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Wednesday, July 19, 2006

A depressing epiphany

Sometime between when I went to bed last night and when I woke up this morning, a fellow blogger rocked my world.  She did this by the simple act of sending me a link to an Egyptian blogger who calls himself by the unlikely name of 'Sandmonkey'.

Several of the Israeli bloggers I regularly read have made a point of closely following Arab bloggers located in neighboring countries countries as well as Judea, Samaria and Gaza.   I have never publicly chided them (before now, that is) for what I had long considered an unhealthy fascination with viewpoints that seemed to be unsympathetic to Israeli interests.  In my heart I will admit that I was honestly baffled at why they would take such an interest in what Arabs think of Israel.  After all, we know what they think, right?

In order to understand how I could mentally chastise people I respect yet never say anything to them, you have to realize that I am a (just) right-of-center Israeli who secretly wishes that the left-of-center Israelis would occasionally be proved right about their optimistic outlook for peace in the middle-east.

To this end, on more than a few occasions I have followed links to various Palestinian, Lebanese and even Iranian bloggers hoping to discover a kinder, gentler Arab/Muslim than what I imagined. 

Perhaps I just clicked over on the wrong days, but each time I made the attempt to broaden my horizons I found myself reading fairly intelligent, well-educated people spouting more subtle versions of tropes I had come to know too well from the news such as 'Israeli global aspirations', 'deliberate oppression of the Palestinian people', 'brutal occupation', and so on. 

Granted, I never came back to see if I had simply caught them during an uncharacteristic rant (such as the ones I've been posting over the past few days)... but time is short and we all have things to do.  Busy, busy, busy.

Anyway, when I woke up this morning and checked my email, there was this link to an Egyptian blog that I have seen discussed... but which I had never bothered to visit. 

Sandmonkey is a well-born, well educated Egyptian writer who has the added layer of perspective of having lived and studied in the US for several years.  His post that I read this morning talked about how he had just attended an Egyptian left wing 'peace rally' and how he had found the crowds chanting decidedly pro-war, anti-Israel militaristic slogans.  He then compared the Egyptian left wing peace rally to Lisa's description of an Israeli left wing peace rally, and made the following startling statement:

"But then I rememebrd that we- the majority of us anyway- don't want peace with Israel, and are not interested in any real dialogue with them. We weren't then and we are not now. The Entire peace process has always been about getting the land back, not establishing better relations. Even when we do get the land back, it's not enough. People in Egypt lament daily the Camp David treaty that prevents us from fighting. In Gaza they never stopped trying to attack Israel. In Lebanon Hezbollah continued attacking even after the Israeli withdrawel. And the people- the majority of the arab population- support it. Very few of us are really interested in having any lasting Peace or co-existance. I mean, if our left is asking for war, what do you think the rest of the population is thinking?

I think that the Israeli want peace with us because they don't want their lives disrupted. They don't want to have the IDF soldiers fighting in Gaza, rockets coming into their towns from Hamas or having to go to wars against Hezbollah to get their soldiers back. I think they want peace because they want their peace of mind. They view us as if we were a headache. We view them as if they are a cancer.

And this is why there will never really be any peace in the middle-east."

Huh?  Here I was... so excited to have finally found an Arab blogger who wrote from the heart with intellectual honesty... and he was making the sort of depressing statements that I would have actively called 'unhelpful' had they been written by right wing Israeli bloggers or commenters.

Now what?

To be fair, despite the fact that he used inclusive language in his statement, I think it is fairly clear that Sandmonkey doesn't include himself in the sentiments and aspirations he assigns to his fellow Egyptians and the Arab world at large. 

And to be equally fair, Sandmonkey doesn't seem to realize (at least he doesn't make mention of it) that the demonstration Lisa photographed was not at all representative of the Israeli left at the moment, and that there is actually (for the immediate present, anyway) an unsettling odd, almost eerie, national consensus in favor of the current military campaign. 

So, if he is misreading the significance of the Israeli peace rally, it's just possible that his extrapolated theories about thinking and trends amongst Arabs in the region on which he is basing his personal observations just might be also flawed.

But still... I honestly don't know what to do with my new discovery this morning.

I have finally discovered an Arab writer who writes honestly about his feelings and observations...and not just what he has been taught to think (something I thought I would never find).  But the things on this writer's mind seem to confirm the most depressing assertions about Islamic conventional wisdom and the 'Arab street' which people like Joseph Farah have been telling us for years.

