The lull, the silent bottom-scraping low-point of summer -- early August. Demons rain in from the sky and rise in every direction from the ground. Otherwise, business as usual.
One hopeful note -- my recent novel, The Hedge Fund, is making its way, mostly on Amazon although it has appeared in a few bookstores. Five stars, every review, with readers gratified and dumbfounded by its highly charged erotic content and its bareknuckled treatment of money and society. Cheap at the price: $13 plus mail costs. Just go to Amazon Books on Google, then Burton Hersh, then to The Hedge Fund, which is at the top of the list of my many august publications.
But enough promotion. Mostly on my mind these weeks is the carnage in Gaza, with the Israelis determined to extirpate enough of Hamas to eliminate the challenge and the threat from this inflamed appendage on their coastal flank once and for all. More than ever, they are likely to win every battle and ultimately lose the war. The Arab Street is already regrouping.
A piece in The New York Times that seems to have caught everybody's eye appeared last Thursday, July 31, 2014, by David Kirkpatrick. It identified a "new coalition of Arab states -- including Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emerites and Jordan," which along with Egypt are quiely supporting Israel, mostly by stepping back while Hamas gets pulverized. "The silence," the author quotes Aaron David Miller, "is deafening."
Commentators these days often remark that the traditional Western powers now find themselves implicated -- mostly because of the requirements of Western oil interests -- in a civil war that breaks out every few centuries between the Shiites and the Sunnis. There is truth to that, but probably at least as relevant is the struggle across the Muslim world between modernist elements in these societies, established power groups, from the Saudi and Jordanian royal families to the business classes from Morocco to Indonesia, which have come to understand the suicidal mistake they made in funding the madrassa movement and fomenting the fundamentalism throughout the region which led to the resurgence of Arab fanaticism.
My exchanges recently with Saudi Prince Turki Al Faisal, who decades ago helped propagate Muslim awareness beyond the Kingdom, suggest the urgency of some of these second thoughts throughout the Mideast. The fourteenth century is over, events would suggest, and the speed and conclusiveness with which the Morsi presidency came to an end in Egypt suggests the ruthlessness with which the propertied classes are prepared to act to make sure it stays over.
I picked up more than an echo of that a couple of winters ago during a dinner-table conversation with Muhamad Musri, the Imam -- spititual leader -- for Central Florida. There are an estimated six million Muslims in America right now, about as many as there are Jews, and like the Jews most have made their way into the middle and upper classes. Most are for the most part no more enthusiastic about the dictates of radical Islam, from the ritual "circumcision" of woman to the beheading of unbelievers, than their fellow Americans. It is probably worth remembering that throughout much of European history, especially during the ghetto-ridden "Dark Ages," it was the tolerance and openmindedness of the Muslim caliphates that kept traditional Jewish culture alive. A student of the Koran, Imam Musri observed, to my astonishment, that the country in which the precepts and directives of true sharia law are most closely followed is the United States.
There is quite clearly a war going on in the Muslim world for -- remember Viet Nam? -- the hearts and minds of the several billion faithful. The carnage in Gaza this week has started to provide, to the initiated, a number of surprising perspectives. Let us hope our foreign policy is agile enough to respond in time.