Egypt's Crisis the Result of Pressing Global Issues

Posted on Thu, Jul 04, 2013 @ 11:07 AM


The current dramatic situation in Egypt, with the overturn of the democratically-elected Morsi government by the army, will perhaps have further repercussions in the Arab world. It was, after all, in response to popular discontent over Morsi's troubled year in office that the military made its move, supported by Islamic, Coptic and secular leaders. It demonstrates, if nothing else, that the search for good government will continue to motivate humanity. Historian Hugh Brogan has said, "If human beings, as political animals, are to progress further, they cannot yet rest from seeking new forms of government to meet the ever-new needs of their times."

Global Problems, Global Solutions,
Part 4: Failed Government

Coincidentally, we've been working on a new video series to examine solutions to some of these "ever-new needs"—our most pressing global problemsincluding the failure of government systems.

The series, titled Global Problems, Global Solutions, delves into various aspects of the human condition and makes the case that at the root of every difficulty people face, there is a spiritual cause and a spiritual solution. 

In the four-part series we look at some macro-issues facing the entire human race. These include the global arms race and the business of war, the threat on global food and water supplies, injustice and genocide, and failed government. In each episode, we talk about why these issues are the most threatening to global stability and security and identify the thinking that must be at the forefront of any solution.

Over the past couple of years we have seen many challenges to governments around the world. Most recently the world has witnessed turmoil sweeping Arab nations, and there has been much violence and bloodshed as the reaction against existing governments has continued to spread. In one sense this is nothing new; human beings have been trying to find the best form of governance for thousands of years.

Today the vast majority want to live under liberal democracy. But even in the more stable democracies such as those in Europe and the United States, people have lost faith in their governments to solve the big problems society faces. In this latest nine-minute video, we offer some thoughts about the spiritual mindset it will take to bring about better government.


Tags: middle east politics, egypt current events, failed government, global issues, Middle East Conflict

No Pride in This Memorial: April 9th in Middle East History

Posted on Mon, Apr 08, 2013 @ 10:55 PM
 Map courtesy Wikipedia

An event the Palestinians recall every year is the massacre of 100110 Palestinian villagers at Deir Yassin on the city's western edge on April 9, 1948. It became the most significant aspect of Operation Nachshon, the Jewish campaign to open up the corridor between the Mediterranean coast and Jerusalem.

The attack on the village was carried out by two Jewish underground organizations, Irgun Z'vai Leumi (IZL) and Lohamei Herut Israel (Lehi; also known as the Stern Gang), with the apparent agreement of the Haganah in Jerusalem. The villagers had been friendly toward the Jews, refusing to allow Palestinian resistance fighters to stay there, but they had armed themselves against possible attack. The fighting went so badly for the Jewish attackers that they resorted to dynamiting houses, killing men, women and children. Though many younger male Palestinians escaped, others (women, children and old men) were humiliated by being trucked through Jerusalem in a kind of victory parade and then dumped in Arab East Jerusalem.

Along with many other sources, Benny Morris's 1999 book, Righteous Victimsdetails this confrontation. Deir Yassin's website contains much helpful information as does the associated documentary.

The immediate result of the massacre was such that a Palestinian refugee exodus began. This turning point in the Middle East conflict opened the way for Jewish successes in the days ahead. It also set the stage for fierce reprisal. Four days later, the Palestinians attacked a 10-vehicle convoy traveling to Jerusalem's Hadassah Hospital on Mount Scopus. During the six-hour fight, two armored buses were torched and more than 70 mostly unarmed Jewish doctors, nurses and lecturers died.

The State of Israel's first prime minister, David Ben-Gurion, later apologized for the events at Deir Yassin.

Tags: palestinians, Ben-Gurion, 1948 war, Deir Yassin, Middle East Conflict

Gaza's Ordeal Continues

Posted on Tue, Feb 10, 2009 @ 02:03 PM
Who really cares about Gaza's war ravaged people?
Google News
Details: Gaza's Ordeal  Continues
Gaza War
If there’s one thing that’s evident about the ever-sickening situation in Gaza, it’s that the ordinary suffering citizen is getting little help from Hamas or Israel or apparently anyone else. According to the New York Times, even the U.N. refugee agency in Gaza can obtain only a portion (in volume and range) of its much-needed supplies from across the Israeli blockaded border. To make matters worse, armed Hamas police have recently stolen some of the essential supplies—food and blankets—from a U.N. distribution center in Gaza City. And now the U.N. has temporarily suspended sending any supplies into Gaza because of a second Hamas theft of ten vehicles loaded with flour and rice.

Tags: israeli-palestinian conflict, Middle East Peace, Gaza crisis, humanitarian aid, Middle East Conflict

Middle East Peace through Jerusalem or Tehran?

Posted on Fri, Jan 16, 2009 @ 02:07 PM
Scholars focus on new model for negotiations
Writing in the New York Times, Ethan Bronner reviews a new collection of scholarly essays on how to resolve the various critical problems in the Middle East. The authors, from two US policy research groups, deal in “nuance and realism, despite small lapses.” They also happen to have close relations to the incoming Obama administration. They assert that the road to peace may lie not so much through Jerusalem, as through Tehran.

Tags: Middle East Peace, Ethan Bronner, current events, Middle East Conflict

Getting to a Stopping Point in Gaza

Posted on Wed, Dec 31, 2008 @ 02:13 PM
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.

