I THOUGHT I'D TAKE A GLANCE
at Arab News
's coverage of yesterday's pro-Israel rally
in Washington. Predictably, there was a lot of focus on the alleged Wolfowitz-booing incident, but the story is largely free from the sort of vicious anti-semitic vitriol we're used to seeing from our Saudi friends.
Said friends, on the other hand, seem to me to be a long way from recognizing the danger posed to them by the "American street."
There seems to be a persistent myth in both the Middle East and Europe that Bush and Sharon are some kind of extremists on this issue and that they might get replaced by more accommodating figures. Sharon's main rival, however, is Netanyahu not Peres (note that Peres is in Sharon's coalition and Netanyahu is not).
As for the American situation, well, it's a bit easier to understand the foreigners' mistake here. Out in punditland, the further to the left you are, the less pro-Israeli you'll be. This, however, is largely a function of the media's need to present clear-cut point-counterpoint style debates featuring sharp left/right divides on all issues. There's no clear liberal commitment (to abortion rights? to higher taxes? to environmental regulations?) that commits liberals to a pro-Arab policy, nor is there a clear conservative commitment to a pro-Israeli one.
In fact, Israel's base of electoral support in the US is conveniently split between Christian right types who overwhelmingly support Republicans, and Jews who overwhelmingly support Democrats.
Indeed, the best place to look for Arab sympathies in the American political world would probably be a Republican administration that's loath to publicly associate itself with the face of Christian fundamentalism and that has close ties to the oil industry. In other words -- the administration of George W. Bush.
If Arab world doesn't become more sensitive to the concerns of the American street, who knows, the moderate Bush regime may fall and God knows what would happen then....