Friday, March 29, 2013
Israel's Healthy Cynicism
Israel's Insightful Cynicism -Robert D. Kaplan
Israel had a convenient situation for decades, surrounded by stable Arab dictatorships. Israel could promote itself as the region's only real democracy, even as it quietly depended on the likes of Hosni Mubarak, the al Assad clan and the Hashemites to ensure order and more-or-less few surprises. Now dictators are falling and anarchy is on the rise.
Fighting state armies of the kind that the Arab dictators built in wars in 1948, 1956, 1967 and 1973 was simpler compared to today's wars: Because the Arabs never really believed in their dysfunctional states, they didn't always fight very well in state-organized formations.
But sub-state militaries like Hizbullah and Hamas have been more of a challenge. Given their geographical circumstances, Israelis can be forgiven their cynicism.
Arab Leaders WhoTake Risks Paid with Their Lives -Clifford D. May
Meeting with King Abdullah II in Jordan last Friday, President Obama was gracious enough to mention the monarch's great-grandfather, King Abdullah I, assassinated in 1951, who "gave his life in the name of peace." To Western ears, that sounded like a tribute. To Arab and Muslim ears, it may have sounded like a warning.
Imagine you are Mahmoud Abbas, president of the Palestinian Authority. You know that making peace with Israel will bring you the praise of British prime ministers and American presidents. Perhaps you understand that peace would be in the best interest of your people. But you also are keenly aware that serious peacemaking will place you and members of your family in severe peril.
Egypt's President Anwar Sadat made peace with Israel in 1979. Two years later, he was assassinated in accord with a fatwa written by Omar Abdel Rahman, the "Blind Sheikh," who would go on to be convicted for his role in the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center. Since becoming president of Egypt, Mohamed Morsi, a member of the Muslim Brotherhood, has been calling for the Blind Sheikh's release.
The assassination of Lebanese president Bashir Gemayel in September 1982 was related to the fact that just two weeks earlier he had agreed to start the process of establishing diplomatic relations with Israel.