MAN OF THE YEAR: Challenge of the East

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The word "American" no longer has a good sound in that part of the world. To catch the Jewish vote in the U.S., President Truman in 1946 demanded that the British admit 100,000 Jewish refugees to Palestine, in violation of British promises to the Arabs. Since then, the Arab nations surrounding Israel have regarded that state as a U.S. creation, and the U.S., therefore, as an enemy. The Israeli-Arab war created nearly a million Arab refugees, who have been huddled for three years in wretched camps. These refugees, for whom neither the U.S. nor Israel will take the slightest responsibility, keep alive the hatred of U.S. perfidy.

No enmity for the Arabs, no selfish national design motivated the clumsy U.S. support of Israel. The American crime was not to help the Jews, but to help them at the expense of the Arabs. Today, the Arab world fears and expects a further Israeli expansion. The Arabs are well aware that Alben Barkley, Vice President of the U.S., tours his country making speeches for the half-billion-dollar Israeli bond issue, the largest ever offered to the U.S. public. Nobody, they note bitterly, is raising that kind of money for them.

The Deep Problem. What is the right answer to the seething problem of the Middle East? It is much easier to see past U.S. mistakes, sins of omission and commission, than to plot a wise and firm future course. The U.S. success in Turkey, gratifying as it is, does not give much guidance on Western policy in the Arab countries and in Iran. Turkey had passed through a drastic process of modernization which in most of the Moslem world is still to come. But the U.S. cannot wait for Kemal Atat¨urks who are not in sight.

The West's new relationship with the East must start at a much deeper level than efforts at economic help or military alliance. Economic and military cooperation will be of little use unless they are part of a Western approach that involves the whole range of culture—especially religion and law.

In the current issue of Foreign Affairs, Lebanon's Malik brilliantly lays the groundwork for such a change in Western attitude. Malik sums up:

"The disturbing rise of fanaticism in the Near East in recent years is a reaction to the thoughtlessness and superficiality of the West ... In all this we are really touching on the great present crisis in Western culture. We are saying when that culture mends its own spiritual fences, all will be well with the Near East, and not with the Near East alone. The deep problem of the Near East must await the spiritual recovery of the West. And he does not know the truth who thinks that the West does not have in its own tradition the means and the power wherewith it can once again be true to itself."

In its leadership of the non-Communist world, the U.S. has some dire responsibilities to shoulder. One of them is to meet the fundamental moral challenge posed by the strange old wizard who lives in a mountainous land and who is, sad to relate, the Man of 1951.

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