In short, I've had a depressing epiphany this morning.  Like a toddler who discovers that the Tooth Fairy and Santa Claus are really mom & dad, I secretly wanted preserve the possibility of my secret optimistic views of this region for just a little while longer.

It will take me a while to sort out all the conflicting feelings I have right now... and I have no idea how it will impact my politics going forward.  But I am certainly going to give other Arab bloggers/journalers a fresh chance to tell me what's on their mind.  It would be foolish not to.

And it goes without saying that I am going to be keeping my eye on Sandmonkey.


Posted by David Bogner on July 19, 2006 | Permalink


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I have been quoting Sandmonkey a fair bit in my updates (including the quote you included above). And I am slated to appear on a podcast with him tonight.

Posted by: Aussie Dave | Jul 19, 2006 11:30:28 AM

I'm sorry to say that I've come to the same conclusions recently & your post has just cemented them in place. Even though I'm involved with Jewish-Muslim dialogue here in Vancouver.
& in 6 hours I'm stepping on a plane to the Aretz.
Thank you for sharing these reality-altering quotes, David.

Posted by: soferet | Jul 19, 2006 11:57:17 AM

My mom is the tooth fairy? I can't believe it! But seriously, thanks for the writing you have been doing lately. Your perspective (and Zahava's) is alaways broadening.

Posted by: houseofjoy | Jul 19, 2006 12:37:02 PM

I've been reading Sandmonkey for several months now. I also read Big Pharaoh another Egyptian blogger.

Since I've never been to the ME, perhaps I'm not reading them correctly but it gives me a weird sense of hope that these two do not condemn Israel at every turn. Other bloggers from different Arab countries are so full of hateful screed toward Israel that they aren't worth the time. There is no openess for dialogue.

Both BP and Sandmonkey focus a lot on what's wrong in their country. It's also interesting to read the comments. There are two very anti-Israeli commenters who are confronted with facts from those who support Israel.

Before this war started, I was reading a couple of Lebanese bloggers. While I sympathize with them, my heart is in Israel.

Posted by: seawitch | Jul 19, 2006 2:26:50 PM

As I noted in a comment on one of your other excellent posts, Israel needs to put fear into her enemies. Only if they fear Isreal will they leave her alone. Any other approach will be seen by the Arabs as a sign of weakness, and they only respect strength. That's why this war must be fought through to its conclusion, and Hezbollah must be utterly defeated, with the clear implication that Israel will do the exact same thing to anyone else who messes with them.

Only when the Arabs ravanchist dream of eliminating Israel is shattered, when they acknowledge that defeat, can the Arabs move on to trying to do something more positive with their economies. At this point, all they export is terrorism and hate, all they create are martyrs and sorrow.

Posted by: Clyde | Jul 19, 2006 4:18:36 PM

I've read Sandmonkey before, and read this post, too - but I don't understand your point.

It seemed clear to me - from the title of the piece and throughout it - that he was *sorry* that his own country didn't have a peace-desiring constituency like Israel does.

Posted by: Ben-David | Jul 19, 2006 5:09:53 PM

Oh no, you didn't know abt him?? I thought by now every Israeli/Jew/whathaveyou did!

Oooh, but do you know what this means? Do you? You don't read me, eheh! Gotcha.

Now will read post.

Posted by: Lioness | Jul 19, 2006 5:21:00 PM

As Seawitch said I follow Sandmonkey and Big Pharoah. They have some interesting posts and it is always worth trying to learn more about what the other guys are saying.

Posted by: Ozzie | Jul 19, 2006 5:21:27 PM

Ok, read it. Reading hom was never much of a shock for me. First of all, I found it surprising - in my prejudice - to see an Arab who could complain abt his country and fellow Arabs and who wrote abt terrorism without the fated "but" ["Yes terrorsim is wrong BUT" - and there we go]. But he is an Arab who lives an Arab life and has never set foot in Israel and has as many prejudices as we do, only seen from the looking mirror. Also, I am not very optimistic abt it nor was I ever so - no, no big shock.

Posted by: Lioness | Jul 19, 2006 5:25:37 PM

Eh, forgot the most important: my one hope is that people like him will read more of people like us and realise that yes, they are a bloody headache but that's not the only reason why we want peace. That will not change the world but it may change the world around him a bit - and the impact of that might one day be big.

