Israeli author proposes next steps in current conflict in Palestine's Gaza Strip
David Grossman has a fine piece in the NYT about the current Israeli campaign to crush Hamas. He argues for a 48 hour unilateral ceasefire on Israel's part.
Grossman, whose eldest son was killed in the 2006 Lebanon War, maintains that such an approach taken early in that conflict, would have put Israel in a much better position now. During the proposed 48 hour ceasefire, he suggests that international mediators should be invited to resolve the immediate crisis. His analysis takes note that Israel has the duty to defend not only Israeli citizens subject to Hamas rockets, but also innocent Gazan Palestinians.
Grossman writes, "We must not forget, even for a moment, that the inhabitants of Gaza will continue to live on our borders and that sooner or later we will need to achieve neighborly relations with them."
I had the pleasure of interviewing Grossman some years ago at his home in Jerusalem. He struck me then and even more so today as a man of wisdom, compassion and carefully constructed understanding of the Middle East conflict.
His voice should be heard in the current crisis.
Robert Kaplan revises the definition of the Middle East—from the Mediterranean to Burma
Defining the Middle East has long been an awkward task. Robert Kaplan, writing in the NYT, believes it should include a much greater area and that the Mumbai terrorist attacks lend credence to his position. Certainly, there is confusion over what comprises the region. Standard textbooks in Political Science and International Relations can't seem to agree. Here's a selection:
In The Foreign Policies of Middle East States (2002), Hinnebusch and Ehteshami have a map labeled "The Middle East (the Arab League plus Iran, Israel and Turkey)." There are 22 countries in the Arab League. They stretch from Mauritania in the far west of Africa to Oman, east of Saudi Arabia. The League includes Sudan, Djibouti and Somalia, the Comores in the Indian Ocean and three observer states Eritrea, India, and Venezuela. To be fair, the Arab League's observers were added in 2003, 2006 and 2007.
The map in Politics in the Middle East (2000) by Bill and Springborg shows an area that stretches from Morocco (including Western Sahara) to Pakistan. It excludes Somalia and Djibouti and includes Turkey, Israel, Iran and Afghanistan.
The cover on State, Power and Politics in the Making of the Modern Middle East (2004) by Roger Owen, shows Egypt, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Iran, part of Afghanistan and part of Pakistan. Inside, there's a 20th century inter-war map of the Middle East, showing an area from Morocco to Iran and from Turkey to Sudan.
Monte Palmer’s The Politics of the Middle East (2006) has a map bounded on the west by Egypt and Sudan, on the east by Iran, on the north by Turkey on the south by Yemen. In his written definition of the Middle East, Palmer says,
And according to Politics and Change in the Middle East (2008) by Anderson, Seibert and Wagner,
Finally, let's consider Fred Halliday’s view in The Middle East in International Relations (2005):
Quite a range of definitions. On this basis, Kaplan's new/old Greater Near East may have traction.
USC class Blogs to understand the Middle East, its conflicts and possibilities
The class I've been teaching this semester at the University of Southern California is almost over. The 33 students have posted well over 600 entries on the associated blog middleeastpolitics.net presenting information focused on 12 countries in this very diverse region.
They have learned a lot in a short time and the blogging requirement has been part of their almost daily routine. They even heard from two guest lecturers on the finer points of of social media use, search engine optimization and effective blog posting.