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“Arab civilization has collapsed. It won’t recover in my lifetime.”

“Arab civilization has collapsed. It won’t recover in my lifetime.”

Blaming Israel and Zionism for the Arab world’s problems is a distraction from the Barbarians inside the gates.

So reads the sub-title to an article at Politico Magazine by Hisham Melhem, the Washington bureau chief of Al-Arabiya, the Dubai-based satellite channel, and a correspondent for Annahar, the leading Lebanese daily.

The title is The Barbarians Within Our Gates (h/t Sunanda Vashisht), and here is an excerpt:

Yes, it is misleading to lump—as some do—all Islamist groups together, even though all are conservative in varying degrees. As terrorist organizations, al Qaeda and Islamic State are different from the Muslim Brotherhood, a conservative movement that renounced violence years ago, although it did dabble with violence in the past.

Nonetheless, most of these groups do belong to the same family tree—and all of them stem from the Arabs’ civilizational ills.

The Islamic State, like al Qaeda, is the tumorous creation of an ailing Arab body politic. Its roots run deep in the badlands of a tormented Arab world that seems to be slouching aimlessly through the darkness. It took the Arabs decades and generations to reach this nadir. It will take us a long time to recover—it certainly won’t happen in my lifetime.

My generation of Arabs was told by both the Arab nationalists and the Islamists that we should man the proverbial ramparts to defend the “Arab World” against the numerous barbarians (imperialists, Zionists, Soviets) massing at the gates. Little did we know that the barbarians were already inside the gates, that they spoke our language and were already very well entrenched in the city.

You mean Israel isn’t to blame for all the Arab world’s problems?

And therein lies the peace problem.

While Western leftists (including many academics behind the BDS movement) dishonestly or naively focus on Zionism, people like Melhem recognize the root cause is internal to the Arab world.


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I can empathize. One of the most lamentable fallacies is that just because person X is bad that must mean that X’s religion is bad (even in several instances). No matter where we are in the political or religious spectrum, there are those who identify with our beliefs that disgrace our efforts. Maybe Islam is inherently predisposed to violence as some claim, but certainly millions have lived it without such resort, so probably not. I think it all comes down to a fallen nature (original sin) – we are all inclined to debase ourselves for one reason or another distorting our more noble intentions.

    Gremlin1974 in reply to filiusdextris. | September 21, 2014 at 2:52 pm

    Yes, but the difference I see in Islam is the almost deafening silence that you see from the rest of the Muslim world. Yes, the radicals are a very small minority, however the even smaller minority is those Muslims who will speak out against or take action against the radicals and their silence makes them culpable, imho.

    Silence can mean only support, acceptance, or fear and fear is not a valid excuse to me. If they truly didn’t at least accept what is happening then they would openly turn against and denounce these radicals and if they did turn against them their days would be numbered.

    In my personal opinion, since their “holy text” gives them permission to lie to “infidels” that is a more reasonable excuse for the silence. Islam has never been a peaceful religion and shows not signs of becoming more peaceful any time soon.

      I agree and at least in Australia we do have some that are prepared to speak out against those who want to terrorise the population.

        Gremlin1974 in reply to Aussie. | September 21, 2014 at 11:18 pm

        And they are there and those brave souls who do speak out need out support and protection. You would have thought that the crusades would have taught both religions a lesson, but that doesn’t seem to be the case.

        But then the Crusades were a perversion of a religion not the central tenet of it.

          How is defending Europe and Constantinople from the invading Muslim hordes a perversion of religion?

          Gremlin1974 in reply to Gremlin1974. | September 22, 2014 at 9:53 am


          Because that was not the main focus of any of the 13 great crusades, nor was it the focus of any of the smaller crusades, ( I think there were 16 or 17 in all). The focus of many of the crusades was to reclaim the Holy Land and to put down heretic hordes. Yes there were times when defense was needed, but a crusade is not by definition a defensive action.

    One of the most lamentable fallacies is that just because person X is bad that must mean that X’s religion is bad

    Unfortunately, the converse also is true.

