How Americans Misunderstand the Middle East, and Israel

Discussing the current state of Middle East scholarship, Martin Kramer explains what he believes to be the biggest source of American misunderstanding of the region, and of the Jewish state. (Interview by Lee Smith.)

Americans tend to assume that everyone wants democracy, and that more democracy is the solution for dysfunctional parts of the world. That’s no surprise: America has an admirable record in spreading it around the globe. But parts of the Middle East resist, and for good reason: democracy and its freedoms undercut the entire political, social, and moral order. So if you bring down a dictator, it’s not “mission accomplished.” It’s “mission complicated,” because you’ve unshackled all the genies that the dictator locked up, such as Islamism and sectarianism. . . .

[But] here’s the paradox. Americans sometimes forget that Israel really is a democracy, a vibrant one. Israel’s top leaders are sometimes faulted in America for not making “tough decisions” or taking “risks for peace.” But they’re politicians in a democracy; they answer to voters, and Israelis aren’t putty in anyone’s hands. There’s a lot of wisdom in the Israeli “crowd,” the common people. In almost every household, there are soldiers and reservists who know the realities surrounding Israel through first-hand experience. They’ve not just been brainwashed by a newspaper or a politician. The idea that someone can blindfold them and lead them to peace or war, or lure them away from democracy, is fundamentally misinformed.

Read more at Weekly Standard

More about: Democracy, Israel & Zionism, Middle East, Politics & Current Affairs

Spain’s Anti-Israel Agenda

What interest does Madrid have in the creation of a Palestinian state? Elliott Abrams raised this question a few days ago, when discussing ongoing Spanish efforts to block the transfer of arms to Israel. He points to multiple opinion surveys suggesting that Spain is among Europe’s most anti-Semitic countries:

The point of including that information here is to explain the obvious: Spain’s anti-Israel extremism is not based in fancy international political analyses, but instead reflects both the extreme views of hard-left parties in the governing coalition and a very traditional Spanish anti-Semitism. Spain’s government lacks the moral standing to lecture the state of Israel on how to defend itself against terrorist murderers. Its effort to deprive Israel of the means of defense is deeply immoral. Every effort should be made to prevent these views from further infecting the politics and foreign policy of the European Union and its member states.

Read more at Pressure Points

More about: Anti-Semitism, Europe and Israel, Palestinian statehood, Spain