It’s Not a Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood
America is a large country with friendly neighbors to the north and south and oceans to the east and west. Israel is a small country in a bad neighborhood. The resulting difference in perspective may account for why the U.S. continually pushes Israel to make concessions to hostile forces in hopes of placating them, and why Israel resists – and is often stamped “intransigent.” But Arabs with whom we attempt to curry favor often revile America – for our friendship with the democratic State of Israel, for our freedoms, for our free press.
America is a large country with friendly neighbors to the north and south and oceans to the east and west. Israel is a small country in a bad neighborhood. The resulting difference in perspective may account for why the U.S. continually pushes Israel to make concessions to hostile forces in hopes of placating them, and why Israel resists – and is often stamped “intransigent.” But Arabs with whom we attempt to curry favor often revile America – for our friendship with the democratic State of Israel, for our freedoms, for our free press. This last point is ironic because the unfettered American media has reported little of the rampant anti-Americanism in the neighborhood of some of our erstwhile friends.
The Associated Press reported that tens of thousands of demonstrators in Damascus protested the U.S. bombing of Iraq. About 1,000 were permitted to march to the U.S. Embassy where they shattered windows and breached the walls. They tore down the American flag and smashed the windows of the Ambassador’s residence. For good measure, they stoned the British Embassy after they left ours. Syrian TV trumpeted the event. Did you see it? Do you think American policy makers did?
Palestinian TV and radio covered thousands of people rioting against U.S. policy in Iraq – burning American, Israeli and British flags, chanting “Death to America,” and calling on Saddam to drop poison gas on Israel. After the PA shut down the Palestinian media the rioting disappeared from view. However, the newspaper Al-Ayyam (12/21) reports that the PA Legislature issued a statement condemning the “aggression” against Iraq and calling for “the convening of an emergency Arab summit in support of Iraq.” It also “applauds the masses of the Palestinian people and the positions of the Arabs, Muslims and friendly countries who opposed the aggression and are demanding the lifting of the siege.” Who knew?
Al-Hayat Al-Jadeeda, the official PA newspaper reported (12/18), “(Arafat’s Adviser) gave a speech in the name of Yasser Arafat in which he said, ‘Those who call for peace shall not deceive us, for peace is comprehensive and the blood of Iraq is the blood of Palestine and he who spills its blood does not wish us well. Iraq and its people and Palestine and its people shall remain while the invaders shall depart.'” The same newspaper editorialized (12-21), “No one could have imagined that the Christmas presents this year would have been dozens of American Tomahawk missiles raining down on the heads of Iraqi children. They are trampling on the sanctity of the religions and their holidays. Christmas has no importance for them and Ramadan has no value, but only their greedy colonialist aims.”
Chief PA negotiator Saeb Erekat told Israel Television (12/17), “We standby the Iraqi people, and support the Iraqi nation. We want to see the siege on the Iraqi people lifted. This is a known fact among the Palestinian people. We call for the cessation of these attacks as they carry negative repercussions for the region and its peoples.”
The PA Ambassador to Iraq, Azzam Al-Ahmad got it right when he told the Palestinian English-language weekly The Jerusalem Times (12/18), “I believe the Palestinians will start burning the American flags they raised yesterday.” If only we’d known.
Little if any of this nasty stuff received mention in the American press and few of the visuals made it to TV. Too bad. Americans are generally inclined to see the better side of everyone, but there are limits. To see our Embassy stoned and our flag ripped down in Damascus would help place the Assad dictatorship in perspective. To see the duplicity of the Palestinians who waved American flags last week and burned them this week would be an object lesson in the nature of the beast. It wouldn’t make the neighborhood any better for Israel, but it certainly would help Americans understand Israel’s determination to resist rosy prescriptions for their security.