Monday, December 26, 2011
Between Mecca and Jerusalem
Forget Athens and Jerusalem, the new dialectic is between Mecca and Jerusalem. On one side is support for the spread of a repressive theocratic ideology across the region and around the world through violence and intimidation, on the other side is the rise of indigenous states from the pre-Islamic era employing technology and ingenuity to transform the region.
Every time a politician pays tribute to Saudi Arabia, a journalist endorses the Arab Spring and a diplomat goes on about how Israel must make concessions to Islamic terrorists or it will destabilize the region, you see a man used to raising his arse and bowing his pate to Mecca. It has become mainstream to speak of the Saudi royals as reformers and allies, while denouncing Israel as a reactionary backward state that's always causing trouble. The Saudis and their Gulf pals can pony up the Riyals to slam planes into the White House and the Pentagon, slowly behead women for witchcraft and promote an ideology so vicious that it gives Nazism an even run in the 100 meter genocide dash-- and come away with applause. But when an Israeli Prime Minister goes to the negotiating table with his worst enemies, he's greeted with a chorus of boos.
There was a time when Western capitals aspired to be the new Jerusalem, now they are turning into the new Mecca, the new Riyadh, the new Beirut and the new Cairo. Paris and London and a dozen other capitals have turned their back on Jerusalem and are quickly turning into meccas for Muslim immigrants and their Saudi funded mosques where barely beard speakers hiss hate into hand-held microphones.
On the foreign policy chessboard, their more upscale versions do the same. Scratch one of those dispassionate critics of Israel and you more often than not find a man with his head bent low toward Mecca.
Take Thomas Friedman whose vitriol finally boiled over into the lowest kind of Israel bashing even by New York Times standards. Good old Tom had been swanning around with the Saudi royals for a while now and when he writes that congressional standing ovations for Netanyahu were paid for by the Israeli lobby (were all the standing ovations that the King of Jordan received paid for by the Jordanian lobby?) he's just another poodle in his hairy master's arms barking on command.
Consider Chas Freeman, who was literally on the Saudi payroll (not to mention that of the People's Republic of China) and whose failed appointment occasioned a lot of headlines about a talented fellow being kept away from drawing up the National Intelligence Estimate because of those Jews. But Freeman, Dennis Blair's boy, walking papers might have been more accurately stamped as, "Saudi royal family employee nominated by collaborator in Muslim Indonesian genocide of Christians fails to secure vital national security position."
When Walt and Mearsheimer's The Israel Lobby article was first published in the United States, the publication that featured the screed was Middle East Policy, a generically named journal put out by the Middle East Policy Council, an organization presided over by Chas Freeman and funded by our friends in Saudi Arabia. It was ironic to see a paper attacking the influence of the Israeli lobby appearing in a journal put out by the Saudi lobby, but also completely predictable.
The Muslim world is ground zero for conspiracy theories about the Jews and the Saudi royals along with their other Gulf counterparts fund much of the hate. What they don't do is advertise. Like one of those nightclubs that's so exclusive that it doesn't have a name, they work behind the scenes. And when they have names, there are about ten thousand of them and they're as generic as possible.
The Middle East Policy Council, formerly the slightly more truthfully named American Arab Affairs Council, founded by two American diplomats who worked in the Middle East, is typical of how the Gulfies do things. Saudis and Emiratis don't do their own laundry or build their own buildings or pump their own gas, they hire foreigners to do it for them. The Saudi Lobby is their equivalent of the Filipino maids, British architects and Indian construction workers. Want someone to spread the smear that the Jews control America. Hire that boy who took our messages to the president, give him a budget and let's see what he can do.
You won't find politicians stopping by the American-Saudi Political Action Committee. Instead a whole bunch of former American ambassadors to Saudi Arabia, like Chas Freeman, explain their position to influential people, which just happens to be the position of the House of Saud.
