Tuesday, November 28, 2017

The 1917 Balfour Declaration, the 1947 UN Partition Resolution, the 3,500-year Jewish Presence, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman -- Where Is the Middle East Headed?

THE REAL NEWS TODAY IS A QUESTION. What is more important right now -- finding out that Moses wrote the Pentateuch or that a Kuwaiti journalist has told the Arab world that Israel was there long before Islam existed or the Saudi Crown Prince vowing to defeat terrorism? In reality, all three stories tell us something about the Middle East and its current issues of who belongs and who doesn't. • • • THE ALPHABET OF MOSES. That title alone should shock most of us who have been taught that the alphabet was created by Phoenicians. But, new work by Douglas Petrovich gives a new view of the origin of an phonetic alphabet. The summary is found in the Monday American Thinker article "Moses Vindicated" by Randolph Parrish. It realtes that thirty-five hundred years ago, slaves toiling in the harsh mines of the Sinai scribbled some graffiti on the desert rocks. One of them wrote : "Moses then provoked astonishment." That, says Parrish, "plus a lot of other inscriptions, deserves more than a passing glance. Archaeological evidence of Hebrew events has been slow to come by. Now, in a new book, The World's Oldest Alphabet, Douglas Petrovich has deciphered the Sinai inscriptions, and for the first time outside the Bible, we can read how the slaves looked at things : 'He sought occasion to cut away to barrenness our great number, our swelling without measure.' (Sinai 349) / 'Our bond servitude had lingered. Moses then provoked astonishment. It is a year of astonishment.' (Sinai 361). Parrish says that anyone familiar with the Book of Exodus will immediately spot parallels with the account of Pharaoh's attempt to reduce the number of newborn Israelites and the subsequent actions of Moses : "So much, then, for the dismissive arguments that the Israelites could never have numbered enough to be considered a threat to Egypt. Or that there never was an Exodus. Or that Moses never existed. So much, then, for the JEPD theory of the Pentateuch (written, according to the theory, by a variety of late authors with varying concepts about the nature of God). So much for the idea that the Israelites never lived in Egypt at all, or were just a group of wandering tribes who made up most of their history centuries later. All washed away like Pharaoh's chariots. ll this should be headlines, but it isn't. • Petrovich also "demonstrates in his book how the first alphabet was likely created not by paleo-Canaanites or Phoenicians, but by the Hebrews, who developed it by adapting Egyptian picture images for their own use during their 400-year stay in Egypt. This, in fact, was probably the world's first truly phonetic alphabet. History, which usually credits that to the merchants in the Levant, may have to be revised on this score also." • BUT, the JEPD Theory, or Documentary Hypothesis, is taught in many university Bible courses. It was developed in the 19th century by the Julius Wellhausen and others, when scholars thought that few could write in Moses' time. It claims the Bible's first five books (as well as Joshua) were oral tradition written down many centuries after Moses, by at least four or five different authors. And, for another explanation of JEPD, try Theopedia, which states : "The JEDP theory seeks to understand the authorship of the Pentateuch in light of the Documentary Hypothesis. This view believes that the Pentateuch represents the conflation of four different sources rather than the work of primarily one author, traditionally Moses. The results of Source Criticism first proposed two authors (or sources) for the Pentateuch supposedly distinguishable by the use of the terms Yahweh and Elohim. Two additional sources were later proposed as P for Priestly, and D for Deuteronomic resulting in the JEDP theory of authorship, most notably associated with German scholar Julius Wellhausen (1844-1918). • Traditionally, Moses is viewed as the author of the Pentateuch, and this has caused proponents of the JEDP theory to question: what role did Moses play? Some have suggested that his role was minimal, with the majority of the Pentateuch having been written after his death. On the other hand, it has been put forth that Moses developed the core of the Pentateuch, or in other words, the basis for which all other material would follow. However, one critical view of the JEPD theory states that when something is labeled true or false, the criteria for making the assessment must be outlined. In general, the crotocosm goes, when a document claims to be written by someone in a particular time period, the benefit of the doubt goes to the claim, unless there are substantial reasons to think otherwise. The best historical example is that there is no record that Julius Caesar