    (See, e.g. Ayaan Hirsi Ali’s speech to the effect that those who actually follow the religion as set forth in the Koran, and the “preacher-teachers” are the problem, whereas those who are, in essence, lackadaisical about following it, and follow their conscience — “Stand up to Allah” — aren’t.)

    We cannot expect the preaching of the fundamental precepts of Islam (and its hate) by groups such as the Muslim Brotherhood, no matter how “not as violent” they are claimed to be, to not give rise to “extremism” when the confluence of circumstances fosters that.

    David R. Graham in reply to filiusdextris. | September 21, 2014 at 5:17 pm

    Drivel and rubbish. I won’t even start the list of violences inherent in Islam and its practitioners. I’ll bet you know it well.

    it is clear that you are not familiar with the Koran, the Sunna and the Hadith. If you had any familiarity with those texts then you would not have written something that is so stupid.

      filiusdextris in reply to Aussie. | September 22, 2014 at 1:01 am

      I cannot defer to your cynicism. The popes have made many beautiful and positive statements about Islam and the message of peace it contains over the last fifty years. We can decry the many examples of Islamic-based barbarism without disrespecting all who follow that religion.

        The Pope is a fool who obviously doesn’t understand Islam, and forgets that Islam slaughtered Constantinople, one of the greatest centers of Christianity.

        Islam contains no message of peace, unless by “peace” you mean “the peace of the grave”. In Islam, “peace” means Muslims rule the world.

        “We can decry the many examples of Islamic-based barbarism without disrespecting all who follow that religion.”

        “We can decry the many examples of KKK barbarism without disrespecting all who follow that ideology”.

        Radegunda in reply to filiusdextris. | September 22, 2014 at 2:05 am

        Naive statements about Islam — even if they come from the pope — do not cancel out the hateful ugliness that lies at the heart of Islam and has made the influence of Islam on the world profoundly destructive for many centuries. You only have to look at what Muslim immigration is doing to all the major European cities to see its malignance.

        Some Muslims may be (or seem to be) decent people, because a basic humanity has pushed through the violent hatefulness of the creed in which they are required to live — or face a death penalty. They are decent despite Islam, not because of it. But many surveys show that attitudes and views we often identify as “extreme” are, in fact, held by large majorities of Muslims everywhere.

        We can decry the many examples of Islamic-based barbarism without disrespecting all who follow that religion.

        Don’t confuse criticism of IDEA with criticism of the person. Criticizing the teachings or practices or outcomes foreseeably wrought because of the teachings of a religion is not criticism of the person.

        On another note, isn’t it odd that the adjectives “beautiful” and “peaceful” so frequently (defensively?) are parroted in describing Islam?

        Gremlin1974 in reply to filiusdextris. | September 22, 2014 at 9:57 am

        And when in the past 50 years has the pope become a less political figure. Popes have been church sanctioned politicians since the middle ages. So am I surprised that popes made politically correct statements regarding Islam, nope not at all.

        Also as far as beauty. Well there is beauty in a volcano eruption, but I doubt you actually want to be a part of the natural violence of that eruption.

1. It may be true that the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt renounced violence some time ago, but the Morsi regime was more oppressive than the Mubarak regime, and the threats of violence and actual violence have led to the group being banned, and its members tried for murder. If this is “moderate” Islam, we all have a problem.

2. This is one of a few instances of Muslims speaking out. If the trend continues, Islam may yet be rescued and again become one of the world’s great religions.

3. Civilizations rise and fall. The most recent collapse of Arab civilization was not due to poverty, disease, or war per se. It might be due to the adoption of the Hamas Covenant in 1988. In that document, which is only one of a number of similar terrorist writings, this offshoot of the Muslim Brotherhood agreed to engage in an advertising campaign to convince Muslims that they have an individual, religious duty to kill every Jew on the face of the earth.

The adoption of this provision is some evidence that other Muslims have to have a reason to kill, or even have enmity toward any other group. The effects of this contract have been calamitous for Islam.

