PHILADELPHIA – December 6, 2022 – Middle East Quarterly begins its 30th year with the Winter 2023 issue, featuring a selection of articles on issues of contemporary concern from leading specialists.
In "When Arab Politicians' Shouts and Whispers Contradict," Middle East Forum President Daniel Pipes examines a prominent feature of Arab political culture that has long exasperated Western diplomats: leaders typically "roar emotional messages in speeches to their masses" about Israel while offering "tactful off-the-record remarks to Western interlocutors" in private. Conventional wisdom has long held that the "whispers" are a more reliable guide for policymakers than the "shouts," but Pipes argues that the historical record does not support this. "Were the views expressed in tête-à-têtes with Western officials operational, the Arab-Israeli conflict would have been resolved long ago."
In "The Quiet War between Israel and Iran," Jonathan Schanzer, senior vice president for research at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, traces how Israel's "war between wars" campaign to degrade Iranian and Iranian-backed targets in Syria evolved from ad hoc operations often conducted without attribution into a "full-fledged" military campaign. With Iran's nuclear program advancing unchecked and Tehran's proxies developing ever more lethal capabilities, Spyer suggests this "shadow war" may escalate into a wider campaign that will "enable Jerusalem to neutralize or even eliminate its most significant threats."
In "Tehran's Shiification of Syria," Rauf Baker discusses Iran's two pronged Shiification strategy in Syria, "converting Sunni Muslims to Shiism and settling Shiites from neighboring countries throughout Syria." The attendant socio-cultural impact "gives Tehran ever-growing grassroots support that may enable it to keep the regime subservient to its wishes."
In "The 'Islamophobia' Regime," Focus on Western Islamism managing editor Dexter Van Zile discusses the "nearly uniform narrative" advanced in a slew of recent books on "Islamophobia." Their single-minded purpose is to "put an end to free speech about Islamic violence and oppression," particularly in the West, and force people to "submit to a regime of Islamic supremacism," whereunder Islam and Islam alone is protected from public scrutiny, even – indeed, especially – when discussing the motivations of its most fanatical and violent adherents.
The feature book review, by Peter Theroux, examines Mohamed Shoair's "well-written and elegantly translated" history of Egyptian Nobel Prize-winning author Naguib Mahfouz's most controversial book, Children of the Alley. Other reviews by Benjamin Baird, Bruce Bawer, Mark Durie, Judith Friedman Rosen, Allon Lee, Daniel Pipes, Gül Şen, Clifford Smith, and Jonathan Spyer touch upon a range of important topics.
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