PARALLEL UNIVERSE: NY Times Uses Loaded Word 'Apartheid' About A Middle Eastern Country -- And It Isn't Israel!

By David M. Kinchen
It's no secret that Muslims don't get along with very many people, not even other Muslims, as the Sunni -- Shiite divide graphically illustrates. So it was with a touch of schadenfreud that I read a story in the Sept. 16, 2011 New York Times about religious intolerance in the island Arabian (or Persian) Gulf state of Bahrain, which has a population about that of Cleveland or St. Louis -- 525,000.

The word "apartheid" is  used both in the print story (in the form of the variation "apartheidlike"): (link:http://www.nytimes.com/2011/09/16/world/middleeast/repression-tears-apart-bahrains-social-fabric.html?_r=1&nl=todaysheadlines&emc=tha22), and in its full-bore "apartheid" form in the TimesCast, an audio pod cast:
(Link: http://video.nytimes.com/video/2011/09/15/world/middleeast/100000001056082/timescast--police-apartheid-in-bahrain.html?nl=todaysheadlines&emc=tha22)


The A-word -- along with the "N-Word" as in Nazi -- has been bandied about a lot in past few years, most notably by former President Jimmy Carter, who used it in his title of a book about Israel and the Palestinians ("Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid,"  Simon and Schuster, 2006). Our current president seems to be seeking the same fate as  Carter -- one term -- as he is perceived by many Jews and others as anti-Israel, calling for a return to the indefensible 1967 borders, which were not legal borders but rather truce lines from the previous war.


As many observers have pointed out -- including most recently gentile authors Bruce Bueno de Mesquita and Alastair Smith in their new "The Dictator's Handbook" (look for my review later this month)  Israel is by far the freest state in the Middle East, with significant populations of Christians and Muslims, while Bahrain and most of the region is entirely "Jew free." Some 800,000 Jews fled Arab countries after 1948, note the authors of "The Dictator's Handbook" as well as George Gilder in his excellent 2009 book "The Israel Test." Gilder is also a gentile and a Reagan "paleoconservative."


 Don't go looking for a Methodist or Baptist church in Bahrain, either. Christians are almost as unwelcome in the Arab world as Jews. The Palestinian representative in Washington, Maen Rashid Areikat, has been quoted in USA Today and The Dally Caller as saying he wants a Jew free (the Nazi word was "Judenrein") Palestine, but he denies saying that in a Foreign Policy magazine blog (link: http://thecable.foreignpolicy.com/posts/2011/09/15/plo_official_i_never_called_for_a_jew_free_palestine). Other news sources said that gays would not be welcome in an independent Palestine, either. Areikat insists that an independent Palestine would be a secular state (good luck on that, considering the Islamists of Hamas who rule the Gaza strip!) The Daily Caller stands by its story (Link: http://dailycaller.com/2011/09/13/palestinian-ambassador-reiterates-call-for-a-jew-free-palestinian-state/)
The New York Times story on Bahrain notes that "The crackdown here has won a tactical and perhaps ephemeral victory through torture, arrests, job dismissals and the blunt tool of already institutionalized discrimination against the island’s Shiite Muslim majority. In its wake, sectarian tension has exploded, economic woes have deepened, American willingness to look the other way has cast Washington as hypocritical and a society that prides itself on its cosmopolitanism is colliding with its most primordial instincts. Taken together, the repression and warnings of radicalization may underline an emerging dictum of the Arab uprisings: violence begets violence.

“The situation is a tinderbox, and anything could ignite it at any moment,” said Ali Salman, the general secretary of Al Wefaq, Bahrain’s largest legal opposition group. “If we can’t succeed in bringing democracy to this country, then our country is headed toward violence. Is it in a year or two years? I don’t know. But that’s the reality.”

The U.S. is hypocritical because of the huge navy base it has here, part of our world-wide presence that many -- including GOP Presidential hopeful Ron Paul -- say contributes to tensions and  conflict throughout the planet. Paul has stated that the U.S. has a military presence in 130 countries (link: http://www.politifact.com/truth-o-meter/statements/2011/sep/14/ron-paul/ron-paul-says-us-has-military-personnel-130-nation/). The St. Petersburg Times Truth-O-Meter says that Paul's claims are "mostly true," adding that the U.S. admits to having more than 1,000 military personnel in only 16 nations -- including Bahrain.

Back to Bahrain, the Times story says:
"Most dangerous, though, is the exacerbation of sectarian hatred in a country that has never really reconciled the narratives of the Khalifa family’s long-ago conquest. No one claims that Sunnis and Shiites ever lived in harmony here. But the country stands as a singular example of the way venerable distinctions of ethnicity, sect and history can be manipulated in the Arab world, often cynically, in the pursuit of power.

 
As the status quo endures — some believe that the king may introduce reforms this month, while others remain skeptical — anger among many Shiites toward American policy has deepened. Though some appreciated President Obama’s criticism of the crackdown in May, many lament what they see as a double standard. In contrast to the treatment of Syria and Libya, they point out, no administration official is calling for sanctions against Bahrain, a country where the United States has its largest regional naval base, for the Fifth Fleet.

The metaphor often used by those who lament the splintered society is fabric, as in torn, tattered and frayed.

“'You know how it is,'said a 25-year-old protester named Hassan, who was arrested for demonstrating in June and whose last name is being withheld for his safety. 'When you cut off hope, you leave no alternative.'”

“'Show me your beautiful face,' Hassan quoted a police officer as telling him before punching it three times. He said others joined in, beating him 'as if eating cake.' He keeps a picture of one of those officers on his cellphone, as a reminder."

“''There’s no other choice but violence',
 he said. “We can’t back down.'”
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