Thursday, October 2, 2014

Reconstruction in the Middle East

Sar Shalom

In his recent column in The Jewish Week, Gary Rosenblatt wrote about how the Washington Post columnist Richard Cohen (not to be confused with the New York Times columnist Roger Cohen) evolved from viewing that six decades of conflict showed that the creation was a mistake to pinning the blame for the conflict on Arab Jew-hatred. His journey began as a result of the responses he got to a column he wrote in 2006 which started:
Israel was “an honest mistake, a well-intentioned mistake, a mistake for which no one is culpable, but the idea of creating a nation of Jews in an area of Arab Muslims (and some Christians) has produced a century of warfare and terrorism of the sort we are seeing now.”
While Cohen's discovery of the pervasiveness of anti-semitism in the mid-20th century and change in views is of interest, I would like to suggest a counterfactual history to compare to Cohen's observation that Arab terrorism arose in the wake of the creation of Israel. What would have happened in this country if, instead of abandoning Reconstruction after little more than a decade, we had seen it through to completion never allowing Jim Crow to see the light of day? From the history of Reconstruction, we know that the Klan and other other white supremacist groups relied on terrorism as extensively as the Arabs do today in order to prevent the n!*@#rs from rising above the station that they considered appropriate for them. Indeed, Jesse James was considered a hero in Missouri while Reconstruction was ongoing (as an aside, that changed after Reconstruction ended) because he put the n!*@#rs in their place, much like Palestinian society and their western supporters lionize those whose only accomplishment is killing Jews who were doing nothing more than enjoying time on a beach. It is safe to say that if Reconstruction had continued, the Klan and the bushwhackers would have continued their campaign of terror as long as Reconstruction would have been extended.

Now, suppose that Reconstruction to have continued for several decades and the terror in response were to have continued for decades with it. Would the decades of white supremacist terror constitute proof that emancipating the negros (the polite term in the mid-19th century for those of African descent) was a mistake? The reaction of the followers in the bushwhackers modern-day footsteps shows nothing that the bushwhackers' determination did not.


  1. That is an excellent point!

    How many times have we heard people complain that were it not for Israel the west wouldn't have these constant problem with the Arabs.

    Aside from the fact that such a malicious statement is entirely false, it also blames the victim for the behavior of the aggressors.

    And if the idea of building a Jewish State in an area surrounded by Arab-Muslims was a poor one - which it wasn't, of course- this is only due to the fact that the Jews underestimated the depth of racist malice toward them that seeths in the culture of their neighbors.

    1. I also raised another point. How many times have you seen comparisons between Israel and Apartheid-era South Africa? This post raises the point that the main feature of Apartheid, the domination by one group of another, was also a feature of American Reconstruction. Since unlike Apartheid, there is no living memory of Reconstruction, the resistance against Reconstruction was as if there were white South Africans who never reconciled to the end of Apartheid and waged a violent campaign to revive it. That is what the Arab reaction to Israel is like.

    2. I tend to agree, which is why I encourage people when they see images of Arabs in ski masks holding weaponry on a cheep, think a Klansman on horseback with a rifle.

  2. "Reconstruction" was a reintegration of the secessionist states back into the Union. For better or worse there were always going to be people who fought that and believed THAT to be illegitimate. You can look at the White Knights and the Klan and such as a genteel insurgency that sought to solve their political aims from the inside out. In this sense it's nothing like the Arabs. The south didn't want to see the extermination of everyone north of the Mason Dixon line.

    1. The analogy is shaky, but not without some usefulness or merit.

      The Klan, much like Palestinian-Arabs, resented former slaves - or, in our case, dhimmis - from gaining their freedom at what they took to be at their own expense.

      The tradition of white supremacism in the Amercan south, like the tradition of Islamic imperialism throughout much of the world, was so deeply embedded that freeing the slaves seemed immoral to Klansmen and many white southerners, just as Jewish sovereignty on historically Jewish land is seen as immoral by much of the Arab and Muslim worlds.

      This is not a conflict over primarily over land and it certainly has nothing to do with 19th century imperial ideals on the part of the Jews.

      There is one, single over-riding cause for the conflict and that is quite obviously the Koran. To the extent that complete domination of the land is an Islamic value, the reason for this is found in traditional Koranic doctrine. One a bit of land becomes part of Dar al-Islam it must, according to al-Sharia, remain so. And, thus, they absolutely refuse to share.

      It is this, ultimately, that drives the conflict.

      Besides, it is not as if Arab efforts at stifling Jewish well-being are anything new. They aren't. They've been screwing with us since the 7th century and, man, the head-chopping back in the good old days makes the current Islamic State look like a bunch of pussies.