Tuesday, November 5, 2013

12 Years a Slave: What Art Says About the Past. By Richard Cohen.

What Art Says About the Past. By Richard Cohen. Real Clear Politics, November 5, 2013.

Richard Cohen’s Racial “Groundhog Day.” By Jack White. The Root, November 14, 2013.

America’s Original Sin: The Legacy of White Racism. By Jim Wallis. NJBR, October 24, 2013. With related articles on 12 Years a Slave.

Conservative Parents, Left-Wing Children. By Dennis Prager.

Conservative Parents, Left-Wing Children. By Dennis Prager. Real Clear Politics, November 5, 2013. Also at National Review Online.

If You Want a Conservative Child. By Dennis Prager. Real Clear Politics, November 12, 2013. Also at National Review Online.

The Middle East’s Tribal DNA. By Philip Carl Salzman.

In the nineteenth century the population of Kerak consisted of tribes and sections of tribes, each within its own quarter. Most inhabitants of the town were pastoralists or farmers, spending half their lives camping out in the fields. Some of the tribes or sections were specialists: craftsmen or traders. They had a quarter in the town, but their relationship with the tribes was different, because they provided services that were not available in the countryside, such as certain craft products, and trading facilities. Illustration of a Bedouin camp in the Transjordan from the Detroit Publishing Co., catalogue J-foreign section. Detroit, Michigan: Detroit Photographic Company, 1905. Views of the Holy Land. Courtesy of the Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C.

The Middle East’s Tribal DNA. By Philip Carl Salzman. The Middle East Quarterly, Vol. 15, No. 1 (Winter 2008).

What Lies Behind the Unrelenting Arab Rejection of Israel? By Philip Carl Salzman. SPME, January 15, 2004.

Muhammad’s Tribe. By Philip Carl Salzman. SPME, January 15, 2008.


The Arabs, in lightning thrusts, challenged and beat the Byzantines to the north and the Persians to the east, both weakened by their continuous wars with one another, thus imposing their control over the Christian majority in the Levant and the Zoroastrian majority in Persia, and therefore over the entire Middle East. These stunning successes were rapidly followed by conquests of Christian and Jewish populations in Egypt, Libya and North Africa’s Maghreb (Arabic for “the West”), and, in the east, central Asia and the Hindu population of northern India. Not content with these triumphs, Arab armies invaded and subdued much of Christian Spain and Portugal, and all of Sicily. Since the Roman Empire, the world had not seen such power and reach. All fell before the Saracen blades.

Most accounts of Islamic history, even that of the Lindholm’s esteemed The Islamic Middle East, glide over these conquests, as if they were friendly takeovers. But the truth was very different.

The evidence is overwhelming that vast numbers of infidel male warriors and civilians were slain, and that most of those spared, particularly the women and children, were enslaved for domestic and sexual servitude. While men who willingly converted were spared, their wives and children were taken as slaves. In conquered regions, children were regularly taken from parents, while on the borders — especially in Central and Eastern Europe, Central Asia and Africa south of the Sahara — raiding for slaves was normal practice. Of the male slaves, a substantial number were made eunuchs by the removal of sex organs, in order to serve in harems. This account of the Arab campaign in northern India illustrates the usual procedures:
During the Arab invasion of Sindh (712 CE), Muhammad bin Qasim first attacked Debal…It was garrisoned by 4,000 Kshatriya soldiers and served by 3,000 Brahmans. All males of the age of 17 and upwards were put to the sword and their women and children were enslaved. “[Seven hundred] beautiful females, who were under the protection of Budh (that is, had taken shelter in the temple), were all captured with their valuable ornaments, and clothes adorned with jewels.” Muhammad dispatched one-fifth of the legal spoil to Hajjaj, which included 75 damsels, the other four-fifths were distributed among soldiers.
The multitude of reports from Muslim, indigenous and other sources of the Islamic conquests are equally detailed and equally daunting to a modern reader. It is true that throughout history intergroup relations in most of the world were exploitative and repressive, and not infrequently brutal and bloodthirsty. The world of Islam was not so much an exception to this, as exemplary of it.

The theological foundation of the Arab Empire was the supremacy of Islam and the obligation of each Muslim to advance its domination. The notion of Jihad, in particular, served to establish the Muslim community’s permanent state of war against the dar al-harb until the infidels’ conclusive submission and the absolute world supremacy of Islam.

Yet even as Islamic armies were coming to dominate the known world, fissures emerged within Islam, which would give rise to the bloody internecine battles that continue to this day in Iraq and elsewhere.

