By Barry Rubin
Here’s the sentence:
The changes in the region are producing more extremism, not more moderation.
That applies to attitudes toward America and Israel as well as on internal social issues.
Rachi Ghanouchi, head of Tunisia’s Islamist movement–a man long portrayed as a moderate in the West–just publicly came out and called for Israel’s destruction. And what does Voice of America tell us and the Arabs? That Ghanouchi is a moderate who doesn’t want an Islamist state! Your tax dollars at work. What does CBS News tell us? That the Islamist party denounced the killing of a priest. Obviously very tolerant people.
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Of course, the Tunisian Islamists are far weaker than those in Egypt. Still, the West is deluding itself in thinking they are moderate.
Yet let’s listen–thanks to MEMRI–at what the VOA and CBS producers counterpart in the Arab world is saying. In an article written for a Qatari and a Jordanian newspaper, entitled “Israel Is Surely Temporary,” Samir al-Hijjawi says
“It’s time for Israel to go… It’s time for the end of the great lie… It’s time [for Israel] to go because the regimes protecting [it]… are toppling one by one.” He added that the recent protests on Israel’s borders prove the Palestinians and Arabs will never relinquish all of Palestine because it is sacred Muslim territory.
I’ll bet that every producer and pretty much every staff member of al-Jazira–the station Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has recommended as accurate–agrees.
Get it? For Obama, the “Arab Spring” means moderation and democracy. To most Arabs and Muslims, it represents a resurgence of Islamism and nationalism, the prelude for getting rid of Israel and U.S. influence in the region.
I’d be bothered less if Obama acknowledges that but claimed that his proteges would win. The fact that he has zero percent understanding of the threat is the prelude to disaster. The fact that almost all Western newspapers and television news operations think the same way as Obama makes the situation even worse.
Barry Rubin is director of the Global Research in International Affairs (GLORIA) Center, editor of the Middle East Review of International Affairs (MERIA) Journal, and a featured columnist at PajamasMedia http://pajamasmedia.com/barryrubin/ His latest books are The Israel-Arab Reader (seventh edition), The Long War for Freedom: The Arab Struggle for Democracy in the Middle East (Wiley), and The Truth About Syria (Palgrave-Macmillan). The website of the GLORIA Center is http://www.gloria-center.org. His PajamaMedia columns are mirrored and other articles available at http://www.rubinreports.blogspot.com