my recent piece on why the Middle East region continues to resist change following the Arab Spring: http://www.middle-east-online.com/english/?id=61723
“The excessive, concentrated wealth that extractions industries created has notoriously depressed the empowerment of millions of people throughout modern history. But considering the unprecedented role of oil as the lifeblood of the global economy, it should come as no surprise that oil politics and rivalries have an especially destructive retardation effect on freedom in the Middle East.
Specifically, the rivalries of Qatar and Saudi Arabia are wreaking havoc on the legitimate rights of the Syrian people to resist the cruelties and tyrannies of the Syrian regime. They do so by allowing their citizens to fund jihadism that has undermined the emergence of a rational Syrian opposition that could be in a position to share power and eventually replace the current regime. The Gulf jihadist proxies know no compromise, no comprehension …
Religious Extremism Inside the State, a Poison We Can Eliminate With Good Ideas, Behaviors and Policies
Christian extremism in the U.S. Military, Muslim extremism in the new Egyptian Parliament, the worst kind of racism and fantasies of ethnic cleansing reaching the most official governmental positions of the Israeli Chief Rabbinate. That is just the news from one week, and it all points to the same thing: religion is poison for the State and the State is poison for religion. Want to kill a religion? Give it power in the State. Want to save a religion from those men who would abuse it for their own violent fantasies? Deprive religion of all state power, and the maniacs lose interest in it.
The State is all about power, and we have learned from a long and painful human history that no one should be trusted with too much power. That is why religion should remain powerless, so that it can function as a place …
A version of this essay appeared recently in the Jerusalem Report on November 21, 2011.
The Arab Awakening is facing serious challenges, and some new strategic decisions are required that will end up being good for all the revolutionary movements afoot this year, in the Middle East, in Israel and beyond.
The essential point is this: The Arab Street has demonstrated incredible heroism and nonviolent principles in the face of torture and death, and even Libya began as a very peaceful revolution, even if Libyans felt at some point that they had no choice but to fight. This is a paradigm shift of ethical and political values that will be remembered for generations. It may also signify a broad-based Middle Eastern democratic shift.
The going is tough, however, because no revolution easily dislodges corrupt structures of power. The temptation is just too great for those immediately below the revolution’s chosen …
Akiva Eldar writes brilliantly as usual. Here is an excerpt:
What shared values did the black American liberal observe over the last few days as he watched the broadcasts of sites bombed by Israel in the heart of the world’s most densely populated region? Is it possible to expect that the memory of the horrors of the Holocaust will influence Obama’s relationship with Israel? Last week, a Jewish member of Britain’s parliament said his grandmother was not murdered by the Nazis in order to provide a pretext for Israeli soldiers to murder Palestinian grandmothers in Gaza.
The spokesman for the Israeli consulate in New York boasted of the masses who attended a solidarity demonstration with the children of Sderot. He did not mention the masses of Jews who do not know where to hide their shame at the sight of pictures of Palestinian men weeping bitterly over the families who