Arab Culture and Postcolonial Theory. By Philip Carl Salzman. Israel Affairs, Vol. 13, No. 4 (October 2007).


Balanced opposition, a decentralized system of defence and social control characterized by self-help, is a “tribal” form of organization, a tribe being a regional organization of defence based on decentralization and self-help. Tribes operate quite differently from states, which are centralized, have political hierarchies, and have specialized institutions—such as courts, police, and an army, with tax collectors providing the means for support—to maintain social control and defence. While tribes tend to operate democratically, states in the Middle East, and elsewhere until modern times, have tended to rule tyrannically. Those who governed did so in their own interest, and usually at the expense of the general populace. Thus states expanded whenever possible, bringing in more loot for the rulers and their followers, more bodies for their armies, and more peasants to tax. Members of tribal societies understandably resisted being incorporated into states, preferring their independent and egalitarian communal lives to exploitation by an arrogant and brutal elite. “Tribal” is thus used here primarily in a descriptive sense. If any evaluation were intended, it would not be disparaging, for it is not difficult to prefer independence to oppression, equality to hierarchy, and self-help to suppression.

Self-induced Nakba. By Philip Carl Salzman. Sandbox, October 15, 2008. Also here, here, here.


There is a certain inconsistency in the Arab and Muslim narrative about imperialism and colonialism. About the period of the 7th to the 18th centuries, when the Arab Muslim Empire spread by the sword from Arabia across all of the Middle East and North Africa to Morocco in the west, to Sicily, Portugal, Spain, and France in the north, and to Central Asia and India in the East, followed by Ottoman conquests in Europe, the narrative of imperialism and colonialism is triumphalist. Endless slaughter, forced conversion, slavery, and wholesale expropriation of property were all for the glory to God, and all good. But the rise of the West, and its relatively brief and limited interventions in the Middle East, are viewed as the height of evil. Why? Because God choose Muslims as his True Followers, and as such, they have a right—no, a duty—to dominate.

The stagnation of the Muslim world in the 19th and 20th centuries, and its relative weakness in relation to the rising West, are today blamed by Palestinian and Arab partisans on Western intrusion in the region. But those directly facing the rising West at the time, the Ottomans and later the Persian Crown, knew that they had fallen behind, and sought Western civil and military technology and goods, and Western administrative and legal systems, in order to modernize and better face the challenge. This response is more consistent with our understanding of human life than the “postcolonial” argument that all is the fault of someone else, in this case, the West. One of the great Marxist students of imperialism, the anthropologist Eric Wolf, demonstrated that local peoples, at least those not murdered or enslaved, are not passive receivers of imperial and colonial culture, but shape their response according to their own culture and vision.

Narratives of victimization, such as the Palestinian one, neglect to account for the active Arab response to the Jews and to Jewish immigration. Explaining all by Western imposition robs the Arabs of Palestine of their agency, and infantalizes them. In reality, Palestinians responded actively: Elite landowners sold the Jews land, while the populace in general closed ranks against the Jews. Following the tribally-based principle of those closer uniting against those more distant, the opposition to the Jews was both organizational and religious. Jews were not kinsmen and, worse, were infidels.

Arab opposition to the Jews, expressed in riots and pogroms, was ratchetted up in the face of Jewish desires for national autonomy and independence. After all, it was believed that any part of the Dar al-Islam must remain under Muslim dominance forevermore. And for a thousand years, Jews under Islam had been a subservient and despised minority, cowering under the power of their Muslim masters. The Arabs in Palestine thought that the Jews could not and would not stand up to them, and they acted on that well established cultural principle. Honor would allow nothing less.

The Arabs acted according to their tradition, according to their lights. They refused compromise with inferiors; they refused to divide and share, rejecting a UN settlement. Instead, they strove for complete victory, as their ancestors had. However, the thousand-year-old conditions did not obtain. The Jews they faced were not dhimma, and they did not cower; against the odds, and with little outside help, they fought and won. The Arab states answered the call, but were ineffectual, and failed. The “Nakba” was self-induced by the Arabs. They demanded all or nothing, and got nothing. But they have continued to hold to the rejectionist position, taking an annihilationist stance toward Israel and the Jews. So in reality the self-induced “Nakba” is self-perpetuating. The successful agitprop that obscures this both to the world and to themselves is also a result of Arab agency. The Edward Said Conference will carry on in the same tradition.

Why the Middle East Is the Way It Is. By Philip Carl Salzman. The Hedgehog Review, Vol. 13, No. 3 (Fall 2011). Also here.

Does Complementary Opposition Exist? By Philip Carl Salzman. American Anthropologist, New Series, Vol. 80, No. 1 (March 1978).

