Israel’s Arab Spring
It’s no wonder Israel’s 1979 peace treaty with Egypt is under threat, after all, this was a treaty orchestrated by American politicians who colluded with Egypt’s leaders to cajole Israelis into believing that the conditions for peace existed. After decades in power, however, the autocratic Egyptian regime that agreed to this treaty has fallen: a regime once lured by American money to maintain the thin veneer of amity peddled to Israel in ‘79. So here we are in 2011 and Israel is back to square one as the Arab world around her experiences the awakening of its springtime. This Arab Spring has been fueled by the modern wonders of technology, the ubiquitous iPhone apps and the far reaching tendrils of the Facebook generation have literally made this Middle East transformation a reality. Indeed, thanks to technology’s ever-increasing power to bring people together and keep them briefed with up-to-the-minute happenings and sentiments, Israel now finds herself, once again, with no peace partner. President Obama cloaks himself in the same fickle guise of the ally that his deceased 70’s compatriots wore while a rising Sunni sponsored ‘Muslim Brotherhood’ surrounds Israel on all geographical boundaries and, for the first time, from her interior as well.
Perhaps technology will yield democratic societies aided by free communication in Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Egypt and for those living under the Palestinian Authority — or perhaps such a scenario is just wishful thinking. In truth, the Sunni majorities in these nations have a choice to make, they can be motivated by democracy’s progressive, unifying principles or they can succumb to the long-nurtured emotion of hatred for their democratic arch enemy, Israel. The question of what will compel those who fill the power-gap in Egypt, Jordan and the like is yet to be answered but what seems likely is that once Syria’s Assad falls, Iran will be stirring up the Arab pot of extremism whilst her comrades in Qatar turn up the volume on the call for its Al-Jazera revolution against the Infidel. Set this scenario alongside the reality of Israeli life with its ingenuity, entrepreneurship, initiative and international chutzpah, all of which have developed despite the constant need for vigilant attention to be devoted to national security.
As the world waits to see what the harvest of the Arab spring will produce, Israel has to weigh her options carefully and, at this pivotal time, make decisions about what to negotiate and at what price. She must ask herself what her existential threat really is. Israel has to dig deep considering all that she has to offer, carefully scrutinizing her culture, history and essential self in order to deal with what may amount to her saving grace, the emancipation and future leadership of her neighboring enemy states.
Does this scenario sound farfetched? Consider this, if Israel’s neighbors truly embrace democracy, or even an Arab form of it, it is likely that economics and a more equal distribution of wealth — or access to wealth — among Arab peoples will serve as the strongest beacon, the most compelling, motivating call to action. Notwithstanding the continued threats of war and the acts of aggression Israel will inevitably face in the immediate years ahead, if opportunity itself — democratic, economic, social — is allowed a voice, a significant and potentially miraculous turn of events could occur. The entire Middle Eastern region could become the economic powerhouse of our future world with Israel at its center. Imagine Jerusalem attracting 12 million annual tourists to both Israel and its environs thereby adding $15 billion to the region’s annual GDP. Think of what this would mean for 38 percent of its people who presently live in abject poverty, a poverty fueled by the self-serving ideological agendas of those who maintain levels of social discontent in order to sustain the political status quo. The wielders of power on this political landscape ostensibly underwrite social programs to offset the devastating plight of their people, but these efforts merely offer a band-aid for the deeper regional wounds that can only be healed with real economic solutions. Creating a viable marketplace with jobs that could sustain life above the poverty level would eliminate the manipulative economic and political practices that have, until now, dominated the Middle East.