Wednesday, September 04, 2019

  • Wednesday, September 04, 2019
  • Elder of Ziyon

Haaretz published an article by Muhammad Shehada, a "writer and civil society activist from the Gaza Strip and a student of Development Studies at Lund University, Sweden. He was the PR officer for the Gaza office of the Euro-Med Monitor for Human Rights."

Shehada is very upset at how the Arab world is embracing Israel, and he is trying to tell everyone that cooperation between Israel and Arab states will be a disaster for the world.
There was something unprecedented about the latest escalation between Israel and Hezbollah - and it's got nothing to do with firepower.

For the first time in the Israeli-Arab conflict, significant Arab officials (and mouthpieces for Arab regimes) openly and unabashedly took Israel’s side over their fellow Arabs, while others fell silent
Bahrain’s Foreign Minister attacked Lebanon's government for "standing by, watching battles taking place on its borders," the UAE foreign minister said - in a dig at Hezbollah - "The decision to make war, peace or stability should be the decision of the state," Saudi regime loyalists cheered and applauded Israel’s attack on "the ugly face of Iran," and the crown prince of Gulf Likudnik trolls, Mohammed Saud, declared: "Netanyahu knows what to do against Hezbollah."

Not long ago, such full-throated support for Israel from states and their subjects who don’t even officially recognize Israel would have been astonishing. Not long ago it was the expectation that any even tentative references to Israel had to be justified by - at least - paying lip service to the Palestinian cause, or the peace process.

One word has changed it all: Iran.
So far, so good. Who could be against peace, whether de facto or de jure, between Israel and the Arab world?

Palestinians, that's who.

Shehada explains how peace is a bad thing because it is "humiliating."

This [normalization] paradigm embraces the humiliating, defeatist path of normalizing relations with Israel regardless of, and untethered from, any progress on the Palestinian front, because: Iran.
What a victory for Benjamin Netanyahu: he can present himself as the pioneer who broke the normalization game and exposed its fragility, while offering a vision of another new Middle East which doesn’t require any practical or ideological retreat vis-a-vis the Palestinians.
Along the way, he accumulates domestic political capital by framing himself as a King who can twist Arab leaders’ arms, humiliating - if not forcing - them into submission. 
Indeed, it’s a common belief in the Arab world that Netanyahu deliberately humiliates Arab officials engaged in normalization, whether this is grounded in fact or not.
Is there a better example of how the honor/shame dynamic is an enemy of finding a win-win solution?

Notice how Shahada ignores the other benefits of relations with Israel - cooperation in intelligence, science, technology, education. He places it in terms only of opposing Iran - and yet, even on that factor alone, Arab nations are still acting in their self-interest in allying with Israel, a fact that Gazans like Shehada want to disappear.

And they’re ignoring the depth of Arab popular solidarity with the Palestinian cause. Netanyahu himself has admitted that the biggest threat to normalization is grassroots Arab opposition: "The greatest obstacle to the expansion of peace today is not found in the leaders of the countries around us. The obstacle is public opinion on the Arab street," he declared at the event marking the 40th anniversary of Sadat’s Knesset speech. 
Yet Egypt and Jordan, which are the most antisemitic states in the world, maintain that peace because it is in their self-interest. It would be wonderful if Israel was accepted completely, but Arab antisemitism (not solidarity with Palestinians, whom they really don't care about) is what prevents it. Still, who will argue that Israel's peace treaties with Egypt and Jordan are a bad thing?

Only Palestinians.

Normalization without any progress on Palestine is a trap: covert cooperation is fine, but public acts have to be kept occasional, and contained, for fear of a potentially destabilizing public outcry.
Actually, the number of articles in Gulf Arab media openly touting cooperation with Israel are increasing. Most Arabs will never embrace Jews in positions of power in the Middle East  but they will accept a strong Jewish state, the way they accept a strong Christian West.
For any peace process, the implications are severe. Israeli-Arab normalization has always been one of the last bargaining chips Palestinians retained in peace negotiations. Losing that leverage leaves Palestinians cornered, isolated and in despair, increasing the possibility of an explosion of chaos in the occupied territories.
So, in the end, Shehada falls back on the oldest trope in the Palestinian arsenal: If we don't get what we want we will start to kill people.

This article proves the opposite of what it tries to prove: that the main obstacle to peace is Palestinian rejectionism, not Israeli actions. Israel can co-exist with Arabs in the Middle East, but Palestinians have rejected all peace offers because their real goal is the destruction of Israel in stages, and Israel will never accept that.

We have lots of ideas, but we need more resources to be even more effective. Please donate today to help get the message out and to help defend Israel.


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Elder of Ziyon - حـكـيـم صـهـيـون

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