One of the top priorities of President Obama's strategic agenda when he was elected in 2009 was "reaching-out" Arab world. His very first speech, which addressed Muslims directly in Egypt of Hosni Mubarak, the largest of Middle East countries, created hope and welcoming hum across the Arab world.
His election as the first black president, his ambitious agenda, and heart and mind wining catchphrases caused many to think that actually a turnaround policy was created in Washington regarding Middle East issue. And the popularity of the United States which terribly had been undermined during belligerent Bush administration was, somehow, restored. However his initiative of 'two state solution' for Palestine and Israel bluntly failed but his popularity among common Arab people was not weakened to extent as that of Bush's.
But many of the analysts are of the view that when he was fantasizing about discharging a historical mission and putting an end to a more than half century Arab-Israel conflict, failed to notice one thing: the closest ally of Washington in the region, Israel, had no interest to hold talks and achieve peace with Palestine. Indeed, when Israel was desperately seeking for peace, the Arab world never cared and was taking rigid and harsh stance against it. As the time went by, the process reversed. Many Arab countries under the pressure of global attitude and US changed their stance and took a more flexible standing. Such a process dealt double effect: weakened Palestine and strengthened Israel.
Thus, the joint effort of all Arab countries to eliminate Israel, as some of them used to tell, or pressurize it to retreat to its actual borders, was replaced somehow with unilateral efforts of individual Arab countries and they separately started dealing with Tele Aviv based on their own individual national interests. The Arab interest as a concept lost its validity and was replaced with variety of interests of Arabs. Many of them tried to diminish the concept of Arab-Israel conflict and highlight Palestine-Israel controversy. This conceptual change of conflict brought about real changes in the region, which shifted the power balance towards Israel. Some of these countries unilaterally tried to restore their relationship in order to gain sympathy, financial and diplomatic assistance of the United States.
Major Arab countries like Egypt which once was its great foe became the great ally in the region, however, common people kept grudge against Israel in streets of Al-Cairo. But their sounds were never important. Same was the case with the rest of Arab countries who, at least, openly tried to restore and deepen their relationship with the US and her allies, which was not possible along maintenance of belligerency with Tele Aviv. There common people opposed their governments about such strategic change, but they were unable to do something, because the regimes were authoritarian and autocratic which have not allowed civilians to express their actual views regarding such strategic changes. They were marginalized from political spheres, and regimes stripped them off of decision making power. This is the characteristic of all oppressive regimes under which people are like mere herds that should be controlled through any means.
One of the great American analysts and writers, Mr. Thomas L. Freidman has a very mouthful expression for authoritarian regimes that restrict freedom and liberty of people. In the case of China, he says: "the Chinese government said to its people, give up your freedom, and in return I will provide you standard life and education. In Arabian countries, government said, give up your liberty, I will feed you Arab-Israel conflict". I have nothing to say about China, but I strongly disagree with him in the case of Arab countries though I maintain that some of the regimes tolerated or even fed anti-Israel and anti-west sentiment. But the general environment was not like that at all.
Frequently, I tried to notify that the deal, actually, was made among global attitude, west, on the top US and Arab regimes. This was indeed an external contract that led to survival of authoritarian Arab regimes, not that of domestic one. His sayings somehow true in initial periods when all Arab regimes along with civilians opposed establishment of a Jewish state in neighborhood. The geo-political interests of regimes lied on the same bed with that of civilians' one, who traditionally and religiously had no suitable approach towards Jews and Jewish state. They viewed it as occupier of Palestine land, and, moreover, the survival of Jews who resisted more then any other one else against Prophet Mohammad in seventh century. I think Muslims and Jews rancor has historical links even, and deepened during past half century due to Middle East conflict. Such a relationship between common people and belligerent approach of their governments could be deemed as factor that strengthened authoritarian regimes, but it never prolonged their survival. Because the very relationship broke out soon after that "strategic change" in Arab regimes' political and diplomatic sphere.
When the regimes tried to wield any possible measures to restrict or even eliminate Jewish state, they terribly failed because the event of holocaust earned Jews huge sympathy across the world. Particularly, European countries and U.S. have never give their support, and Israel has become principle ally of US in the region, perhaps, due to strong linkage between US and Israeli Jews. The failure caused disappointment in the region that they could not defeat geographically a small state, but rather lost their own territories, which sparked real shame, humiliation and, at meantime, anger.
