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Friday, February 18, 2011

Danny Ayalon on the Arab world's upheaval

From Danny Ayalon in the Huffington Post:

[S]ome [European and American analysts] still see every event in the Middle East, minor or major, as connected to Israel. Many of these analysts are so preoccupied with Israel or the so-called "Middle East conflict", a term that ignores or dismisses all other conflicts in the region as irrelevant and non-newsworthy, that they have no understanding of the region beyond Israel and the Palestinian Authority.

One would think that the recent events in Tunisia, Cairo, Yemen and elsewhere would demand soul-searching and humility on the part of these talking-heads who pontificate from their comfortable think-tanks and self-appointed analyst positions in Washington, London and Brussels.

Some of these analysts have not amended their tired and outdated thinking even after the recent events, merely stating the relationship of the unrest to Israel and the peace process. They have become the dinosaurs of international affairs and foreign policy analysis and will not be shaken from their ideological foundations by facts that contradict their thinking.Many of these analysts, some who claim experience in Middle East affairs, like those who claim to have been part of a peace process negotiating team when they did little more than make the tea, lack a keen understanding of the region. They fundamentally ignored the UNDP Human Development Report for Arab states report in 2009 which was a virtual roadmap for the events that took place during the last few weeks.

This report stated that the Arab world is lacking in all areas of human development, such as freedom, women empowerment and education. In addition, nearly 40% of the Arab world lives below the international poverty line. For the Arab world to merely maintain its current position, which is at the lowest rung on the development ladder, it will need to create 51 million jobs in the next ten years.

The report, co-authored by Arab scholars was a scream in the dark for many western analysts to wake up and face the very real problems affecting the Arab world. In addition, the free Arab press relates to these issues on a daily basis. However, this patronizing and perhaps even chauvinistic approach by some analysts tells the people of the region what they should be thinking rather than learning and listening.

Nevertheless, they cling to the tired and discredited claim that building a few of apartments in Ariel is what drives the so-called "Arab street" to distraction.