(MENAFN- Jordan Times) Historically, the relationship between our part of the world and the West (including the US) was first troubled by virulent and agitating mediaeval wars spanning more than two centuries, only to be aggravated further by the dreaded Ottoman threat. Outright hostility led to visionless mistrust, and mistrust to a prejudiced understanding of the adversary including its cultural and religious heritage, because the enemy has to be fierce and irrational!
American reiterations of mediaeval European polemics against the region, however, arose from zealous, fervent and fanatical feelings running high due to the Barbary Wars (1801-1815), a series of fierce wars fought at different times between the United States and the Barbary States of North Africa. Thomas Jefferson (April 13, 1743–July 4, 1826) was the first President to take America to war, when he pitted the navy against Tripoli's pirate fleet, and he blockaded the city, thus initiating the First War on the Barbary States (1801-1805).
To be sure, the US' first large-scale encounter with the region remains shrouded in partiality and predisposition. But Francis Key's 'When the Warrior Returns', a nationally enthusiastic poem written in 1805 about this war, became so popular that it was used for patriotic songs, offering a deleterious view of the Barbary States in a manner that America's national anthem began as a fervent tirade against the region, this way: 'From the halls of Montezuma to the shores of Tripoli.'
It was piracy and war, therefore, that reflected adversely on the region, and they continue to show that mutual relations are endemically brittle, fragile and liable to be shattered by pebbles of lawlessness or political and strategic interests. And the Barbary Pirate affair summed up America's march to preeminence that edged in a somewhat prolonged historical (and geopolitical) predicament of mistrust and prejudice.
Edward Said's "Orientalism" (1978) explores the long-overlooked Western imperial endeavour and the West's patronising representations of the region and the nations who inhabit it, including Asia and North Africa. Albeit, Orientalism (Western scholarship about the Muslim world) is inextricably intertwined with the Western powers that produced it, and Israel, the historical record proves, is ironically included here as part of the Western (rather than Semitic) hemisphere and as a strong ally and guard of the offshores of the US within this historically, politically and religiously complex-in-demands situation.
The anti-Muslim stance became even greater in the US media in the post 9/11 era, and negative stereotypes and reporting were frequently found within the mainstream of the media. Academics with genuine knowledge of what is going on were increasingly underrepresented. Even worse, the media language supporting Israel witnessed a massive, yet prejudiced, increase in use.
In short, cultural Identity and sociopolitics pathetically overlap to further complicate an already complicated situation with no foreseeable solutions hanging in the atmosphere, and, thus, a fair and just political solution to the decades-old question of Palestine (and the Palestinians) will ironically continue to remain nonexistent, if not unattainable.
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