The "Arab Spring" Teaches Lessons about the Past
Anti-Zionism is the anti-imperialism of fools.
Let's take the "Arab Spring" at face value. It is a struggle for freedom & democracy by peoples long oppressed by their own governments. Let's overlook the cultural pathologies that infect both Arab regimes/dictatorships and Arab peoples. Taking this supposed Arab version of the 1848 "Springtime of the Nations" at face value, we are left with the indisputable fact that Arab regimes have terribly oppressed their peoples. But this was a fact many years ago.
In 1982, Syria's Assad regime, then led by young Bashar's father, Hafiz, slaughtered thousands in the rebel-dominated city of Hama [Muslim Brotherhood rebels]. Estimates of those slaughtered range from 10,000 to 40,000. On June 27, 1980, about 800 political prisoners were released from the Syrian prison at the Palmyra oasis [Tadmor in Hebrew, Tadmur in Arabic]. They were released from the jail and were walking towards a place to catch buses. While walking on the road they were attacked by helicopter gunships and slaughtered, two years before Hama [see another version of the massacre here]. Even Tom Friedman, that notorious apologist for Arab cruelty and ruthlessness, used the Hama incident as a metaphor for all Middle Eastern cruelty and ruthlessness. He calls them: Hama Rules.
So the ruthless cruelty and barbarity, the murderousness of the Assad regime, were known --at least to those who wanted to know-- thirty years ago. The regime was quite capable of slaughtering fellow Arabs. Even the supposed cherished darlings of the Arabs, the Palestinian Arab refugees. Robert Hatem, a militiaman in Lebanon, wrote in a book that Syria was behind the Sabra-Shatila massacre of Palestinian Arabs in Beirut (1982) through the instrumentality of his own leader, Elie Hobeika, a Christian Phalangist militia leader secretly in the service of Hafiz Assad.
In the 1970s, Hafiz Assad had the Lebanese political leader Kamal Jumblatt --father of Walid Jumblatt-- assassinated. These assassinations were repeated in the year 2005 and since in Lebanon, starting with Rafiq Hariri, former Lebanese prime minister. Hariri's murder has been attributed to Hizbullah operatives by the International Tribunal for Lebanon. But the Lebanese know that Hizbullah operates in the service of Syria & Iran. The top terrorist of Hizbullah, `Imad Mughniyyah, lived outside Lebanon in Damascus under Assad regime protection [until his own assassination in February 2008].
Again, Assad regime murderousness has been no secret for 35 years or more. Yet Assad's Syria has been in good odor at the UN "human rights" commission and at its replacement, the "human rights" Council. Western "Leftists" and Western haters of Israel flocked to Damascus to pay homage to Assad Senior and Junior. George Galloway, the British hater of Israel and toady to Arab dictators, openly admired the Assad regime and sought its aid for an alleged "humanitarian" operation to "Free Gaza" and shame Israel in world public opinion through a "Gaza Freedom Flotilla." Likewise, the American Friends Service Committee, the social action arm of the Quaker Church [Society of Friends] and recipient of US Govt funds, was eager to carry out a "Free Gaza Flotilla" against Israel, denouncing Israel's partial blockade of Gaza which was and is ruled by Hamas, an Islamist, jihadist terrorist organization which happens to have its headquarters in --you guessed it-- Syria where the top Hamas leadership enjoyed Assad regime protection and sponsorship. In other words, Westerners who supposedly and avowedly wanted to liberate Arabs collaborated with the butchers of Arabs [and of Jews too, of course]. Michael Rubin points out the AFSC's hypocrisy here. Rubin asks: "Where's the Syria Flotilla?" We have not heard of Galloway or the AFSC or the Free Gaza gang or the "International Solidarity Movement" organizing a Free Syria Flotilla or doing anything to alleviate the suffering of Syrian Arabs, although every day lately brings reports of scores or even hundreds killed in Homs and elsewhere in Syria by those whom Galloway obsequiously called the defenders of Arab dignity.
Not only "human rights" fakers but diplomats and high ranking politicians in the West have been eager to win the favor of the Assads, Senior and Junior both. Several years ago, James Baker, a Bush-family hanger on, secretary of state for the first Prez Bush, got together with Lee Hamilton, a former US congressional representative and mentor to Prez Obama, drawing up a report that envisioned Israel surrendering the Golan Heights --which enjoyed a large Jewish population in Roman times and overlooks Israeli towns and the Sea of Galilee-- to Syria under Junior Assad. Israeli surrender of the Golan to Syria would supposedly do wonders for American interests in the Middle East, including stopping Syrian aid for terrorists attacking American troops in Iraq. In February 2008, Zbigniew Brzezinski, another Obama mentor and Prez Jimmy Carter's national insecurity advisor, went to Damascus to notify the Assad regime that Obama in the White House would mean a friend of theirs in power in Washington. Providentially, while Zbig was in Damascus, arch-terrorist mass murderer `Imad Mughniyyah was assassinated there.
Another Washington well-wisher of the Assads was Martin Indyk, ex-US ambassador to Israel, who tried to arrange a meeting in Damascus in 2009 for high-ranking Americans with Junior Assad and other regime personalities. One of those that Indyk wanted to bring to meet Assad was former US president, Bill Clinton, of "I-did-not-have-sex-with-that-woman fame." Fortunately, for whatever reason, the meeting did not come off.
To be sure, not all of the friends and would-be friends of the Assad regime or its allied Iranian regime are Americans or British, far from it. The Turkish intelligence chief obtained custody of Iranians fighting in Syria to suppress the uprising in behalf of the regime --and captured by rebels. He released them back to Iran after their capture in Syria. He was working in collaboration with the Turkish jihadist organization, IHH, tied to the present Turkish govt and sponsor of the "Free Gaza Flotilla" of 2010, and which in particular had sent the jihadist thugs on the Mavi Marmara --a ship under lease to it-- who attacked Israeli naval commandos who had boarded the ship to enforce the anti-Hamas blockade of Gaza. Michael Rubin commented: "The IHH may describe itself as a humanitarian organization, but in practice, its main goal is to provide aid and comfort to terrorists."
