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Monday, September 19, 2005

Arabs getting nervous with Israeli diplomatic success

In the wake of Israel's seeming diplomatic victories that accompanied the Gaza withdrawal, notably the overtures from Pakistan, it is interesting to see how isolated some Arabs are feeling from their Muslim counterparts.

In this funny screed published in the "Arab American News", Ramzy Baroud writes an article titled "The risks of normalizing relations with Israel." As part of his "historical overview" showing the supposed centrality of Palestine to Arab thinking, he offers this whopper:
Israel exploited the mostly sentimental relationship Arabs and Muslims held toward Palestine. While the tangible and perpetual conflict was in fact taking place between Israel, a newly forged entity with further colonial ambitions, and a fragmented and displaced Palestinian refugee population, Israel labored to elate a different interpretation, that of a tiny little country struggling for survival amongst hordes of hostile Arabs and Muslims, who were up in arms to erase this little stretch of land from the face of the earth. Considering the political and military positioning of most Arab and Muslim countries, the Israeli claim is almost comical.

One would almost think that the wars in 1948, 1967, and 1973 initiated by Arab countries against Israel never happened!

But the fact that articles like this are even being written betrays the nervousness that is rippling through the Arab world since Musharraf made his overtures to Israel, and especially since he shook hands with Sharon last week.

Israel has also increased ties with Tunisia, Bahrain is making overtures, Israel made diplomatic contact with Qatar as well as with Indonesia.

How much of these efforts are honest reappraisals from the Muslim world of Israel, and how much is the result of diplomatic arm-twisting by the US, is unclear. Equally unclear is whether the apparent diplomatic gains offset the problems with the Gaza withdrawal. But it is fun to watch the Arabs squirm as it becomes more apparent that their unified front of Muslim anti-Israelism is crumbling, and that their pretense of solidarity with Palestinian Arabs has shown no solid results over the decades.