ever took his armies on campaigns in Gaul, except for his own history of the campaign -- yet no one doubts that Caesar did this. Son it is not objective to use one standard for secular history, and a more skeptical standard for history by religious people, that is rejecting the claim that Moses wrote the Pentateuch without being able to provide anything but conjecture for the claim. You can read more on this at < http://www.historycart.com/JEPD.html > Many of the Sinai inscriptions can be viewed with a Google search. • For our purposes, we need only remember that the Sinai writings, now readable because of scholarly work on deciphering their letters and marks, means that it is perfectly possible that Moses, who lived in the 14th -13th century BC, wrote the entire Pentateuch, as the Jewish religion believes, and that the first phonetic alphabet was developed by the Hebrews who used the Egyptian heiroglyphs to create the first phonetic alphabet based on 'letters' to represent sounds instead of whole ideas or phrases. • • • THE KUWAITI JOURNALIST. Fast forward to November, 2017. Israel Today reported on Monday that "a leading Kuwaiti journalist this month sparked public outrage when he dared to get real about the Jewish state." Writer Abdullah Al-Hadlaq was taking part in a panel discussion on Kuwait's Alrai TV when he "not only rejected the notion state that Israel is not an occupying power, and went so far as to accept the legitimacy of the Jews' return to their ancient homeland." Al-Hadlaq also praised the advanced and progressive Jewish state, which puts to shame most of its Arab neighbors. In remarks translated by the Middle East Media Research Institute, Al-Hadlaq said : "When the State of Israel was established in 1948, there was no state called 'Palestine.' Like it or not, Israel is an independent sovereign state. It exists, and it has a seat at the United Nations, and most peace-loving and democratic countries recognize it. The group of states that do not recognize Israel are the countries of tyranny and oppression. For example, North Korea does not recognize Israel, but this does nothing to detract from Israel or from the fact of its existence, whether we like it or not. The State of Israel has scientific centers and universities the likes of which even the oldest and most powerful Arab countries lack. So, Israel is a state and not a terror organization. There is no occupation. There is a people returning to its promised land. Are you aware that the history of the Israelites is ancient, predating Islam? Therefore, we Moslems must acknowledge that the Israelites have a right to that land, and that they have not plundered it." • The Times of Israel quoted Al-Hadlaq citations of Koranic verses as proof that “Israelites have the right to the Holy Land. Allah assigned that land to them, and they did not plunder it, said AL-Hadlaq. Al-Hadlaq also celebrated Israel’s loyalty to its soldiers, speaking effusively of the lengthy public campaign to free soldier Gilad Shalit from Hamas captivity in 2011. He said he wished Arabs could be like the people of Israel “who rallied, down to the very last one, to defend a single Israeli soldier, adding “By Allah, if he were a soldier in any Arab country, would his nation, country or head of state rally the same way Israel did? The Arab countries have had thousands of casualties, and nobody cares about them.” Finally, Al-Hadlaq called for cooperation with Israel against common enemies such as Iran and its allies : “Why shouldn’t we live in peaceful coexistence with Israel and cooperate with it?” he asked, suggesting a three-way alliance between Israel, the US and Gulf states to “annihilate Hezbollah beyond resurrection.” • The story of Al-Hadlaq's support of Israel is being covered all over Europe -- French, German nad Scandinavian outlets are running the video [ < https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EweR3yxy6gY > ] and writing about it. And, it was not the first time Al-Hadlaq has made his pro-Israeli opinions known. He has in the past written columns in which he has defended Israel’s right to defend itself in the face of Hamas attacks, and lauded Israel’s democracy in a region of oppressive regimes. But, he has been heavily criticized in Arab circles for these views. • According to British-based Imam Muhammad Al-Hussaini, traditional commentators from the 8th and 9th century onwards have uniformly interpreted the Koran to say explicitly that the Land of Israel has been given by God to the Jewish people as a perpetual covenant. Hussaini bases his argument upon Koran 5:21 in which Moses declares : "O my people, enter the Holy Land which God has prescribed for you, and turn not back in your traces, to turn about losers." He cites the Koran commentator Muhammad ibn Jarir al-Tabari, who says that this statement is "a narrative from God...concerning the saying of Moses...to his