Posted by: Lioness | Jul 19, 2006 5:28:35 PM

I know this existential crisis well, I've been through it (face to face, often, as opposed to blog-to-blog) more times than I would like.

What I will say is that I have discovered there is as much scope for optimism and pleasant surprise as there is for pessimism and disappointment.

And those are my (hard-earned) two cents. Agarot, even.

Posted by: PP | Jul 19, 2006 6:01:17 PM

I guess I'm at a loss to understand why your finding an Egyptian blogger who sees the geo-politial situation as you do is so disconcerting to you.

Is it because you don't think Arabs are capable of rational thought (and so you have to re-think your prejudice against Arabs now that you've found one who can think) or because you don't think Arabs are capable of rational thought (and you therefore must reconsider your opinion now that an Arab has expressed the same)?

May I offer you a new paradigm? Perhaps it's the culture (not genetics) that makes most Muslims (not Arabs) incapable of objective thinking. Israel is not so much engaged in an "Arab-Israeli conflict" as a "Muslim-Jewish conflict" (or even a "7th-century barbarism vs Western Civilization conflict").

I've been reading Big Pharaoh for some time now (and I will check out Rantings of a Sandmonkey). I've always found BP's opinions well thought out (and courageous, considering the Islamic zealotry on the rise in Egyptian society today). Big Pharaoh is clearly not a devout Muslim and does not consider "submission/loyalty to Allah" the highest virtue. He reveres truth and is humble enough, and intellectually honest enough, to admit that very little truth (but very much hatred) is found in unquestioning loyalty to Allah and His Prophet. And coincidentally, he's also an Arab.

Posted by: Bob | Jul 19, 2006 6:24:52 PM

I've clicked over to a few Arab bloggers in the past and also been fairly revolted by what I've found there.

The best I've seen is apathy towards the Jews and irritation that the Jews having to defend themselves leads to suffering by other Arabs.

Sometimes I see something to the effect of "I don't agree with terrorism or I don't care about the geography" but the Jews are a big pain in the butt and they wish we'd just go away.

Recently, after Shalit was kidnapped, I read a few blogs that said that he should be returned (actually "the bastard should be returned") because his continued captivity was an excuse for Israel to inflict more suffering on Palestinians.

I have not seen much to the effect of "Israelis are good people and deserve their country and we should stop attacking them because it is wrong."

Maybe I'm not looking hard enough, but I don't want to go back to these sites because, frankly, it makes me sick to think that supposedly educated (often western-educated) and intelligent people can think this way.

I'd like to be optimistic about the future of Arab-Jewish relations. I have a Palestinian Christian co-worker and I love her dearly. She asked me continuously about my father's health when he was sick and arranged for flowers and cards to be sent to my house after he died.

But I've been walking on eggshells around her during the past 2 weeks. I talked briefly with her yesterday about her family in Ramallah and her views on the region and it was clear that the two of us were not going to agree on some things, and for now, I don't want to pursue it with her because I respect her and need to keep a cordial work environment.

I hope I can slowly begin to engage her on this from a perspective of mutual friendship and respect and let her see my side of the situation.

I hope.

Posted by: psychotoddler | Jul 19, 2006 7:36:50 PM

Love Sandmonkey--found him through Dry Bones, who is apparently a fan of him also.

I've seen a bunch of Arab bloggers who express a wish to end the hostilities, although they of course believe that Israel is always the instigator--but why wouldn't they? Read their newspapers, their textbooks--when the government of an Arab state engages in thought control, censorship, and state-sponsored hatred, then I'm amazed ANY Arab blogger feels a yearning for peace over genocide...

Posted by: aliyah06 | Jul 19, 2006 7:47:10 PM

Ausie Dave... I would love to hear that when it is posted.

Soferet... I really hope you will be in touch when you get here.

Beth... Thank you. And here I was thinking that the only thing 'broadening' was my waist. :-)

Seawitch... I have heard people mention both... but had never read them.

Clyde... I wish I could argue with you.

Ben-David... My point was that I was excited to find a well-spoken, educated Arab blogger but sad to hear that his outlook for peace in the middle east is as dim as mine.

Lioness... No, you didn't even read this post! :-) What I said was that I have heard people mention him many times but have never read him myself.

