Middle East

Brits Gorge on Ottomans

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In the Palestinian territories, the Bush administration's push for more "democracy" in the Middle East resulted in a landslide victory for Hamas (surprise!). After nearly two years of backroom deals and street battles between its fighters and Fatah, Hamas is in firm control of Gaza and its security agencies. Now, according to Britain's Daily Telegraph, the West Bank too "could soon fall to Hamas":

The lawlessness that led the moderate Fatah faction to lose control of Gaza is repeating itself in the West Bank, a senior Palestinian official has claimed.

Unless something is done to neutralise unofficial armed militias, part of the region could fall to Hamas, the hardline Islamic faction, dooming any chance of an independent state in the near future.

Taysir Nasrallah, an electoral officer, also cautioned the international community not to rely on the weak leadership of Mahmoud Abbas, the president of the Palestinian national authority.

"Mr Abbas's leadership is not strong enough to stand up to the armed factions here in the West Bank," Mr Nasrallah said in his home town of Nablus.

"He is also not strong enough to stand up to the Israelis or to win the confidence of the Palestinian people that Israel will end its occupation and remove the reason for the armed factions to exist. So we have more chaos here, more criminality and more lawlessness—just as there was in Gaza before Hamas took over.

"Unless the security situation improves there is a chance that what happened in Gaza could happen here too."

Also via the Telegraph, this video of a London-based Islamist Hani al-Sibai debating—maybe 'haranguing' is the right word here—a brave Egyptian liberal who patiently explains, using Gaza as an example, that "The ballot box alone doesn't constitute democracy" and that Hamas must follow through by ruling democratically. Note al-Sibai's hilarious/bizarre digression on why the English eat turkey on Christmas. (And yes, there is an Atatürk connection.)

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  1. Gaza is a lot calmer now. Indeed, the aid agencies that work there have apparently been able to work far more freely (and safely) in getting their work done than was the case before.

  2. I thought I heard something when my radio went on this morning about Israel shutting off power to Palestine because they didn’t pay their bill. I was still half asleep. Just something I dreamt?

  3. Um, I’m pretty sure the English eat roast beef on Christmas.

  4. I thought turkey is an American dish.Didn’t Ben Franklin want it to be the national bird?

  5. My family tends to do either roast beef or roast pork, although we’ve started adding lamb to the mix. Not that we’re English or anything. We just don’t like turkey that much.

  6. No, the man is right, my family literally eats Muslims for Christmas. Usually we roast them, but this year, we’re going to stuff our Muslim with a Hindu and deep fry them together. Yummy!

  7. Are there really that many people in this country afraid of a movement that will put that moron on TV as a public face?

    Of course, it could be that thinking that English people eat “turkey” as a conscious slight against Muslims is better than having to come to the conclusion that your “enemy” doesn’t really give two shits in a bucket about you at all.

    They are so desperate to be hated they’ll make it up out of whole cloth if they have to.

  8. Les,

    You guys are having Muhinducken, too? Awesome! Make sure to brine them first to keep them moist.

  9. Al-Sibai is such an idiot. Just to all on this board… please please do not jump to conclusions generalizing this idiot to all Muslims or Arabs. He’s such a disgrace.

  10. iih,

    I figure all ideologies have their Falwells and Robertsons. The media loves them much more than boring, reasonable types.

  11. iih,
    Of course.

    His opponent, the Egyptian professor, was brilliant…and he was clearly blown away by Al-Sibai’s insanity.

  12. Run for your life! To Serve Turkey is a cookbook!

  13. iih,

    My indefinite pronouns aside, I was commenting on Islamists, as opposed to Muslims. I could have been clearer.

    On the other hand, the whole turkey / cannibalism thing was pretty funny. Maybe he should take Rosie’s place on The View. He and Ann Coulter Jr. would be entertainingly at each other’s throats every single day.

  14. Shame on you, Rod Serling, you made Serak the Preparer cry.

  15. Don’t even get me started on Danishes.

  16. Michael, Les and SugarFree:

    Yes, of course. I apologize for my over-sensitivity (on another thread, the one about the mall in Mecca, someone made some very offensive remarks, and I guess I was still a bit edgy).

    He and Ann Coulter Jr. would be entertainingly at each other’s throats every single day.

    🙂 haha… wouldn’t that be a sight!

    But actually that is an excellent point. You see Coulter would probably argue that this nut represents all Muslims (and hence lets invade their countries and teach them a lesson), while Sibai will argue that Coulter represents the West and would recommend an Islamic jihad against the West.