community from among the children of Israel and his order to them according to the order of God to him, ordering them to enter the holy land." He argued that this promise to the Jews is ever lasting, and further said : "It was never the case during the early period of Islam... that there was any kind of sacerdotal attachment to Jerusalem as a territorial claim." • This interpretation of the promise to the Jews as ever-lasting is not uniformly accepted by all Islamic commentators. According to a translation by the Islamic Law scholar Khaleel Mohammed, Ibn Kathir (1301–1373) interpreted Koran 5:20–21 using the following terms : "'That which God has written for you' i.e. That which God has promised to you by the words of your father Israel that it is the inheritance of those among you who believe." • THE BALFOUR DECLARATION OF 1917. The Balfour Declaration was a public statement issued by the British government during World War I announcing support for the establishment of a "national home for the Jewish people" "IN" Palestine, then an Ottoman region with a minority Jewish population. It read : "His Majesty's government view with favour the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people, and will use their best endeavours to facilitate the achievement of this object, it being clearly understood that nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine, or the rights and political status enjoyed by Jews in any other country." The declaration was contained in a letter dated 2 November 1917 from the United Kingdom's Foreign Secretary Arthur Balfour to Lord Rothschild, a leader of the British Jewish community, for transmission to the Zionist Federation of Great Britain and Ireland. The text of the declaration was published in the press on 9 November 1917. • On March 23, 1918, Al Qibla, the daily newspaper of Mecca, printed the following words in support of the Balfour Declaration of 1917 : "The resources of the country [Palestine] are still virgin soil and will be developed by the Jewish immigrants (...) we have seen the Jews from foreign countries streaming to Palestine from Russia, Germany, Austria, Spain, and America. The cause of causes could not escape those who had a gift of deeper insight. They knew that the country was for its original sons [abna'ihi-l-asliyin], for all their differences, a sacred and beloved homeland. The return of these exiles [jaliya] to their homeland will prove materially and spiritually an experimental school for their brethren who are with them in the fields, factories, trades and all things connected to the land." • On 3 January 1919, Hussein's son, king Faisal I of Iraq and Dr. Chaim Weizmann, President of the World Zionist Organization signed the Faisal–Weizmann Agreement for Arab-Jewish cooperation, in which Faisal conditionally accepted the Balfour Declaration based on the fulfilment of British wartime promises of development of a Jewish homeland in Palestine and on which subject Faisal I stated : We Arabs... look with the deepest sympathy on the Zionist movement. Our deputation here in Paris is fully acquainted with the proposals submitted yesterday by the Zionist Organisation to the Peace Conference, and we regard them as moderate and proper. We will do our best, in so far as we are concerned, to help them through; we will wish the Jews a most hearty welcome home... I look forward, and my people with me look forward, to a future in which we will help you and you will help us, so that the countries in which we are mutually interested may once again take their places in the community of the civilised peoples of the world. • But, it wasn't going to be easy. The statement that such a homeland would be found "in Palestine" rather than "of Palestine" was deliberate. The proposed draft of the Balfour Declaration referred to the principle "that Palestine should be reconstituted as the National Home of the Jewish people." But, in the final text, the word "reconstituted" was removed and the word "that" was replaced with "in," avoiding clearly committing the entirety of Palestine as the National Home of the Jewish people, and resulting in controversy in future years over the intended scope. The deliberate ambiguity was clarified by the 1922 Churchill White Paper, which wrote that "the terms of the declaration referred to do not contemplate that Palestine as a whole should be converted into a Jewish National Home, but that such a Home should be founded 'in Palestine.' " Since the Declaration didn't include any geographical boundaries for Palestine, following the end of the war, three documents -- the Declaration, the Hussein-McMahon Correspondence and the Sykes-Picot Agreement (a 1915 agreement between France and Britain to divide the post-war Middle East into their two spheres of influence) -- became the basis for the negotiations to set the boundaries of Palestine. • So, the Balfour Declaration had the