As people become participants in power, rather than victims of it, they seek more objective information on the forces that shape their lives. So say the “neo-cons.”
But is it true?
Let’s say you grow up believing that there is a single race of people – no, not people but sub-humans – who are responsible for all the ills that you and those dear to you experience. Let’s say that you hear and read an unending stream of factoids that confirm this, for instance:
- that this group engineered the Tsunami that killed hundreds of thousands of your fellow Muslims;
- that they blew up the Twin Towers in New York in order to cause America to invade the Middle East;
- that they kidnap Palestinian children in order to steal their livers for transplant.
What would it take to make you praise such people, or to align yourself with them?
The above conspiracy theories are standard fare in the Arab world. Every mad mullah, martinet colonel, and inbred royal clinging to a throne of tyrannical power blames the JEWS for every ill he has inflicted on his people. And by sheer force of repetition, this is the common wisdom of the Arab street.
There is a pro-Israeli press developing in Iraq – primarily in the blogosphere, but with echos in the liberal newspapers in Baghdad, and in the Iraqi émigré press abroad. This pro-Israeli strain, unique in the Arab world, devolved from two simple facts:
- The groups attacking Israel (Hamas and Hezbollah) are groups that openly support anti-democratic terror in Iraq.
- The nations that support these groups (Syria and Iran) are arming terror groups that are slaughtering Iraqi civilians.
Below are some quotes reported in Iraq the Model, July 8th, from an Arabic forum on the BBC web site. The comments centered on the kidnapping of an Israeli soldier by Hamas, and the Israeli military response. Comments from most of the Arab world were, well, as expected. Comments from inside Iraq were not.
From “Hussein, Iraq”:
“When Sharon got ill we were frankly saddened because he was the cure for terror. But today came Olmert and proved that he’s tougher than his predecessor. I say it frankly that he who supports Zarqawi, calls him a martyr of the nation, and mourns Uday and Qusay deserves this. And he who still feels nostalgic for Saddam also deserves this.”
From “Ahmed Talib al-Taii: Baghdad/Iraq”
“Hamas with their radical false-heroic speech opened the door for extremists in Gaza and Damascus to open a battlefront that will harm the innocent Palestinian citizen and destroy the peace process. Hamas has long been against the peace process and has long worked on halting it.”
From “Hassan al-Shami: Baghdad/Iraq”
“Our hearts go out to the family of the Israeli soldier who was kidnapped by some Palestinian group. We share your suffering and we fully support anything you do to free your missing soldier.”
From “Hashim al-Tabatabai: Baghdad/Iraq”
“Strange they speak in the name of Islam while the prophet of Islam was tolerant in dealing with his enemies when he could for the sake of his message. Those who slay people like sheep are far from the values of that honorable message.”
From “Abu Ayoub al-Iraqi”
“I wonder how much time and blood it will take until Arabs and Muslims realize that the world is not the property of their ancestors, and that God is not a trademark of their minds, and that terror is a dead-end that leads only to more destruction? Israel is a civilized country defending herself from barbaric savages whose minds are made of stone… minds that do not want to believe they are living in the 21st century. What’s happening to the Palestinians despite its cruelty is going to be a good lesson for them to learn they must clear their community of the hateful fundamentalist terror mentality…[Quranic verse] ‘God will not change people until they change what’s within themselves.’”
From: “A free Iraqi: Baghdad”
“From following these participations I am gaining more faith in the maturity of thinking of my Iraqi brothers. Thank God! And to Olmert I say: Go forward and abolish the fountains of terror in Gaza!”
From: “Hatif al-Iraqi: Baghdad/Iraq”
“The problem with the thinking pattern of Arabs is that it got dominated by the thinking of their rulers. The rulers are essentially the enemies of the people… Did the Arabs and Palestinians learn anything from the Israeli reaction? Did they learn that the human life is the most precious of all the treasures of nations, and that all tools of war and peace are reserved to serve this life? Did they learn that for the sake of one person in danger a whole nation would care and worry? Meanwhile, thousands of lives are taken in the secret prisons in Arab countries without remorse or deterrence. How many Palestinians lost their lives or homes because of this or that reckless mischief of Hamas? Is Palestinian life so cheap as to be spent for the sake of a record of fake heroism? Shame on the kidnappers who keep their families and money away from the danger while using the poor as human shields.”
From: “An Iraqi in Exile”
“To answer Mr. Jihad (the Palestinian from Jordan) and his advice for Iraqis: Iraqis are singing outside the Arab flock for one reason, which is that they distinguish the truth from the Arab illusions. Only 13 years ago Iraqis used to speak like the rest of Arabs; equipped with the illusions of the ‘Zionist conspiracy’ created by Islamists and pan-nationalists. But Iraqis now have discovered the bitter truth. Who is murdering Iraqis on a daily basis?? Who is prolonging the stay of foreign troops? That’s the terrorist coming from Arab and Islamic countries. We are people with a long history of which we are proud, and we possess enough education and awareness, so long live the new Iraq, and let Israel live as our neighbor. I’d love to say that I wish Israel could rule the entire region; better than any Arab government except for the Iraqi!”
Omar, the co-author of blog Iraq the Model, takes a thoroughly geo-political view of the conflict in Lebanon, which he regards as inextricably connected to the struggles inside Iraq. Advocates of self-rule in Baghdad face the same enemies, both domestically and internationally. He writes:
“From an Iraqi perspective I believe that a powerful strike to Hizbollah will be in Iraq’s national interest. Hizbollah is Iran’s and Syria’s partner in feeding instability in Iraq. There is evidence that this terror group has a role in equipping and training insurgents in Iraq. Hizbollah had more than once, openly, shown support for the ‘resistance’ in Iraq and sponsored the meetings of Baathist and radical Islamist militants who are responsible for most of the violence in Iraq. Iran, Syria, Hamas and Hizbollah have made it clear that their mission is to fight back the American plans in the Middle East. To me, that is equal to saying that their mission is to stop Iraq from becoming a stable democratic country, in order to prevent democracy from spreading to the rest of the region.”
Now, a “pro-Israeli” press is not the norm in Iraq. For instance, while liberals complimented Olmert, Moktada al-Sadr organized demonstrations in favoring Iran and Hizbollah. But that it exists at all, and that its growth is fueled by events on the ground, is a testament to a fundamental axiom of the “neo-cons” – that the growth of democracy alters how people think, regardless of their cultural background.
Or, as they might put it: As people become participants in power, rather than victims of it, they seek more objective information on the forces that shape their lives.