Date: Sep 19, 2013 4:12 PM
Author: Haim
Subject: Re: Notes On A Century

Domenico Rosa Posted: Sep 19, 2013 12:49 PM  

>Haim,
>
>What do you think of the following article?
>==========
>
>http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2013/may/06/iraq-syria-lebanon-economic-union
>
>For Iraq, Syria and Lebanon, there is a peaceful solution


Dom,

I did not intend to start a discussion on Middle East politics, but your question touches on a few elementary issues that can be addressed fairly quickly.

First, it is highly telling that Khanfar speaks of the "four peoples that have coexisted in the region since ancient times---Arabs, Kurds, Turks and Iranians". What happened the Jews (who still exist), the Assyrians (who still exist), Copts (who still exist), Greeks (who certainly still exist but who were once a major presence from Asia Minor to Egypt and throughout the Middle East as far as Afghanistan), Armenians (who still exist), and quite a few others?

Furthermore, Khanfar must have an odd definition of "ancient times" that he should share with the rest of us. When Nebuchadnezzar II laid siege to Jerusalem in 587 BC, neither the attackers of that city nor its defenders spoke Arabic. Indeed, aside from itinerant traders, there was no Arabic to be heard anywhere in the area of the modern Middle East, including Egypt, outside of Arabia. Nor was Arabic to be heard in that area for nearly 1,200 years after the siege.

Even more so with Turkish. The Turks are a Central Asian people, completely alien to the region, who came as waves of conquerors, first the Seljuks then the Ottomans. They killed their way into Asia Minor over the course of centuries. They finished the job in 1453, when they finally gave the coup de grace to the Greek speaking Christian empire of Byzantium that had been in continuous existence in that place since the Roman Emperor Constantine founded his eponymous city in 330 AD. (Greeks had been living in Asia minor, as Christians and pagans for nearly 1,000 years prior.)

What happened to all these other peoples? What happened to the Jews, the Christians who were at one time a large majority in Syria, Lebanon, and Egypt? What happened to the Zoroastrians who were a large majority in Persia, and the Manichaeans of Persia and Syria? Why does Khanfar write them out of history? What happened was a slow (and sometimes not so slow) motion massacre.

So, exactly what is this "spirit that has distinguished the Middle East throughout its history"? I remain doubtful.

Furthermore, while Khanfar waxes poetic about distinguishing spirits, exactly who will collect taxes, pave roads, dig sewers, pick up the trash, etc., etc., etc? Whose laws will reign supreme?

Khanfar does not say, and we should assume the worst.

Haim