Ideology and Change in Middle Eastern Tribal Societies. By Philip Carl Salzman. Man, New Series, Vol. 13, No. 4 (December 1978).

The Middle East’s Tribal Affliction. By Daniel Pipes. DanielPipes.org, January 24, 2008.

Why Arabs Suffer: Philip Salzman Nails It. By Richard Landes. The Augean Stables, January 22, 2008.

Culture and Conflict in the Middle East. A briefing by Philip Carl Salzman. Middle East Forum, January 29, 2008.

I and My Brother Against My Cousin. By Stanley Kurtz. The Weekly Standard, April 14, 2008. Also here, with comments by Richard Landes.

Tribes and Terror in the Middle East: A Conversation with Philip Carl Salzman. By Peter Baehr. Society, Vol. 46, No. 5 (September 2009). Also here.

The Pro-Islamic Jews. By Bernard Lewis. Judaism: A Quarterly Journal of Jewish Life and Thought, Vol. 17, No. 4 (Fall 1968).

Cultural Cluelessness. By Stanley Kurtz. National Review Online, September 7, 2007.

Edward Said and the Culture of Honour and Shame: Orientalism and Our Misperceptions of the Arab-Israeli Conflict. By Richard Landes. Israel Affairs, Vol. 13, No. 4 (October 2007). Also at The Augean Stables.

Negating the Legacy of Jihad in Palestine. By Andrew G. Bostom. Israel Affairs, Vol. 13, No. 4 (October 2007).

The Tribes Speak. By Alex Joffe. Jewish Ideas Daily, February 6, 2011.

Is Tribalism the Future? By Patrick J. Buchanan. Human Events, April 8, 2011.

Small Homogeneous States Only Solution for Middle East. By Mordechai Kedar. IMRA, April 1, 2011.

Us and Them: The Enduring Power of Ethnic Nationalism. By Jerry Z. Muller. Foreign Affairs, Vol. 87, No. 2 (March/April 2008).

Tribes and Power Structures in Palestine and the Transjordan. By Eveline J. van der Steen. Near Eastern Archaeology, Vol. 69, No. 1 (March 2006).

Dating the Arrival of the Bedouin Tribes in Sinai and the Negev. By Clinton Bailey. Journal of the Economic and Social History of the Orient, Vol. 28, No. 1 (1985).

Are the Negev Bedouin an Indigenous People? Fabricating Palestinian History. The Middle East Quarterly, Vol. 19, No. 3 (Summer 2012).

Migrations, Ethnogenesis, and Settlement Dynamics: Israelites in Iron Age Canaan and Shuwa-Arabs in the Chad Basin. By Thomas E. Levy and Augustin F. C. Holl. Journal of Anthropological Archaeology, Vol. 21, No. 1 (March 2002).

Using the Nuer Culture of Africa in Understanding the Old Testament: An Evaluation. By David Fiensy. Journal for the Study of the Old Testament, No. 38 (June 1987).

Some Structural Aspects of the Feud Among the Camel-Herding Bedouin of Cyrenaica. By E. L. Peters. Africa, Vol. 37, No. 3 (July 1967).

Camel Raiding of North Arabian Bedouin: A Mechanism of Ecological Adaptation. By Louise E. Sweet. American Anthropologist, New Series, Vol. 67, No. 5, Part 1 (October 1965).

Desert Saints or Lions Without Teeth? British Portrayals of Bedouin Masculinity in the Nineteenth-Century Arabian Peninsula. By Jeffrey Dyer. The Arab Studies Journal, Vol. 17, No. 1 (Spring 2009).

Notes on the Bedouins and Wahábys, Vol. 1. By John Lewis Burckhardt. London: Henry Colburn and Richard Bentley, 1831. Vol. 2.

Personal Narrative of a Year’s Journey Through Central and Eastern Arabia (1862-63). By William Gifford Palgrave. London: Macmillan and Company, 1865, 1883.

Travels in Arabia Deserta, Vol. 1. By Charles M. Doughty. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1888. Vol. 2.

Palestine Before the Zionists. By David S. Landes. Commentary, February 1976.

The Environment in Palestine in the Late Ottoman Period, 1798-1918. By Ruth Kark and Noam Levin. Between Ruin and Restoration: An Environmental History of Israel. Edited by Daniel E. Orenstein, Alon Tal, and Char Miller. Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press, 2013. Chapter 1. Also here.

The Environmental Legacy of the Fellaheen and the Bedouin in Palestine. By No’am G. Seligman. Between Ruin and Restoration, Chapter 2. Also here.