PP... My crisis was not at discovering a personable Arab to read. My crisis was at finding that he doesn't hold out much hope for peace any time soon.

Bob... As I've told two others here, I am actually surprised there aren't more 'sandmonkeys' out there. According to his post there really aren't many.

Psychotoddler... I'm sure there are plenty of Jewish bloggers you and I wouldn't be particularly proud to be associated with. :-)

Aliyah06... All I can say is that I hope bloggers like sandmonkey can offer more hope than this post did.

Posted by: treppenwitz | Jul 19, 2006 9:25:00 PM

In 1973, with every advantage the eygptians bought from the russians. WHo showed them how to dig into the Sinai so their fortifications would be deep and, perhaps, impenitrable; do you know what happened next?

Arik Sharon beat the living daylights out of them. BUT FIRST HE HAD TO GET PERMISSION FROM THE ISRAELI CLOWNS: Bar-Lev. And, Gonen.

So for the arabs to have any advantages at all, they need the Israelis to make mistakes.

Anyway, as soon as Sharon's tanks turned the russian Sinai fortifications into chopped liver, the "arabs who wanted war FLED HOME." So many of them were runnning, trying to reach the Suez so they could swim to Cairo; that Sharon was asked what to do? (Well, Sharon did not want to feed all these prisoners of war.) So he let them run. WHich gave the officers ideas of ripping off their insignias from their uniforms.

Quick thinking, Sharon, then had to ORDER every flee-er (flea R) to DROP THEIR PANTS. Because ordinary egyptians wear cotton. And, all the officers, to show how superior they were, wore silk drawers.

So let's see?

If Israel had to fight the "sand monkeys" ... isn't it possible that all those cement structures; ugly buildings built with russian assistance all over Cairo ... Wouldn't they look, now, sort'a like the way nasrallah's stuff looks like in Lebanon? (Where even the buildings that house the money for the terrorists got hit?) Where, it's been reported, nasrallah, and those of his cohorts still alive, are absolutely amazed at the DETAILS the IDF has. To make this destruction so sweet?

From inside their coffee shops "they want war."

But give them war. And, the run like fleas.

And, then they want "cease fires." Which up until now the UN keeps delivering to the IDIOTS!

Do you need another lesson? America went in with the full intention of giving the Iraqis PEACE OF MIND. Saddam's gone. And, what do they elect?

You mean you haven't noticed a connection, yet, between democracy and the ability to fight for it? And, even better, the ability to elect men like Olmert, NOT despotic pigs like those the arabs buy?

Sure. They've got military experts who are also religious experts. Too bad for them ALL THE JUNK THEY BELIEVE IS FALSE SCIENCE.

But see if I care?

Posted by: Carol_Herman | Jul 19, 2006 9:53:07 PM

Sandmonkey is a westernized godless punk. He's pretty smart though and even a punk can compare Mohammed, Moses and Jesus and understand that following Mohammed is stupid.

He regularly pitches a fit over the utter stupidity of islamism. Anybody with a pinch of realism does. It's utterly crazy.

Western humanists are always saying religion is the curse of humanity and it is. But then Mao and Stalin killed their millions too.

Islam is a true cancer however. We all probably have cancer or 'pre-cancer' cells in our body but as long as our immune system keeps the numbers down we are relatively healthy. If the cancer cells amass enough numbers they gain momentum and eventually kill us if they are not cut out or radiated or kemoed to death.

We in the West have had to learn some very hard lessons in the last twenty years about Islam while Islam has been reaching critical mass. Our knowledge is also approaching critical mass but we are not able to get over the hump. We are on the verge of understanding that radical surgery is our only hope.

It's gonna take nukes but we will screw around for another ten years lopping off our own appendages and cutting out our own organs before we reach for the last gasp weapons.

At least we'll kill most of them in our dying twitches.

The kind hearted humanists of the West would rather we cut off our own limbs than admit the plain truth or our situation.

Gengis Kahn and Ceaser Agustus knew more about human nature and geo-politics than we do.

It seems to me the Jews refuse to understand why God commanded Joshua and his men to totally eradicate some populations. I don't think you really believe God could have done that. Just because He would not let Abraham kill Ishmael does it follow that Jacob should allow Ishmael to slaughter him today.

