04 August, 2006

Land of the Free?

Hundreds of thousands displaced. Hundreds dead. A city destroyed. And all with the approval of the United States.

The Israeli atrocity in Lebanon is the latest Middle East episode in the American Hall of Shame...

http://www.podme.org/Shows.asp?fetchpg=616466187606353762

21 comments:

Seabee said...

Much more than approval. They're supplying arms and intelligence, so they're actively involved.

nzm said...

This is the dilemma of the Security Council - they are charged with keeping peace on earth while its permanent members (including the US) are among the top weapons suppliers in the world.

One hand struggles to keep the peace while the other supplies the weapons of war.

Tim Newman said...

This is the dilemma of the Security Council - they are charged with keeping peace on earth while its permanent members (including the US) are among the top weapons suppliers in the world.

This is not the contradiction is seems: Russia, China, USA, France and UK are the top arms suppliers precisely because they are the permanent five of the UN Security Council, and their UNSC position is maintained partly by virtue of them being suppliers of arms. The two are not mutually exclusive.

blogrosh said...

Tim - are you implying it's OK for these nations to sell WMD's to the favored - and at the sametime practically tear apart countries like Iraq, Lebanon and Afghanistan?

As someone raised in the UAE with perspectives from across the world - I have always believed the United States had more good intent than any other nation, it was the champion for equality, a better place for humanity and a nation which valued human life. However it's unrelenting and absolute insane support for Israel, a nation which has practically raped and mutilated its defenseless neighbours – and the Iraq war leaves me in such disbelief, that this nation seems to have become the champion of inequality, torture, inhumanity with absolute zero value for human lives & dignity.

Tim Newman said...

Tim - are you implying it's OK for these nations to sell WMD's to the favored - and at the sametime practically tear apart countries like Iraq, Lebanon and Afghanistan?

No. Meanwhile, are you implying that it is perfectly okay for employers to withold their employees' passports?

MN said...

OK, now one has to remember, that there is a distinction between the US Govt and the people in the US. I keep hearing all kinds of negative comments on Americans, you cannot lump everyone together and say "The Americans approve of this," just as the Arabs don't appreciate (and rightly so) the stereotype of everyone being lumped together and saying "All Arabs are terrorists."

Being that I am an American, most of the people I know back in the States are appalled at what is happening in Lebanon. I am no supporter of the current US Govt. but again, when one starts using absolutes such as "with the approval of the United States," it gives the impression that all are being painted with the same brush.

I hear this over and over and over again from my Arab friend, "We are individuals, we should be seen that way," This is 100% correct, but it goes both ways. Remember this when you start discussing these kinds of issues, many Americans do NOT approve of the US being in Iraq and they don't agree with what is going on in Lebanon.

This attitude is part of the problem; until you start seeing others as your equals, the idea of killing them or committing violent acts against them is easy. The "us against them" attitude is what keeps wars going, because it de-humanizes one side. When people realize that when a Christian mother, a Muslim mother, a Jewish mother losing her children in a war hurts all equally, they all die the same horrible death,then it becomes real.

MPOV said...

"...most of the people I know back in the States are appalled at what is happening in Lebanon..."

Then how come your government is still backing up Israel? Isn't the US a democracy?

Tim Newman said...

Then how come your government is still backing up Israel?

Probably because despite Israel's many faults, the average American has never seen an Israeli crowd chant "Death to America". has never seen footage of an Israeli burning the US flag, has never read an Israeli newspaper denouncing the USA as the "World's No.1 terrorist state" or The Great Satan, has not seen opinion polls that indicate a significant number of Israelis sympathise with al-Qaeda, suicide bombers, or believe that 9/11 was an inside job, and above all - again despite Israel's many faults - the average American can identify with the liberal democracy of Israel which allows equality for women, freedom of expression, and homosexuality in stark contrast with that system of government favoured by its neighbours and enemies.

Of course, I could be wrong and the Americans have all been duped by the Jews, who of course run all the newspapers, banks, Hollywood, etc. into supporting them against their own interests.

Woke said...

Well said, mn. And Tim has a point too I think. Its all in the PR.

bandicoot said...

