Friday, 22 April 2016

Neo-conservatism’s debt to Arab xenophobia

Comment on: Netanyahu’s Neocon Mind, By Lawrence Davidson, Consortium News, April 21, 2016
I found the description of Netanyahu’s “mind” quite alarming. His ideological bias in favor of neo-conservatism augurs badly on all fronts. One of Israel’s greatest crimes has been to foster the militaristic neo-conservative ideology in the US.
How did such a maniac attain power? His Likud party first won the Israeli parliamentary elections in 1978, thanks to the support of the Sephardi Jews of Israel, whose roots lie in the Middle East. Sephardim are more conservative than Ashkenazi Jews, who came from Europe. And Sephardim display much greater animosity toward Arabs than do Ashkenazim.  So it seems that Netanyahu’s policies, including his neocon bent, largely reflect the political views of his electoral base.
His electoral base, the Sephardim, was not part of the original Zionist plan at all. The Ashkenazim who founded Zionism and Israel were not particularly anxious to attract Middle Eastern Jews, whom they apparently regarded as ... um ... racially inferior.  (Although I’m sure they used a different phrase.)  
However the political struggles between Jews and Arabs in Palestine during the British Mandate (1917-1948) and the subsequent founding of the Jewish state of Israel in 1948, caused great indignation throughout the Arab world and Jews living in Arab countries were often harassed. Several Arab countries expelled their Jewish populations, often along with other non-Moslem ethnic minorities.[1]   An example of the mechanism at work is what happened in Aden around 1948. Aden was a British port on the Arabian peninsula’s suth coast. It is now located in Yemen. Groups of Arabian Jews  traveled from the interior to Aden, wishing to catch a boat to Israel. The local Arab population hated the newly-founded Israel and became incensed at these Jews traveling to Israel. The British colonial government set up a transit camp to protect and accommodate the migrants. Riots broke out. Very soon the rioters started looting Jewish shops. The shop-owners had no intention of traveling to Israel. But they were soon forced to change their respective minds, since they now had no future in Aden, and shortly thereafter they found themselves on ships bound for Israel.[2] Some Jews emigrated willingly from Arab countries to Israel.
But on the whole it seems that Netanyahu’s political base was supplied by the Arab countries that expelled their Jewish populations.
So in a way, Netanyahu is a blowback phenomenon.

Addendum 2016-04-30
The way I wrote this makes it seem as if the only, or the principal, cause of Jewish emigration from Arab lands in the 20th century was the Palestine conflict, and makes it seem as though in the absence of said conflict, harmony would have prevailed. But it is not so, for,  in some countries at least and most certainly in Iraq, even firmly anti-Zionist Jews were singled out for persecution in the obvious and eventually successful attempt to expel them all from the country altogether.  
This factor is what confers, in my opinion, legitimacy on Israel. The only way the Jews were going to survive in the Middle East was if they had their own state.  

No international institutions existed capable of peacefully resolving ethnic conflicts on this scale. Accordingly the territorial division was traumatic and uncoordinated on both sides. 

Most of the historical information in this note is from Wikipedia and other public sources.

[1] For example during the 1950s Nasser expelled all of Egypt’s non-Moslem ethnic minorities, i.e. Greeks, Armenians and Jews, under various pretexts. The Copts were a religious, but not an ethnic minority, so they got to stay.
[2] It is true that in Egypt and Iraq around that time bombing campaigns started, perhaps conducted by Israeli agents in order to scare local Jews into fleeing to Israel. However it seems that the bombs in Iraq were not set by Israeli agents. I’m not sure about the bombs in Egypt. In any case the volume of Jewish migration incited by Zionist terrorism was insignificant compared to the number of Jews who were either expelled from Arab countries or fled from fear of violence or persecution.  

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