The Arab Spring has finally extended to Israel. Earlier this year, when the “Youth Revolt” spread like wildfire throughout the dry lands of the north Saharan desert, most commentators noted that Israel was not part of the discourse. Observers claimed it was a true social revolt against decades of tyranny.
This was only partially true. There was something extraordinary in the force with which the discontent spread throughout the Middle East. The Spring of Discontent was fueled by elements foreign to the Middle East, so those in power, rooted in the status quo, were struggling to handle the situation. They had neither the tools nor the experience.
President Mubarak of Egypt paid the highest price. Loyal to his country, birthplace and homeland, he was adamant to remain in Egypt. For this loyalty and leadership he is paying with his life. Yet before his last breath, and before he departs this world, he was humiliated one last time.
He was brought on a stretcher and placed in a cage, like an animal, his dignity stripped away from him. He will not recover, and with him, the dignity of his people and of Egypt were also compromised. What will they do when he dies, refuse to bury him, he who ruled Egypt for thirty years?
The Summer of Discontent is etched in our minds. Mubarak in a cage achieved nothing other than humiliation, and that is the worst punishment in the Middle Eastern Arab mentality. Imagine how more powerful the image was to them, when even we were so shocked. The disgust was palpable, but not against President Mubarak.
What have the past eight months achieved? Qaddafi of Libya is still in power, as is Assad of Syria. Russia the bully is as strong as ever, and Iran is just waiting on the sideline to commence its march to “Take Over the World.” Saudi Arabia, the leader of the non-Iranian axis in the Arab World has internalized a very important lesson: The United States of America cannot be trusted. Even Israel would now agree with that assessment.
It does not take much to refocus the anger that has been building up and boiling over for the past eight months onto Israel. The huge numbers of young, unemployed and largely uneducated “youth” in Arab countries did not find an outlet for their frustrations. In Egypt, President Mubarak is no longer at the helm, but the military remains in power. Nothing of substance has improved, and any change that took place was a retreat backward to darker ages, to the darkness of 7th Century Islam. By no stretch of the imagination is that progress toward democracy.
Except that maybe the cry for “democracy” was not for Western Democracy but for the Iranian type. The people of the Middle East, sans Israel, understand the rule of authoritarian power held by one or very few. That is the only thing they know, and thus the only thing they can fathom and appreciate.
The points of major contention like Tahrir Square in Egypt or Hama in Syria have sparked the imagination of those who call themselves “Palestinians.” “Peaceful protests” by walking onto a place. They have tried it against Israel, each time pushing a little further. Most successful by far was the walk onto the Israeli border from the Syrian side. Israel was caught completely unprepared. One of the paid marchers even got as far as Tel Aviv-Jaffe in his quest to “regain his home.”
Those calling themselves “Palestinians” are planning million-person marches on Israel come September. In just a few weeks, the family of nations would be requested to recognize its 194th member, a free and independent Palestine. Except for the fact the Palestinians do not want a country or a future. Their goal is to exterminate Israel. Thus, recognition will not suffice but will be just another man-made opportunity to harm Israel.
It will not take much to galvanize the hatred of the Muslim Arabs, disgusted by the USA and NATO’s targeting of Qaddafi, or the images of once a powerful Egyptian now humiliated in a cage. The Arab world will direct that anger toward the Zionist Occupier of Arab Holy Land. Finally, the ancient call to Holy War will once again be heard loud and clear, and no one will be able to escape its wake.
Israel has been engaged in diplomatic activities to persuade friendly countries to vote against the “Palestinian” request for statehood. This is an exercise in futility, for a new state will emerge. Instead, Israel needs to concentrate on conducting business smartly, differently, by thinking outside the box. But Israel is currently busy.
The summer has seen social uprising in Israel, lest the middle class be wiped out. Families with kids, where both parents work, cannot afford to own a home, cannot afford the basic necessities of life (although most will spend a weekend overseas). Once people had to live with little, today there is an expectation that someone needs to take care of us. This expectation is magnified by the enormous wealth that surrounds the middle class. High-rise buildings are replacing the older low story dwellings, with condos costing in the millions and even the tens of millions.
People are flying around constantly for weekends or shopping trips abroad. Others are playing the stock exchange. There is no mutual responsibility, but each to his own. Greed and wealth beyond the wildest imagination is so commonplace now, a lack of money appears out of place.
Rather than focus on its enemies, Israel is embroiled with a “Summer of Discontent” of its own. In a similar manner to the Arab Spring that was fueled by foreign elements (e.g., CIA on the ground in Libya), there are foreign elements pouring the necessary funding into these seemingly spontaneous gatherings in Israel.
In Israel everything is expensive. Huge banners. Buses to bring the people, signs and t-shirts, artists to perform. What is taking place in Israel is “in” and “happening.” These protests cost money, a lot of money. Foreign elements, like the New Israel Fund and others who have a very specific agenda, are fueling the protests, thus diverting attention from what Israel should be doing.
Redistribution of wealth and social responsibility will not solve Israel’s problems that began because Tel Aviv-Israel refuses to recognize that orthodox Jews are not their enemies, the Arabs are. Tel Aviv conveniently maligns the inhabitants of Judea and Samaria who with their lives protect the center. They act as a security buffer and bear the brunt of the terrorists. They are the laboratory rats against which different acts of terror are tested and carried out.
More importantly, these “Settlers” are not the problem. Today, they constitute the majority in the best combat units. They carry the torch of God and Country, values seemingly long forgotten.
The commentators who hate them so much normally have not served in the Israel Defense Forces or made certain their children do not serve. “We are tired” or “we want peace” is their mantra, or they simply object on high moral grounds. Someone else must do the dirty work.
Israel must unite against the real enemies plotting Israel’s destruction: those who call themselves “Palestinians” (whether PLO terrorists or democratically-elected Hamas), Hezbollah in Lebanon, elements in Turkey headed by the Turkish Prime Minister and the Islamic Republic of Iran.
The Jewish State will have to work on strengthening its body from within, and cannot be distracted by those who go out into the streets and then travel for a weekend abroad. There are many things that need fixing in Israel, but now is not the time to lose focus on the bigger picture. The situation can deteriorate in milliseconds and it does not take a rocket scientist to understand the danger.
In the Middle East in 2011, jumping from a seemingly quiet state of affairs to complete havoc is really not such a quantum leap.