There is no "Free Syria Flotilla" by the usual "human rights" campaigners against Israel. There is no counterpart of the "Goldstone Commission" for Syria, no fact-finding mission to Syria sent by the UN "human rights" Council as was sent to Gaza.
Just in the past week, on February 5, while Syrian civilians were being slaughtered, bombarded with artillery shells in Homs, Human Rights Watch held a press conference in Jerusalem at the usual location for such events --the American Colony Hotel-- to denounce alleged Israeli abuses of Arab human rights. On that same day, this story was the top main item on the HRW homepage. But we see no comparable actions on the part of HRW in favor of Syrian Arab victims of their own government. [UPDATING: on 9 February this neglect of the story of civilians being slaughtered in Homs was finally corrected. On that day the story went up as the top item. However, the agony of Homs under bombardment had been going on for weeks. No urgency on HRW's part, of course]
We see that for decades, Western powers and other great powers, including Washington, were quite willing, indeed eager, to be friends with the Syrian Assad regime. All that time, wild, crude mendacious Judeophobia, implicitly genocidal, was emanating from Damascus against the Jews and Israel, including endorsement of the 1840 ritual murder libel in Damascus against the local Jewish community. This Judeophobia did not deter either the EU or USA from befriending the Assad regime. And some liars and some lunatics in the West believe that Israel controls Western policy.
Furthermore, we see that among those who worked against Israel in the name of humanitarianism and peace and human rights --as in the Gaza Flotilla/Mavi Marmara affair-- there was and still is a cynical disregard of humanitarianism and peace and human rights when Arabs oppress fellow Arabs, slaughter fellow Arabs, deny rights to fellow Arabs, and so on. So the real motive of the "peace," "human rights" and "humanitarian" assaults on Israel in the past was not as advertised. Can we exclude the possibility that humanitarian concern, and so forth, for Palestinian Arabs concealed and conceals rancorous Judeophobia and contempt for the rights and welfare of Arabs --as well as of Jews??
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Lessons about past indictments and excoriations of Israel on moralistic grounds:
1- The Western press and electronic media have in the past minimized the severity and horror of Arab govt assaults on their own peoples. This can be applied to Iraq, Egypt, Sudan and of course Syria.
2- Western "human rights" and "peace" campaigners have neglected to a great extent Arab govt oppression and brutality against their own peoples. Western governments have done the same for decades, in step with their own "Leftist," "human rights" and "humanitarian" groups, or perhaps the moralistic "civil society" groups in Western lands were in step with their own governments.
3- Therefore, the Western moralizers, whether in govt or in civil society groups cared little for the human rights and welfare of Arabs if this could not be blamed on Israel. Therefore, the moralistic attacks on Israel were pretexts for Judeophobia.
Palmyra prison massacre of June 27, 1980. According to the French press that I read around that time, the prisoners were killed by helicopter gunships. Another version has troops entering the prison and killing the prisoners in their cells.
2-11-2012 Lee Smith uncovers the shameless toadying of Western elites, journalists, & academics to the Assads, father & son & their hangers-on [here]
2-12-2012 The late Franklin H Littell wrote back in 1990 [Jerusalem Post, 10-28] about Syrian slaughter of several hundred prisoners of war by the Syrian army. This was accomplished in October 1989 when the Syrian army --commanded by today's Assad regime-- was crushing [with US State Dept approval] the last remnants of Lebanese independence. The troops slaughtered were Lebanese army troops under General Aoun. These were Lebanese army troops, once again, and they had surrendered to the superior force and armaments of the Syrian invaders. Slaughtering them was clearly a violation of international law, but that did not matter to the "international community." Yet this "community," the UN, the Arab League, EU, the OIC, US, did not complain. International law, which is so often brought up when it seems that violations can be imputed to Israel, was largely disregarded worldwide when Syria clearly violated the international laws of war. The horror of the lack of international response or reprimand at that time is not lessened by the fact that Aoun has since switched sides since returning from France in 2005, apparently seeing no way for Lebanon to free itself from Syrian-Hizbullah domination and choosing joining the enemy as the safest course, that is, he likely saw allying with Syria and its Hizbullah catspaws as the safest course.
Fundamentally, Aoun was acquiescing to the pro-Syrian position throughout the years of the Great Powers, the UN, EU, etc. Franklin Littell points out the pro-Syrian policy of President Bush I which was not much different from that of Obama until embarassment over Assad regime brutality pushed Obama to demanding that Assad leave office several months after he had begun slaughtering his own civilian population. It took Obama and Hilary several months to realize --or to acknowledge-- what was going on. Until Assad's brutality in his own country was obvious to all, Obama and Hilary had always referred to him sympathetically [Assad was "a reformer"], as previous administrations had done for his father. Franklin Littell wrote in 1990 about Syrian completion of the takeover of Lebanon in October 1990:
"For an American, a most wretched aspect is the role the White House and State Department have played. They threw away a stable Lebanon, rescued from terrorist invaders [by Israel] when it was handed to them in 1982 [by Israel]. They apparently gave the signal to Assad that the US would not interfere. Assad [Senior], like Hitler in 1938 at the time of the Austrian Anschluss, had nothing to fear from the world." [Jerusalem Post, 28 October 1990]. Note that the American president at that time was not Obama but his supposed Republican antithesis, George Bush I.
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2-25-2012 Martin Sherman uses current events in Syria & Egypt to show the foolishness of Israeli leaders in the past.