Any civilization that allows murder for trivial reasons is vulnerable to collapse. A very recent case in point is the Nazi regime of Germany, which purported at first to just get room to live, and then went on to killing Jews, and then lots and lots of other people. Similarly, the Islamists purport to kill Jews, but mostly kill other Muslims, often for inexplicably trivial reasons. Hamas’ behavior in Gaza, including toward its own people, has been appalling.

Once it is acceptable to kill an inoffensive person simply because that person belongs to the wrong group, it becomes acceptable to kill any person, any time.

Among Islamists, ANY sin is ok. Their fatwas say so. Murder, rape, torture, drug use, lying, theft, drinking — the whole spectrum of crime is ok so long as the person is engaged in their version of “jihad,” which apparently in the case of ISIS has nothing at all to do with killing Jews, and has everything to do with killing other Muslims.

Recognition of what Islamism teaches is a first step to rehabilitation of Islam, if that is going to occur.

    David R. Graham in reply to Valerie. | September 21, 2014 at 5:20 pm

    What is this fairie tale that the MB renounced violence? And you have the effrontery to retail it as fact?

    Radegunda in reply to Valerie. | September 22, 2014 at 2:15 am

    “again become one of the world’s great religions” — The only sense in which Islam has ever been a “great religion” is in sheer numbers, which it has acquired primarily by brutality and deceit.

    Any other “greatness” that has been attributed to “Islamic civilization” was almost entirely the creation of non-Muslims forced to live under Islamic rule, or a few Muslims of very dubious orthodoxy. But eventually Islam squeezes all the creativity and vitality out of the societies it conquers.

    Right now we’re seeing an Islamic revival, and its dominant character is the violent fanaticism that’s been the hallmark of Islam from the beginning. The chance that Islam will be “rehabilitated” into something civilized and human looks very remote when the trajectory is back to the ugly roots of Islam.

Doug Wright Old Grouchy | September 21, 2014 at 4:01 pm

Personally, I doubt whether Islam will ever change unless there is an Islamic Restoration. Yet, as long as Muslims continue to excuse the behaviors of the terrorist branches, that restoration is not possible.

Also, a key component of an Islamic Restoration would be the willingness to accept peace with Israel and that doesn’t seem likely anytime soon.

So, what the heck are we doing, here in the USA, allowing Muslims virtually free enter into our society, with their built-in hatred and disdain for our society? Somali radicals anyone?

    There are two kinds of Muslims. The radical kind wants to kill you. The moderate kind wants the radical kind to kill you.

    Islam is a terrorist branch … of the human race.

    What we are witnessing now *is* the Islamic Restoration. Islam is reverting to its historical mean, when it was eliminating all non-Muslims from Arabia, executing millions of Hindus in India, taking over Spain and Italy, enslaving millions of Europeans (and anybody else they could get their hands on), and knocking at the Gates of Vienna. An Islamic Restoration means “do what Muhammad did”, and what Muhammad did, which all good Muslims must venerate and emulate, is no less horrifying than what Muslims do now in the name of Islam.

      Doug Wright Old Grouchy in reply to randian. | September 22, 2014 at 12:08 am

      With your understanding of an Islamic Restoration, and I do not argue against your view, then the only choice is to destroy it or else reduce it to a mere pittance. Yet, mere pittances have a way of rejuvenating into fullness.

      While Islam remains as it is, there cannot be peace between us and it and it the absence of a peace,what else is there?

      Ask yourself this: Were IS or Al Qaeda to destroy Mecca, as they have a hatred for shines and idols, would Islam remain the same without that orientation towards Mecca?

        Islam is very much an Arab supremacist religion. Arabs are the chosen of Allah (so says the Quran), an Arab is Allah’s chosen prophet, Arabic is Allah’s chosen language, and non-Arab Muslims must generally adopt Arab names and customs. Even without Mecca the Arabs and Saudi Arabia would still be the spiritual center of Islam.

