab nation. But its 102 ranking in the quality of life index has left its teaming poverty stricken masses looking for scapegoats. The main reason Egypt dropped its claim to the Gaza Strip was: “Who needs more poverty. We’ll let Israel have the headache."

· Jordan, ruled since the end of WW1 by the Hashemite tribe, is now a minority in its own country with 80 percent of the population non Hashemite Palestinians. Which presents a good reason why Jordan’s ruling family has long since dropped its claim to the West Bank.

On one hand, it doesn’t want a lot more Palestinians in the country and on the other, it figures if there ever is a Palestinian state one of two things will happen…either Jordan will reunite with the West Bank, or better yet for the Hashemites, they can give a lot of Palestinians their marching orders…similar to what the Arabs did to the Jews after 1948 and what King Hussein did to Yasser Arafat’s PLO in the early 1980s.

· Palestinians not in Jordan…The stateless nature of these people is based largely on the fact other Arab nations have not welcomed them as Israelis have welcomed Jewish refugees from Arab countries. The planned Palestinian state of the West Bank and Gaza is now effectively composed only of the West Bank since Hamas ruled Gaza wants nothing to do with the West Bank or Israel.

The Palestinians in Lebanon are living in permanent camps, which have become towns. These people are hated by the Christians who blame them for destroying their grip on this once prosperous country.
Hatred of Israel Trumps all Else
Aside from largely being uneducated, most Arabs have one other thing common…their hatred of the only non-Arabic, non-Islamic country in the region, Israel. And until now it was a feeling the various ruling despots were able to use to their advantage, blaming all their shortcomings on the Jews, who else..

And while much of this won’t wash anymore, its hasn’t changed these ingrained feelings, feelings that in truth have little to do with the plight of the Palestinians, who most Arabs loath almost as much as the Israelis. From the anti Jewish riots of the 1920s until now, this has been a religious conflict. And unless the Arab masses are given proper education and living standards, their views aren’t going to change.

But for the liberal establishment to fantasize that a period of enlightenment is in the cards for the Middle East is as about as realistic as Benjamin Netanyahu attending the Hajj in Saudi Arabia.

Still, a lesson can be learned from what is unfolding in the region. The various Palestinian uprisings against Israel took place largely because the Arabs knew the Israelis wouldn’t do what they would do to win.

Until recently, uprisings against Arab dictators were met with massacres by Assad in Syria, Saddam Hussein in Iraq and even King Hussein of Jordan whose forces are said to have killed thousands of Arafat’s PLO supporters when he attempted take over the country. Now, it doesn’t look as if Gaddafi is giving the rebels in Libya much leniency.
Gaza Onslaught a game changer
Yet, the game changer was Israel’s brutal bombardment of Gaza and the wall it built through the West Bank. Attacks from Gaza have been greatly reduced and there are very few suicide bombings these days. In the perverse logic of the Middle East being a nice guy is a sign of weakness and being a right bastard may not make many friends, but it earns respect from your adversaries.

If America’s border fence with Mexico is as effective, it may not have to ramp up its defenses against illegal aliens and drug running.

In the end it comes down to this: Affluent democracies don’t attack one another. They’re relatively happy. The problem Israel has is essentially the same as America has…losers are either trying to topple winners or live off of them. And the people on top have to protect their interests.

But while America has engaged in wars and intrigue for geo-political and economic reasons, Israel has been forced into a constant battle for survival. Yet, amidst the landscape changes currently taking place in the region, Israel remains the lone social democracy waiting to see what the new Arab world looks like.

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