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Sleepless in Fulham: Rambling and gambling by David Young
Monday, 10 July 2006
Topic: Politics
Over at Iraq the Model, there's an interesting piece about the different attitudes towards Islamic extremism, the Palestinians, Hamas and Israel held by Iraqis and non-Iraqi Arabs:

Singing out of the flock.

It's based on comments made on the BBC arabic forum. The difference between the attitudes of Iraqis and non-Iraqis is striking. Omar, one of the brothers who runs the site, says:

What was written in that thread stands as one example of the change in the Iraqi way of thinking since the day we got rid of the dictator and shows that logic and facts are gaining more ground at the expense of emotions and conspiracy theories.

Many of the Iraqi contributors to the thread are openly sympathetic to Israel and critical of the Palestinans, while the non-Iraqi readers are horrifed by this. It's genuinely fascinating reading.


As promised in comments today, I've located an article that Robert Fisk wrote in the Independent on June 6th. In an interview with the cousin of a Palestinian who blew himself up in Iraq on a 'martyrdom operation', Fisk says

"As for Saddam's oppression of Iraq's Shia Muslims, Maher Oweydah has little sympathy. 'The truth is that Saddam was a Sunni and his struggle was with the Shia. Then after the invasion of Iraq, the Shia clerics and intellectuals and politicians entered the country on the American tanks'.

Fisk continues: "Extended members of the Oweydah family - those who are waiting for further 'calls' to Iraq - nodded at this narrative".

Later on Fisk tells us that the mother of the dead boy says to him 'I will meet him in heaven - in the higher heaven. I am happy he will be married in the spring of heaven'.

Now I ask skeptics like Roger Kirkham, who don't think that the postings on the BBC arabic forum are genuinely from Iraqis, whether they still think it unimaginable that by now there are Iraqis who are hostile to Palestinians. Well?

Full article here

_ DY at 3:42 AM BST
Updated: Tuesday, 11 July 2006 12:58 AM BST
Post Comment | View Comments (7) | Permalink

Monday, 10 July 2006 - 12:34 PM BST

Name: "roGER"
Home Page:

Oh dear. I suspect David and "Iraq the Model" have been fooled by some very clumsy Zionist propaganda posted on the BBC site.

Of course there's no proof, but lines like this:

Israel is a civilized country defending herself from barbaric savages whose minds are made of stone…minds that do not want to believe they are living in the 21st century.

What's happening to the Palestinians despite its cruelty is going to be a good lesson for them to learn they must clear their community off the hateful fundamentalist terror mentality

Are straight out the Leon Uris school of Zionist propaganda.

Of course to fully check out the story I'd have to go to the BBC site and read 500 messages (yawn).

Suffice to say, in 24 years of studying, visiting and meeting people from all over the Middle East, I've only ever come across such stuff on extremist American web-sites and in some of the really clumsy passages from novels like Exodus and The Hadj.

Monday, 10 July 2006 - 3:27 PM BST

Name: "David Young"

"Of course there is no proof." you say, before diving into the deep end with claims of 'zionist propganda'. It's possible that Mossad wrote messages in arabic on a BBC forum I suppose. But then you've got to believe that they did it in order that it would be picked up by some obscure arab website that hardly anyone except me reads - with the intention no doubt that it would appear on Sleepless in Fulham - that well known global collosus of political influence. Alas, much as I'd like to be part of some Zionist black ops masterplan, I doubt it very much.

Back in the real world for one moment, isn't it a bit more likely that these Iraqi readers are reacting to HAMAS's expression of sorrow for the death of Zarqawi? The Iraqis have seen first hand who's been the cause of misery in their land. Israel's done nothing to hurt them. But neighbouring Jihadis have.

If you want to argue that Mossad is behind all of this, can you explain why Mossad only wrote pro-Israel sentiments under Iraqi names and not under Egyptian ones?

If you've never met an arab who's sympathetic to Israel, perhaps you should come to my house and meet the Yemeni shopkeep across the road from me.



Monday, 10 July 2006 - 6:05 PM BST

Name: "anonymous"

Yeah Roger. It was clearly Mossad what done it.

 You fucking idiot.

Monday, 10 July 2006 - 6:55 PM BST

Name: "David Young"

Well to be fair, it was me who mentioned Mossad. Roger blamed 'the Leon Uris school of Zionist propaganda'. Of course it's perfectly possible that some of this school's graduates did go into Mossad upon graduation.

