Tuesday, August 08, 2006

On the Middle East, and Marriage

The Economist lists several reasons that the American public and our elite classes provide unyielding support for Israel:

The most obvious answer lies in the power of two very visible political forces: the Israeli lobby (AIPAC) and the religious right. AIPAC, which has an annual budget of almost $50m, a staff of 200, 100,000 grassroots members and a decades-long history of wielding influence, is arguably the most powerful lobby in Washington, mightier even than the National Rifle Association...

The Christian right is also solidly behind Israel. White evangelicals are significantly more pro-Israeli than Americans in general; more than half of them say they strongly sympathise with Israel. (A third of the Americans who claim sympathy with Israel say that this stems from their religious beliefs.) Two in five Americans believe that Israel was given to the Jewish people by God, and one in three say that the creation of the state of Israel was a step towards the Second Coming.

But the political pressure of these interest groups is combined with cultural factors, too:

Americans instinctively see events in the Middle East through the prism of September 11th 2001. They look at Hizbullah and Hamas with their Islamist slogans and masked faces and see the people who attacked America—and they look at Israeli citizens and see themselves. In America the “war on terror” is a fact of life, constantly reiterated. The sense that America is linked with Israel in a war against Islamist extremism is reinforced by Iranian statements about wiping Israel off the surface of the earth, and by the political advance of the Islamists of Hamas in Palestine.

But the biggest reason why Americans are so pro-Israel may be cultural. Americans see Israel as a plucky democracy in a sea of autocracies—a democracy that has every right to use force to defend itself. Europeans, on the other hand, see Israel as a reminder of the atavistic forces—from nationalism to militarism—that it has spent the post-war years trying to grow beyond.

A reader posted comments providing links to a number of sources indicating that the "kidnapping" of Israeli soldiers by Hezbollah actually occurred in Lebanon. Here, here, and here are a couple of links to pages containing numerous interesting articles suggesting the Israeli troops had crossed into Lebanon before being attacked.

Here is a very interesting article in the NY Times examining why so many working-class men are not getting married. Steve Sailer provides an interesting look at the issue and blames illegal immigration, which exerts downward pressure on the wages of working-class whites, and the inflationary housing market. I have argued that I think much of the problem is cultural. Feminist ideology, particular it's view of children, has poisoned the culture to a considerable degree, and when combined with sexual ethics that sever sex from procreation, and both from marriage, you have a problem.

I heard Robert Pape lecture on suicide terrorism and blogged about him back in 2005. Here is a letter to the NY Times on the flare-up in Lebanon that is interesting. Pape writes:

ISRAEL has finally conceded that air power alone will not defeat Hezbollah. Over the coming weeks, it will learn that ground power won’t work either. The problem is not that the Israelis have insufficient military might, but that they misunderstand the nature of the enemy.

Contrary to the conventional wisdom, Hezbollah is principally neither a political party nor an Islamist militia. It is a broad movement that evolved in reaction to Israel’s invasion of Lebanon in June 1982. At first it consisted of a small number of Shiites supported by Iran. But as more and more Lebanese came to resent Israel’s occupation, Hezbollah — never tight-knit — expanded into an umbrella organization that tacitly coordinated the resistance operations of a loose collection of groups with a variety of religious and secular aims.

Pape argues that what is happening in Lebanon, and much of the middle east, for that matter, isn't about religion, but occupation:

What these suicide attackers — and their heirs today — shared was not a religious or political ideology but simply a commitment to resisting a foreign occupation. Nearly two decades of Israeli military presence did not root out Hezbollah. The only thing that has proven to end suicide attacks, in Lebanon and elsewhere, is withdrawal by the occupying force.


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