Israel to World: Don’t Be So Fast to Push Democracy on Middle East

Discussion in 'West Asia & Africa' started by Ray, Feb 19, 2011.

  1. Ray

    Ray The Chairman Defence Professionals Moderator

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    Israel has genuine concern that if fundamentalists take over the Middle East countries, even through elections, as Hamas has taken over in Gaza.

    However, are their indications that the fundamentalists are popular?

    The AQ has been ambiguous in their opinion over the movements that have occurred.

    While it is true that the fundamentalists are a well organised, yet in all the countries, the military owes it to the US for their pre-eminence and they have established in all the countries where there has been the revolutions, that they are the final arbiters.

    Therefore, should there not be these democratic movements in the Middle East? Is there a real danger that these countries would be overtaken by fundamentalists?
     
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  3. Phenom

    Phenom Regular Member

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    As far as Israel is concerned, it doesn't matter whether Islamists come to power or the moderates, the result is going to be the same. Even the moderates in Arab countries are not fond of Israel. Whatever the outcome of the current turmoil, its not going to be good for Israel.
     
  4. S.A.T.A

    S.A.T.A Senior Member Senior Member

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    Israel may have genuine concerns about Islamic parties sweeping to power in a genuinely democratic exercise of popular election and transfer of power in Egypt,how many of the fears are overblown.Like in Turkey Islamic based parties might affect some reasonable course correction in terms of their official govt level interactions with Israel,but there is no cause to believe there will be any radical shifts in policies........

    Like its been noted above,there is common popular narrative shared by most of the Arab world pertaining to Israel,despots,secularists of Islamic parties,all have to pay due regard to that narrative,the notion that general Arab populace wants to exterminate the Jewish race or wage incessant warfare with Israel,is patently irrational.A society looks after its interest too.

    Israel must be prepared for the worst and hope for the best,there is likely to be some initial confusion in political signals that will emanate from Cairo,if and when a popular govt comes to power,any govt is likely to maintain the status quo,although it might be less indulgent.
     
  5. sandeepdg

    sandeepdg Senior Member Senior Member

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    Its they who are in the middle of one the greatest political turmoils in the Middle East and naturally they are scared. Things may not turn for the better even if most countries do eventually turn democratic, cause most Arabs, extremists and moderates hate Israel anyway, and maybe a being democratic government, they may not pay heed to their American masters anymore and decide on their own way to deal with Israel, which may not be pretty for the Israelis.
     
  6. ejazr

    ejazr Stars and Ambassadors Stars and Ambassadors

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    I think Israel has had the best possible deal given to is in the form of the Arab peace plan. There are many Israelis who have been in favor of it but there is lack of political will to implement it by GoI. The Arab peaceplan pledges to not only recognise Israel but to establish trade links and welcome it as part of the Arab League with full oppurtunities.

    The reason why Hamas came to power in the first place was because of occupying Palestinians territories and neither removing their occupation nor given them equal rights. Similarly, not resolving a simple issue like the Golan heights allows Hizbullah to retain power as well.

    And lets not forget that even Hamas has agreed to recognise Israel in its pre-1967 borders.

    However, with the leak of Palestinian Negotiation Papers and the Wikileak documents we now know the situation is even more grave. The Palestinians side had offered most of the settlements in West Bank, the biggest Jerusalem in history to Israel with only token control of one neighbourhood in East Jerusalem and just a symbolic return of refugess numbering a few thousands (compared to 3.5 million). And even this was rejected by Israel as being not enough. If these are not serious proposals by Palestinisn to make peace with Israel then what is?

    Let us look at the facts rather than make blanket statements like "Arabs hate Israel". As SATA said, its irrarational to say that all Israel should see with more democracy is a more precarious security situation. Infact, if Israel is serious of becomging a part of the ME rather than a bastion of West in the "hostile/evil ME" then a democractic Arab peace treaty would have more strength to follow through as they would have the people's mandate rather than have dictators doing so.


    Foreign Policy Magazine is doing some interesting pieces on Israel and Arab democracy by their experts that are worth a read
     
  7. ejazr

    ejazr Stars and Ambassadors Stars and Ambassadors

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    'Mazal Tov, Egypt'!

    Over the last few weeks, we Egyptians were in a collective roller-coaster: falling mercilessly from the heights of exhilarating hope into the abyss of deep fear, often many times during the same day. We asked ourselves: are we going to pull it off and rid ourselves from the suffocating authoritarianism? Is it possible, just by marching over Liberation Square, to overthrow a system of repression that caged our minds and souls for decades? Would we finally be able to climb out of the dark hole in which we were kept and walk the earth, free men and women? And if we can do this by standing up for our rights, can't we improve our collective lot in other areas as well?