The Truth About Palestinian Immigration. By Evelyn Gordon. NJBR, September 10, 2013. With related articles.

Factors in the Decline of the Arab Population of Nineteenth-Century Ottoman Palestine. By Arieh L. Avneri. From Chapter 1 of The Claim of Dispossession: Jewish Land-Settlement and the Arabs, 1878-1948. Translated from the Hebrew by the Kfar-Blum Translation Group. New Brunswick, N.J.: Transaction Books, 1984.

Stirring Times: Or, Records from Jerusalem Consular Chronicles from 1853 to 1856, Vol. 1. By James Finn. Edited and Compiled by Elizabeth Anne McCaul Finn. Preface by Emily Anne Beaufort Smyth Viscountess Strangford. London: C. Kegan Paul and Co., 1878. Also herehere. Vol. 2. Also here.

Finn, Vol. 1, p. 298:


The whole district was in a very uneasy condition.

Next day (July 14th) we set forwards towards Jerusalem, a distance of twelve hours. Arriving alongside the village of Howâra, a party of Moslems begged leave to travel in our company. In explanation of their desire, they pointed to a low breastwork wall adjoining the village, in front of which, during a conflict two days before, between this village and those of Cuza and Bata, seventeen people had been killed (five of them women).

The last-named village is scarcely three gun-shots distant from Howâra, and yet there was war between them, though all were Moslems alike, and there was no government authority to interpose and stop the bloodshed.

The loss of the women is accounted for by their having been present to bring up ammunition to their male relations in the fight. They also take part in the fray, by exciting the men to valour by their war-cries, and screams of reproach when deserved, stigmatizing the warriors, if necessary, as “kedeesh,” and not “aseel,”as men ought to be.

Sometimes, as we were told, the women will even stand in front for the brave champions to rest their guns upon the woman’s shoulder while taking aim, and dare the enemy to fire at a woman, which no Arab will do if he can help it, on account of the disgrace which such an act would bring upon him. 

Palestine was in an unsettled state from north to south, from east to west. The war fever had infected every petty tribe and clan, and the preoccupation of the Turks, with their far greater business of war, gave our people just the opportunity they desired for fighting out all their quarrels.

As usual in troublous times, the wild Bedaween were closing in and hovering around like vultures over their prey. These wild tribes were in some instances called in by the peasantry as allies—some tribes on this side, others on that.

1 The Kedeesh is a pack-horse for the road—a sorry beast at best. The Aseeli is the high blood horse of the desert breeding.

The Land of Israel: A Journal of Travels in Palestine. By Henry Baker Tristram. London: Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge, 1865. Also here, here. (Pp. 489-490.)

Tent Work in Palestine. By Claude Reignier Conder. London: Richard Bentley and Son, 1878. Vol. 1, also here. (p. 112.) Vol. 2. (pp. 171-172.)

Remarks Upon the Present Condition and Future Prospects of the Jews in Palestine. By Arthur George H. Holingsworth. London: Seeleys, 1852.

Hollingsworth, pp. 4-7: [Also quoted at Elder of Ziyon]

The population in Palestine is composed of Arabs, who roam about the plains, or lurk in the mountain fastnesses as robbers and strangers, having no settled home, and without any fixed attachment to the land. In many of the ruined cities and villages there exists also, a limited number of Christian families, uncivilized, and not knowing correctly from what race they derive their origin. Poor, and without influence, they tremblingly hold their miserable possessions from year to year, without security, and without wealth, in a land which they confess is not their own. ...

The Arab and Christian populations diminish every year. Poverty, distress, insecurity, robbery, and disease continue to weaken the inhabitants of this fine country. Ruins fall upon ruins; solitudes increase in the deserted vallies. The land mourneth for its inhabitants. ...

Amongst the scattered and feeble population of this once happy country, is found, however, an increasing number of poor Jews; some of their most learned men reside in the holy cities of Jerusalem, Hebron, and Tiberias. Their synagogues are still in existence. Jews frequently arrive in Palestine from every nation in Europe, and remain there for many years'; and others die with the satisfaction of mingling their remains with their forefathers’ dust, which fills every valley, and is found in every cave.