Posted by: Scott | Jul 19, 2006 9:57:33 PM


I used the "cancer" analogy when I was explaining to my Palestinian friend about the civilian casualties in Lebanon.

I told her Israel doesn't want to kill Lebanese civilians (despite what the arab press and blogs want you to think). They just want to get rid of the terrorists. Unfortunately, the terrorists surround themselves with civilians.

Israel wants its attacks to be more toxic to the terrorists than the civilians, but it is difficult to prevent civilian loss of life.

And not eradicating the terrorists means that they will grow again.

But ultimately, it is in Lebanon's best interest that the cancer of Hezbollah be eradicated.

Posted by: psychotoddler | Jul 19, 2006 10:46:22 PM

I'm not very surprised that the above-mentioned blogger thinks the way he does. Indeed, the cultural environment plays a huge role in shaping the perspectives on the possibility of peaceful co-existence, and until that environment in the Middle East changes, I doubt too many people are likely to be optimistic about the prospects.

Posted by: Irina | Jul 19, 2006 11:32:58 PM

Stop being so depressed, David. You have a WONDERFUL, WONDERFUL Site.

And, just give this a few weeks. I think we'll be able to call this the SUMMER WAR. I don't think the UN is going to be allowed to set the schedule. And, just like 1967. And, 1973. Israel's made another statement that it's here to stay. And, the anti-Semites are IDIOTS.

For a long time to come, that's what's gonna resonate. Hitler? He had 12 years. And, he plunged germany down the toilet. So much for his super-duper man. They were just jerks who goosed stepped a lot. And, made a lot of people fear them. For what?

The history will never get erased. Even though the germans still don't see it. They don't see that instead of a goose step they bought a duck walk. And, then the farm.

Europe's not exporting anything anymore.

And, lebanon spent six years in denial.

Now do you know the lessons? In the future, allowing missile silos into your neighborhoods and near your schools is COSTLY. And, I'm glad the IDF, especially the IAF, has changed the rules.

You want to make believe because the missiles are aimed OUT, that you can't get hit?

Nasrallah did not write a new chapter into military history. Instead, he shows the world what an uneducated jerk does. Especially when he's counting on God to break his Contract with the Jews.

They should'a read the small print. Then they'd see Hebrew is STILL ALIVE AND WELL. While the old Latin and the old Greek and the old Romans have all bitten the dust.

Beirut was the Paris of the Mideast? Too bad for them they chose Vichy. There are much better models. And, those will become apparent, ahead.

There are prices to pay when you follow fakers. The books on the SUMMER WAR that follows will explain ALL. While the nut in iran will get to hear his own bells toll.

Posted by: Carol Herman | Jul 20, 2006 4:28:44 AM

I would have thought that seeing such sentiments expressed would give you cause for optimism.

If his mistake is that he gives the Israeli left more credit than they are due, that is a shame, but don't hold it against him.

I think we need more on the arab/muslim side acknowledging the fact that they lack the kind of moderate voices that Israel's democracy is able to produce.

Something I've always given Israel credit for.

Posted by: Armaniac | Jul 20, 2006 9:42:11 AM

I must say, I didn't understand the point you were trying to make in this post either. So I was happy to hear your clarification to Ben-David.
Did you really think it wasn't necessary ( or even worse, detrimental) to speak to people on the opposing side of a conflict that seems to be all consuming because, "After all, we know what they think, right?
", or did I misunderstand you? I am a little confused about your inner voice that compels you to think negatively about Israeli bloggers who want to create an open dialogue with Lebanese or Egyptian or Syrian or Jordanian bloggers. Wouldn't the chance of actually finding a long lasting solution that allows you all to live without fear, without check points, without bombs flying, without kidnappings, be a little closer to possible if the humanity of your opponent (and for them the humanity of their opponents) became so apparent and so difficult to ignore that a peaceful outcome would be wanted by both sides?

I have read every post you've written since the last time I commented, but have been unable to write a response to any of them. I could not relate in any way to your opinions or arguments and found myself shaking my head at the screen thinking, "David, David...things will never get better, they won't, unless people in your neck of the woods can see more than their own side". There are many who do, but I had a truly hard time wrapping my head around the Treppie in your personal posts about family, loved ones, moments that touch your heart and soul (whom I love to read) on one hand and the Treppie who has been ranting for the last few days (your words from the post, but I didn't put in quotes)-
And in one of your responses to a commenter, you wrote: "All I can say is that I hope bloggers like sandmonkey can offer more hope than this post did."
Why? You haven't offered any hope in your posts. If you are really looking for hope for the situation, my unsolicited advice would be to try to express some on your own site. The sarcasm, requests for individuals to shut up and the "you want a fight, we'll give you a fight!" posts of the past week just may have been someone else's depressing epiphany.

