Sunday, March 20, 2005

evolutionary historically
in the Palestinian-Israeli conflict

The Palestinian region is one of the few arable remnants, east of Egypt, of the ancient fertile crescent that began at the Nile and ended at once-Edenic southern Mesopotamia (now the Shi'ia heartland of Iraq). The Mediterranean cradle of Western civilization—so pollinated by Asian civilization (but more adaptable than Asia's adaptability to European early modernity)—left its primordial crossroads behind via seafaring estates that favored the wandering adventurer over the feudal estate (be it Asian, Arab, or Germanic). Life on the move (experiencing environmental diversity) advantages the social evolution of adaptability better than life that isn’t on the move.

Even the pinnacle of Islamic civilization (middle of the second millennium) was due to its appropriation of hybrid Hellenic culture (but Islam inherited too little of the flexible humanism that spawned European modernity).

Modern, adventurist thinking (adaptive optimality—flexible idealization—of reason in individual freedom) advantages social life better than premodern, provincial thinking. Thus, the Jewish experience of diaspora through modernity advantaged the Jewish development of Palestine in the 19th and early 20th centuries for good reason. In the mid-20th century, the historical power of modern Jewry (never basically a matter of American patronage) would have to be resisted by Arab feudalism that was clearly losing in the engineering contest for development of mid-century Palestine. Late in the game of regional hybridization, TransJordanian Arabs imported the European idea of geographic nationality (“inspired” by a Zionism based in a Jewish legacy of east Jerusalem accepted by Arabia until early modernity), thereby spawning a Palestinian-Israeli conflict from an Assyrian legacy that wasted the region, before a Muslim legacy marginalized it.

Islam arises late in the history of the region (where the people of the book created the idea of history and revelation). The foundation of the Dome of the Rock is the Temple Mount in east Jerusalem. Islamic history never envisioned its holiest center to be east Jerusalem, let alone to be the capitol of Islamic civilization (while Islam, following Assyria, always aspired to widespread geographic control, and Judaism never did). In 1947, via the UN partition plan for Palestine, the U.S. supported a two-state solution to the Arab rejection of post-Holocaust Israel. Israel accepted the UN plan (though not resting with Tel Aviv as its capitol), while Arabia rejected Israel’s UN-constituted right to exist (and fought Jewish access to “internationalized” Jerusalem) in an Arabian rejection of the UN order. There was no good reason to respect that rejection (as good reason must nowadays favor [A] multiparty pragmatism, idealizing good cosmopoly—and a UN-oriented world order—over [B] feudal tribalism idealzing theocracy). Inflexible Arabs initiated war against flexible Israel and lost.

Demographic bias for Israel within the Christian U.S. (distinct from U.S. governmental non-partisanship in the peace process) is pragmatically warranted by recent history, 1948-2005: Arabs resisted modernization of their own societies, while immigrant Jews flourished in pre-Israeli Palestine. Arabs chose war over the UN order, 1948, 1967, and 1973—and lost chances for peace (as well as annuling the basis of UN resolutions against Israeli occupation). During the Cold War, tribal Arab alliance with statist-command economies lost to constitutional Israeli alliance with democratic-market economies. Fatah’s antiquated model of political struggle lost Palestinian Arabs decades of opportunity for economic modernization, while Israeli democracy flourished.

Now, feudal Syria is in decline. Egypt experiments with elections. Southern Arab feudal regimes are suffering experimentation with elections. Iraq may become the exemplar of Islamic representative government—and Arab multiculturality— while feudal, theocratic, statist Iran becomes surrounded by representative governments.

May 28, 2009

"The War to Begin All Wars"
By Gershom Gorenberg
New York Review of Books