consequence of the emergence of a Jewish state and a chronic state of conflict between Arabs and Jews throughout the Middle East. • Starting in 1920, intercommunal conflict in Mandatory Palestine, governed bythe British, broke out, which widened into the regional Arab–Israeli conflict. The "dual obligation" to the two communities quickly proved to be untenable. The British subsequently concluded that it was impossible for them to pacify the two communities in Palestine by using different messages for different audiences. The Palestine Royal Commission made the first official proposal for partition of the region, stating that the "disease is so deep-rooted that, in our firm conviction, the only hope of a cure lies in a surgical operation." Following the 1936–1939 Arab revolt in Palestine, and as worldwide tensions rose before World War II, the British Parliament approved the White Paper of 1939 -- their last formal statement of governing policy in Mandatory Palestine -- declaring that Palestine should not become a Jewish State and placing restrictions on Jewish immigration. While the British considered this consistent with the Balfour Declaration’s commitment to protect the rights of non-Jews, many Zionists saw it as a repudiation of the Declaration. This policy lasted until the British surrendered the Mandate in 1948, serving only to highlight the fundamental difficulty for Britain in carrying out the Mandate obligations. • The foundation stone for modern Israel had been laid, but the prediction that this would lay the groundwork for harmonious Arab-Jewish cooperation proved to be wishful thinking. • • • THE 1947 PARTITION. This week marks the 70th anniversary of the 1947 UN partition resolution, the first international legitimation of a Jewish state. Martin Kramer writes that : "To advance future opportunities for peace diplomacy and normalization, governments should pay more attention to the seventieth anniversary of the landmark UN vote." Earlier in November, the governments of Britain and Israel marked the centenary of the Balfour Declaration. • Kramer states : "A centenary is certainly a rarer thing, and the Balfour Declaration makes for dramatic telling. But the vote over the UN partition resolution had plenty of drama, too, and some of us, or our parents or grandparents, still remember the suspense that attended it and the elation that followed." Kramer cites Israeli novelist Amos Oz who, in an autobiographical passage, recalled that night in Jerusalem as his father stroked his head in his darkened bedroom : 'From the moment we have our own state [said Oz's father], you will never be bullied just because you are a Jew and because Jews are so-and-sos. Not that. Never again. From tonight that's finished here. Forever.' I reached out sleepily to touch his face, just below his high forehead, and all of a sudden instead of his glasses my fingers met tears. Never in my life, before or after that night, not even when my mother died, did I see my father cry. And in fact I didn't see him cry that night, either. Only my left hand saw.' " • • • IS THE 1947 PARTITION RESOLUTION WORTH CELEBRATING? The United Nations vote occurred in the presence of cameras, and anyone can see it on YouTube, along with the joyous celebrations that followed. By contrast, says Kramer, "the ecstasy prompted by the Balfour Declaration seems remote. Some 100,000 reportedly turned out in the streets of Odessa, but not even one photograph attests to it. So why, one asks again, did the Balfour Declaration centenary resonate, while the partition-vote anniversary doesn't?" • Kramer"s answers are many and include the following -- the subsequent 70 years have been marked by repeated assaults on Israel's legitimacy, launched from within the same UN and one wonders if in 2017, the partition vote would pass in the UN General assembly. // Israel's founders knew that a General Assembly vote wasn't a firm anchor, so while Israel's Declaration of independence in May 1948 invoked the partition resolution, it added a new assertion : "This recognition by the United Nations of the right of the Jewish people to establish their state is irrevocable." Why irrevocable? Because the founders knew perfectly well that a future vote at the UN might revoke it. The resolution reflected the political interests of UN member states at a moment in timen and they were bound to shift, and very quickly did -- away from Israel. // Britain had earlier betrayed the Balfour Declaration, just as the UN would betray the partition resolution. // Of the states that voted for partition, only the United States is prone to issuing comparable reassurances. Ironically, Abba Eban, who led the Zionist effort at the UN in 1947, wrote that, after the vote, "I was disturbed by the weakness of American support," which had been "more lukewarm than the Soviet." // The partition resolution wasn't all that important anyway, so