    Though I would admit that Coulter would be a whole lot smarter than Sibai. But both are nut cases.

  17. Mo:

    Yes, Danishes indeed. But “Danish” was actually “invented” elsewhere, was it Austria in celebration of stopping the Ottomans from advancing on Vienna?

  18. All this time, I thought the English were eating poor Irish children for Christmas.

  19. Yes, Danishes indeed. But “Danish” was actually “invented” elsewhere, was it Austria in celebration of stopping the Ottomans from advancing on Vienna?

    Croissants, actually, but the story is also bogus.

  20. No, the English eat Welsh children. The Irish eat Irish children. But either way, those orphans aren’t going to feast on themselves!

  21. As long as there is religion, there will be no peace in the world. If this doesn’t prove it, I don’t know what does. Yes, some religions are worse than others, but they all stink and they all cause harm, only to varying degrees.

  22. Lord knows I’m not much of a Bush defender, but I don’t see how he gets the blame for the Palestinians electing Hamas.

  23. They are so desperate to be hated they’ll make it up out of whole cloth if they have to.

    Absolutely. It’s the Middle Eastern version of the War on Christmas.

  24. Don’t even get me started on Danishes.

    Mo ftw

  25. iih:

    I realize not all Arabs are like the one living on the dole in England, but I do worry about who will win in the long run. The fanatics, or the reasonable ones like al-Qimmi. The Muslim Brotherhood is popular in Egypt, and Hamas and Hizballah also have much popularity.

  26. As long as there is religion, there will be no peace in the world. If this doesn’t prove it, I don’t know what does. Yes, some religions are worse than others, but they all stink and they all cause harm, only to varying degrees.

    “Ye have heard that it hath been said, An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth: But I say unto you … whosoever shall smite thee on the right cheek, turn to him the other also … Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbor, and hate thine enemy. But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you.” (Matthew 5:38 -44)

    Peace is possible. Don’t lump all religious beliefs together because of some misguided fanatics who don’t understand the true nature of God.

  27. Has there ever been an immigrant group in a western democracy that didn’t overwhelmingly abandon the radical politics they brought over with them in favor of western democracy?

    I’m thinking of the anarchists in the early 20th century, the Russians and Finns who embraced some form of Communism, and the Portuguese who were loyal to wossisname, the Franco clone who ruled for most of the late 20th century. None of their kids are anarchists, Trotskyites, or fascists.

  28. None of their kids are anarchists, Trotskyites, or fascists.

    Well, maybe a few anarcho-capitalists … 😉

  29. Lord knows I’m not much of a Bush defender, but I don’t see how he gets the blame for the Palestinians electing Hamas.

    Bush was pretty widely criticized at the time for pushing for the elections (as part of the Road Map) thinking that the election would usher in a West leaning democracy instead of a humiliating Hamas win.

    Also, in the run up to the election, it was discovered that they were giving money thru USAID, and sponsoring sewer and street cleaning initiatives, for the Palestinian Authority in an effort to influence the election towards Fatah. That backfired.

    I’m sure someone somewhere in the executive branch was quoted at the time, “No one could have foreseen a Fatah electoral victory.”

  30. I’m sure someone somewhere in the executive branch was quoted at the time, “No one could have foreseen a Fatah Hamas electoral victory.”

    Oops.

  31. “iih | August 20, 2007, 12:56pm | #
    Al-Sibai is such an idiot. Just to all on this board… please please do not jump to conclusions generalizing this idiot to all Muslims or Arabs. He’s such a disgrace.”

    Ah but that is Michael Moynihan’s purpose at Hit n Run. If you see something about Islam on Hit n Run changes are 90% or greater that it was posted by Michael Moynihan and that it will be extremely negative.

  32. joe,

    The Molly Maguires were only undermined by violence, what one might call counter-insurgency efforts and the use of the courts (whether any of this was just is a question for debate).

  33. joe,

    A major issue of course being just how much of the claims about the Mollies were fabricated in some fashion.

  34. Sylos,

    The Molly Maguires were a homegrown phenomenon. I was talking about people bringing a radical ideology with them as they immigrated.

  35. joe,

    The origins of the Mollies are in Ireland. They (that is the people who founded the Mollies) are part of tradition of secret orders created in rural Ireland going back to perhaps the post-Cromwellian era.

  36. joe,

    I think you might be conceding too much rationality to the bed-wetters. I think they believe Muslim immigrants are a shadow invasion force, not people looking for a better life. They imagine the 2nd generation being raised here will be “agents” that can move freely through our culture.

