Tuesday, April 10, 2007

PowerLine and Bulldog: Willfully Ignorant? Or Just Plain Ignorant?

For all its merits, PowerLine has some serious blind-spots, and they show clearly here: and is joined by someone called "bulldog pundit" in this place, who has the temerity to bash the Pope for pointing out that the Iraq situation ain't exactly coming up roses.

Conservative columnist Robert Novak probably dislikes Israel as much as Jimmy Carter did before Carter started hating Israel. In this column, Novak does Carter one better by suggesting that the current situation on the West Bank is worse than apartheid.

And the author manages to rattle on while ignoring Novak's point, which is prominent in the column:

Jimmy Carter raised hackles by titling his book about the Palestinian question "Peace Not Apartheid." But Palestinians allege this is worse than the former South African racial separation. Nearing the 40th anniversary of the Israeli military occupation of the West Bank, the territory has been so fragmented that a genuine Palestinian state and a "two-state solution" seem increasingly difficult

"Worse" is a matter of opinion. But Novak's opinion, 'that the "two-state solution" seem[s] increasingly difficult' is substantiated by others:

...Since at least the Six-Day War, the presence of Christians in the Middle East has been a sign of contradiction that has stood in the way of American and Israeli attempts to reduce the broad conflict there to the dualism of Judaism/Israel versus Islam/Arabs. The inconvenient reality of Middle Eastern Christianity has been a stumbling block to remaking the Middle East in a particular ideological image.

I started to write the “irreducible” (instead of “inconvenient") “reality of Middle Eastern Christianity,” but, unfortunately, it is not so. By acting as if they were dealing only with Muslims, both the United States and Israel have helped to change the demographic reality in the Middle East. Palestinian Christians have left in droves. Much of the Maronite population is now in the United States (and there was another massive influx after the bombing last summer). The Chaldean and Assyrian Christians in Iraq have, as Wayne Allensworth predicted in Chronicles before the war, largely fled the country.

These Christians, who used to act as leaven, politically and spiritually, in a troubled region can no longer do so. And so the ideological description of the conflict as the dualism of Judaism/Israel versus Islam/Arabs has gone from an inaccurate reduction of reality to something more than a half-truth today.

The Chrisians are also fleeing Lebanon.

If someone actually wanted to create a war-zone in the Middle East, this scenario couldn't be bettered. Removing Christians (read: Catholics) from the area will make it a two-party system, without the moderating/brokerage influence of the third.

Catholics in the Middle East are roughly analagous to the "moderates" who are sought by both Republicans and Democrats in elections--the 'non-aligned,' as it were.

Pretending that there are only Jews and Arabs in the Middle East is like pretending that there are only two parties in the United States. Useful as a caricature, but hardly a demonstration of intelligence.

And bashing the Pope demonstrates an arrogance which is profound. Most people know that the Pope's views are fed by significant on-the-ground intelligence sources (the people, priests, and Bishops of the area.) It is often dangerous to presume that one has more knowledge than the Pope--or that the Pope has less knowledge than, say, the CIA.

(For another view, see also First Things today.)

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