Most of the examples Tim gives to explain the wide spread support of the average American to Israel can be traced to the rise of Islamic fundamental and terrorism, especially after the Iran’s Islamic revolution in 1979. However popular American support fro Israel goes back decades before that, before any of this spectacular hysterical anti-American chanting and flag burning. Of course there were anti-American feelings then, and to understand that you have to look at the American position throughout the history of struggle between Israel and Arab states, where the US consistently sided with Israel. But really to explain popular American support for Israel all along you need much more than some shared values of democracy and embrace of homosexuality! There are other values about Israel that one would expect most ordinary Americans to find alien or repugnant, e.g. its strong religious and biblical vision of itself, its extreme militaristic society, its absolute Jewishness where Judaism is simultaneously the primary religious and national identity, its systematic exclusion of 25% of its citizens (Israeli Arabs) from the government, its 4-decades long military rule over another people, its brutal apartheid system in the Occupied Territories, etc. The question is, why don’t most American see this side of Israel? Any meaningful answer to this question cannot avoid the role of Jewish influence. Yes, the massive Jewish influence in the US (and yes in almost all fields of life) is not a conspiracy theory; it’s a reality. Jewish and pro-Israel organizations in the US are among the most influential lobbies. To deny this or belittle its significance is to indulge in self-deception.

Tim Newman said...

[Y]ou have to look at the American position throughout the history of struggle between Israel and Arab states, where the US consistently sided with Israel.

Actually, the US adopted an arms embargo to Israel up until 1962. In the years between 1948 and 1962, the US supplied plenty of arms to the Arabs and nothing to Israel. Israel had to make do with a hotch-potch of weaponry from WWII Germany and Britain, some more modern Czech and French weapons, and a load of captured Soviet kit.

The consistent US support of Israel can be dated back to the Six Day War when the US got fed up seeing the Arabs repeatedly trying to eliminate Israel as a nation state whilst the UN did nothing to uphold its 1948 mandate. Before the Six Day War, US support for Israel was lukewarm ar best. Indeed, the whole project had a somewhat Communist feel to it in the beginning.

Tim Newman said...

There are other values about Israel that one would expect most ordinary Americans to find alien or repugnant, e.g. its strong religious and biblical vision of itself, its extreme militaristic society, its absolute Jewishness where Judaism is simultaneously the primary religious and national identity, its systematic exclusion of 25% of its citizens (Israeli Arabs) from the government, its 4-decades long military rule over another people, its brutal apartheid system in the Occupied Territories, etc. The question is, why don’t most American see this side of Israel?

Many of them do. But as I said, despite Israel's many faults - which you list here - the average American sees Israel's mode of government and its policies to be far and away more favourable than the alternative versions on offer from its neighbours, and especially those from the likes of Hezbollah.

MN said...

Yes the US is a democracy, but like any government, you don't get everything you want. Governments are dictated by the people who are running them. Many here don't like censorship, but they live in the UAE where it's part of the deal.

Tim Newman is right, I think a HUGE problem is perception, and this will probably not be a PC thing to say...but here goes.

The Arabs as a culture/people/Muslims have to be out there as a GROUP doing things. You cannot blame the media and say "It's all run by Jews." If you don't like something CHANGE IT.

I have learned by being here that the "nature" of most Arabs in the Gulf is to be rather laid back and it stems from their culture/heritage/religion and it is admirable. HOWEVER, sometimes this can lead to apathy, which gets you nowhere. I like this saying...if you sit around waiting for something to happen....you are going to have a fat ass.

All we see is violent images of Arabs, why? Because the positive ones are either not held out as an example. It has nothing to do with who controls the media. Why doesn't the US Arab anti-defamation league hold a peaceful demonstration against what's going on in Lebanon; why doesn't the UAE publicity machine report about HH Sh. Khalifa's VERY generous donation of $100mn to Katrina Aid, instead of what stupid building is being made here; (no one I know in the States and we are talking about people who are up with what goes on had heard about this) BAD MARKETING.

I have said this all along, if the Arab countries would pull together, they would be amazingly effective. The resources are here, the money is here and you have a young, educated population. I have asked this question to Locals that I am doing business with, why there are not more people "doing something" and they just say, "that is the way it is." Fine, I accept that, but then DON'T COMPLAIN because someone else does not portray your culture/heritage/religion in a positive light DO IT YOURSELF.

I have many times had to explain to collegues in the States that I am not in a war zone in Abu Dhabi and YES, they have air conditioning here. Why? Because there is NO positive information out there about this place itself. This is an amazing place, and I have made some wonderful friends here, but it drives me nuts when a Local says "that's the way it is," not if you want the image to change.

