Neglected Prophet: J.B. Kelly

“By now blaming Israel for the woes of the region is a hoary cliché, as Kelly points out. Here’s a quote from a book published in 1975: “The failure to resolve this [Arab-Israeli] conflict has been the root cause of the chronic violence and instability which are regarded as characteristic of the Middle East. It is the principal reason for the growth of anti-Western feeling in the Arab countries” since England and America are blamed for the creation of Israel. In an essay about the Arab Oil Embargo, Kelly notes this same reflex to blame the conflict for all the West’s troubles in the region. He makes the critical point that unfortunately still has not been grasped today by the managers of our foreign policy whatever party is in power in Washington: their understanding of the region is based on false assumptions “about a community of interests between the Arabs and the West, about common modes of thought, identical standards and values, and qualities of reasonableness and moderation––which have no foundation in fact.”

On the contrary, as Kelly explains, it is the overwhelming importance of Islam in the region that drives regime behavior as much as the greed and power-hunger of autocratic regimes. Speaking of the Arab oil embargo and price hikes in 1973, Kelly points out that the Yom Kippur war was simply the pretext for jacking up oil prices, something producers had been scheming to do since 1971. But it wasn’t just about money: “What they [the Arabs and Iranians] are endeavouring to do in concert is to hold the Western world for ransom, to place it in thrall, and so to effect a massive transfer of resources from the Christian West to the Muslim East, thereby redressing the balance of power between Western Christendom and Islam which has been tilted in favour of the former for the past three centuries.”

h/t KZ