Why Do Arabs and Muslims Hate America?

By Seale, Patrick | Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, November/December 2012 | Go to article overview
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Why Do Arabs and Muslims Hate America?


Seale, Patrick, Washington Report on Middle East Affairs


Faced with a dramatic outbreak of anti-American violence by Arabs and Muslims in a score of countries-including the killing of Ambassador Chris Stevens in Benghazi-the American reaction has been one of puzzlement, outrage and a thirst for revenge. Send in the Marines! Few Americans seem to understand that their country is paying for decades of grossly mistaken policies.

Take the Palestine problem. Most Americans have long since dismissed it from their minds and consciences. But Arabs and Muslims have not. Israel's 45-year-long oppression of the Palestinians-the cruel siege of Gaza, the relentless land-grab on the West Bank-remains a major source of humiliation and rage. The United States bears the prime responsibility because, having sustained Israel in every possible way, it has failed to persuade it to give the Palestinians a fair deal.

Some American presidents have tried to break the Arab-Israeli logjam but were defeated by domestic politics and by obdurate Israeli leaders. Jimmy Carter was defeated by Menachem Begin; George H.W. Bush by Yitzhak Shamir; Bill Clinton almost clinched a deal before he leftoffice but was sabotaged by pro-Israel officials like Dennis Ross. Barack Obama's defeat by Binyamin Netanyahu has turned the huge hopes he first aroused into bitter disappointment. The poison of the unresolved Arab-Israeli conflict continues to inflict grave damage on the United States and to threaten Israel's long-term future. There will be no peace in the region until a fair settlement is reached. But no president has dared exert American power in this cause.

Not only has the United States failed to resolve the Arab-Israeli conflict, it has also built Israel up into the regional bully, and must therefore be judged complicit in its numerous assaults against its neighbors. The origins of this policy may be traced to Israel's comprehensive victory in 1967, which caused Secretary of State Henry Kissinger to view it as the guard-dog of America's regional interests. Kissinger's idea was to bolster Israel with funds and weapons in order to keep the Arabs down and the Russians out. His plan reached fruition after the 1973 October war, when he plotted to exclude the Palestinians from the post-war settlement and remove Egypt from the Arab military line up, thus laying the foundations for the 1979 Egyptian-Israeli peace treaty. "Remove a wheel, and the car won't run," was the triumphant Israeli version.

Indeed, the treaty guaranteed Israel's supremacy for the next three decades, while exposing Lebanon, Syria and the Palestinians to the full force of Israeli power. Israel invaded Lebanon in 1982, killing 17,000 people. It expelled the PLO and sought to turn Lebanon into an Israeli protectorate. Syria fought back; the man who was to serve as Israel's vassal was assassinated; and the American-brokered Israel-Lebanese accord was scrapped. But not before Israel seized Beirut and presided over the horrific massacre by right-wing Christians of at least 800 Palestinians at the Sabra and Shatila refugee camps. Israel remained in occupation of south Lebanon for the next 18 years until driven out in 2000 by Hezbollah guerrillas-whom the United States still insists on calling "terrorists."

Americans have rarely paused to ask themselves why they were attacked on Sept. 11, 2001. Palestine was certainly a motive. Another was the severe punishment inflicted by the United States on Iraq in expelling it from Kuwait in 1991 and then in starving it over the next 13 years with punitive sanctions, which are said to have resulted in the death of half a million Iraqi babies. Yet another major motive was the callous way the United States treated the tens of thousands of Arab fighters from across the region-25,000 from Yemen alone-whom it had recruited and armed to fight the Russians in Afghanistan. Once the Russians withdrew in 1989, Washington dropped the mujaheddin.

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