    Also, is it just me, or has Colbert put the phrase “War on Christmas” right in it’s grave? Every time I hear it, that graphic of an armed Jesus and Santa Claus loops in my brain for ten solid minutes.

  37. Also, in the run up to the election, it was discovered that they were giving money thru USAID, and sponsoring sewer and street cleaning initiatives, for the Palestinian Authority in an effort to influence the election towards Fatah. That backfired.

    I suspect it backfired because a lot of that money ended up in the pockets of the Fatah kleptocrats.

    Electing Hamas for most Palestinians was far more about wanting honest and efficient government than fighting Israel. Not that there’s any lack of Israel-hatred “on the street”, mind you.

    To many, Fatah were a bunch of thieves while Hamas were the guys with the clinics and schools and relief for the poor.

    I had the hope after the election that Hamas might have realized that and got to work filling potholes and building watermains. As usual I was disappointed.

  38. SugarFree,

    Also, is it just me, or has Colbert put the phrase “War on Christmas” right in it’s grave? Every time I hear it, that graphic of an armed Jesus and Santa Claus loops in my brain for ten solid minutes.

    I dunno, about Santa, but Jesus seems like he is locked and loaded in Mark.

  39. Syloson,

    OK, I can see how that muddies the waters.

    But back to my point, the radicalism of that grouop is hardly characteristic of Irish-Americans today, or even of the previous two-four generations. To the extent they brough such a tradition of politics with them, it more of less dies out in the sunshine of American democracy.

  40. M. Ram:

    I realize not all Arabs are like the one living on the dole in England, but I do worry about who will win in the long run. The fanatics, or the reasonable ones like al-Qimmi. The Muslim Brotherhood is popular in Egypt, and Hamas and Hizballah also have much popularity.

    I honestly do not have an answer to that. The “Islamist” government in Turkey seems to be doing okay so far (i.e., secularism is not being undermined). I would hope for a truly democratic society. I think there is hope and that there is change taking place. However the competition is harsh vis-a-vis the Islamists. I would argue, though, that the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt is not the same as Hizbollah or Hamas since it (MB) does not have a militant arm. I personally do not trust them (they committed some pretty horrible things in the 1950s).

  41. It is worth noting that recently there has been high-ranking American officials (especially from the US embassy in Cairo and other congressmen) have been meeting with the MB. MB, on the other hand, has been trying to reassert personal freedoms (i.e., not enforcing wearing of head scarf, ban on alcohol, persecution of Coptic Egyptians,… etc) to gain some popular trust, but I would say that most Egyptians (outside the MB membership circles, which is a very small percentage of the overall Egyptian population) trusts the MB.

  42. I love the smell of Chinese cooking.

  43. If you see something about Islam The LDS Church on Hit n Run chances are 90% or greater that it was posted by Michael Moynihan and that it will be extremely negative.

    *****

    Can we maybe, in future H&R articles and the subsequent threads, discuss terrorism or Mitt Romney without snarking on Islam or Mormons — unless you have a valid point about either set of religious beliefs based on actual facts about the beliefs and practices of adherents? Yust a thought. iih and I would appreciate it, yeah?

  44. jh:

    iih and I would appreciate it, yeah?

    Yes, indeed.

  45. jh,

    Equating all Muslims with terrorists is not the same as questioning the religious beliefs of a presidential candidate who is running, at least in part, on those beliefs.

    Besides, you might want to save some of the victimization stance for later. If he gets the nomination, America’s going to be treated to a long, hard look at the Mormon faith and I doubt it’s going to like what it sees…

  46. jh:

    On a second thought, it is sometimes the raising of some of the stereotypical negativity about Islam, Mormonism, or any other ideology, is the opportunity to discuss (reasonably and intelligently) the issue at hand and offer a chance for people to clarify or explain the stereotypes. My only concern is with people who raise issues just to be antagonist and for the sole purpose of offending adherents of, say Islam or Mormonism. So far I did not feel like that was H&R’s mission or that of Michael Moynihan — but after all I have not been a regular visitor of reason magazine for a long time (now I am a proud member and have a regular subscription). I like this forum because, if nothing else, its title “reason”. I do hope that reason magazine editors and writers are reasonable, even on contentious issues, and fair in their criticism. Essentially, being sincere about the criticism is what matters to me.

  47. Can we maybe, in future H&R articles and the subsequent threads, discuss terrorism or Mitt Romney without snarking on Islam or Mormons

    WITHOUT SNARKING
    ISLAM OR MORMONS

    There ya go.

