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January 17, 1992 - Image 27

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1992-01-17

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

as possible to their pre-
invasion way of life. PLO
leaders learned nothing and
forgot nothing. Other than
making efforts to win favor
with Washington, the
Syrian government remains
the same as before —
building an arsenal, ruling
Lebanon, trying to dominate
the Palestinians, trafficking
in drugs.
Overall, the war jiggled a
great deal without spurring
the range of fundamental
changes I expect; d.
Why did so little change?
In part this has to do with
the collapse of the Soviet
Union. The Kuwaiti crisis
and the war against Iraq
almost disappeared because
of the press of other devel-
opments. The whole event
feels long ago and quite
apart from today's immedi-
ate concerns.
The nature of the Middle
East, a region with an incor-
rigible tendency to domina-
tion and strife, also has
something to do with the
lack of change. This is a
place where ethnic and re-
ligious-based hatreds last for
generations; where political
passions regularly overrule
economic requirements; and
where the imperatives of
dictatorial rule negate dem-
ocratic or humane leanings.
It is also a region which
marches to its own beat, and
is nearly immune to such
happy global developments
as democratization, increas-
ed respect for human rights,
and greater scope for the
market.
Rule of law remains an ex-
ception, as does freedom of
expression and sustained
economic growth.

After Desert Storm
Disappointment

This melancholic conclu-
sion implies the need to use
caution when predicting
change in the Middle East.
The Kuwait war is not the
only event to have come and
gone.
Anwar Sadat's trip to
Jerusalem failed to shake up
the region as much as ex-
pected, nor did the Iraq-Iran
war, or the intifada.
Even the Iranian Revo-
lution, after 13 years, has
had a smaller impact than
seemed likely at its start.
Details shift but the basic
picture remains surprisingly
stagnant.
Americans should learn to
NOAM M.M. NEUSNER
keep their aspirations
Staff Writer
modest when it comes to the
ne year after Scud
Middle East. With the ex-
missiles rained on Tel
ception of the Middle East's
Aviv, memories of the
two democracies, Turkey
Gulf War have been discard-
and Israel, Washington
ed as quickly as litter after a
should keep its distance.
parade.
To get too involved permits
the misdeeds and failures of
For American Jews,
others to become our own.
images of Israelis dodging
Our will and our means
Scuds seemed, at the time,
are limited: we probably
like unforgettable
cannot reconstruct Iraq as
memories. Thousands turn-
we did Japan or Germany.
ed out for rallies across the
Nor is our example likely to
country, including here in
prevail; Egyptians and
Detroit. Many wept for the
Saudis have little use for our
safety of Israel, which
political system.
Saddam Hussein threatened
This is not a call for dis-
with chemical warheads.
engagement, much less
While the commitment to
isolationism. As in the case
Israel did not cease after the
of Iraqi aggression, the U.S.
war's conclusion, the long-
government should use its
term effect of the war is
influence to address specific
widely doubted by many.
problems: the security of
"This is a little blip on the
Israel, the stability of "Ns screen of human history,"
moderate Arab regimes, the
said Mark Finkelstein, di-
free flow of oil, and the sup-
rector of the Hillel Founda-
pression of terrorism. But it
tion at Michigan State Uni-
must know its limits and not
versity.
believe that the region is
For many American Jews,
amenable to improvements
the Gulf War was a horrify-
along American lines. ❑
ing experience. But unlike
the 1967 Arab-Israeli war,
when Arab nations
threatened to literally push
Israelis into the sea, the Gulf
War was not a watershed
moment for American Jews.
"Jews have always been
aware of how precarious
Israel's position is," said
Conrad Giles, chairman of
the Executive Committee of
the Jewish Federation of
Metropolitan Detroit.
"For American Jews, this
was not eye opening," he
said. Dr. Giles said that he
first got involved in Jewish
communal life because of the
'67 war. The Gulf War, he
said, "was not that kind of
seminal event."
This trend, some note,
reflects the sense
throughout America that
the Gulf War, although
fought skillfully, did not
Daniel Pipes: modest expectations.

Reality did not live up to the
great expectations.

0

After a Scud attack in Tel Aviv, a woman salvages family photos.

succeed in effecting any
long-term change in the
Middle East. As Arab
nations and Israel slog
through peace talks and
Saddam Hussein con-
solidates his grip on power,
many feel that the war was
fought for nought.
Israelis, in particular,
were disappointed in the
war's -final outcome, espe-
cially since they were asked
to restrain from responding
to the barrage of Iraqi Scud
attacks.
"It was a war that Israel
was part of, but it wasn't an
Israeli war," said Sivan
Maas, director of Detroit's

Israel Program Center.
Israel, she noted, had to ask
to be included in American
victory parades.
The war also proved to
Israelis that despite Ameri-
can Jewish sympathy during
the war, the two com-
munities are very different.
"There wasn't the kind of
mobilization of the Jewish
diaspora as in past wars,"
she said. "There wasn't the
sense of 'We Are One,' ."
Many Israelis, she said,
felt hurt by American Jew-
ish reaction to the war. That
disappointment is still felt
today, Mrs. Maas added.
"At the time, Israelis felt

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