Phyllis Chesler Interviews Carol Gould

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When will Islamic extremism end?
Last uploaded : Sunday 12th Mar 2017 at 14:26
Contributed by : Carol Gould


When will conflict zones turn to ballet, not bombs?

Carol Gould


12th March 2017

I am always grateful -- inasmuch as I am never invited onto BBC programmes like ‘Dateline London ‘ - when on rare occasions a British commentator steps up to the breach to defend the honour of America and the West.

This weekend’s ‘Dateline London,’ hosted by Gavin Esler, spent a good half of the panel discussion ruminating over the activities of Islamic State and various factions in Iraq, Syria and the rest of the world . Abdel bari Atwan dominated the discourse, going into detail about the peregrinations of the factions. His was a military scenario explaining why one group needed to disperse other groups.

My mind began to wander to my childhood in Eisenhower’s Philadelphia. There seemed to be peace in the world and ‘Arabia’ was en exotic location full of generous-spirited genies in the Yip Harburg Broadway musical ‘Flahooley.’ Though of limited means my parents did everything they could to bring music, opera, theatre, ballet and books into the lives of my sister and me. We lived in a humble neighbourhood but somehow my parents managed to send my sister to Settlement Music School for exceptionally gifted children and to Lighthouse Camp. I was given violin lessons and did so well my teacher, Luis Biava, Concertmaster of the Pittsburgh Symphone Orchestra, said I would qualify for the string section if I wanted a job for life. Our lives revolved around hard work, diligent study and artistic pursuits. Looking back I feel I lived a charmed life in the City of Brotherly Love.

Back to Abdel Bari-Atwan : what I found so chilling was his cold, detached monologue that outlined the latest strategy for bloodletting in yet another Middle Eastern and Gulf country. It saddened me that he accepted that the only way of life for Iraq was death, violence and endless destruction and that sixty, possibly seventy countries are fighting IS - it is growing fast in Pakistan, North Africa and Sinai. It was as if he was discussing the next month’s stock acquisition for a car parts showroom. He pointed out that there is no way of determining the level of the humanitarian crisis because of ’the blackout.’ In Syria, Turkey rejects the notion of American-backed Kurds intervening because they want to be the only Sunnis ’doing the job.’ I thought: why can’t these countries torn by ninth-century tribal rivalries that often end in protracted barbarism, just build concert halls, opera houses, places of literary and scientific learning and art galleries?

What did incur my wrath was Bari Atwan’s next pronouncement: something must be done about the CIA. ‘We must expose them -- let us expose them!‘ He went on to praise Wikileaks because he had discovered the intelligence services had mentioned him in dispatches. He continued to condemn the evil American intelligence services, many of whose activities were exposed by Wikileaks. Mention was made of Julian Assange and of Edward Snowden. David Aaronovich of The Times slapped Bari Atwan down, reminding him that it is American democracy that has allowed Wikileaks to function without hindrance, also saying he is in favour of bugs being installed in Jihadis’ television sets if it stops a terror attack. Aaronovich reminded Bari Atwan that his Communist parents in the United States had been under the eye of the intelligence services and that snooping was nothing new.

For many years in radio and television broadcasts I have lamented the absence of great leaders in Muslim countries -- a Jefferson, Lincoln, Wilson, FDR, Churchill, Mandela, King -- ; when I said this to a Palestinian woman at a recent London gathering of foreign correspondents she snarled at me, ‘But the JEWS are killing our leaders every day!’ I asked her how and why; she became incandescent, saying I needed to open my eyes …

My eyes are open and I wait to see a new dawn in Persia and in Flahooley’s ‘Arabia.’

Carol Gould is a political commentator and broadcaster and has written for The Guardian, Telegraph, The American and The Jewish Chronicle. Her books: 'Spitfire Girls' and 'Don't Tread on me -- anti-Americanism Abroad.'

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