Tags: Middle East Peace, David Grossman, Gaza violence, Middle East Conflict

Defining the Middle East All Over Again

Posted on Fri, Dec 12, 2008 @ 02:18 PM

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,

The Middle East is generally defined as the vast geographic area that embraces North Africa and much of Western Asia. As indicated on the adjacent map, it is bordered on the south by the countries of sub-Saharan Africa, on the north by Greece and Eastern Europe, and on the northeast by Afghanistan, Russia, and the newly independent states of Central Asia. The latter could reasonably be considered part of the Middle East, for most are Islamic in character and many have strong cultural and ethnic links to Turkey and Iran. Much the same could be said of Afghanistan.

And according to Politics and Change in the Middle East (2008) by Anderson, Seibert and Wagner,

The term Middle East raises some problems for it originates in recent Western military usage and uses present national boundaries that cut across historically significant cultural and geographic divisions. The reference to the region as part of the East reveals a European bias; from a larger perspective of the whole civilized area stretching from Western Europe and East Asia, the so-called Middle East is located toward the West and has close cultural ties with the Mediterranean region as a whole. Despite these problems, we shall follow the more or less established convention and define the Middle East as the region bounded on the north west by Turkey, on the southwest by Egypt, on the southeast by the Arabian Peninsula and on the northeast by Iran. It must be remembered that this division is arbitrary, and the bordering regions such as Afghanistan and the Sudan and North Africa have much in common with their "Middle Eastern" neighbors.

Finally, let's consider Fred Halliday’s view in The Middle East in International Relations (2005):

It was in this context, of Ottoman retreat and inter-European rivalry, that the modern concept of the 'Middle East' was born. Hitherto other, more specific, terms had been used--the 'Near East' referred to those Arab areas that border the eastern Mediterranean, the 'Levant to the same, 'Asia Minor' to the Turkish landmass that divided the Arab world from Russia. 'Araby' was a half-political, half-literary term, sometimes denoting the Peninsula, sometimes the Arab East as a whole, sometimes an imaginary zone of Amirs, harems and tents. Coined by the American Admiral Mahan in 1902, the term 'Middle East' reflected a new awareness of the unity not only of the Ottoman domains, but all those wider areas, former Ottoman provinces, Arabia and Iran, which lay between Europe and India and the Far East: the 'Middle' distinguished it from these areas. 'Middle East' became indeed the term used in the languages of the region itself….. Yet despite its apparently general acceptance, this was not a term universally used in the west, where some foreign ministries still continued to use 'Near East' to distinguish these countries from Arabia and Iran. Only after 1945 did the term 'Middle East' acquire a quite general and the national currency. In Russia the western sense of the term was never adopted: there the distinction was between … 'Central East,' that is those countries which bordered Russia and later the USSR--Turkey, Iran, Afghanistan--and.... Near East, in effect the Arab world.

Quite a range of definitions. On this basis, Kaplan's new/old Greater Near East may have traction.

Tags: middle east politics, definition middle east, international relations, political science, robert kaplan, Middle East Conflict

Middle East Politics Online

Posted on Sun, Dec 07, 2008 @ 02:22 PM

USC class Blogs to understand the Middle East, its conflicts and possibilities
Middle East Politics Net

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  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.

Tags: Middle East Peace, middle east politics, classroom blogging, Middle East Conflict

Former Israeli PM Barak Says Jerusalem Division Possible

Posted on Thu, Sep 04, 2008 @ 02:39 PM

East Jerusalem can yet become capital of the Palestinian state
Google News
Details: Former Israeli PM Barak Says Jerusalem Division  Possible
Ehud Barak Palestinian capital

Reuters reported an interview with Ehud Barak aired on Al-Jazeera television. Barak said, "We can find a formula under which certain neighbourhoods, heavily-populated Arab neighbourhoods, could become, in a peace agreement, part of the Palestinian capital that, of course, will include also the neighbouring villages around Jerusalem."

This is, of course, no surprise. It's just that the continuing impasse in public covers up what has already been agreed in principle by various negotiators over the past few years.

Tags: jerusalem, israel, Middle East Conflict, Palestine

Uri Savir's Passion for Peace

Posted on Tue, Sep 02, 2008 @ 02:42 PM

Savir speaks about a new approach to the Middle East conflict
Middle East Conflict

Like many others with classes to teach in the Fall, I have been away from blogging for the Summer. But I did manage to conduct a significant interview with the Israeli career diplomat and Oslo Accords negotiator, Uri Savir.

His new book, Peace First, has just been published. In it he calls for a new approach to diplomacy. He speaks of peace building rather than peacemaking and the creation of an ecology of peace. With contributions by Shimon Peres, Dennis Ross and Ahmad Qurei, Peace First builds on Savir's work since 1993. He presently heads up the Peres Center for Peace in Tel Aviv and the Glocal Forum in Rome.

Tags: Middle East Peace, Uri Savir, Middle East Conflict

Jerusalem Still The Stumbling Block

Posted on Wed, Jun 11, 2008 @ 02:44 PM
Despite other reasons often given, Jerusalem remains central to resolution of Mid-East conflict
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Details:  Jerusalem Still The Stumbling Block
Ahmad Qurei on Jerusalem
According to Ahmad Qurei, the veteran Mid-East negotiator and former Palestinian prime minister, Jerusalem remains the issue that will not go away and without its resolution peace will not come. This has been a consistent theme in Vision's coverage of the more than one century-long conflict. In a Vision interview, Qurei (Abu Ala) made it clear that the Jerusalem Question is the sine qua non.

Tags: jerusalem, ahmad qurei, Middle East Conflict