Friday, December 28, 2007

Pakistan and the mid-east

It seems that jihadists have had their way in Pakistan. On such occasions, leaders and elites turn to the Arab-Israel conflict with the pathetic response that settling it would rid the world of the jihadist threat.

In this light, here are two items that I recently read. In the Winter 2008 Independent Review, there is The Last Colonialist: Israel in the Occupied Territories since 1967 by Rafael Reuveny. The title is the thesis that the author develops. But to this non-mid-East scholar, the essay seems remarkably one-sided.

The author writes, for example, that in June of 1967, "Israel went to war." Well, yes. But there was the small matter of an existential threat. Ruth R. Wisse in Jews and Power provides some of the background, including a recounting of the many unmistakably threatening actions by Eqypt's Nasser and his allies.

Wisse also writes about the rise of 19th-century European anti-semitism and its usefulness to elites that wanted to rationalize the pressures of rapid modernization. Likewise, in the mid-east in the 20th century, anti-Zionism was as handy to explain the plight of the Arabs. She also notes that the first India-Pakistan war of and the Korean war, which sandwiched the first Arab-Israeli war in time, together, created approxiumately 20-million refugees, most of which have by now been resettled. But there has been no effort to resettle the Palestinian refugees because their plight has become an indispensible political gambit.

If campus audiences could muster enough civility, it would be interesting to see both authors in debate. Until then, anyone who reads Reuveny, should also look at Wisse.