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Thursday, January 11, 2007

How Influential Was That 19th Century Jewish Lobby?

Oh Oh Oh wait! There was none, yet America was still in favor of creating a Jewish State in the then Ottoman Empire controlled "Palestine". Any new Protocol related conspiracies to offer...? Other theories debunked here: Islamic terrorism did NOT start as a result of the creation of the State of Israel or have anything to do with America's policies in regards to the "Zionist Entity". The concept of spreading democracy to other countries was NOT "invented" by the "evil" President Bush.
Jewish World Review Jan. 10, 2007 / 20 Teves, 5767
An Idea That Goes Way Back
By Jonathan Tobin

New book shows U.S. involvement in the Middle East long preceded
'Israel lobby'

In 1844, a biblical scholar and professor of Hebrew at New York University
published a pamphlet urging the establishment of a Jewish state in the place
then known as Palestine.

The name of this early Zionist who argued for the recreation of Jewish
sovereignty over the land of Israel: George Bush.

But the astonishing thing about this manifesto is not just that the author
was a forebear of two later U.S. presidents of the same name. It was
that his advocacy of a theological/political position known as "restorationism" -
support for the "restoration" of the Jewish people to their historic homeland -
was common in 19th century America.

This little-known fact is just one among many that can be discovered about
attitudes toward the Middle East in what may well be one of the most
important books on the subject to be published in this or any other year.

"Power, Faith and Fantasy: America in the Middle East 1776 to the
Present" by Israeli historian Michael Oren fills a void that has long
existed in the historiography of the Middle East. Until the release of
this beautifully written and meticulously researched volume this month,
there simply was no comprehensive history of American involvement in
the region.

Oren, who is based at the Shalem Center in Jerusalem, has written a
book overflowing with colorful tales of American travelers, pilgrims,
businessmen, missionaries, diplomats, soldiers and sailors who weren't
merely observers of this pivotal area of the globe (the term for which was
actually coined by the American naval strategist Alfred Thayer Mahan).
Americans have, from the very beginning of our own history as a nation,
played a crucial role in shaping the Middle East. And as Oren illustrates
we, in turn, have been influenced by this interaction.

Indeed, the formation of the United States of America as a constitutional
republic in 1789 is, in part, a result of our first encounter with the Arab
and Muslim world: the long struggle with the semi-independent city
states of North Africa known to us as the Barbary Pirates. It was the
inability of the independent 13 American states - who had no federal
government or navy - to protect shipping and sailors from the depredations
of those early terrorists, that motivated many to push for the enactment
of the Constitution.

If that nearly forgotten war bears a strange resemblance to the contemporary
conflict with Islamist terrorists, it is no coincidence. Oren recounts the shock
of Thomas Jefferson and John Adams who, while serving as American
ambassadors in Europe during the 1780s, met with Abd al-Rahman, a
representative of the pasha of Tripoli, a major source of anti-American
terror on the high seas.

In making exorbitant demands for American tribute, Al-Rahman told Adams
and Jefferson that his country was fighting under the authority of the Koran,
which authorized them to make wars on all non-believers and to enslave all
Western prisoners in terms that Al Qaeda would have appreciated. "Every
Mussulman [sic] who should be slain in battle" with America, he said, "was
sure to go to Paradise."

Oren's book is filled with a host of such encounters that may be new even to
those who have been reading about the subject their entire lives.

For example, how many know that the first American arm sales to the Middle
East was not to Israel or an Arab state but goes back to Andrew Jackson's
treaty with Ottoman Turkey?

Another little known episode that Oren recounts deals with American veterans
of the Civil War, both Union and Confederate, who helped found and train the
Egyptian army

Such tales are a delight for history lovers. But aside from pleasure for the general
as well as the specialized reader, there is a far broader moral to be learned from
this volume that speaks directly to contemporary political debate.

Although the content of "Power, Faith and Fantasy" is far too comprehensive to
be neatly summarized in even a lengthy review, there is a concise conclusion
that can be drawn from the book. It is that the ideas promulgated by men such
as former President Jimmy Carter or scholars John Mearsheimer and
Stephen Walt
, authors of the infamous "Israel Lobby" article in the London
Review of Books, ignores two centuries of history, as well as smears Jews
and other friends of Israel.

Oren illustrates throughout his book just how deep the roots of American support
for Zionism run. The George Bush anecdote is but one of numerous incidents in
which mainstream American Christians spoke out for the Jewish rights
to Zion long before Theodor Herzl did.

Going forward to the 20th century, Oren illustrates that the crucial roles of
Presidents Woodrow Wilson in backing the Balfour Declaration and Harry S.
Truman in giving the new-born State of Israel recognition were not the result of political calculation but decisions that were based on the deeply held beliefs
of these leaders.

The idea of Israel is something that has always been part of the sensibilities
of American religious thinking
. No lobby could possibly create the broad
support for Israel that has run, and still runs, across the spectrum of
mainstream America, powered by both faith and secular democratic

Oren shows that the contrary thesis that rejects Zionism also has deep
roots in the tradition of Protestant missionaries. Those Americans came
to the Middle East seeking converts but wound up founding institutions, such
as the American Universities in Cairo and Beirut, that inculcated the spirit of
American democracy and nationalism in generations of Arab intellectuals.

Ironically, it was thus Americans who founded Arab nationalism. That
means the notion of spreading democracy to the region wasn't invented
by George W. Bush or the "neocons" but rather by the intellectual (and
in some cases actual) ancestors of the 20th century Arabists in the State

The late Edward Said's thesis that saw all Western views of the region as
inherently racist "Orientalism" dominates the academy these days and
helps spread the idea that American power is a force for evil abroad.
But Oren's research stands as a conclusive reproof to this fallacy.

Though oil and profit have played their parts in forming the story of America's
encounter with the region, more altruistic motives have always tended to
dominate our policies.
Despite the negative view that emanates from many of
our intellectuals, Oren is right when he concludes by writing that "On balance,
Americans historically brought far more beneficence than avarice to the
Middle East and caused significantly less harm than good."

While it will be no surprise if many in the current Middle East studies
establishment attack this book, Oren's achievement is must-reading for
policymakers and the general public alike. In an era in which global terror
based in the Middle East is the primary challenge to the survival of democracy,
Power Faith and Fantasy ought to be read and understood by as many
Americans as possible.

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At 2:39 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

sounds fascinating.thanks for pointing it out.

At 6:56 PM, Blogger Olah Chadasha said...

No prob bob. Glad to help.


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