        While Muslims live, the Islamic imperative to conquer all lives. My conclusion is much the same as yours, Islam will remain a metastasizing cancer unless utterly destroyed. Islam wants it no other way.

        There have been other periods of Islamic quiescence, and they are always followed by decades or centuries of violence, just as the previous couple of centuries of Islamic quietude are.

Arab civilization – now that’s an oxymoron if ever there was one. Face the truth – if these people were civilized, the first thing they’d do is follow Egypt’s example.

Yeah, Egyptians are Arabs and they are at the head of the line marching towards civilization. Right now it’s a very short line.

I’m just amazed that Politico published the piece. What are the chances of someone at the White House reading it?

The percentage of Muslims throughout the world who support Sharia law (including punishment by stoning, cutting off hands, execution for apostasy, and death to America) is staggeringly high. As Gremlin1974 wrote, the silence of the Muslim majority means they support or accept the actions of ISIS, the Taliban, al Qaeda, and all the other radical extremists.

For some shocking statistics revealing the extent of the Muslim majority’s support for extremist policies that are incompatible with Western civilation, see the following articles (just three of innumerable links):

    Radegunda in reply to J Motes. | September 22, 2014 at 2:22 am

    In the Muslim mind, the most savage Muslim is almost always to be favored over the most saintly non-Muslim. It’s true that the savage Muslims may often attack other Muslims, but generally the principle of Islamic supremacy governs every choice a Muslim makes.

David R. Graham | September 21, 2014 at 5:29 pm

Islam is not a religion. It is a way of living based on violence, a complete socio-economic-political system built on totalitarian authority enforced by fear. The head of it all is clergy and scholars, mainly scholars. Very similar in the latter regard to the totalitarian authority spread over the USA by the Ivy League clerisy, a phenomenon George Wallace noted in 1968.

    I should have given you a down vote. The reason is that the imams are not clergy. They do not perform any clerical function and they should not be referred to as clergy. Call them leaders, but not clergy.

    Correct, Islam is a non-Western religion very alien to those who are familiar with either Judaism or Christianity. There is no absolute or objective standard of morality.

    Islam is a worship of Allah, a deity that is pure capricious will as told to us in the contradictory Qur’an and reflected in the contradictory life of the Muslim prophet. The deity of Islam is even described in their scriptures as the most devious of all beings and is why current Muslims must pray for their prophet who may at any time be cast from Paradise.

    Islam is the worship of will, not the seeking of truth or morality.

      Islam does have a standard of morality, albeit one a sociopath would love. Islam’s morality is essentially the gratification of the darkest desires. Theft, rape, murder, and torture are all moral acts in Islam, so long as the right people are victimized and the right people benefit.

      Islam’s morality is all about rules rather than self-governance. If it’s permitted it’s moral. Raping and forcibly marrying infidel women is permitted, therefore it’s moral. Muhammad stole from unbelievers and married a 6 year old child (and raped her at 9), therefore those acts are moral.

The idea of a working Arab civilization means almost nothing in a Western context. The Arab nations that “work” have either strong monarchies or military governments of an authoritarian nature. Ataturk and Nasser or the kings of Jordan and Saudi Arabia are really the choices the West must decide between when looking for Arab allies.

There really is no Arab yearning for Western democracy and to impute that desire is as much an imperialist tendency and is thinking Arabs are incapable of governing themselves. The West isn’t so much a partner for Arab governments as it is the convenient whipping boy who may be safely blamed for all of their failures. A conspiracy theory excuse is much more in demand than is any self-reflection over there.

Of course Israel and Zionism aren’t responsible for all the problems in the Arab world. No more than “white racists” are responsible for all the problems of AA citizens in this country.

Using others as scapegoats is a time honored way to keep from having to take responsibility for your own problems.

Are there bad people who would do you harm and hate you just for who you are? Of course there are. But I see far more anti-Semitism than racist or the silliness of Islamophobia called every time someone points out some murderous deed done by some murderous barbarian who happens to be a Muslim.