Walter Mead has an op/ed
in today's New York Times on why the Arab world hates the US. His argument is that they hate the US because we do not support the Palestinians or seem to care for their rights. For a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, the arguments that he makes are disingenuous and fatuous. He begins with:
"For the last five weeks I have been traveling through the Middle East, meeting diplomats, officials, policy experts, military leaders, students and ordinary citizens. I learned something very important: the greatest single cause of anti-Americanism in the Middle East today is not the war in Iraq; more surprisingly, it is not even American support for Israel, per se. Rather, it is a widespread belief that the United States simply does not care about the rights or needs of the Palestinian people."
The last phrase is especially problematic; instantly it brings up the question of why don't these various Arab countries "care about the rights and needs of the Palestinian people"? After the war in Iraq, Iraqis expelled thousands of Palestinians, Kuwait in 1991 expelled more than 300,000 Palestinians, King Hussein killed tens of thousands of Palestinians during Black September, and virtually every Arab country where the Palestinians live deprives them of even basic rights. This last point is the most problematic and troubling. With the exception of Jordan, no Arab country allows Palestinians to vote, to hold property, and in some cases to even get an education. Is this caring for "the rights and needs of the Palestinian people"? The Arab world is, or at least at one time was, flush with cash from oil revenues, yet it didn't resettle or integrate the Palestinians among them. In 1948, at the time of Israel's founding, there were around 20 million refugees worldwide. All of them have been resettled and reintegrated and none received compensation or the "right" to return to their previous homes. The one exception is the Palestinians who were made pawns in the Arab world's attempts to destroy Israel. Is this caring for "the rights and needs of the Palestinian people"?
Yes, the US is now, more than ever, pro-Israel and not a neutral "honest broker". Perhaps the Arabs should look within and try to understand why the US has moved towards Israel and away from the Palestinians. The events of 9/11 and the celebrations in Ramallah and the rest of the Arab world that followed these attacks may give them some clues as to why we are not thrilled with them. Or perhaps it is the near constant attacks by Palestinians on innocent civilians, and the support of these acts by the general population that has made the US less pro-Palestinian. Or could it be Arafat's blatant and shameless lies to President Bush. Or maybe it is the realization in the US that the culture of death that the Palestinians have created is not something that we want to associate with.
Mead accepts the complaints of the Arabs he has visited with completely uncritically, not realizing that these complaints are just another example of the Arab world's culture of blame and victimization. It is simply a convenient excuse for Arabs now. The fact is that the Arab world did not love the US throughout the '90s, when the US was definitely pro-Palestinian. What was their excuse then?
Perhaps the Arab world should concern itself less with why they hate us, and more with why we are beginning to hate them.