  48. In an odd way, it seems like the Hamas political victory has worked out relatively well for Israel, to the extent that the Palestinians have begun to eat their own.

  49. “The ballot box alone doesn’t constitute democracy”

    Are you serious? Does that mean that Hugo Chavez may not a the great democrat? Is this true, joe?

  50. Electing Hamas for most Palestinians was far more about wanting honest and efficient government than fighting Israel.

    HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA. Hold on, let me catch my breath. HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA.

  51. If the threat to Israel had come in the form of the Palestinian military, bubba, then a civil war among Palestinians which tied that military down would indeed have made them safer.

    And if the threat to use from Afghanistan had come in the form of the Afghan military, then the civil war that was raging in that country in the summer of 01 would have made us safer, too.

    And if Iraq had been a threat to us from its military, then the civil war raging there right now would cause us to be safer from an Iraqi threat than we were in February of 03.

    But that’s not how terrorism works. The failure of states, even nasty states, only serves to increase the ability of stateless terrorist groups to operate.

    In five years, the Israelis are not going to look back on this civil war as having made them safer.

  52. “I had the hope after the election that Hamas might have realized that and got to work filling potholes and building watermains. As usual I was disappointed”

    You mean you actually thought that Hamas would actually give up their entire reason for being, i.e. destroying Israel, and stop financing and perpetrating terror? The word gullible does not even begin to do you justice.

  53. Goldthwait,

    I’ve never said Chavez was a great democrat; I’ve said that he was a threat to democracy, and the continuation of democratic institutions was important for keeping him in line.

    Are my ideas really so terrifying that you have to make up weaker ones to attribute to me?

  54. I don’t get it, I heard when Romney’s father ran in the 1960s he being a Mormon wasn’t even an issue. We have kind of gone backwards huh?

  55. My only concern is with people who raise issues just to be antagonist and for the sole purpose of offending adherents of, say Islam or Mormonism.

    My take on the comments to which I think you are referring is that their purpose is not solely, nor even principally, to offend adherents, so much as it is a sincere attempt to disabuse the susceptible of what are thought to be their delusions. I believe this exercise is intended for their/our own good, and to warn others against philosophical error, however much their authors’ resentment of personal bad experience with religions sometimes mixes into their protest, its style, and/or its tone.

    As a Christian and as one who holds certain cultural principles important, I find some of these remarks unpleasant, and of course (by definition) I find them misguided. I also believe they meant sincerely, on the order of Aristotle saying of his teacher “We love Plato but we love truth more.”

    I find that holding this attitude about my opponents gives me the most mileage, including an occasional chuckle, out of the attacks, sine agita.

  56. M:

    Very well said indeed. This re-enforces what I mentioned earlier:

    https://www.reason.com/blog/show/122069.html#769010

  57. joe,

    Labor trouble, etc. in ethnic communities was common throughout the 19th century. Indeed, it used to be thought that the sort of machine wrecking that was common enough in Britain and other European locales was virtually absent in the U.S., but that has come under a reassessment of late.

    As for why such activities and the groups that perpetrated them ceased I can’t say. That they have largely ceased on both sides of the Atlantic of course says something.

  58. The problem seems to be that they put too much emphasis on democracy, which can lean liberal or oppressive depending on the cultural climate (as we’ve seen in Palestine), and no emphasis on what they really need: limited constitutional government.

  59. what I mentioned earlier

    And here I was bracing for an anathemizing “You’re a poopoohead!”

  60. M:

    One proves otherwise by standing up in a non-poopoohead stance to such personal attacks. I think they call themselves “hawks”, but most often they are an ignorant bunch, or collectivists. The sad thing is that these days they have more dominance in the public discourse (e.g., Coulter, Tancredo, Fox News, some prominent leaders in the Evangelical movement). But they really seem most afraid of rational discourse because it (rationality) reveals how awfully dull, ignorant and incapable they are.

  61. …not that there’s anything wrong with that, of course.

  62. M:

    … of course not! 🙂

    I would add that, unfortunately, Ron Paul gets very little media attention. He is my kind of hawk.

  63. Sugarfree — feel free to snark on Romney for what he says he believes, or for the policies he proposes based on those beliefs. Plenty of things to hate on him about without gratuitous swipes. Feel free to snark on Mormon or Islamic beliefs based on knowing what those beliefs actually are.

    What I’m like to not see is bashing Mormons based on ludicrously inaccurate stereotypes that a half-hour of browing the FAQ section of lds.org would dispel. I get enough of that from my Mormon-hating mother.

