Right now I am in the middle of Rashid Khalidi’s 2003 “Resurrecting Empire…Western Footprints and America’s Perilous Path in the Middle East.”
It’s irritatingly repetitive, but should be required reading for every American. It retraces the entire history of colonialism in the Middle East…that the Americans ignorantly stepped into…and then was surprised to find resentment! LOL!
In the first place, I didn’t realize the Ottoman Empire reached so far west.
But what was particularly interesting was the descriptions of the colonizations by Britain and France in much of the ME (even Italy invaded Libya) especially between WWI and WWII and after…the “creation” of the ME nation states…the competition between England and the U.S. in the development of the oil cartels during the Cold War…and the meddling by the U.S. ever since then. He details the Israel/Palestine conflict (he worked behind the scene during the Camp David Accords) and why a peace agreement has historically failed at every step.
It was painful to find out that during the European encroachments that the U.S. (relatively uninvolved at that time) was considered a friend by most of the ME. We really squandered an opportunity to be a mediating force when later we aligned whole-hog with Israel.
Khalidi makes the point, that I had not thought of before, that since the majority of the American public knew very little or nothing about the history, language and culture of the Islamic countries, that a vivid narrative of Biblical themes resonated among most Americans and the protestants who took up the cause of Zionism.
So Woodrow Wilson was the first American president who was able to support Zionism publicly, says Khalidi, in spite of the misgivings of some of his advisors who knew the majority Arab population of Palestine would be overwhelmingly opposed. No groundwork was done…the Palestinians apparently were not consulted when, justifing his support for Zionism in spite of the objections of his officials, Truman famously remarked: “I’m sorry, gentlemen, but I have to answer to hundreds of thousands who are anxious for the success of Zionism; I do not have hundreds of thousands of Arabs among my constituents.”
As I said, required reading for every American…or at least for me!
BTW, Khalidi was the guy that the McCain slandered during the election campaign…claiming that Obama had “close ties” to him. In fact the Republican Annenburg Foundation, (dedicated to communication and education) on which Obama sat as a board member, gave money to an interest group linked to Khalidi. What galls me is that many years ago McCain gave money to the same group…the name of which I don’t remember now. I hate politics. It’s like an black hole for me, which I would avoid like the plague if I didn’t think it adversely affected the lives of people the world over!