Ok, I said my fill. This was not an easy one to write.

Completely separate from these opinions and ideas that I've shared, I hope that you, your family and loved ones are safe.

Posted by: nrg | Jul 20, 2006 3:51:20 PM

Carol Herman... I think I understand your position but I'm not sure where you were going with this comment.

Scott... Do I really have to talk you down from the tree? Again? We were doing so well, you and I. But then you have to go knocking over other people's idols and suggesting that Israel act as though it has received marching orders directly from G-d (which in the current conflict, it has not).

Psychotoddler... How did she take the analogy? That can't have been pretty if she identified in any way with the other guys.

Irina... I'm constantly surprised. It's one of the true gifts of having a short attention span.

Carol Herman... Who said I was depressed? I just said I was disappointed to have found an Arab blogger with whom I could identify only to find out that his insiders opinion of the 'Arab street' is pretty much the same as mine.

Armaniac... I should feel encouraged? Here I have all my lefty friends telling me that the majority of the Arabs are really nice people who want nothing more than peace with Israel. And then I find an Arab blogger who blows that theory out of the water. Yay, lets party!

nrg... Don't take this the wrong way, but the reason you are having so much trouble with these two kinds of posts being written by the same person is that you are divorced from the reality on the ground here. You want very much to believe that I'm this nice, loving family man whose gentle persona extends to turning the other cheek when my country and its citizens are attacked. Your 'why can't everyone just get along' attitude is fine (even admirable) in theory, but is suicidal when only one side of a shooting conflict is expected to say/feel it. When you say "David, David...things will never get better, they won't, unless people in your neck of the woods can see more than their own side" you are asking me to go looking for another legitimate 'side' that might justify the reign of terror under which Israel has been living for decades. I'm sorry, if this means I lose you as a reader and as a friend, so be it... but when every horribly costly Israeli effort towards peace has been met with more death and more destruction... there is no other side. Just as there will be no cease-fire in this present conflict until the rockets stop and our citizens are returned... there will absolutely be no peace (much less state) for the Palestinians until they ALL stop trying to kill us and actually live up to ALL of their obligations under the scores of different agreements they have signed and then immediately abrogated.

Posted by: treppenwitz | Jul 20, 2006 4:31:43 PM

Do I really have to talk you down from the tree?

Be careful or someone will report that a crazy settler beat an Arab and cut down his tree.


Posted by: Ozzie | Jul 20, 2006 5:09:40 PM

David: How did she take it? I'm not that sure. I'm trying hard not to provoke a big argument at work. Seeing that we're both (somewhat) in the medical field, I think she understood the analogy, and possibly may have agreed with parts.

I think her issue is not that she agrees with what Hizbolla does, but that she feels upset about the Lebanese civilian loss of life, but I mean, who doesn't? I think all of us here would prefer that the missles killed only terrorists and spared civilians, but what I tried to convey to her was this is the diametric opposite of what Hizbolla wants!

Remember also she is a Christian, and I tried to get her to admit that Christians like her do better under Israeli rule than fanatical Islamic rule. She conceded that.

But would she be happy if Israel ceased to exist tomorrow? I'm afraid to find out.

Posted by: psychotoddler | Jul 20, 2006 6:06:05 PM

David- Maybe I didn't make myself clear: I perfectly understood the nature of your crisis, and go through it very regularly myself in discussions with co-workers, friends or field acquaintances. And that's before we even get to the blogs...

I stand by what I said before about the surprising scope for overcoming such disappointments and finding yourself optimistic once again.

Posted by: PP | Jul 20, 2006 7:33:10 PM

You want a positive post by an Arab blogger? See Iraq The Model
[http://iraqthemodel.blogspot.com/] and scroll down to "Enemies That Need Each Other" --despite the title, it's a great sea change in Iraqi attitudes toward Israel following Hezbollah's power play.

