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Monday, July 18, 2011

The 'Arab spring' wasn't about Israel, except that it was

We kept hearing throughout the 'Arab spring' that it's not about Israel, that Israel has nothing to do with this, and that it's just the Arabs demanding democracy and freedom (and protesting their economic plight. Except that apparently it was at least partly about Israel.
In October, Tunisians will elect a new government and choose whether to adopt a presidential or parliamentary system. But a constitutional draft completed earlier this month expressly prohibits normalization of ties with Israel, while upholding support of the Palestinians as state policy and enshrining Islam as the country's official religion.


The country is homogeneous, relatively prosperous and has a tradition of secularism and women's rights - Tunisia was the first Arab state to legalize abortion and remains one of the few anywhere in the Islamic world where it is allowed. Observers had hoped these characteristics would help turn Tunisia into an example of progressive Arab democracy.

Early this month, the authority in charge of post-Ben Ali political reform adopted a "republican pact" to form the basis of a new constitution. The completed pact included the provision prohibiting ties with Israel, though some commission members reportedly favor leaving it out. Islamist parties, along with Arab nationalists and extreme leftist factions, are pushing to implement a constitutional provision that would ban normalization of relations with Israel.

Those reports spurred some 600 people to rally in the capital Tunis a week ago, threatening to unseat leaders believed to support normalization with the Jewish state. Tunisia and Israel briefly opened interest sections in each other's capitals in 1996, but that cooperation ceased in 2000 with the outbreak of the Second Intifada.

"Death to all Tunisians attempting to normalize relations with Israel," said Ahmed Kahlaoui, who chairs a committee opposing the restoration of diplomatic ties. "We will denounce them and publish their names," he said, the AFP news agency reported, speaking at a meeting attended by hundreds of people, some waving anti-Israeli banners. Participants performed songs, dances and poems, and Tunisians veterans who took part in the 1948 Arab-Israeli war gave testimonies, AFP reported.

"We can no longer trust this body's members, which includes academics who support normalization with Israel and have had ties themselves" with Israel, Kahlaoui said. The recently banned Islamist party Al Nahda (Renaissance) opposes removing the anti-normalization provision, as do Arab nationalist factions and those on the extreme left. Polls show Al Nahda enjoys roughly 20 percent of the electorate's support.
What could go wrong?

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At 3:28 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh, another "constitution" "enshrining Islam as the ... official religion" and delegitimizing Israel as state policy. What a surprise. But it is, natch, bellicose effrontery to ask Palestinians (or, who knows, given time, any Arab country) to recognize a Jewish state. Because it isn't a a question of human rights or civil rights, with the Islamic Levant it eventually comes down to Lenin's equation of "who...whom".

At 9:12 AM, Blogger NormanF said...

Popular hatred of Israel in the Arab World is a deep and genuine phenomenon and is one of the few things nearly all Arabs can agree upon. I wouldn't look for peace to happen in our lifetime.

At 11:45 AM, Blogger Matt said...

A clever way to exclude "reasonable" people from power. Watch them pull the same trick in Egypt.

Anti-Semitism = the socialism of fools.


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