why bother? By 1947, the Jews in Palestine were 600,000-strong and unstoppable. Even with a resolution, Israel wound up fighting a war of independence, and it certainly would have fought one had the UN vote been deadlocked. It's a war Israel would have won, whatever the UN had decided or failed to decide in November 1947. But, Kramer says he cannot construct any scenario for 1947-1948 in which a Jewish state, recognized by the major powers, could have emerged if there had not been Zionist victories at UNSCOP [the United Nations Special Committee on Palestine] and in the UN General Assembly." // Ben-Gurion. Absent a UN resolution or Ben-Gurion, the trauma of Israel's birth would have been much worse. Better to have had both. But for those who emphasize Israel's birth as the result only of battlefield grit and sacrifice, there is a logical prejudice against celebrating the UN vote as a watershed. // The other half of the UN resolution recommends the establishment of an Arab state as well as a Jewish one. Indeed, in 1988, the Palestine National Council, while citing the partition resolution as precipitating a "historical injustice," added that "it is this resolution that still provides those conditions of international legitimacy that ensure the right of the Palestinian Arab people to sovereignty." It was a partition plan, and for Zionist opponents of partition today, it's nothing to celebrate. The 1917 Balfour Declaration is much less complicated: it didn't even mention Arabs, and merely insisted that the "national home" of the Jewish people not prejudice "the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities." // The partition plan came with a map -- a division that many say would have left all of Jerusalem under international control, surrounded on all sides by the proposed Arab state. It also would have cut the Jewish state into three chunks, linked at two points. But, there was Ben-Gurion, and, beginning in the spring of 1948, when the Arabs went to war to throttle Israel, Israel seized the opportunity to occupy a good part of the territory allotted to the Arab state, and to push through a corridor to the besieged Jews in western Jerusalem. Israel insisted that the Arabs, by going to war, had nullified the partition plan -- and its map. In 1949, Ben-Gurion declared the resolution "null and void," bereft of "any moral force." In 1956, he said: "[Just as] we cannot bring back all our dead sons and daughters who died in that war of independence, [so] that resolution cannot be brought back." • • • SO, WHY CELEBRATE THE PARTITION RESOLUTION? In the view of Ben-Gurion and Israel's founders, Israel didn't arise from the UN resolution, but emerged upon its death after the 1948 war for independence. Why then celebrate a dead letter -- strangled at birth by the Arabs, and then buried by Israel? Again, Kramer has answers : "Most obviously, the Balfour Declaration spoke only of a 'national home' for the Jews, which the British later interpreted to be less than a state. Because of that vagueness, millions of Jews in Europe for whom the Declaration was originally intended were prevented from immigrating there and did not survive the Holocaust. The 1947 UN resolution, by contrast, explicitly recommended a Jewish state, and at a moment when the yishuv (the body of Jewish residents in the land of Israel) had the strength to leverage international recognition to maximum advantage. There also is another reason to emphasize the 1947 resolution : the Arabs rejected it. And because they did, preferring war, they cannot escape their share of responsibility for the war's consequences : their 'catastrophe,' or nakba. Evasion of responsibility explains why the Palestinians, in telling the saga of their 'dispossession,' stress the Balfour Declaration and downplay the partition resolution. By claiming that the die was cast against them as early as 1917, their own mistakes in 1947 and 1948 are made to seem inconsequential." • Kramer argues that while the Balfour Declaration was British and presumed to make promises for another set of 'national' interests (although Kramer says the Declaration "could not have been more legitimate -- by the standards of its time), the 1947 resolution meets today's standards : "Prior to the vote, the General Assembly empowered UNSCOP, comprising representatives of eleven uninvolved member-states, to investigate the situation and make recommendations to the General Assembly. This is now standard procedure in the handling of conflicts, and it was here that the Palestinian Arabs made their first mistake -- one that their apologists, to this day, seek to cover up. Columbia professor Rashid Khalidi states as fact that Palestinian Arabs 'were either not consulted, or were effectively ignored by the various international efforts that culminated in this resolution.' UN 'expert' Richard Falk makes the same claim : UNSCOP 'never