Posted by: aliyah06 | Jul 20, 2006 7:43:31 PM

How depressing and disappointing. It is as I suspected...yet seeing it in print just drove it home. :(

Posted by: Stacey | Jul 20, 2006 8:51:35 PM

Man, are you behind the times!

I wouldn't say that there are wholehearted cheers for Zionism in every quarter, but there are a lot of Arab voices out there that are making some seriously intersting forays into rapprochement.

Listen to this Sudanese blogger address an Israeli:

"Hey Raccoon, believe me I'm not one of those who want Israel to be destroyed and erased off the map because we all know wiping it off the map means a few million Israelis will be bye bye. That includes you my cyber friend. I wouldn't want that to happen. Stay safe bro and let's hope this madness stops."

Sudanese Thinker


Here is a Tunisian blogger that has stirred up quite a hornet's nest of criticism from her friends and neighbors:

"We were taught to believe that Jerusalem belonged to Palestinians and Palestinians only.
We were taught to believe that Israelis were always the cruel enemy that didn’t care about killing civilians.
We were taught to believe that Arabs who killed infidels were martyrs.
We were taught to believe that the west had no values and America was controlled by the Jews.
We were taught to believe that we should fight against them to save our Arab honor and pride.
Honor was everything. We had to preserve our dignity and honor...

Maybe the 'honor and pride' surrounding Palestine is part of the reason that there is so much suffering inside Palestine, and now Lebanon."


Then she did a post on the ancient Carthaginians/Tunisians sacrificing their children to the god Baal and comparing Nasrallah to the same. What a fascinating reverse twist on the old Blood Libel! 70 comments on that one....

There's a lot of intersting stuff on Arab blogs. And I know that if you haven't been reading Sandmonkey, you're not very familiar with them.

Go say hello to these folks (there are already Israelis commenting) and tell them what you like and don't like.

Posted by: Jeff | Jul 21, 2006 7:11:28 AM

Sorry. I just get pi$$ed watching the entire West refusing to realize we are at war with Islam and daily inviting our destruction. There is absolutely no peace with Islam unless they are subjugated or crushed.

Posted by: Scott | Jul 21, 2006 10:28:23 AM


First, whether you like it or not, there will always be the other side even if a good many of the people on that other side want little to do with you other than throw rockets, rather ineptly I might add, at you.

Second, understanding has its own value regardless of what that other side thinks and does about you. By not striving to understand the, you do yoursefl a disservice.

Lastly, go spend some time in Haifa. If you'd like, wait until the hostilities are over, but do go spend some time there. In Haifa, Arabs and Jews have been peacefully coexisting, indeed cooperating with each other, for a very long time. There are lessons to be learned there. Imprtant lessons. Very valuable lessons. When articulate and intelligent people like you learn those lessons, then fewer babies will die. Is not just one of those lives worth the effort?


The problem ain't Islam. The problem is fanaticism. Unfortunately, the VENN diagram crossing fanatics with Muslims happens to have far too great an overlap, but shooting at the wrong target is not recommended. You're just as likely to hit me as you are to hit one of the folks who really deserve to be hit, and I won't appreciate that.

Posted by: Rick | Jul 22, 2006 12:33:17 AM

I found you by way of MVRWC linked to another post and I stayed to look around. I'm glad I did.

I share your epiphany, I had the same just the other day, at another site.

I wandered over to My Lebanese Dream, and thought I found that at least one person in Lebanon was laying the blame where it belongs, on themselves and Hezbollah. That is, until the post was updated the next day for clarity... clarity in the form of the same old anti-Israel hatred that appears in all arab blogs, even if it is subtle.

I used to get so excited whenever it seemed that one of them might hate us a little less than the rest, forgetting time and time again that hate is hate and hating less is still hating.

That is the appeal of Sandmonkey. He seems to hate a little less then the rest, and the hate is expressed subtlety, but, he still hates and it shows.

I wrote him off not too very long ago for that reason.

