Variations on the Theme of The Arab War Against Israel
The "Arab Spring" is just another phase of the Arab war against Israel, against which Israel will have to defend itself.
Amid the Arab upheaval of past 18 months, a question has crept among the speeches, demonstrations, riots, elections, battles and massacres – Is Israel better off, or worse off, for the revolution among its neighbors?
Certainly Wael Ghonim of Google, and the positive nature of the short-lived "Arab Spring" raised people's hopes. The West convinced itself that education and modern social media had created an Arab body politic ready for democratic governance. Very quickly, however, what we got was:
- "Moderate" Islamists -- looking less moderate every day -- ruling Tunisia;
- A split in the Egyptian Parliament between the Muslim Brotherhood and the Salafists (with "Google people" barely noticeable in the constellation);
- A horrific war in Syria where Saudi Arabia and Qatar are arming an increasingly Islamist-looking opposition (which is what you get when they are armed by a Wahabi regime);
- Sectarian fighting in an increasingly fragile Lebanon;
- Turkey looking increasingly stridently Islamist;
- Muslim Brotherhood demonstrations on a regular basis in Jordan;
- Governmental gridlock in Iraq with an increase in violence;
- Factional fighting in Yemen, with an overlay of al Qaeda activity and American drone strikes;
- Factional fighting in Libya and the spread of Gaddafi's arsenal across North Africa;
- A simmering rebellion in Bahrain; and, of course,
- Iran, which is both the same as and different from, the other threats.
The last time Israel was surrounded by this much hostility was June 1967 – with the hostility directed toward Israel.
As we commemorate the 45th anniversary of the Six Day War (on the English calendar) it is hard to remember now that Israel then faced annihilation. The forces arrayed against it were staggering: Egypt, Syria, Jordan, Iraq, Algeria, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Tunisia, Libya, and Morocco.
Israel, with 240,000 soldiers, 800 tanks and 300 aircraft, was facing 550,000 Arab soldiers with 2500 tanks and 950 planes.
Israel has been threatened since birth by Arab politics in all its forms. Sometimes they send their armies to do battle. Sometimes they use terrorism. Sometimes rockets. Sometimes BDS. Sometimes what threatens Israel is the instability or potential fallout from internecine Arab warfare – as in 1970 when Palestinians threatened King Hussein; and 1991, when Saddam used rockets against Israel during a war in which Israel was not involved.
Yes, concerns in the Gulf about Iran have given rise to a certain level of cooperation between Gulf States and Israel. And yes, Jordan and Egypt signed peace treaties with Israel. But even then, the Arab states have unswervingly refused to create conditions in which Israel could live as a normal neighbor. Mubarak "kept the peace treaty," but allowed rampant anti-Semitism to fester, and ensured that his people would never see peace with Israel as beneficial to Egypt. Egyptians, however, understood that their dictator was kept in place by American military assistance related to keeping the peace with Israel – making Israel and the U.S. perversely responsible for the dreadful dictatorship under which the Egyptian people suffered.
Regime changes in the Arab world are not moving from bad to good, or good to bad. From Israel's point of view, they are merely variations on the theme of Arab unwillingness to accept the State of Israel as a legitimate, permanent state in the region. Unless and until that changes, the "Arab Spring" is just another phase of the Arab war against Israel, against which Israel will have to defend itself.
Shoshana Bryen is Senior Director of The Jewish Policy Center. She was previously Senior Director for Security Policy at JINSA and author of JINSA Reports from 1995-2011.
Comment on this item
by Pierre Rehov
For terrorists, the death of innocent children is irrelevant. In a society that promotes martyrdom as the ultimate sign of success, the death of innocent children can sometimes even be seen as a public relations blessing.
In every action, intent is paramount. There should never be a moral equivalence painted between the deliberate killing of civilians, and a retaliation that tragically leads to casualties among civilians.
There is, however, one small difference: in the Middle East, reporters are threatened, except in Israel. Their choice becomes a simple one: promote the Palestinian point of view or stop working in the West Bank. Keep the eye of the camera dirty or lose your job. This show should not go on.
by Khaled Abu Toameh
Since 1948, the Arab countries and government have been paying mostly lip service to the Palestinians.
"They have money and oil, but don't care about the Palestinians, even though we are Arabs and Muslims like them. What a Saudi or Qatari sheikh spends in one night in London, Paris or Las Vegas could solve the problem of tens of thousands of Palestinians." — Palestinian human rights activist.
"Some Arabs were hoping that Israel would rid them of Hamas." — Ashraf Salameh, Gaza City.
"Some of the Arab regimes are interested in getting rid of the resistance in order to remove the burden of the Palestinian cause, which threatens the stability of their regimes." — Mustafa al-Sawwaf, Palestinian political analyst.
"Most Arabs are busy these days with bloody battles waged by their leaders, who are struggling to survive. These battles are raging in Yemen, Syria, Iraq, Egypt, Libya and the Palestinian Authority." — Mohammed al-Musafer, columnist.
"The Arab leaders don't know what they want from the Gaza Strip. They don't even know what they want from Israel." — Yusef Rizka, Hamas official.
by Soeren Kern
European elites, who take pride in viewing the EU as a "postmodern" superpower, have long argued that military hard-power is illegitimate in the 21st century. Unfortunately for Europe, Russia (along with China and Iran) has not embraced the EU's fantastical soft-power worldview, in which "climate change" is now said to pose the greatest threat to European security.
For its part, the European Commission, the EU's administrative branch, which never misses an opportunity to boycott institutions in Israel, has issued only a standard statement on the shooting down of MH17 in Ukraine, which reads: "The European Union will continue to follow this issue very closely."
The EU has made only half-hearted attempts to develop alternatives to its dependency on Russian oil and gas.
by Shoshana Bryen
Proportionality in international law is not about equality of death or civilian suffering, or even about [equality of] firepower. Proportionality weighs the necessity of a military action against suffering that the action might cause to enemy civilians in the vicinity.
"Under international humanitarian law and the Rome Statute, the death of civilians during an armed conflict, no matter how grave and regrettable does not constitute a war crime.... even when it is known that some civilian deaths or injuries will occur. A crime occurs if there is an intentional attack directed against civilians (principle of distinction) or an attack is launched on a military objective in the knowledge that the incidental civilian injuries would be clearly excessive in relation to the anticipated military advantage (principle of proportionality)." — Luis Moreno-Ocampo, Chief Prosecutor, International Criminal Court.
"The greater the military advantage anticipated, the larger the amount of collateral damage -- often civilian casualties -- which will be "justified" and "necessary." — Dr. Françoise Hampton, University of Essex, UK.
by Irfan Al-Alawi
"Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi" is Abu Du'a, a follower of the late Osama Bin Laden. By adding the name "Al-Qurayshi" in his current alias, he is also seeking to affirm descent from Muhammad.
The allegation of theological sovereignty over all Sunnis extends to Indonesia and Morocco. The idea that the borders between Syria and Iraq will be dissolved by the new "caliphate" defies all Islamic theology and history. As the Qur'an states, "Allah "made the nations and tribes different." (49:13) Syria and Iraq have been distinct for millennia.
The "Islamic State" seeks to obliterate these diverse identities by expelling or killing all Shias and Sunni Sufis. And it does not invoke the Ottoman caliphate in its propaganda, demonstrating decisively the fake nature of the "Islamic State."
A caliphate is obsolete and the "Islamic State" is totalitarian. All Sunnis need to repudiate them soundly, even by force of arms.