Remember Ghandi, he made a change with nonviolent protest. Violence gets you nothing, except an good excuse from the other guy to kill you. What is happening in Lebanon is terrible, but if the Arabs want more support, the image has to change. Everyone so far that we have brought here from the US says the same thing, the people and the country is amazing and they "had no idea" that this is what Arab culture/heritage/Islam is all about. Why is this and whose responsibility is it to change this? When you start getting positive images of Muslim Arabs on the news and the US suddenly sees that NO, Islam is not about killing people and that the avearge Muslim Arab is in fact, not all that different in what he wants/hopes for his family and life, THEN things will change. Until then, I am sorry to say, the negative image will perpetuate itself and the popular opinion will be slanted to the other side.

Woke said...

The image has to change, definitely. The Islamic nations needs to show more intent in defeating terrorism while the West needs to be more open minded and balanced in foreign affairs.

On a different note, I dont know why so many people misspell 'Gandhi'. Not that difficult, is it?

MN said...

Because I can't type! The faster I go, the worse it gets.

It is so upsetting what is going on in Lebanon and it does not look like there is going to be any solution soon.

bandicoot said...

tim - you're assuming that people in the US are actually well-informed and that they see the different sides of the story, and then they make an intelligent choice. Well, perhaps a small minority does; but we know that for the most part that is not the case. Again you seem to underestimate the impact of the media and popular culture plus pro-Israeli political activism in this regard.

As for the US support to Israel, yes, it's gotten much stronger after 1967 (now a strategic alliance), but it was significant before that (certainly more than US support to Arab states). In the words of the US Department of State, "Commitment to Israel's security and well being has been a cornerstone of U.S. policy in the Middle East since Israel's creation in 1948, in which the United States played a key supporting role."

mn - I'm not "blaming" the US media or absolving Arabs from their responsibility to represent their case; I'm just stating a fact. It's also not a question of Jews ruling the world; it's a question of influence on decision making, manipulation of public opinion, dissemination of favorable images and information. The reality is Jewish and pro-Israel groups have infinitely more influence in forming public perceptions and government policies than any of their Arab or Islamic counterparts.

Tim Newman said...

you're assuming that people in the US are actually well-informed and that they see the different sides of the story, and then they make an intelligent choice. Well, perhaps a small minority does; but we know that for the most part that is not the case.

Without actually doing an investigation myself, I prefer to assume that Americans are capable of drawing their own conclusions on the Middle East rather than assuming as you do that they arrive at their conclusions simply because they are ill-informed. But taking your assumption on board for the minute, I have seen no evidence whatsoever that Americans are any less informed of history of the Middle East conflict than the citizens of Europe, and indeed the Middle East.

As for the US support to Israel, yes, it's gotten much stronger after 1967 (now a strategic alliance), but it was significant before that (certainly more than US support to Arab states)

Your initial charge was:

you have to look at the American position throughout the history of struggle between Israel and Arab states, where the US consistently sided with Israel.

And this is simply not true. Last week was the 50th anniversary of the Suez Crisis, where the US publically faced down Israel and forced its withdrawal from Egypt.

The reality is Jewish and pro-Israel groups have infinitely more influence in forming public perceptions and government policies than any of their Arab or Islamic counterparts.

This is true, and a significant factor in this could be that their message is much more palatable to the US public. Any Arab lobby group in the US is going to spend most of his time explaining why the US should take the sides of a movement of whom a large number chant "Death to America" and burn their flag.

bandicoot said...

Of course they form their own opinion, but in the absence of a basic knowledge of the facts and different sides of the story, they will form ILL-INFORMED opinions. Its their opinion , but it's one that is shallow and naive.

Anyway, public opinions can do so much; we’ve seen how “successful” they were in stopping the Iraq war; so much for public opinion! Also recently we saw a shining example of the how informed and knowledgeable the Americanpublic is in the reaction to the DWP deal.

True, there are many ignorant and ill-informed Europeans and Middle Easterners, but really that’s not the issue here, though I know from personal experience that generally speaking Europeans tend to be more knowledgeable about Middle East and world issues. I'da imagine somebody there must be some reliable surveys or studies about this somewhere.

The Suez Canal thing; the fact is Eisenhower wasn’t going to allow England and France to behave as the old unchecked colonial powers any more, especially that Eden put together the coalition and started the war against Egypt behind Eisenhower's back. Israel was simply the tail and it had to be swept back into place with the big two-eaded rat.