    While we were asking ourselves these questions, Israel's prime minister came out in support of President Mubarak, and I wondered whether Benjamin Netanyahu was trying to accelerate Mubarak's downfall by embracing him publicly. But then I realized that a good deal of American constituencies, worried about Israel, started to swing in favor of keeping the regime in place. I wrote to a number of Israelis and Americans whose opinions I trust, asking them what they thought of Netanyahu's position. Although many of them agreed that his statement was inappropriate, they concurred that the opinion he expressed was shared by the majority of those concerned about the future of Israel, especially in the United States. This sentiment is what really worried me.

    I accept self-centeredness, but within reasonable limits. I do not expect Israel and its American supporters to think of the welfare of Egyptians first, and I long ago reconciled myself to expect an ‘Israeli angle' on every regional foreign policy issue. To a certain extent, this is how all peoples operate: thinking how the plight or fortune of others impacts on their own fate. When it comes to the concern for Israel, a concern rooted in a deep sense of threat, I'm willing to show more understanding. But there is a fundamental difference between thinking of those we love first, thinking of those we love only, and not thinking at all. Suggesting that the American position over Egypt's revolution should be conditioned by its impact on Israel's freedom of action belongs to the latter two categories.

    First, Egypt's revolution has been about Egyptian affairs only, with almost no reference to foreign policy. No one was chanting death to the US or to Israel. The dominant themes were related to freedom, social justice and dignity. Egyptians who took to the streets in millions were expressing their rejection of an ossified regime which ignored their concerns for decades. It is somehow miraculous that no one tried to capitalize on the ‘Palestinian cause' or ‘anti-American' sentiments. People ignored these issues; why Israeli leaders injected themselves into the story and brought undue attention upon themselves is a mystery to me.

    Second, even if the Egyptian revolution posed serious questions to Israel, is it conceivable to quell the voices of eighty-five million people and practically enslave them in order to avoid facing these questions? Shall we then support those who ordered security forces to shoot at protesters at will, killing three hundred Egyptians in two days? And how many are we prepared to kill in order to keep an unpopular ruler in place -- and for what aim? If the only answers to these questions entail supporting the moves of a right-wing government in Israel to keep a couple of isolated settlements or annex a couple of square kilometers in the West Bank, then we're talking about something morally reprehensible indeed.

    Third, preemptively antagonizing a whole population is nonsensical. Policy towards Egypt is too important to be based on prejudice and stereotypes. What is happening in Egypt is not a replica of 1979 Iran or Hamas in 2006 (if its comparable to anything at all, Iran in 2009 would be the closest case). The Egyptian revolution is in large part the making of a generation that for too long suffocated under the garb of old men running Egypt according to archaic rules. Those who took to the streets do not want violence or vendetta; they want to be part of the modern world. They express a deep desire for renewal, and are doing so in peace and in diversity.

    Egypt is witnessing a complete re-birth. The millions who marched to overthrow Mubarak want to revamp a hitherto sclerotic and dysfunctional public arena. This is good news for both the Arab World its neighbors and partners. Obviously there are risks involved for the US and for Israel, including a possible populist turn that would aim to fill the ‘dignity deficit' caused by Mubarak's perceived complicity with the American-Israeli agenda in the region. But these risks must be addressed with or without a revolution. In fact, this dignity deficit weighed heavily on Egyptian foreign policy during Mubarak's reign and often reduced its margin of maneuver. Modernizing Egyptian politics will necessarily address the duplicity underwriting much of its foreign policy, especially in regards to Egypt's choice of a peaceful resolution to the Arab-Israeli conflict and its cooperation with the US, thereby allowing for far greater flexibility in its foreign policy. Egyptians want a pluralistic political system, a modern economy, an inclusive social system and a thriving cultural life. Achieving this requires integration in the world, not a fight with it; making Egyptian foreign policy more representative will make it more dignified and more reliable, not more aggressive.

    Ultimately, the rebirth of Egypt is about making Egypt a normal country with normal politics and comprehensible policies. It is a reason for celebration, and if I were in the shoes of those who care most for Israel, I would whole heartedly wish Egypt Mazal Tov.

    Ezzedine Choukri Fishere is a novelist and Political Science professor at the American University in Cairo. He is a former diplomat and UN political advisor.
     
  8. ejazr

    ejazr Stars and Ambassadors Stars and Ambassadors

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    ‘Tahrirization' and the state of Israeli democracy

    The ongoing political upheaval that began in Tunisia and successfully spread to Egypt and elsewhere in the region reflects a growing desire among the peoples of the Middle East to live in free and democratic societies. After decades of suffering under non-democratic rule, they have finally begun to emerge from state-administered repression imposed by governments backed by the United States.

