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January 13, 2009

USA Today's 'most pressing' Mid-East problem

USA Today asserts that the Gaza Strip “symbolizes the Middle East’s most pressing problem: the lack of a Palestinian homeland�? (“Amid Gaza violence, a new task for Obama; Israel-Hamas conflict escalating in Mideast,�? Dec. 29, 2008).

Really? In 2002 and 2003, the United Nations’s reports on Arab human development, written by Arab academics, found that the Arab Middle East — regardless of oil revenue — lagged behind most other regions of the world in material progress. The most pressing problems, the reports summarized, included “deficits�? of political freedom, rule of law, education, investment, women and minority rights, religious tolerance, knowledge production and economic growth. One reason cited was religious (Islamic) fundamentalism.

Or perhaps Iran’s nuclear weapons program “symbolizes the Middle East’s most pressing problem.�? The danger is acute, given doubts that an Islamic revolutionary regime sworn to the destruction of Israel and reduction or elimination of American influence in the region can be deterred by traditional means.

But Khomeinite Iran (and Lebanese satellite Hezbollah) constitute just the Shi’ite spearhead of the international Islamo-fascist movement that has declared war not only Israel and the Jews but also the “Crusader�? West led by the United States and Great Britain. The Sunni spearhead is, of course, the loose network ranging from the Muslim Brotherhood through Hamas and other such groups to the Lashkar e-Taiba killers in Mumbai, India and al Qaeda.

If the list must be topped by a nation in search of a homeland, then perhaps lack of a sovereign Kurdistan constitutes the Middle East’s “most pressing problem.�? The Kurds number an estimated 27 - 28 million people worldwide, most living more or less contiguously in parts of Iraq, Iran, Syria and Turkey; are an ancient people, claiming descent from the Medes; and were led by the Great Powers to expect a state in the 1920 Treaty of Sevres. Palestinian Arabs count an estimated 2.5 million in the West Bank (a figure the American Israel Demographic Research Group asserts is significantly inflated), 1.4 million in the Gaza Strip, and perhaps several million more in Lebanon, Syria, Europe, North America and elsewhere. Members of a 20th century movement rather than an ancient people, they also are the majority in Jordan, an Arab state created by Great Britain from three-fourths of the territory initially allocated for British Mandatory Palestine.

When it comes to “the Middle East’s most pressing problems,�? USA Today reporters Richard Wolf and Andrea Stone would do well to consider the above list. And add to it one more — various Palestinian leaders' refusals to accept a homeland if it meant living peacefully next door to the Jewish homeland. This dead-end refusal is the Palestinians’ most pressing problem.

Posted by ER at January 13, 2009 04:06 PM


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