Posted by: LindaSoG | Jul 22, 2006 7:01:24 PM

Hi David,

I adore Sandmonkey (aka Sam). Yes, he's "westernized," but that's a good thing, right? Godless? Nah, he's just trying to make sense of the world around him, and he's torn between wanting to move to the US to be free, and stay in Egypt to try to change things. He's young, you know. He's angry, to be sure, but I'd be angry if I lived in Egypt as well. Read through some more of his stuff; you'll see. He and Big Pharaoh and some of their other Arab blog friends are pretty brave in their willingness to speak out against radical Islam and terrorism and in support of Israel, considering their surroundings. Sandmonkey takes a lot of abuse in his comments at times from the terrorist-friendly idiots on the internet too, especially when he mentions things like that he used to date a Jewish girl (in the US) and that he's a Zionist. (Can you imagine?! He makes those trolls in the comments furious! haha)

Don't be discouraged by that one post--I'm sure what he said came as no surprise to you, right? But the surprise is that there *are* a few out there who are like SM and will actually speak up. Other Egyptian bloggers have been jailed for doing the same thing. It's a sick, hateful system and culture, and it's a relief to see that not everyone has been poisoned by it.

Jeff's and aliyah06's recommendations are excellent as well. Check the blogrolls for the good sites--there will be some you won't agree with, mainly because they'll list other Egyptian or Iraqi (or whatever) bloggers without regard to ideology, but for the most part their blogrolls have good people too.

Posted by: Beth | Jul 22, 2006 7:41:24 PM

OK, y'know what? I hadn't been to Sandmonkey's in a week or so--a crucial time period, obviously. All I can say is thank G-d for Lisa clarifying the stupid kids-writing-on-bombs picture nonsense. I had forgotten about that and not returned to the issue until now because I was annoyed at the reaction to the pictures. Oh well.

Posted by: Beth | Jul 22, 2006 8:45:23 PM

I just want to say I am sorry that you had to read those words.
The thing about hatred is that it wounds, no matter the bravado, no matter the philosophical attempts to anesthetize. Hatred wounds.Reading those words wounded me.
I am sorry that you read those words and that the sentiment that motivated their writer exists in this world.
And now I say to myself, at least those of us who do not hate have each other.
It comforts me.

Posted by: jess1dering | Jul 24, 2006 12:29:50 PM

I don't think I am taking it the wrong way and can absolutely see why my distance from the situation could make it difficult to understand the way the "reality on the ground" is affecting your points of view. My comment was more to say that from a distance, you seem to be very multi-dimensional and open-minded when it comes to the non-mideast conflict situations in your life (or those that you choose to blog about). It is my observation that you lose that open-mindedness and often criticize it in others when it comes to the ongoing conflict between Israel and its neighbors. Please notice that I am not choosing sides here. My comment was not about that.

I did not (as you wrote) ask you to "go looking for another legitimate 'side' that might justify the reign of terror..". I said it's necessary to see and try to understand the other side, not to justify its position. What I did ask is why you believe that it is unnecessary or down right harmful to communicate with individuals on the other side of this conflict. I went further to give my personal opinion that I think that kind of contact and exchange of views will have a more positive long-term influence on the situation there than the stance you have chosen.

I think it is very fair to say that I am far-sighted (as in too far away and it may alter my perception). But it may also be fair to say that you may be a bit near-sighted (as in too close - which may also alter your perception).

I think that it is possible to stand in solidarity with your fellow Israelis while at the same time acknowledging that there are two sides to this conflict. That is not a comment on which side is or is not justified in their actions. It is just a fact that leads me to my point. Because there are two sides, there are innocent people on both of them who are suffering. It is my personal opinion that none of these people deserve their suffering and that the destruction, death and injury on both sides is tragic.
I am not offering an alternative "quick fix" and if I could, I'd be working in a very different field than I am today. What I am saying is that I think it is important to keep an open mind. It may never alter your point of view, but you will know that you didn't rule anything out or ignore information when deciding where you stand on an issue.

I stand by my comment from above,

"Wouldn't the chance of actually finding a long lasting solution that allows you all to live without fear, without check points, without bombs flying, without kidnappings, be a little closer to possible if the humanity of your opponent (and for them the humanity of their opponents) became so apparent and so difficult to ignore that a peaceful outcome would be wanted by both sides? "

You have a long road to travel there, and I don't envy you. I have loved ones on the Israeli side of this conflict for whom I am very concerned. I am only critical because I think it is important and because I think I've learned that you like to be challenged, you appreciate input and alternative view points and that you could use more of those here.

And you would not lose me as a reader or a friend for disagreeing with me. You make me think too, and that's the whole point, isn't it?

Be safe.

Posted by: nrg | Jul 25, 2006 11:31:21 AM

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