    The rest of the Arab peoples also hope to achieve freedom and break from the confines of totalitarian states. Some Arab states are, in fact, even more problematic than Egypt and Tunisia. Their citizens deserve freedom and democratic reform, too.

    Recent developments provide a challenge to President Obama and American policy makers, but they also offer an extraordinary opportunity to revise America's decades-old, failed policies in the Middle East and to stand clearly on the right side of history. In the streets of Cairo, demonstrators asked why the American government didn't speak out earlier, more forcefully and unequivocally on the side of those brave young Egyptians who demanded their rights and are now raucously celebrating the departure of President Hosni Mubarak. We all admire those young leaders in Tahrir Square. From one side of the Middle East to the other, we hope that "Tahrirization" will spread to other Arab countries - and to Palestinians seeking their rights in Israel.

    Government officials of America's other key ally in the region, Israel, look at the wave of popular uprisings and are very worried. Israeli officials frequently boast of being the "only democracy in the Middle East" -- what they don't say is that they would prefer to keep it that way.

    While U.S.-sponsored authoritarian regimes in Egypt and Tunisia slip out of America's geopolitical orbit and towards more open and democratic societies, Israel is moving in the opposite direction, as its politics veer to the extreme right and anti-Arab racism and intolerance for dissent increase steadily. Israel's foreign minister wants Palestinian citizens to swear loyalty to Israel as a Jewish state; rabbis on the government payroll call on Jews not to rent property to Palestinians; Israeli schoolteachers complain of rampant and virulent anti-Arab racism amongst their students; new laws to prevent Palestinians from living in so-called community villages are being approved. In short, rights in Israel are being reserved for Jews only.

    Unsurprisingly, even for Israeli Jews, democratic freedoms are eroding at an alarming rate. Israeli human rights groups and left-leaning NGOs are under attack from right-wing activists and the most extreme, racist government in Israel's history. The Israeli Knesset will soon open an investigation into the funding of Israeli human rights groups, part of a wider campaign to suppress their work and prevent them from documenting Israeli human rights abuses. The political climate in Israel today resembles the Jim Crow South in the 1950s coupled with the McCarthyism of the time. Conscientious people are refusing to participate in these witch hunts.

    Palestinians in Israel and the Occupied Territories suffer many of the same injustices as the peoples of totalitarian regimes and more: torture and abuse at the hands of a repressive state security apparatus; bombardment, white phosphorus, and assassination; systemic inequality, both racial and economic; lack of political freedoms; poverty -- in our case the result of deliberate Israeli government policies. And the same tear gas canisters, made in the U.S., are fired at demonstrators in Cairo, Tunis and the West Bank. Palestinian demonstrators in Israel are shot in the streets.

    As Arab popular movements strive to establish democracy and Israeli officials move to constrain civil liberties, it is increasingly clear that calling Israel a democracy is a misnomer. At best, it is an ethnocracy, where only Jews enjoy the full rights and privileges of citizenship. Today, there is a de facto, virtual caste system within the territories that Israel controls, with Israel's Jewish settlers at the top and Muslim and Christian Palestinians in the Occupied Territories at the bottom. Increasingly, people around the world are recognizing this situation for what it is: apartheid. Former Israeli Prime Ministers Ehud Olmert and Ehud Barak have both warned of an apartheid future if the status quo is maintained, and pro-Israel columnist Thomas Friedman recently did the same.

    Israeli leaders, having failed to use the 30 years of cold peace with Egypt to negotiate Israeli-Palestinian peace, continue to support the least possible change to the Egyptian status quo, afraid of a future where Egyptian civil society restructures its government, external relations, and dealings with the Palestinians. Israel and the US revere so-called "stability" at the expense of peoples denied their rights in Egypt, the Palestinian territories, and Israel itself. This kind of false stability, reminiscent of Cold War era South Africa, should be changed.

    Unlike some in the Knesset, I do not believe that there is a threat of another Egyptian-Israeli war. The real danger for Israel is that with democratic change, Arab leaders will be far more likely to listen to their people and demand that Israel adhere to international law vis-à-vis the Palestinians. That would be a tremendous development.

    President Obama needs to seize this post-Mubarak moment and break with America's discredited, Israel-first regional approach that has resulted in misguided American support for autocrats. But in re-thinking how it relates to Arab dictators, the Obama administration should also examine the dangers caused by a misshapen Israeli "democracy" trampling the rights of Palestinians in the Occupied Territories and Israel alike. Now is the time for a fundamentally new American approach to the Middle East as a whole, predicated on noble American values of freedom and democracy.

    Ahmad Tibi is a Palestinian citizen of Israel and is deputy speaker of the Knesset, Israel's parliament.
     