Later today I'm going to dig up an old newspaper column by Robert Fisk (!!) which clearly shows that some Palestinians have gone to Iraq to be suicide bombers. The family of one intereviewed by Fisk display open hostility to the Shiite majority in Iraq. Is it so far fetched to suggest that the Iraqis have noticed this and are sickened by the Palestinians because of this?

I don't think so. But that's because I don't see Zionist conspiracies everywhere.



Tuesday, 11 July 2006 - 1:12 AM BST

Name: "David Young"

Two minor points -

1)  The print version of the newspaper, from which I manually retyped key quotes before realising that the piece was available online,  does not have the words '- like thousands of Iraqis Sunnis -' interopolated in the sentence about Maher Oweydah's lack of sympathy for Iraqi Shiites.

2) In using a quote from Fisk, I'm applying the idea of 'evidence against interest'. In this case I mean that when Fisk casts Palestinians in an unsympathetic light, it's more meaningful than when a Zionist Israeli does so.


Wednesday, 12 July 2006 - 9:47 AM BST

Name: "roGER"
Home Page:

I'd be very greatful if people DID NOT put words in my mouth.

I stand by what I wrote:

in 24 years of studying, visiting and meeting people from all over the Middle East, I've only ever come across such stuff on extremist American web-sites and in some of the really clumsy passages from novels like Exodus and The Hadj.

But since I'm not making myself clear enough, let me try again. Supporters of Israel, mainly the extreme right-wing American variety, sometimes pretend to be Arabs in order to make their arguments more powerful. An example of someone who's been caught doing this in the past is Prof Steve Plaut. 

I *think* but cannot of course prove that is what happened at the BBC website.

The idea that Mossad or any other Israeli government agency would get involved in such antics is ridiculous.

As for Arabs that do support Israel, I'm sure there are a few, just as during the Cold War there were people in Eastern Europe who supported communism. But they are part of a small minority, and I personally have never met one.

Friday, 14 July 2006 - 2:14 AM BST

Name: "anonymous"

I appreciate that you have 24 yrs of experience in this matter, Roger, but the point of the post is that things have changed in the last few years. So it's only the last, say, three years at most that are relevant. I dug up what Fisk had to say, because I believe it shows that Palestinians and Iraqi Shia don't necessarily see eye-to-eye any more. If Palestinians can be so dismissive of Iraqi Shia, I see no reason why the reverse wouldn't be the case by now. They have seen the dark side of the Palestinians up close. It's no longer something abstract.

Here's an illustration by example - I have a friend who's half Lebanese (Greek Christian). He foams at the mouth at the mention of Zionists and Neo-cons ("I prey for their deaths" he once told me). But he's not always that keen on Palestinians - he blames them for causing great damage to his country and throwing their weight about during the civil war. Incidentally, I wrote to him today and here's what he had to say -

 Me to him:

"I see that Beirut airport has been bombed and a road leading to the airport bombed too. What happens next? Can Hezbollah be contained?"

He wrote back:
"Lebanese politicians universally rally around hizbollah in short term. Longer term it could lead to a escalation of issues relating to the role of hizbollah as an armed militias group, this could be a positive as the status quo preserves their existence as an armed force. Local politicians don't have the poitical will or power to stand against syria in insisting on hizbollah's disarmament. If you do, they tend to kill you.
Hizbollah is a combination of a font of political expression of the disaffected impoverished shia population in the south, and a tool of iran/syria foreign policy. Israel provokes syria with a presidentioal palace flyby. syria reacts by encouraging hizbollah. Israel bombs lebanese infrastructure. Hizbollah gets want it wants-an escalation of vilence and a pseudo justification for their existence as armed force. Syria & Iran gets want it wants-political capital in threatening israel without suffering theconsequences. Isreal gets to make a show of force.
Lebanon gets fucked. The truth is, no one really gives a shit because as long as Lebanon is weak, than the chances of enforcing the nationalisation of the Palestinian refugees within Lebanon is greater. And everyone, bar the Lebanese, wants this.
I made the following point at the time the syrians were evicted from Lebanon....
The only military force capable of disarming hizbollah is the syrians, and i preferred that that the US & International community found a way to make them do this by making concessions on other issues first, before asking them to leave Lebanon. If the US had done this, than they could always turn the heat up on the syrians afterwards on other issues. Asking the syrians to leave without forethought as to how to ensure hizbollah's disarmament was not good forward thinking by the US. This kind of conflict is inevitable if you allow armed militias to roam around the country."



Note the line:

as long as Lebanon is weak, than the chances of enforcing the nationalisation of the Palestinian refugees within Lebanon is greater. And everyone, bar the Lebanese, wants this.


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