Ok, talk about misinformation. There's so much wrong with this discussion that I'm floored. Let me hit the Israel topic first.
The U.S. did not sell the Arabs massive amounts of arms. There's a misconception regarding Israel's birth as a nation: they were not defenseless, under any circumstances. From the mid-1930s, under Menachim Begin, the Revisionist Zionists had been stockpiling weapons, training their own militias, and carrying out terrorist attacks on the British. (The most notable being the bombing of King David's Hotel in Jerusalem in 1935--I could be wrong about the date, but I *believe* that it is correct.) After Britain revoked the Palestine mandate and essential gave control of the territory to the UN, the Israeli settlers, under Ben Gurion (he ran the Labour Party) declared Israel a sovereign state. This led to the 1948 war. Make no mistake about it: there is NO reason why Israel shouldn't have won that war. They were better equipped, better trained, greater in number (this is also another misconception--that the Arab soldiers outnumbered the Israeli troops), and they had much more purpose. The Jewish settlers had just been privy to a decade during which it became more than obvious to them that they were not welcome anywhere in the world. The idea of losing a potential homeland, in the wake of the Holocaust, was a powerful motivator. Many of the Arab soldiers were very poorly trained, and all of the Arab states were reeling from World War II. But I digress.
The US was the first nation to recognize Israel's existence. I don't know where you found your facts, Flagreen, but there was no "embargo." As early as 1951, the US sent $60-100 million in financial aid, NOT including private contribution. (The sizeable Jewish lobby in the US has been noted.) In 1954, the US *cut* its arms deal with Egypt, so the "hundreds of millions of dollars worth of arms" is completely unfounded. The Arab states were primarily supplied by the Soviet Union--Nasser's socialist policies pissed the US off, so they cut the arms deal, and the USSR stepped in to fill the gap. As Egypt led the Arab states between 1940 and 1960, most other nations followed suit. By 1962, the US was openly selling arms to Israel. The only reason Israel won the 1973 war is because Kissinger set them $2.1 billion in aid.
Only very recently has the US financially supplemented the Arab states, and it has been paltry comparatively. I do not have exact figures, but I remember reading that the annual aid to Israel is approximately $3 billion, whereas the next largest Middle Eastern aid package is ~$200 million, to Egypt. While these may not be exact I can assure you they are not far off. We give more to Israel in a year than we give to the ENTIRETY of Sub-Saharan Africa.
Now to address the "Arab problem." One, Francois, your jingoistic posts have me terrified. Muslims do not "hate us" because we aren't Muslim. The Arab world is NOT synonomous with Islam: in fact, the majority of Muslims live outside of the Middle East. There is no way that I can cover the complexity of the relationship between the Arab world and the West in this post, but there would not be over 500 books published a year on this topic if "they hate us because we're not Muslim" was an acceptable analysis of the situation. Also, they are not 5-600 years behind the Western world. If we're speaking economically, they are in bad shape, that's no lie, but that is BECAUSE of oil, not in spite of it. Oil is a curse, and your question: "What is an Arab nation without oil?" has a simple answer: Better off. Jordan's complete lack of natural resources has forced it to cultivate professional labour. Because the Saudi monarchy has so much money, it can stay in power, when it should have been dethroned long ago.
Now the Saudi problem. The US relationship with Saudi Arabia is an interesting one. Saudi Arabia produces 25% of the world's oil supply. Because of this, it has a pretty firm grip on oil price: to put it bluntly, they've got the West by the balls. If they decided to cut oil supply, we'd be very hard-pressed to make up the difference without seeing a big spike in oil prices, and as a result, an economic depression not unlike stagflation in the 70s. Furthermore, having a dictatorship in power is GOOD for the US--democratic nations take longer to get things done, and a democratic nation would probably enact strict oil price legislation. The Saudis, on the other hand, are not well-loved inside Saudi Arabia, and thus turn to the US--quite literally, actually, because Saudi Arabia has no standing army, to contradict whomever said otherwise--for their defense. Also, Saudi Arabia is a swing producer: although they only produce 25% of the world's oil, they have enough reserves to last them well through the next century. Because of this, they have set up and maintained dormant wells, so that if anything should happen to the world's oil supply--such as a revolution in Venezuela--they could ramp up their production to compensate for Venezuela's lack thereof. Doing so costs them upwards of $1 million a year, PER WELL. This makes them very influential in the international market. So the US is hesitant to take action against Saudi Arabia, and I don't blame them. Diplomacy may be hard-coming too, but it's probably the only effective way of getting anything done. I guarantee you that if the US were to launch a military or "nuclear" attack on Saudi Arabia, it would start the 3rd World War. The cities of Mecca and Medina are sacred to almost 1/5th of the world's population: not even Dubya's dumb enough to piss off that many people.
Now for Al Qaeda. It is an entirely Saudi problem--this is the only thing I agree with you on, Francois. Contrary to your assertion, Al Qaeda is NOT in Syria--the Syrian government has been instrumental in the war on terror, as it has a history of brutally repressing Muslim extremists--and most certainly not in Iran. Iran is not an Arab nation. They are ethnically, linguistically, culturally, and religiously different people. (The Arabs are predominantly of the Sunni faction, and Iranians are Shi'i.) Iran has had numerous conflicts with Arab nations--most notably Saudi Arabia--and was also the first nation to denounce the Taliban when it came to power. (The US initially funded the Taliban, for a number of very stupid reasons, first and foremost because the Taliban did not like Iran. But then again, our foreign policy never makes sense.) The stipulation that "Al Qaeda is in Syria and Iran" may be true insofar that there may be an isolated cell, but they are not government-endorsed: quite the opposite.
By the way: Ayatollah Khomeini was an IRANIAN, and he did not "change the Arab world." The Iranian revolution certainly had an impact on Arabic politics, but not in the sense that you made it out to be, Francois. You strike me as very unread on these topics. Your assertion that "I was raised Christian" somehow exonerates you of sin is naive at best, horrifying at most. I will remind you that to date, ALL of the most violent wars have been initiated by Christians. The Holocaust was committed by a Christian nation. The Spanish Inquisition was the product of a Christian nation. Christian nations currently hold the highest crime rates in the world. There has been plenty of blood spilt in the name of Jesus. Doubtless, you will reply: "They weren't REAL Christians. Anyone who's a real Christian wouldn't committ acts like those." I would reply: "Terrorists aren't real Muslims." I wonder how comfortable you are with that logic.
I think I've covered most of the bases here. You'll notice I didn't give much of my own opinion: I'm just stating facts. I have my own theories on how to solve the Arab/Israeli conflict, and how to "move the Arab world into the 21ST (not -th) century," but those, as of now, are irrelevant. I will comment that I would like to see Bush take a stronger stance against Saudi Arabia. They are a breeding ground for an extremely intolerant interpretation of Islam, and the widespread wealth there is easily funneled to the madreses in Pakistan, most of which encourage radical Islam. Although I do not think the US erred in removing the Taliban from power, I sincerely hope that US intelligence has its eye on Saudi Arabia, because Osama Bin Laden was a Saudi, and so are most of Al Qaeda's key operatives.
Also, if anyone in this forum would like to check my facts, or read more on their own, here are my primary sources:
"A Concise History of the Arab-Israeli Conflict, 4th Ed," by Ian J Bickerton and Carla L Klausner
"A Peace to End All Peace" by David Fromkin
"A History of the Modern Middle East" by William L Cleveland
I hope this helps shed some light on the debate at hand. I'd highly recommend reading the above books, if you're really interested in understanding the ins-and-outs of the Arab world.