The Arab revolutions took Israel, and the rest of the region’s countries, by surprise. The reports published in the last few days and that carry advice from the security services to the government of Benjamin Netanyahu, indicate that neither the services nor the government have learned anything from the events taking place around Israel.
The Mossad and the military, as well as the internal intelligence (the Shin Bet), have called for the resumption of the negotiations with the Palestinians in order to limit the harm that might be inflicted on Israel amidst its western friends in the event that it persists with its stand of escalating the tension with the Palestinians. These are adamant on asking the United Nations to acknowledge their independent state.
These words seem quite similar to the words of the Arab leaders as they make their calls for reforms when it is too late. Resuming the negotiations with the Palestinians is nothing but a desperate attempt at launching a new campaign of propaganda and public relations. Indeed, the negotiations had only stopped when they proved to be useless to the Palestinians. These were asked to negotiate the future of their land while the settlements were consuming the rest of the land. In this sense, the call for returning to the negotiations’ table is not a prize being presented to the Palestinians but rather a call for them to resume the role of the passive witness.
Moreover, this idea is an indication to a clear fact: the Israeli political class belongs to the collapsing regional regime. Its vision of the world as well as its logic resemble this regime’s vision and logic. There are some major changes taking place but the Israeli “elite” seems to be unfit for dealing with them; so does the greatest majority of the Arab ruling “elites.” Netanyahu’s speech following the raid against the Israeli embassy in Cairo resembled the speech of a man who is trying to find his way in the dark. He does realize that something major has happened but he is unsure about the direction of things in Egypt or anywhere else.
The socio-economic crisis, which was highlighted by the protests of Tel Aviv, Haifa, and other cities; and the refusal of the security-military institution to drop its financial allowance and to spend this money on developmental matters are possibly the reasons for the freeze that hit the Israeli government; in addition to the common symptoms between the Israeli government and the Arab governments who are standing helplessly in front of the revolutions of their populaces.
It is justifiable for some to think that the Israeli behavior has received an Arab “infection” with respect to insisting on denying the facts. It is also justifiable to place all the Israeli positions in the context of the continued arrogant and conceited approach and the continuous overlooking of the Palestinian and other Arab rights. Persisting in refusing to apologize for the killing of the Turkish activists is very similar to accusing the Egyptian soldiers of conspiring with the armed Palestinians who attacked Israeli targets near Eilat on the past month.
The Israelis may keep on demeaning the pain and suffering of the others indefinitely. However, they must realize a simple truth, which is that the region is changing quickly and in tremendous standards. Those who think that they will be protected from this law of change are delusional.
The raid of the Israeli embassy in Cairo, and the expulsion of the ambassador from Ankara, and the near, possible international acknowledgement of the Palestinian state: all these are issues that Israel is dealing with the way the Arab governments are dealing with the demands of the protesting people, with additional verbal tricks and with the reverting to mad violence and lies. All this indicates the absence of a minimal level for respecting the other on the one hand, and the inability to come up with a future plan, no matter how simple it is, on the other.
Thus, the statements about Israel’s “modernity” and its capacity to come up with solutions to its problems by relying on wisdom and interests seem to be in need of a deep re-evaluation.
The writer is a prominent columnist. The article was published in the London-based al-Hayat on Sept. 13 2011.