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July 12, 2006

Reports From the Arab Side: The Way Things Look the Other Way Around

Here are the accounts of what is going on from the posts of a few Arab bloggers, all of whom are opposed to Hezbollah's incursions. These accounts are all very poignant, as the writers are conscious of the idiocy of Hezbollah's long planned attack and filled with details we would not otherwise come across so easily. It is quite sad what Hezbollah has instigated, at this moment, with Lebanon well along in its economic and political recovery.

Lebanese Political Journal: Hezbollah Surprised By Their Own Attack

The Lebanese Bloggers: Breaking News Flowing

Rantings of a SandMonkey (writing in Egypt): It has begun.

The comments in all three of these accounts are interesting, where you can see individuals from different political factions within Lebanon and Egypt, respectively, and perhaps other countries as well, arguing with each other. And some Israelis commenting as well.

From Judith: Asher eavesdropped on another Lebanese blogger's comment thread in the previous post, and Big Pharoah posted some comments from yet another Lebanese forum.

Iraq the Model notes Iraqis expressing a similar dissatisfaction with Hamas in an Arabic forum on the BBC site:

About three dozens of comments were made by Iraqis both inside Iraq and in exile and all these comments were supportive of Israel or at least against Hamas as far as the topic is concerned except for only three comments; that's a 10:1 ratio while as you probably have guesses, the opposite ratio is true about the comments by the rest of Arabs.

. . . . we in Iraq are evolving politically faster than we are doing when it comes to economy, security, etc. that we are even ahead of countries like Egypt or Kuwait in holding real elections and having a permanent constitution and fair representation of all the segments of the people. . . . Iraqis are beginning to distinguish between terrorism and rightful acts of resistance not only in Iraq but also on a global level and are showing decreasing tolerance for extremism. . . .

Check out the comments themselves.

Two years ago ITM translated comments from another BBC Arabic forum, which illustrated this bifurcation. The topic was Abu Ghraib. Most of the other Arabs in the forum saw Abu Ghraib as a convenient example of American depravity, but many Iraqis disagreed and said it was an abberation, and were impressed by how decisively the Americans were taking responsibility for fixing it, and pointed out that other Arabs didn't speak up when Saddam was really torturing Iraqis.

This also brings to mind an article I can't locate now, about all the phone and internet traffic (of which thse BBC forums are examples) between Iraqis and Arabs in other countries, where the reconstruction and the democracy project are discussed along with other news and personal chat. We think of Al-Jazeera and Al-Arabiya as the interlocutors of the Arab world, but they may be much less influential than the informal discussion in forums and blogs and talk among friends and relatives.

Meanwhile on the home front, M Simon notices a shift in sympathies:

I watched NBC news for the first time in a long time to catch the latest on Israel. The commentary at the end of segment went something like this: "Israel left Lebanon 6 years ago. They left Gaza a year ago. Why can't they leave Israel alone?" Which goes back to my previous points about Sharon. He has created a situation where even a weak leader can take strong measures.

I do not think [Olmert] would get serious complaints if he toppled Boy Assad.

More evidence that Bush's grand plan for democratizing the Middle East was the right one, and is working. As Asher says:
It is no longer the Israelis who are isolated, nor the freedom activists in the Arab world. It's the fascist regimes that are increasingly isolated and panicking.

UPDATE: The times they must indeed be a-changing, because a news story about Arab bloggers and their dissatisfaction with the status quo appeared last week in the San Francisco Chronicle, not exactly a bastion of neo-con democracy promotion.

Augean Stables on the contrast I described above, which more and more Arabs can distinguish as the practice of representative government and the understanding of individual rights begins to take hold:

The Israelis care far more for the lives of their own citizens (including their Arab citizens) than the Arab regimes care for the lives of their own people (subjects). It is characteristic of elites in prime-divider societies to treat their commoners as so many beasts of burden (in the Middle Ages the comparison was between peasants and oxen), and, in time of war, cannon fodder. Look at the ways in which Iran and Iraq threw their own people into the killing fields for 8 years. This differential derives, among other things, from the high value that civil societies place on the voluntary adherence of its citizens to the social contract (from Sinai to the social contract theorists of modern democracies) and the way they empower individuals. Prime divider societies rule by fear and impostion, and not only do not value individuals, they fear them.

. . . . When Israel and Egypt signed the Camp David accords in 1979, I remember seeing a small news item about how the Syrian minister of Education declared darkly that it was only a matter of years now before the Israelis dominate the entire region culturally. At the time I smiled at the paranoia. Having better understood the Arab predicament and the cultural demands of economic development in the subsequent decades, I now realize that what he feared — and what these reformers no longer fear (or perhaps don’t fully understand) — is that in turning away from the prime divider politics of Arab political culture, they are indeed adopting the civic commitments that the Israelis have fostered from the earliest years of Zionism. In that sense, they are coming under Western, if not Zionist influence.

A REQUEST: This post has been linked by Pajamas Media and we would like to showcase more discussion while we are getting the traffic. If you know of other websites where Arabs are discussing what's going on now in the Middle East, please leave the URL in a comment. It can be from any political point of view!

Alcibiades | 07/12/06 at 11:24 PM | Categories: - The War of Dire Straits

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Blogs which link to Reports From the Arab Side: The Way Things Look the Other Way Around:

» Widening Into War?: The Israeli Response in Lebanon and Gaza from Pajamas Media
July 12, 2006 22:50PDT Kesher Talk has a roundup of Arab bloggers reacting to the situation. 22:33PDT Raja@LebaneseBloggers has driven through the streets of Beirut which are now empty of all but police, like a "calm before a storm." From... [Read More]

Tracked on July 13, 2006 01:52 AM


When it comes to Hezbollah and Hamas terrorists I am backing Israel to Wipe them all out totally and completely and out of existance.

Phil | July 13, 2006 03:43 AM

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