Following his first appearance as an instant Middle East expert in The Australian, adman Rowan Dean, next pops up in Quadrant with RIP Hamza, a polemic which asks the burning question, In light of the brutal torture and mutilation of 13 year-old Hamza al-Khatib in Syria, is it time to admit that the Arab Spring will never lead to an Arab Summer of Love? (7/6/11).
Summer of Love?
Well, you can blame that on Obama. No sooner did he refer to the Arab Spring and Israel's 1967 borders in his latest speech on the Middle East, than Rowan's fertile imagination went into top gear: "The western world's Summer of Love began on June 1st, 1967 with the release of the Beatles' Sergeant Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band. Switching on their radios from Los Angele to London, millions of excited fans were seduced by the sweet harmonies of the fab four proclaiming: 'With our love, with our love we can save the world'."
Of course, the Beatles started no such thing: "The term 'Summer of Love' originated with the formation of the Council for the Summer of love in the Spring of 1967 as a response to the convergence of young people on the Haight-Ashbury district [of San Francisco]." (Summer of Love, wikipaedia) But what really took place in the West at the time is of little interest to our adman.
No, the point here is to concoct a fictional West, blissed out on peace & love, as a foil to an equally fictional Arab East, focused solely on the destruction of Israel: "June 1st 1967 also saw millions of Arabs from Baghdad to Beirut switching on their radios to hear the mesmerizing incantations of Iraqi president Abdel Rahman Aref proclaiming: 'The existence of Israel is an error which must be rectified. This is our opportunity... to wipe Israel off the map'."
Rowan appears to have cribbed this from the Zionist propaganda site CAMERA, but tweaked the date for Aref's speech, 31 May, to June 1 to coincide with the release of Sergeant Pepper's. But, hey, what's a little fiddle with the facts to one who single-handedly put several London advertising agencies on the map?
Still, you get the picture: while the West was being seduced by the "sweet harmonies" of the "fab four," the Arab East was being hypnotised by the "mesmerizing incantations" of the decidedly unfab Aref.
Having invented his own Summer of Love, Rowan then hypes it as the guiding principle of all post-1967 history, Bush and Blair's little forays into Iraq and Afghanistan notwithstanding: Obama invokes Israel's 1967 borders because he's "a child of the sixties." Vietnam was lost to the commies because "the philosophy of All You Need Is Love spread its tentacles throughout the university campuses of Europe, America and Australia..." And, "[l]ying in a bed with his Japanese girlfriend by his side, a guitar and a bag of acorns, John Lennon redefined a new political strategy. Give Peace A Chance."
But, says Rowan, and here's the rub, Obama's 2011 hit, Give 1967 Borders A Chance, simply doesn't cut the mustard in Israel. Bibi just doesn't dig those "borders of the Summer of Love." In the words of the late Abba Eban, these are 'Auschwitz borders'. But wasn't he the guy who also said: "Propaganda is the art of persuading others of what one does not believe oneself" - which is one hell of a great contextualiser whenever an Israeli politician opens his mouth, no? Anyway, back to Bibi. He's a "pragmatist and soldier who saw his own brother killed in a hostage rescue... He, more than any Israeli Prime Minister since Menachem Begin, does not trust words, only actions."
So here's where Bibi's coming from: "During the lead up to the Six Day War in June '67, the stated goal of numerous Arab nations was the destruction of Israel and the annihilation of the Jewish race. To this day, echoes of that intent remain, lurking in Hamas's charter and much of the poisonous schoolyard propaganda foisted by their rulers onto impressionable young Arab minds. Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, putting the finishing touches to his nuclear arsenal, often repeats his desire for Israel to be engulfed in a sea of flames."
I'm sorry, but there's far too much folderol* here to overburden this post with rebuttals, so I'll restrict my commentary to Ahmadinejad's supposed oft-repeated "desire for Israel to be engulfed in a sea of flames." Of consuming interest, of course, but, like the Yeti, I've been able to find neither hide nor hair of the creature.
[*On the hollowness of Arab threats in '67 see my 14/6/11 post Straight for the Jugular. On Israel's supposed vulnerability, propaganda line, and eagerness for a stoush with Nasser, see my 24/9/09 post Koutsoukis Gets Real. Just click on the 1967 tag below. On the Hamas charter see my 30/3/08 post Jerusalem Prize Syndrome.]
What with Syria in murderous convulsions, the Egyptian army throwing its weight around, mayhem in Libya, and the Saudi crackdown at home and in Bahrain, reckons Rowan, "[t]his is hardly the dawning of a Middle Eastern Age of Aquarius."
Maybe, maybe not. We'll just have to wait and see, won't we?
But it's obvious Rowan doesn't really give a rats for the Hamza al-Khatibs of the Arab intifadas. Their heroic struggle to break the shackles imposed on them for decades by authoritarian regimes, many of them US clients, pales into insignificance beside the only issue of consequence in the Middle East today - ensuring Israel's peace of mind: "Only when Israel can escape the ever-present fear and threat of imminent annihilation, with the mental security that gives her the confidence to cede the appropriate territory, will the option of two peaceful states co-existing side by side be feasible."
The confidence to cede the appropriate territory?! Takes your breath away, doesn't it?
Actually, Rowan (or is it now Dr Dean?), has hit on something here. He's spot on in acknowledging that his patient has a serious mental condition, but as usual, his diagnosis is off with the pixies. Israel is no naked, trembling virgin transfixed with fear as the swarthy, hairy, moustache-twirling members of the Arab chapter of the Hell's Angels circle her in drooling anticipation of an imminent collective deflowering. For starters, she's a he. (Trust Rowan to stuff that one up.) And a right piece of work he is too, judging by his case summary, which I just happen to have before me.
The following two extracts from the case summary of Dr Dorit Oz, his treating psychiatist at the Kfar Shaul Mental Health Center in Jerusalem, should set the picture straight.
First his attitude towards the Arab world:
1) "Fear of loss of control torments Israel, and his aggressive behavior provides catharsis. When his feelings of vulnerability become unbearable, he imposes the destruction he fears others would impose on him. Although he characterizes his perceived foes as foolish and weak, he behaves as if they were implacable and more robust than he, lashing out in a manner others call disproportionate. This dynamic only reinforces his construct of a hostile universe in which his aggression is necessary and justified (and, paradoxically, nuanced)." (Israel in nut house, documents reveal, circusisrael.blogspot.com, 8/7/09)
Second (and here it gets kinky) his attitude towards the Palestinians:
2) "Israel's sexuality is ambiguous. Compulsive and earthy virility vies with a stifling, shame-based revulsion towards eroticism. Functionally, he cohabits with the Palestinians, whom he alternately regards as a treacherous but exotic concubine and a sullen, ungrateful wife. He rages that they 'take up all my time' and that his life would be a virtual paradise if they would 'just leave'. Yet his life is organized around controlling and disciplining them, and they provide a ready outlet for his aggression. Quiet interludes make him especially anxious, and he inevitably resumes intimacy through belligerent overtures." (ibid)
Stay tuned for the third fun-filled episode of Everyone Loves Rowan.