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America’s familiarity of us, and its impact on the region

Apr 05,2018 - Last updated at Apr 05,2018

The American “acquaintance” with the Arab-Muslim Middle East, so to speak,was largely a venture based on indirect encounter with aneccentric, uncommon“other”. The meeting of a new glamorous world and an exotic East was an unusual, rare experience.  A handful of travellers and sight-seers had some opportunity of observing the land and the people directly, and religious missionaries, on the other hand, had even more extended contact with Arabs, Turks and Persians. Nevertheless, the American cognisance of this “other” may be explained as part of the early European, especially the British, discovery of region.

As Americans eventually arrived here, motivated by strong religious desires to see the Holy Land and by feelings for the foreign, the bizarre and the exceptional, what they eventually saw was a preconceived picture, which had long persisted in their imagination and culture. The emphasis was on an unfamiliar, mysterious, and often fabulous, entity, an alien, if somewhat confrontational, alternative sphere.

However, we learn from the provocative, ongoing conflicts throughout the region, most recently that of Jerusalem which was lately declared by the US as Israel’s rightful capital, that conflicts such as these are indubitably capable of generating prolonged hostility, and hostility, in turn, generates antipathy. Pathetically, rather than providing better opportunities for mutual trust and respect, contemporary US relations with us have, in my view, followed certain political, cultural and historical patterns of thought that have engendered further mistrust.

The change of opinion in these ideas from the medieval ages down to the present time, has been very meager. The new situation has encountered the traditional conflicts of ideas between the two worlds, and thus the centuries-old attitudes led to a widespread misunderstanding of this diverse and complex group of nations and peoples, and simultaneously to a coetaneous reluctance to change the situation.

It is within this confused and confusing background that the two parts of the world confront each other. That there should be misunderstanding and anxiety on both sides is hardly surprising, as reflecting the general political climate.  This feeling has been further strengthened by US President Donald Trump’s decision to relocate the US embassy to the ancient occupied city of Jerusalem, a city holy to Muslims and Christians on equal footage, calling it Israel’s capital, in sheer violation of the international law and its stipulations, sadly enough!

The turmoil across the entire region that accompanied Trump’s decision and the Israeli actions on the occupied Palestinian land thereafter bring out the worst violent reactions among the owners of the land, the Palestinians. For occupation is recognised not only as a violation of the international law, but of the most humble human rights as well. The clash over the occupied city’s Muslim and Christian holy sites exhibits that the levels of extremism and fundamentalism, instead of understanding, will, without doubt, increase and negatively develop beyond words, so much so that they will certainly become grueling to control, eventually to build concrete and socio-political walls instead of bridges among the region’s nations and the followers of the word of God who live in it.

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