Snapshots: Personal Experiences in the Real Middle East
These are all personal observations, selected from a much longer personal list:
--The Palestinian Christian man is desperate. Can I help him get out of the country? He’s scared of the Islamists. Can I help him get his son to university in America? The situation is intolerable. Something is worked out with a little help from me.
--The Druze woman is desperate. She has a boyfriend her family doesn’t approve of. With help from some Israelis she is smuggled to a safe place.
--The letter from the Syrian Christian tells of his desperation to get out of the country before the Islamists take over.
--The Egyptian Christian has obtained an apartment abroad and is getting out of the country to America .
--The Syrian Kurdish refugee is stuck in southern Turkey. No Western country will consider offering political asylum because for policy reasons they want the refugees to go back to Syria after it is "liberated," albeit the liberation will be done by radical, repressive Islamists. He is desperately desiring to live in what he calls a "free, secular society."
--The Turkish liberals write about how they are afraid to speak out in public, of continual arrests, of media outlets being blackmailed by the government. To curry favor with the Islamists a well-known, ambitious Turkish academic launches a failed take over bid of an academic journal edited by an Israeli professor.
--The Israeli observer describes how he watched Egyptian soldiers beat the Sudanese refugees who try to get across the Sinai to Israel. He can hear the women screaming, perhaps they are being raped.
--The United States and UN promises Israel to keep weapons from being smuggled to Hizballah into Lebanon and promises to keep Hizballah from returning to build military fortifications in southern Lebanon. They fail at both. Hizballah threatens them; mysterious gunmen attack or rob the soldiers. The UN forces commander praises Hizballah. Meanwhile, the promise to Israel is violated.
--A young Israeli who has just left the army describes how his first job in the army was to register guns given to the Palestinian forces to maintain security and prevent terrorism. His last duty before leaving is capturing Palestinian terrorists and sometimes recognizing—by checking the serial numbers—the guns he helped issue to the Palestinian police a couple of years earlier.
--The U.S. government announces that weapons it helps smuggle into Syria for the rebels will be kept out of the hands of al-Qaida. Then, You-Tube videos appear showing those same weapons in the hands of al-Qaida.
--The Palestinian terrorist from the West Bank admits, after being captured, that his sister has just had free medical treatment in an Israeli hospital.
--The editorial meeting of an Ivy League university college press that rejects a project by an author after one member remarks that they can't have Israelis writing about Arab politics.
--The Turkish television host, after he makes sure the door is closed, relates how the government has harassed him and how people are afraid they will say the wrong thing and get arrested or persecuted.
--The American journalist is told by the Palestinian guide that some structures in Bethlehem are torture chambers put up for use by Israel’s army to question Palestinians. On inspection, they turn out to be portable toilets.
--The Lebanese leader tells a delegation that Israel should make concessions to the Palestinian Authority and then, off the record, he adds that he would never trust them himself.
--The left-wing American peace activist lectures the Fatah man, who has told the American honestly that he wants to wipe out Israel and replace it with a Palestinian state, on how he must sound more moderate in order to gain Western support.
--The Palestinian doctor tells a journalist that Yasir Arafat is in great health and after the journalist leaves admits to a colleague that Arafat is very ill. (This, of course, relates to the claims that Arafat suddenly died, thus trying to imply he was poisoned by Israel.)
--The Iranian journalist who viciously attacks an Israeli counterpart publicly at a conference, then privately admits to him afterward that she didn’t believe anything she said but had to do it because people from the Iranian embassy were present.
--The Turkish officials who privately speak of their fear and hatred for the Islamist rulers who they angrily blame for ruining their country.
--The Iranian official who at a secret conference lays into the Arabs there and calls them “a bunch of tribes.”
--The numerous Arabs, Iranians, and Turks who decry the Obama Administration as selling them out to the Islamists or Iran.
--The future Palestinian Authority foreign minister who at dinner berates Yasir Arafat and Palestinian strategy as too radical, then the next day at the conference blames Israel exclusively for the failure to achieve peace.
--The Lebanese Christians who now support Hizballah because they are afraid of that Shia Muslim terrorist group but seek its perfection because they are even more afraid of Sunni Muslim Islamists.
--The charming Saudi prince, appearing to be the very image of the late actor Peter Ustinov, expresses at a private, personal meeting his pleasure about meeting an Israeli for the first time. Later, after reading a specific mendacious Western mass media article, he says that it is terrible such evil people can exist.
--The Egyptian writers who (credibly) explain privately that they don’t have anything against Israel but must be militantly full of hate in public in order to protect themselves.
--The top PLO leader who asserts that Israel has a secret map in its parliament claiming most of the Arab world. Then, when that claim is ridiculed, shrugs and smiles. Oh well, no harm in trying.
--The satisfied expressions of Islamists or PLO officials or radical nationalists on getting hold of a credulous Western academic or journalist who actually believes the nonsense they dish out. At times, they are amazed at what they can purvey in this fashion.
--The well-known Palestinian intellectual (no, not who you think) who says that the Palestinians will only achieve a state when Palestinian intellectuals denounce terrorism. Then goes on for the rest of his life supporting Palestinian terrorist groups.
--The American college students who heckle a Palestinian moderate and tell him that he doesn’t really understand the Middle East and how evil Israel is.
--The Western journalists covering Israel who privately admit to shocking anti-Jewish and anti-Israel prejudices in conversations or at parties.
--The Western diplomats who do the same.
--The editor of a major newspaper who changes the reporter's story because it said that Hanan Ashrawi voted not to change the PLO National Charter (which called for wiping Israel off the map). Since, the editor said, Ashrawi was a moderate she could not possibly have voted that way. How did the journalist know about the true story? The journalist was standing outside the hall in Gaza where the meeting was taking place and asked Ashrawi how she voted.
--The Western activists who pretend to be moderate and supporters of a two-state solution who suddenly forget themselves and make it clear that only Israel’s total destruction would satisfy them.
--The North American student who recounts that when she opposed female genital mutilation in her college class only to be told that she was a privileged imperialist. And that was by the teacher.
--The Lebanese, Palestinians, Turks, and Iranians who come up to an Israeli speaker after a lecture and complain that the West supports the Islamists who are taking over campus groups and intimidating everyone else.
This is the real Middle East. Not the imagined place of Obama and Kerry, the UN and EU, the classrooms of the West or the columns of the mass media. These are all things that I’ve personally witnessed or known the person who did. Unless one understands this reality one understands nothing.
And having experienced these and many other things, I simply cannot go along with the clichés and falsehoods of the Western “expert” herd no matter how popular that would make me nor how profitable that may be.
If you are interested in reading more about the Arab-Israeli conflict, current regional situation you're welcome to read my book Tragedy of the Middle East online or download it for free.