consulted the wishes of the Palestinian people or the residents of historic Palestine....Falk has said, the 'fundamental flaw with the partition proposals contained in Resolution 181 was the failure to consult the people resident in Palestine at the time.' " Kramer rejects this position : "This is false and deceptive. The Palestinian Arab leaders boycotted UNSCOP, which was eager to meet with them. There was no UNSCOP 'failure to consult the people,' there was a Palestinian failure to engage UNSCOP. Henry Cattan, a Jerusalem jurist and advocate for the Palestinian cause, thought this decision 'unfortunate,' since it allowed the Zionists to present their arguments 'without contradiction from the Arab side.' But he couldn't get it reversed : 'When UNSCOP came to Palestine for its inquiry, its [Moslem] Indian member came to my house and, speaking as a friend, asked me to suggest to the [Palestinian] Arab Higher Committee that it was unwise for it to boycott UNSCOP and its investigations. I transmitted his view to the Arab Higher Committee but without result. Its attitude was adamant : there was no need for any inquiry or investigation, since the only course was to end the Mandate and to proclaim [Arab] Palestine's independence.' " • Kramer says that :"Not only did the Arab Higher Committee then reject the majority report of UNSCOP, which recommended the partition of Palestine into Jewish and Arab states; it also rejected the minority report, which recommended a federated, binational state. In the Arab view, the Jews had no right to anything -- not a single immigrant, not a shred of self-government. Once the Mandate ended, the Arabs believed they could set the clock back to 1917. Their leaders and thinkers, lost in a fog of wishful thinking, had no way to gauge the strength of the yishuv, which had gathered near-sovereign force under their very noses." Their second mistake compounded the first -- the Arabs misread the significance of the partition vote. Partition was adopted by a two-thirds majority vote in the General Assembly -- not by a secret agreement, not by a great-power proclamation, but by an open vote of sovereign states. This is a procedure we have come to regard as fundamental to international legitimacy. No less important, the two rising superpowers, the United States and the Soviet Union, drove the "yes" vote forward. This, says Kramer, "despite the fact that the Soviets had been hostile to Zionism and supportive of the Arabs all through the 1920s and 1930s. The sudden Soviet turnabout showed how strongly the wind was blowing against the Arabs. The voting procedure, and the identity of the yes-sayers, meant that the partition resolution had far greater political weight than the Balfour Declaration. It's also why the international two-state consensus forged by it has lasted to this day." • The Arabs rejected the partition vote exactly as they had rejected the Balfour Declaration -- not a partial rejection, but a total one. Why? Kramer's answer : "Because they thought that once the British left, they would defeat the Jews. This is why the Arabs refused to accept partition, or a federated state, or any plan that recognized any Jewish rights at all....Instead the Palestinians went down to an ignominious defeat, dragging the Arab states with them. Indeed, their conduct in the war conformed almost precisely to the conduct they had expected of the Jews, making them contemptible in their own eyes and in the eyes of other Arabs." • Which is why it is important to mark this 70th anniversary, and every anniversary to come. It isn't just a reminder of Israel's legitimacy; it's a reminder of Arab responsibility. • Martin Kramer is the Koret Visiting Fellow at The Washington Institute. • • • THE SAUDI CROWN PRINCE. Breitbart's John Howard wrote on Monday that : "Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman of Saudi Arabia promised on Sunday that the military coalition his country heads will renew its efforts to 'pursue terrorism until it is eradicated completely' following Friday’s monstrous attack on a Sufi mosque in Egypt. Salman spoke at the first formal meeting of the 41-member Islamic Military Counter-Terrorism Coalition (IMCTC) in the Saudi capital of Riyadh." • IMCTC Secretary-General Abdulelah al-Saleh said : “The enemy is terrorism. It’s not sects or religions or races, it’s terrorism.” However, Reuters notes that the delegation from Yemen’s internationally-recognized government said that the coalition should view Iran as a major adversary, along with groups like ISIS and al-Qaida. And, Turkey asked for “support from our friends” against Kurdish separatist groups. • Crown Prince bin Salman told attendees that the attack in Egypt, which appears to have been carried out by ISIS, was “a very painful occurrence” which must “make us contemplate in an international and powerful way the role of this terrorism and extremism. I express