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Monday, August 27, 2007

Beirut Daily Star meets Middle East Reality

Here is a remarkable Beirut Daily Star editorial, quite different from their usual stuff.

It is common for people in the Middle East to look around their troubled region and despair when they see so many countries aflame, torn asunder, stressed to near breaking point, or mired in stubborn mediocrity and stalemate, with several power centers simultaneously claiming to be the legitimate government. Lebanon, Iraq, Palestine, Sudan and Somalia are only the most dramatic examples of distressed and often violent Arab lands, where death by war and politics is common, and a stable, prosperous life is an evasive dream for most citizens. Other Arab lands are sanctioned and pressured by the international community, and others yet suffer rising rates of criminality, corruption, illegal migration, drug use and trade, and other forms of devious and debilitating behavior by once normal and law-abiding citizens.

The tendency in many quarters of our societies is to blame others for all our troubles, to find foreign scapegoats who more often than not are nicely packaged within sinister and long-running conspiracies. The French, Americans, Israelis and British are favorite culprits, partly because of their actual record of generating troubles and sparking conflict in this region. They are not fictitious culprits, to be sure. Yet it is also difficult to believe that all the troubles of the Arab World are the fault of foreign conspiracies. The people and institutions of the Arab world need to work more rigorously to separate the wheat from the chaff of political history and current events, to recognize what is the occasional handiwork of foreign mischief-makers here and there, while acknowledging that the vast majority of our problems are the consequence of our own ineptitudes and mediocrities.

It is easy to point to the presence of the Americans and British in Iraq,  the French in Lebanon, or the Chinese in Sudan, and to conclude therefore that our disheveled state is a result of these recurring foreign engagements and their conspiratorial designs. But why do we find these same foreign countries involved in other lands - Singapore, India, Vietnam and Malaysia, say - without evidence of deep troubles and chronic violence? The mere presence of foreign countries in our societies in a sustained way is not necessarily a sign of sinister aims. More likely to blame for the bad times we suffer in this region are the various political systems that we have  generated more or less on our own over the past century or so, by our own hands.

Is it not possible for some honest leaders in the Arab world to stand up  and acknowledge local responsibility for our shortcomings and weaknesses, which have created our many vulnerabilities and pains? Many of our best young people are leaving the Arab world, finding jobs and personal fulfillment in foreign pastures, where taking responsibility for your own actions often is the starting point for success, and, consequently, a major reason for sustained national progress.


The question is, whether the editors of the Daily Star will now stick to their own plan or will the go back to being editors of the Daily Star? I mean all the editors, and not just Michael Young, who hits the target almost every time - an exception in the Middle East.  Will the publishers and columnists of the Daily Star finally tell the truth about the Hezbollah? It is not a partner in a unity government, but a scourge. That it doesn't protect against any Zionist aggression, because there is no Zionist aggression? Or will Rami Khouri's next column in that newspaper again feature the American imperialists and the Zionist warmongers, who are working overtime to deny the legitimate right of blowing people up to the Hezbollah and Sister?

Ami Isseroff




Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors. Originally posted at Please do link to these articles, quote from them and forward them by email to friends with this notice. Other uses require written permission of the author.


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