[Sayma-Discuss] From Juan Cole's Informed Comment: "The Situation in Gaza"

Steve Livingston nc-stereoman at mail.com
Fri Jun 22 08:54:49 EDT 2007


 I've been depending on Juan Cole for informed commentary on the Middle
East for several years. He is one of my few "daily reads". He is a
professor of Middle Eastern history, speaks and reads several Arabic
languages, and is married to an Iraqi. His perspective is very
well-rounded.

In his analysis of the Gaza situation, Professor Cole says:

"Palestinians are not intrinsically more violent than anyone else, not
essentially less able to administer or govern than anyone else. Few
countries have not had civil wars or at least major civil conflicts. The
question should be not "Why are Palestinians like that?"-- which is a
racist question-- but what social and economic factors are driving the
present conflict?"

In my frequent discussions with fellow citizens concerning the Middle
East, I often encounter this racist attitude: "Why are those Muslims so
violent?" Certainly, there are cultural and historical differences that
ought to be taken into account in order to understand and mitigate Middle
Eastern conflicts. But by putting any racist assumptions aside, we can
see how the economic and military policies of the United States and her
principal ally in the Middle East have exacerbated and in some cases
created what appear to be intractable problems. Sweeping, fundamental
changes in US policy could have a trememndously healing effect.
Fortunately, one Presidential candidate is prepared to implement such
changes.

Last Winter, AFSC and FCNL participated in a meeting of ecumenical
leaders with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Despite being
recognized in America largely on the basis of a comment he never actually
made, Ahmadinejad has expressed a readiness, as have most other Middle
Eastern leaders, to engage in regional negotiations to end the occupation
of Middle Eastern lands by foreign military forces. This is the
absolutely essential first step that must be taken in order to resolve
the conflicts both in Iraq and in Palestine. As the source of one of
those foreign occupation forces, and a primary supporter of the other,
the US stands firmly in the way of resolution.

Regardless of the extent to which any other forces may or may not be
responsible for the situation in Gaza, in the West Bank, or in Iraq, we
Americans have a responsibility to address the policies of our own
government that fuel the flames of civil wars.

Steve

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