  9. ejazr

    ejazr Stars and Ambassadors Stars and Ambassadors

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    B.E., Before Egypt. A.E., After Egypt.
    By THOMAS L. FRIEDMAN
    I’m meeting a retired Israeli general at a Tel Aviv hotel. As I take my seat, he begins the conversation with: “Well, everything we thought for the last 30 years is no longer relevant.”

    That pretty much sums up the disorienting sense of shock and awe that the popular uprising in Egypt has inflicted on the psyche of Israel’s establishment. The peace treaty with a stable Egypt was the unspoken foundation for every geopolitical and economic policy in Israel for the last 35 years, and now it’s gone. It’s as if Americans suddenly woke up and found both Mexico and Canada plunged into turmoil on the same day.

    “Everything that once anchored our world is now unmoored,” remarked Mark Heller, a Tel Aviv University strategist. “And it is happening right at a moment when nuclearization of the region hangs in the air.”

    This is a perilous time for Israel, and its anxiety is understandable. But I fear Israel could make its situation even more perilous if it succumbs to the argument one hears from a number of senior Israeli officials today that the events in Egypt prove that Israel can’t make a lasting peace with the Palestinians. It’s wrong and dangerous.

    To be sure, Hosni Mubarak, Israel’s longtime ally, deserves all the wrath being directed at him. The best time to make any big, hard decision is when you are at your maximum strength. You’ll always think and act more clearly. For the last 20 years, President Mubarak has had all the leverage he could ever want to truly reform Egypt’s economy and build a moderate, legitimate political center to fill the void between his authoritarian state and the Muslim Brotherhood. But Mubarak deliberately maintained the political vacuum between himself and the Islamists so that he could always tell the world, “It’s either me or them.” Now he is trying to reform in a panic with no leverage. Too late.

    But Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu of Israel is in danger of becoming the Mubarak of the peace process. Israel has never had more leverage vis-à-vis the Palestinians and never had more responsible Palestinian partners. But Netanyahu has found every excuse for not putting a peace plan on the table. The Americans know it. And thanks to the nasty job that Qatar’s Al Jazeera TV just did in releasing out of context all the Palestinian concessions — to embarrass the Palestinian leadership — it’s now obvious to all how far the Palestinians have come.

    No, I do not know if this Palestinian leadership has the fortitude to close a deal. But I do know this: Israel has an overwhelming interest in going the extra mile to test them.

    Why? With the leaders of both Egypt and Jordan scrambling to shuffle their governments in an effort to stay ahead of the street, two things can be said for sure: Whatever happens in the only two Arab states that have peace treaties with Israel, the moderate secularists who had a monopoly of power will be weaker and the previously confined Muslim Brotherhood will be stronger. How much remains to be seen.

    As such, it is virtually certain that the next Egyptian government will not have the patience or room that Mubarak did to maneuver with Israel. Same with the new Jordanian cabinet. Make no mistake: The Israeli-Palestinian conflict has nothing to do with sparking the demonstrations in Egypt and Jordan, but Israeli-Palestinian relations will be impacted by the events in both countries.

    If Israel does not make a concerted effort to strike a deal with the Palestinians, the next Egyptian government will “have to distance itself from Israel because it will not have the stake in maintaining the close relationship that Mubarak had,” said Khalil Shikaki, a Palestinian pollster. With the big political changes in the region, “if Israel remains paranoid and messianic and greedy it will lose all its Arab friends.”

    To put it bluntly, if Israelis tell themselves that Egypt’s unrest proves why Israel cannot make peace with the Palestinian Authority, then they will be talking themselves into becoming an apartheid state — they will be talking themselves into permanently absorbing the West Bank and thereby laying the seeds for an Arab majority ruled by a Jewish minority between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River.

    What the turmoil in Egypt also demonstrates is how much Israel is surrounded by a huge population of young Arabs and Muslims who have been living outside of history — insulated by oil and autocracy from the great global trends. But that’s over.

    “Today your legitimacy has to be based on what you deliver,” the Palestinian prime minister, Salam Fayyad, explained to me in his Ramallah office. “Gone are the days when you can say, ‘Deal with me because the other guys are worse.’ ”

    I had given up on Netanyahu’s cabinet and urged the U.S. to walk away. But that was B.E. — Before Egypt. Today, I believe President Obama should put his own peace plan on the table, bridging the Israeli and Palestinian positions, and demand that the two sides negotiate on it without any preconditions. It is vital for Israel’s future — at a time when there is already a global campaign to delegitimize the Jewish state — that it disentangle itself from the Arabs’ story as much as possible. There is a huge storm coming, Israel. Get out of the way.
     
  10. The Messiah

    The Messiah Bow Before Me! Elite Member

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    I can see another jewish expedition into europe in the coming century.

    Time is not on there side and neither is recent history. They better start mending the palestine issue or they'll never live in peace.
     

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