I’m not saying you won’t find absolutely no moments when a US administration has taken a critical view of some Israeli action or policy; but considering the overall US ties to Israel these will appear as exceptions to the rule.

Arab lobby groups will have to deal with many issues, including the anti-American feelings in Arab and Islamic countries. That’s their challenge. Yes, it might be an advantage to the pro-Israeli groups, making their message more acceptable, but changing this perception is not mission impossible.

There are Arab lobbyists who are changing many hearts and minds; the same is being done by non-Arabs, including many decent Israelis and American Jews who value peace, truth and justice over blind propaganda and wrong policies. But as mn mentioned above there is much more work to be done.

Most average Americans I met have little knowledge of the nature of their government’s Middle East foreign policy and the harm caused by its unconditional support for Israel. There is usually a sea change of opinion and attitude once they understand the implications of this fact and get a basic and balanced grasp of the facts of the conflict.

stockaree said...

As author of ‘Land of the Free?’, I would like to thank all those who have e-mailed and posted messages in order to contribute to this ongoing debate. I am particularly heartened by the overwhelmingly constructive and civilized atmosphere in which the debate is taking place. Oh that the warring parties on all sides were willing to do the same!

If truth is the first casualty of war, then free speech is undoubtedly the second. In times of war people feel duty bound to support their country, no matter how much they may disagree with what their Government is doing in their name. And so they often stay silent – for fear of being branded unpatriotic. This self-censorship thankfully does not come easily to the podcasting community.

Of all the views expressed to date, even those which are diametrically opposed and apparently irreconcilable, the authors of these views DO have one important thing in common. They all want peace. Whatever our creed or religion, let’s pray for peace in Lebanon, Iraq and around the world. And not only pray for peace, but through the power of the people – through the power of podcasting – SPEAK OUT for peace.

Tim Newman said...

Of course they form their own opinion, but in the absence of a basic knowledge of the facts and different sides of the story, they will form ILL-INFORMED opinions. Its their opinion , but it's one that is shallow and naive.

Whereas I agree that most Americans are ill-informed and naive of the history and complexity of the Middle East, I would also add that most Americans couldn't care less. But I do believe that most Americans who do care about the Middle East are reasonably well informed. And if we take this level of education on the subject as a benchmark, I have seen no evidence that this is any less ill-informed than that of citizens of any other place. Are you more likely to get a sensible discussion of Israel/Palestine in the US, or in places like Saudi or Kuwait? Where are the greater range of views to be found?

There is usually a sea change of opinion and attitude once they understand the implications of this fact and get a basic and balanced grasp of the facts of the conflict.

Again, you state that those Americans who influence US foreign policy on Israel do not have a basic and balanced grip of the facts. I can only assume that this stems from a failure on your part to understand why many Americans back Israel, and conclude that it must only be because they don't know the truth. This line of thinking is halfway down the path towards Moonbat conspiracy theories.

It has clearly never occurred to you that there are people out there in great numbers who have a good grasp of the facts, yet still come out strongly in support of Israel. Well, take me for example. I grew up on a South Wales farm to atheist parents and never met a Jew or Muslim until I was at university. Through extensive reading of history, and nothing more, I came to the conclusion that Israel has a right to exist, and that in most conflicts with the Arabs and Palestinians, Israel was the wronged party. I do not think Israel is blameless - far from it - and nor do I think they were the wronged party in all instances, but I can say that I completely agree with the US support of Israel and wish other countries do the same.

I am certainly not alone in having reached similar conclusions using similar methods, and whereas I think educating all Americans in the subject of the Middle East would be a great idea and would result in a huge shift of opinions, I have a sneaky suspicion that it might not be in the direction you think it will be.

Seabee said...

The PR really is critical because it creates perceptions, it helps to form peoples' opinions.

The Jewish PR effort over the decades has to be one of the best there's ever been. (I say Jewish quite deliberately, not Israeli).

As already pointed out, Arab PR is virtually non-existent.

An example of the detail that goes into it was obvious from today's news. The Israeli soldiers taken by Hezbollah have been depicted from day one as "kidnapped", a very emotive word associated with criminals. The Hamas members of parliament, including the Speaker, taken by the Israelis have been depicted as "detained" or "arrested", words associated with law enforcement.

Such bias repeated day after day skews peoples' opinions. Which is exactly what it's designed to do of course.

A balance is sorely needed.

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