This Jewish population is poor beyond any adequate word ; it is degraded in its social and political condition, to a state of misery, so great, that it possesses no rights. It can shew no wealth even if possessed of it, because to display riches would secure robbery from the Mahometan population, the Turkish officials, or the Bedouin Arab. These Jews live chiefly on alm, collected from the nation in all parts of the world. There is no people more charitable, though that charity is generally exclusive, than the Jew. This money is precarious in .its amount, frequently tardy in its arrival, always uncertain when it may be received, lost sometimes in its passage, and accompanied ever by the degradation of receiving a distant and unsettled charity, supporting a wretchedly impoverished and famishing people. No advancement is made by the Jew of Palestine, in trafficking, in commerce, in farming, in the possession of settled houses or lands. There alone, where he ought to be first, he is last; and where in all other countries a Jew thrives and increases in wealth, in that one he is spiritless from oppression, and without energy, because without hope of Protection. He creeps along that soil, where his forefathers proudly strode in the fulncss of a wonderful prosperity, as an alien, an outcast, a creature less than a dog, and below the oppressed Christian beggar in his own ancestral plains and cities. No harvest ripens for his hand, for he cannot tell whether he will be permitted to gather it. Land occupied by a Jew is exposed to robbery and waste. A most peevish jealousy exists against the landed prosperity, or commercial wealth, or trading advancement of the Jew. Hindrances exist to the settlement of a British Christian in that country, but a thousand petty obstructions are created to prevent the establishment of a Jew on waste land, or to the purchase and rental of land by a Jew. “

...Agricultural pursuits are attended with much hazard, for, in the vicinity of the Jordan there are many Arabs, who support themselves chiefly by plunder. ...What security exists, that a Jewish _ emigrant settling in Palestine, could receive a fair remuneration for his capital and labour? None whatever. He might toil, but his harvests would be reaped by others; the Arab robber can rush in and carry off his flocks and herds. If he appeals for redress to the nearest Pasha, the taint of his Jewish blood fills the air, and darkens the brows of his oppressors ; if he turns to his neighbour Christian, he encounters prejudice and spite ; if he claims a Turkish guard, he is insolently repulsed and scorned. How can he bring his capital into such a country, when that fugitive possession flies from places where the sword is drawn to snatch it from the owner’s hands and not protect it ?

,,,Now, how is this poor, despised, and powerless child of Abraham to obtain redress, or make his voice heard at the Sublime Porte? The more numerous the cases of oppression, (and they are many), the more clamorous their appeals for justice, the more unwillingly will the government of the Sultan,—partly from inherent and increasing weakness, partly from disinclination,—act on the side of the Jew. They despise them as an execrated race ; they hate them as the literal descendants of the original possessors of the country. ...

Tyrwhitt Drake’s Reports. Palestine Exploration Fund Quarterly, Vol. 4, No. 4 (October 1872). (pp. 180-181.)

Journal of the Survey of Western Palestine. By Lieut. Herbert Horatio Kitchener. Palestine Exploration Fund Quarterly, Vol. 9, No. 3 (July 1877).

Lieut. Kitchener’s Reports. Palestine Exploration Fund Quarterly, Vol. 10, No. 1 (January 1878).

The Survey of Western Palestine. By. C. R. Conder, H. H. Kitchener et al. London: The Committee of the Palestine Exploration Fund, 1881-1884. Vol. 1, Vol. 2, Vol. 3, JerusalemArabic and English Place Names, Special Papers, Conder quote p. 207.

To sum up, the change in Palestine is one of degree only and not of kind. The curse of the country is bad government and oppression. Justice and security of person and property once established, Palestine would become once more a land of corn, vines, and olives, rivalling in fertility and in wealth its ancient condition, as deduced from careful study of such notices as remain to us in the Bible and in the later Jewish writings.

Occasional Papers on the Modern Inhabitants of Palestine. By R. A. Stewart Macalister and E. W. G. Masterman. Palestine Exploration Fund Quarterly, Vol. 38, No. 1 (January 1906).

Middle East Genocide. By Ralph Peters. NJBR, June 3, 2013. With related articles.

The Arab Collapse. By Ralph Peters. NJBR, May 20, 2013. With related articles on tribalism.

Bedouin tents and occupants, Holy Land (Transjordan), ca. 1890-1900. Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division.

Bedouins of the Jordan District, Holy Land, ca. 1890-1900. Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division.

Tribal leadership depended greatly upon personal qualities and particularly political skills.
 The ways in which leaders manipulated tribal alliances and relationships originally brought the tribe to power.
 Once their status as a leading family was established, their sheikhdom became hereditary.
 A sheikh was generally succeeded either by his son or his brother. Bedouins of the Jordan District, Holy Land.
 Title from the Detroit Publishing Co., catalogue J-foreign section. Detroit, Mich: Detroit Photographic Company, 1905.
 Views of the Holy Land Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C.

Two States or One? The Future of Israelis and Palestinians.

Two States or One? The Future of Israelis and Palestinians. Video. Middle East Policy Council, October 9, 2013. YouTube. Transcript. Ian Lustick.