today our condolences to our brothers in Egypt, as a leadership and people, for what happened in the past days. We will not allow them to distort our peaceful religion. Today we are sending a strong message that we are working together to fight terrorism. Today we affirm that we will pursue terrorism until it is eradicated completely. The biggest threat from terrorism and extremism is not only killing innocent people and spreading hate, but tarnishing the reputation of our religion and distorting our belief.” • The IMCTC Ministers of Defense affirmed that terrorism represents a constant and growing challenge and threat to peace, security and regional and international stability, as it has transcended the borders of countries, while casting aside all values. Terrorism has become deadlier than ever before, particularly in our Islamic world, which suffers from the crimes of terrorism, leaving heavy losses in property and lives, and has shattered the dreams of broad sectors of societies trying to live in peace and tranquility. They emphasized the resolve of their countries to coordinate and unite their efforts, to ward off the dangers of terrorism and take a stand against it. They emphasized the importance of joint efforts, organized collective actions, and comprehensive strategic planning to deal with the threat of terrorism, and put an end to those who seek to fuel conflicts and sectarianism, and spread chaos, strife and unrest within their countries.” • When Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman sat down recently with the New York Times, he offered some very hard words for Iran’s leader : Iran’s “supreme leader is the new Hitler of the Middle East. But we learned from Europe that appeasement doesn’t work. We don’t want the new Hitler in Iran to repeat what happened in Europe in the Middle East.” • Saudi Arabia and Iran are rivals for dominance in the Middle East. Iran indirectly controls four Arab capitals today -- Damascus, Sana, Baghdad and Beirut. This Iranian over-reach is one reason Mohammed bin Salman was scathing about Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. The rivalry has spread into Lebanon. Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri traveled to Saudi Arabia and announced his resignation. But, he has since returned to Beirut via France and Egypt and rescinded his resignation. Bin Salman told the NYT : "The bottom line of the whole affair is that Hariri, a sunni Moslem, is not going to continue providing political cover for a Lebanese government that is essentially controlled by the Lebanese shiite Hezbollah militia, which is essentially controlled by Teheran.” • Saudi Arabia, a sunni kingdom, considers Hezbollah, a shiite organization, a terrorist organization. The dominance of Hezbollah in Lebanon has led one Saudi official to say that Lebanon is “in a state of war with the Kingdom.” Analysts say a war was unlikely because any Saudi actions that raise the temperature increases the risk of an accidental regional conflagration. • • • DEAR READERS, the Middle East is so complex that it requires a lifetime of study. But, we can take away from today's short account the fact that the problems are neither recent nor easy to solve. It is also clear that the Palestinians are not on the right side of history -- any history. And, the Iranian support for terrorist takeovers in the region, and its actual de facto takeovers in Syria and Iraq have made Israel and the Arab States -- led by sunni Saudi Arabia -- bedfellows in a sense that they have not been since 1917. Saudi Crown Prince bin Salman could be the coalescing leader that the Middle East needs to confront Iran and reduce its danger to the region and the world. • Israel cannot and should not be the leader in the sunni battle for an Iran that supports peace in the Middle East, or is vanquished. But, Israel can help in significant ways if and when an Arab leader emerges who is ready and has the resources to lead the battle. Mohammed bin Salman may be that person. There are many Moslems who would support such an anti-Iran coalition. And, it would eliminate Palestinian refusal to deal with the reality of a Middle East that includes, as it has for at least 3,500 years, a Jewish state.

1 comment:

  1. Where is the Middle East headed? That's a question that some believe is better left unasked and allow what seems to be the slightest flicker of light at the end of the tunnel have the opportunity to grow into a blaze of co-existence between the likes of Sunni's and Jews.

    As it was once said about relations between China and the United States ..."Only Nixon could go to China". So it may be also said that only Netanyahu and Crown Prince Salman could exchange visits and have a cup of tea together.

    What a giant step for all of mankind. It would be an Ill wind (Terrorism) that brought two century old adversaries together in a common cause.