Letters to the editor of the Berkshire Eagle on Sept. 24 and 25 regarding Israel’s subjugation of the Palestinians through occupation of the West Bank unfortunately present a lopsided and myopic viewpoint of what is driving this decades old conflict. The letter writers’ theorems that this dispute between two peoples is the driving force for the greater conflagration in the Middle East and American and Israeli hegemony is flat out wrong. The tumultuous Middle East is a result of much greater forces that make the Israeli-Palestinian conflict no thing more than a mere sideshow.
The millions who died during the Iran-Iraq war had nothing to do with Israel. The ongoing mass murder of Christians by Muslim marauders in a number of African countries also has nothing to do with Israel or the Jewish people. Saddam Hussein did not invade Kuwait, endanger Saudi Arabia and butcher his own people be cause of Israel. Assad the Father killed tens of thousands of his own citizens in El Ham ma in Syria in one week, and today’s civil war in Syria has nothing to do with the Jews.
I could give many more ex amples, but I think the reader gets the point. The Middle East is in turmoil because by any normal standards, this region of the world is completely dysfunctional. Need more evidence? Read on.
The 22 member countries of the Arab league, from Maur itania to the Gulf states, have a total population of greater than 350 million, larger than the U.S. and almost as large as the European Union. They have a land area larger than either the U.S. or all of Eur ope. These 22 countries, with all their oil and natural re sources, have a combined GDP smaller than that of the Ne therlands plus Belgium. With in this meager GDP, the gaps between rich and poor are beyond belief and too many of the rich made their money not by succeeding in business, but by being corrupt rulers.
The social status of women is far below what it was in the Western World 150 years ago. Human rights are below any reasonable standard. Accord ing to a report prepared by a committee of Arab intellectuals and published under the auspices of the U.N., the number of books translated by the entire Arab world is much smaller than what little Greece alone translates. The total number of scientific publications of 350 million Arabs is less than that of 7 million Israelis.
Birth rates in the region are very high, increasing the poverty, the social gaps and the cultural decline. And all of this is happening in a region, which only 40 years ago, was believed to be the next wealthy part of the world, and at one point in history, was one of the most advanced cultures in the world.
The Palestinian-Israeli conflict does get more than its fair share of media attention, but Ms. Duvovinik and Mr. Francis are wrong in blaming current world disorder on the long simmering dispute that is the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. If Yasser Arafat had taken the leap of faith he needed when peace was at hand well over a decade ago, this dispute would be nearly over. Instead, we have another dysfunctional quasi-Arab state beholden to Hezbollah and Hamas, whose charter calls for the destruction of Israel.
The U.S. government’s support of Israel has prevented war. If Israel didn’t have that support, she would have de stroyed those who threaten to "erase her from existence" a long time ago. It’s the dysfunctional Arab states and their gross intolerance of other peoples and cultures that poses the greatest threat to world war.
Rich Woller is an occasional Eagle contributor.