5 years ago
VDH weighs in at NRO’s Corner:
If one had, for two and a half years, made it clear to the world that the Middle East’s problems were attributable not to the rising Hamas-Syria-Iran nexus, not to the corruption and intransigence of the Palestinian Authority, and not to the general misery that accrues from tribalism, fundamentalism, gender apartheid, lack of constitutional government, and statist economic practices, but to democratic Israel’s building apartments in Jerusalem and general unwillingness to trust its assorted neighbors — then one might have anticipated the current aggression against Israel. The more the Obama administration talked up the Israel “problem” in the midst of Middle East unrest that had nothing to do with Israel, and promised to lean on it, the more it became a self-fulfilling prophecy that an Iran, Syria, Hezbollah, or Hamas would try to deflect popular dissatisfaction with their own ruthless autocracy onto the constitutional state of Israel. If we are not careful, we will soon return to pre-1973 Middle East landscape with hostile states on all sides of Israel, the only difference being that instead of secular authoritarian dictatorships the front-liners will be Hamas-like Islamic totalitarians. Still waiting for one brave soul in the administration to suggest that the problem in the Arab Islamic world is not in the stars over Tel Aviv but in themselves.
I agree with Hanson that the administration’s narrative on the Middle East became a self-fulfilling prophesy, but the lack of vision in the administration has nothing to do with bravery. It has everything to do with a confused world view.
It’s also why Andrew Exum weighs in thusly:
Israel has been kidding itself if it had imagined itself immune from the non-violent, peaceful protests that have been sweeping the Arabic-speaking world. You can dismiss today’s events in northern Israel as a plot engineered by the Syrians, Iranians and their proxies. But the Palestinian cause is a real and enduring one. What happens when the Palestinians in the West Bank start demanding statehood not through violence but through peaceful protests? How will Israel respond? One option they do not have is to bury their heads in the sand and pretend like the call for Palestinian statehood will go away. And good luck whenever some clever Palestinian leader starts organizing peaceful marches on some crazy hilltop settlements in the West Bank, counting on provoking the kind of response that the media in Israel and abroad will eat up.
Except it’s not really that way. When Palestinians talk about the “occupation,” they aren’t referring to the Israeli occupation of Palestine, or the borders that currently exist. They are referring to the Israeli occupation of, well, Israel. The Palestinians are increasingly rejecting the idea of the so-called two state solution. Andrew misses the point. The Palestinians already have a state. They want another one, one that currently belongs to someone else, and that’s the crux of the problem.
The protests in the Middle East directed at Israel have nothing to do with democracy movements, any more than what eventually obtained in Egypt has to do with students or freedom. The Muslim Brotherhood will eventually rule in Egypt, and to fail to view things through eschatological eyes (from the perspective of Islamic eschatology) is to fail to understand the root of things in the Middle East.