PHILADELPHIA – December 5, 2023 – The Winter 2024 issue of Middle East Quarterly features a bleak assessment of Israel's response to the October 7 Hamas massacre and contributions by other leading specialists on issues of concern.
In "The Rapid Return of Israel's Disastrous Policy," Middle East Forum President Daniel Pipes argues that the false belief that rejectionist Palestinian leaders can be "bought off or tempered through economic benefits," which lulled the Israeli political and security establishment into a state of unpreparedness on Oct. 7, made a comeback after a month of consensus on victory.
While the inflamed mood in Israel immediately after Hamas' murderous rampage appeared to indicate that the conciliatory ethos would be a thing of the past, signs of a return to business-as-usual abound, from the resumption of fuel supplies to Gaza and an increase in Israel work permits for West Bank Palestinians to a hostage deal that disrupted IDF military operations in Gaza and helped ensure the bargaining process for future releases "will continue indefinitely." Less than two months after October 7, "talk about destroying Hamas had nearly vaporized."
Why the reversion? Pipes suggests that the Netanyahu government's failures made it more vulnerable to myopic pressure from the Israeli public and scolding by foreign states. Avoiding future mistakes requires that Israelis "adopt a radically different attitude toward the Palestinians ... and seek Israel Victory."
In "Uncle Tom and the Happy Dhimmi: Reimagining Subjugation in the Islamic World and Antebellum South," history professors Eunice G. Pollack (University of North Texas) and Stephen H. Norwood (University of Oklahoma) argue that devotees of the Old South and those who claim Jews had it good under Muslim rule play similar tricks with the historical record.
The American South and Muslim-majority countries were both governed by "deeply held ideologies of ... supremacy" that demanded the subjugation of others (blacks and Jews, respectively), and this subjugation manifest itself in surprisingly similar ways, such as a culture of celebrated lynching and, eventually, degradation of prisoners of war.
But the most significant parallel may be the fact that liberation for the subjugated came about as the result of outside intervention. "The white South and the Muslims of the Middle East and the Maghreb were wholly unprepared for a world in which those whom they had for centuries perceived as their inferiors and confined to the bottom of the social system now bore arms and refused even to pretend to be submissive," write the authors. In both societies, "granting equal or near-equal rights evoked massive resistance and violence by the erstwhile dominant groups" – alongside claims that their uppity inferiors had it much better in the old days.
In "Israel and South Korea: A Growing Partnership," Jerusalem Institute for Strategy and Security (JISS) President Efraim Inbar and JISS intern Jakob Rheins discuss the Jewish state's "mutually beneficial partnership, predicated on similarities in their geopolitical challenges," with Seoul. The two countries are both democracies with export-oriented economies, a special relationship with the United States, and foreign adversaries committed to their destruction.
While Israel and South Korea are strong military powers, both "tried to solve their ongoing regional conflicts peacefully at the end of the last century, (Israel via the Oslo process, South Korea via its Sunshine Policy), without success. Finally, they have found each other.
In "Will Washington Intervene to Protect the Kurds of Syria and Iraq?" Washington-based journalist Sirwan Kajjo discusses the severe challenges faced by the Kurdish communities of Syria and Iraq. Both their autonomous ethnic enclaves not only face opposition from their newly emboldened respective central governments but also are confronted by regional powers "determined to destroy" their hard-won autonomy, namely Turkey and Iran. A "strong, continued American commitment" to both Kurdish entities is "crucially important" to their survival.
In "Muslims as Perpetual Victims," Focus on Western Islamism managing editor Dexter Van Zile discusses Khaled A. Beydoun's new book, The New Crusades—Islamophobia and the Global War on Muslims, and its fashionable thesis that the West is the primary threat to the well-being of Muslims everywhere.
Van Zile argues that the alleged offenses cited by Beydoun, from the War on Terror to France's ban on hijabs in schools, stem from legitimate concerns (e.g., about Islamist violence and the impact of Muslim immigration on the status of women in Europe) having little to do with anti-Muslim prejudice. Ultimately, he concludes, genuine attempts to alleviate the suffering of Muslims worldwide are "diminished by efforts to falsely portray the West as an abattoir of Muslim aspirations and well-being."
Finally, book reviews by Daniel Pipes, Patrick Clawson, Martin Sherman, Bat Ye'or, Clifford Smith, Martha Lee, and the late Burak Bekdil critically examine new works on topics ranging from Israeli-Indian relations to the medieval struggle for Jerusalem.
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