That goes double when the target is the general public. In 2003, the Alliance for Peace and Justice ran a bunch of radio ads attacking Israel and calling for an end to the occupation. The "Alliance" was the end of a long tail that led through an ad agency to a public relations firm and to the Saudis. Qorvis Communications, founded a year before September 11, acts as the House of Saud's PR firm. Raided by the FBI back in 04, it's still out there and working hard for the kingdom, and has its own political action committee. Much like the way the Kuwaiti government used the law firm of Shearman and Sterling to run a campaign against Guantanamo Bay.
One Qorvis alum, Judith Barnett, another former diplomat, sits on the advisory board of J Street, the left-wing anti-Israel lobby. And the Finance Committee of the Democratic National Committee. Not to mention Amideast, formerly American Friends of the Middle East, originally the Committee for Justice and Peace in the Holy Land, an organization created to oppose the creation of Israel. Its co-founder Kermit Roosevelt Jr had come out of the board of the Institute of Arab-American Affairs, which was headed by the same man who headed the Arab League's office in the United States-- proving that the Saudis were still playing the same game as far back as the 1940's.
Ms. Barnett's political activism aligns neatly with her business in The Barnett Group, which helps Middle Eastern companies overcome "trade and governmental regulatory barriers" to do business in the United States. This line of work isn't particularly unusual for her ilk. Barnett was formerly the VP of Georgetown Global Investments Corporation, which specialized in Middle Eastern investments. GGIC was started up by Marc Ginsberg, another former ambassador to the Arab world, who blogs at the Israel Policy Forum, yet another left-wing anti-Israel group.
Tying them all together is Ambassador Robert Pelletreau, another J Street advisory board member, the original contact man for the PLO and a member of the Board of Governors of the Middle East Institute, (funded by a collection of oil companies and the Sultan of Oman) and on the advisory council of the Israel Policy Forum-- and is also the treasurer of Amideast. In addition to all that, he's a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, and on the boards of the National US-Arab Chamber of Commerce and the American-Iranian Council. The latter is part of the Iranian Lobby and has arranged meetings with Ahmadinejad. His former law firm, Afridi, Angell & Pelletreau is based out of the United Arab Emirates.
All this is the tip of a very large iceberg that points toward Mecca. It's an organization the scope of which makes AIPAC look small and ridiculous. Politicians may show up to pander to AIPAC voters, but they listen to the diplomats who lobby for the Muslim world without appearing to do it and using organizations with innocuous names and deceptive purposes.
Mecca and Jerusalem then. Demographics is on the side of Mecca. If you don't want your new Muslim immigrants blowing themselves up, then you had better bow to the east. If you want good relations with the oil sheiks, then you bow in the same direction, while on your knees. And if you want to live out the dream of a world government, then you need the Muslim world to play along in exchange for getting some of what it wants. Like a ban on criticizing Islam or mocking Mohammed.
And what of Jerusalem? As far as Mecca is concerned, it owns Jerusalem. It conquered it a few times and expects to conquer it again with the help of its Western allies. Jerusalem, London, Paris, Washington, Moscow and anywhere else it can reach. Most of the leaders of the former Athens agree. Certainly Jerusalem belongs to Mecca, as do London and Paris. Mecca multiculturalism is the new order of things. It doesn't matter what your skin color is, so long as you're not a woman and you bow in the right direction.
As the West drifts father and farther from its heritage and traditions, it doesn't reach some progressive rational order, instead it finds itself in the desert sands and faced with stark choices. It can either give up its reason or its ideals. Like a maddened beast it chews off its reason to save its progressive ideals and when the day comes that forces it to realize that its progressivism can no more survive in Mecca than a fish in the desert, it will be much too late.
While Mecca grows, its arrogance stirring up wars around the world, as Riyadh, Dubai and Kuwait City have their day, the cities of the West crumble and Jerusalem stands besieged on all sides. The choice between Mecca and Jerusalem has civilizational implications, it is the choice between slavery and freedom, between ignorance and knowledge, and between darkness and light.