Frontpage Interview’s guest today is Ruthie Blum, a twice weekly columnist for Israel Hayom (the English website of Sheldon Adelson’s daily Hebrew paper). For two decades she was a senior editor and regular columnist at the Jerusalem Post. She moved to Israel from the United States in 1977 and resides in Jerusalem. She describes herself as a “right-wing bohemian,” a term she invented to distinguish her politics from those of neoconservatives, paleo-conservatives, and libertarians — because she is a bit of all three. She has four children (three boys and a girl), all of whom served in the IDF. She is the author of the new book, To Hell in a Handbasket: Carter, Obama, and the “Arab Spring.”
FP: Ruthie Blum, welcome to Frontpage Interview.
Let’s begin with what inspired you to write this book.
Blum: Thanks Jamie.
I began researching the book exactly two years ago, shortly after Jimmy Carter published his appalling book, “Peace Not Apartheid.” I was commissioned to write it by David Azrieli, a renowned Canadian-Israeli architect and philanthropist, who had lost his family in the Holocaust, and who had spent his teenage years escaping the Nazis by the skin of his teeth.
Originally, the book was supposed to be a kind of indictment of the Carter presidency. The idea behind it was to show Carter’s responsibility for the fall of the Shah of Iran, the rise of the Ayatollah Khomeini, the mishandling of the American embassy takeover, and hence the current situation in which the mullocracy in Iran is soon to be in possession of nuclear weapons.
Four months into my research, the so-called “Arab Spring” erupted, when a Tunisian street vendor set himself on fire. Suddenly, everything I had been reading and discussing with my interviewees for the book came to life again — only this time it was President Obama at the helm.
FP: Why were you pessimistic about the “Arab Spring” from the very beginning?
Blum: Partly because I actually live in the Middle East, and don’t tend to translate the statements and actions of Arabs into some watered-down version of America-speak. When Tunisians, Egyptians, Lybians and Syrians take to the streets and scream for blood, it doesn’t ring like the desire for freedom and democracy. Rather, it is an expression of rage at being “the abused,” as opposed to “the abuser.” It is not an expression of a desire to end a reign of terror; it is an expression of the desire to be the ones at the helm of that terror.