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Sunday, January 01, 2012

A myth?

Leftist Juan Cole lists what he calls his Top Ten Myths About the Arab Spring of 2011. While there's a lot here with which I don't agree, I am only going to deal with number 10, which relates head-on to Israel. I'll stick my comments in the middle.
10. The Arab upheavals are an unmitigated disaster for Israel. This position has been argued by Netanyahu and others. While it is true that the Muslim religious parties coming to power in Tunisia and Egypt are more sympathetic to the Palestinians than were Ben Ali and Mubarak, the issue is more complex than that. The Syrian National Council that is opposing the Baath Party in Syria has said that it will cease supporting Hizbullah and Hamas if it comes to power.
Until here, I agree.
The National Transitional Council in Libya is not anti-Israel.
I don't believe that anyone can say that with certainty yet, but given the groups that are involved in the Libyan revolution - which the Obama administration has tried to cover up - it is more likely than not that the Libyan National Transitional Council is very anti-Israel. See here.
Moreover, you cannot gauge whether the changes are good or bad for Israel only by whether they might affect Israeli policy toward Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank. Dictatorships such as that of Mubarak were politically pathological, pursuing policies advantageous to the Israeli Right wing that were deeply unpopular with the Egyptian people. A democratic Egypt that actually represented public opinion would not necessarily be militant (no Egyptians want a return to a war footing), but it would be honest in its dealings with Tel Aviv.
That assumes that Egypt would in fact be democratic. All indications right now are otherwise. Egypt seems likely to be Islamist controlled and undemocratic. More like Iran than like anyone else in the region.
Israel has not been benefited by its denial of statehood to the Palestinians, by Mubarak’s corrupt collaboration in right wing policies, nor by the Syrian Baath Party’s cynical deployment of Palestine as a domestic issue. In a politically healthy Middle East, when Israel steals Palestinian land and water, it would get regional push back of a political and economic nature (as has finally started happening with regard to Turkey). That isn’t apocalyptic, it is politics. What has been wrong with Israel’s relationship with its Middle Eastern neighbors has been a lack of politics in favor of bribed sycophancy or ginned-up militancy, which has bred terrorism on the one side and arrogant hawkishness on the other. The changes in the Arab world, if they lead to more democracy, could well normalize Israel and Palestine in the region. It wouldn’t be the end of disputes, but it might be the beginning of the end of pathological politics.
Israel has not denied statehood to the 'Palestinians' - the 'Palestinians' have declined to take it on any terms other that would preclude them from continuing to attempt to wipe Israel out. And I don't see any end to what Cole calls the 'pathological politics.' I only see them getting worse.

So is the Arab spring an unmitigated disaster for Israel? In both Libya and Egypt, it's well on its way to being one. The jury is still out on Syria. Tunisia is less immediately relevant to us.



At 6:55 PM, Blogger mrzee said...

He says in a "politically healthy" ME Israel will face regional economic payback. What are the Arabs going to do, start an economic boycott of Israel?

Does he really get paid for this crap?


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