    Though, as iih pointed out, I too am willing to discuss the actual beliefs of our church with anyone who has misconceptions, and try to get them to a more accurate viewpoint.

    So, Sugarfree, what are the specific things about the LDS Church you think will embarass Romney if he gets the nomination? A starter kit:

    Polygamy before 1890
    Ludicrously unstylish underwear

  64. Let me try to portray libertarians as accurately as Mormons are often portrayed on Hit&Run:

    Libertarians don’t want us to have roads.

    Libertarians all believe in the Trilateral Commission.

    Libertarians all have a basement full of guns and want to kill anyone who comes on their property.

    Libertarians are all a bunch of dope smoking fiends who hate the government because it wants to take away their marijuana.

    Libertarians want poor people to die and won’t help others.

    Libertarians want to turn everything over to big corporations.

    Yep, all about as accurate as what every schmuck on H&R who knows “all about them Mormons” posts as facts.

    There may be (in fact there certainly are) problems with Mormons/Mormonism, but it’s a good chance that when the descriptions posted here are so far off what Mormons recognize as factually true about themselves that it is the folks making the posts who should learn a few things before making stupid statements.

    I think that many H&R posters like to bag on Mormons because they’re tired of being bagged on themselves and think that they’ve found a group even weirder than themselves to bag on.

  65. As a completely areligious person (i.e. I don’t care about the existence or non-existence of God) I find Mormon beliefs to be no more or less irrational (in the sense of not being dependent on empirical evidence) than any other variety of faith.

    All I was really getting at is the fact that the vast majority of Americans are very accepting of religions without actually having to logically engage with the mystical aspects of said religious because they happened so long ago. In other words, walking on water 2000 years ago is easier for people to accept than 200 years ago.

    Mormons are getting better and better at spinning their history to their advantage, especially as they move further away from Utah and other like-minded enclaves. This will serve them well on the national stage. Playing the victim game is a great way to delegitimize criticism as bigotry.

  66. I can say as a convinced atheist I don’t have a problem with Mormons anymore than I have a problem with orthodox Christians, Jews, Muslims, or Hindus. That is, yeah, they have some beliefs that are strange and messed up to me but they can still be very good, decent people.

    What irks me is when orthodox Christians try to paint Mormons or Muslims as these weirdos when really their beliefs are just as strange as what Mormons believe. I’m sorry but if you believe that guys rise from the dead, or that God chose once race to be “chosen”, or that God chose to speak to in illiterate Arab small businessman to give him the final revelation, then you have no room to talk about “strange” beliefs.

  67. Cesar, does it irk you more, or only, when orthodox Xians do this vs. when members of the other groups you mentioned do this?

  68. Btw, I guess I might make clear that painting someone as weird seems to me uncharitable, hence unchristian.

  69. Okay, I more carefully reread your paragraph #2, and now see that your third example pertains only (among the major world-religions) to Muslims, whereas the first two examples pertain to Judaism and Christianity and Islam. So are you an equal-opportunity irkee?

  70. M, Cesar:

    Fine with me! Equal-opportunity irkee — I like that.

  71. So, Sugarfree, what are the specific things about the LDS Church you think will embarass Romney if he gets the nomination? A starter kit:

    Polygamy before 1890
    Ludicrously unstylish underwear

    Angel Moroni? Moroni?!? Seriously, I think Smith was taunting people with that one. 😉

  72. S. of S.,

    Labor troubles etc. was common among working-class, native-born Americans throughout the 18th and 19th centuries, too. Even the Mill Girls in Lowell!

    I’ll also note that “labor unrest” is not comparable to radical political movements such as anarchism in the 1900s or Islamism in the 2000s.

  73. Electing Hamas for most Palestinians was far more about wanting honest and efficient government than fighting Israel. Not that there’s any lack of Israel-hatred “on the street”, mind you.

    I saw a recent Wide Lens in Gaza (Gaza Emergency Room, or something like that).

    One of the doctors they interviewed about the Gaza elections claimed electing Hamas was essential a big “Fuck You” done with no illusions about Hamas being a good choice.

  74. oh yeah close tags

  75. Neu Mejican

    There have been plenty of stories that basically say that while Hamas’ basic appeal is their militant anti-Israel position they have cemented their status in the community with their charitable work.

    Again many Palestinians see Fatah as a bunch of thieves, wile they see Hamas as good honest charitable people.

    It’s a shame, of course, that there is no moderate peace making voice among the Palistinians. But then such a voice has not been that common on the Israeli side as well.

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