Arab regimes were unable to do anything. They were unable to appease civilians' anger. They were unable to restore their reputation. What actually many Arab regimes did was a complete turnaround: from motto to eliminate it to establishment of strong ties with Israel. Civilians were against such a strategic change. The influence of countries like Iran and Syria among common Arab people is the signs of prevalence of such anger, because these countries are touching the hot-spot through avoiding decades-long belligerency with Israel.
The Arab-Israel conflict was not exchanged for restriction of democracy and liberty of civilians, but was an exchange for wining supporters across the world, which have had an illusionary fear of extremism and Islamic fundamentalism. As many viewed the U.S. the main culprit who brought about their humiliation and failure regarding Israel, thus the Muslims' hatred more than any other countries directed towards Washington.
In the first part of this article I explained how authoritarian Arab regimes were the result of adultery between global attitude and regimes that were able to create relatively illusionary fear of growing prevalence of political Islam as happened in Iran, with the Islamic revolution under the leadership of Ayatollah Khomeini.
When the Arab regimes failed to undermine Israel's growing hegemony in the region, they found no suitable initiative other then turning from mortal foe into reluctant friends. In this juncture, what remained unsolved was the conflict between Palestine and Israel. This controversy continued fuelling anger and brought about spread of fundamentalism among common Arab people. Just looking to popularity of countries that severely resist recognizing Israel as Jewish State and support Hamas and Hezbollah, the two main anti-Israel armed movements, like Iran and Syria, it clearly can be figured out that how common Arab people still show their angers through shouting support for aggressive statements of Iranian and Syrian officials.
When the Arab regimes ceased to respond civilians' demands, the only option remained ahead was radicalization and joining of terrorist groups which directly aimed targeting Israel and its Western supporters' interest. It is not much surprising if people in many Muslim countries after assassination of Osama bin Laden, the leader of Al-Qaeda terror network, the very person who have killed Muslims more then any followers of other religion in Pakistan, Afghanistan and other countries, were expressing condolence to one another. Because he was increasingly emerging as hero who could challenge the most competitive intelligent service of the world and freely threaten Israel, the thing which many dreamed once in the region.
Anyhow, such U-turn policy of Arab countries provided a chance to Israel to deal with each of them individually. Thus, it is a long time that momentum has changed. Now it is Israel who is not ready to talk with Palestine and solve the conflict through diplomatic means. She is not ready at all. The dream of a strong and stable Jewish state is already realized even without peace and tranquility with Palestine. There is no need of peace with Palestine to keep Israel going ahead.
In 2009, when Obama called for "two state solution", that time I wrote in one of my columns that Tel Aviv has pretext to reject peace process, simply by blaming Palestine of avoiding negotiation. My assumption came true, as it professionally pointed to the issue of protection of its civilians. Obama was talking about 'two state solution' when Israel had the least interest to knock diplomatic door and close its productive and profitable weapon industries. The first and foremost challenging issue those days was Hamas militants. While, Fatah was engaged in negotiation with Israel, Tel Aviv cleverly was asking the question, "Are you representing all Palestinians and all Palestinian groups? What I need the most is the protection of my civilians: can you ever ensure that Hamas Militants would stop firing rockets to Jewish territory?" The answer was clear. No, because Fatah and Hamas were unable to solve their problems inside Palestine how they could solve their external problem.
Thus, while Fatah was bargaining about future political geography of Palestine, Hamas militants were firing rockets which were providing good pretext for Tel Aviv to take as symptom of irreconcilability of its foe, the thing which Israeli government instantly hunt to trick the global mentality.
Sincerely speaking, Hamas cannot be a danger to Israel at all. Annually, it fires thousands of rockets, but only few Israelis would be injured. Maybe hereafter that also may not happen as Israeli rocket-hunters technology has developed amazingly. While, in Palestine side, the protection of civilians is not ensured, and the continuous vengeful attacks of Israel, each time, leave more tens of deaths in GAZA.
Just setting a glimpse to Israeli land, annually hundreds of thousands of tourists visit it and enjoy their time. They feel no threat of Hamas or Hezbollah at all. Then what actually Israel wants more than this, When she can easily protect her civilians and ensure the protection of foreign investors and tourists?
I think Israel has more to loose if it peacefully live along with Palestine. the ruling war-like environment in the region always remain as an issue that American Jews pressurize government to provide it with the most updated military technology. Israel is the only country in the region, if not in the world, that receives remarkable amount of financial support along with sophisticated military technology. Keeping conflicting environment will ensure instant flow of that support, which makes it capable to maintain its supremacy in the region and challenge belligerent countries in due time.
Secondly, Israel has never stopped settlement building in occupied Palestinian territories. Retreating means giving up all those settlements on which millions of dollars were spent. We recall in 2009, when Fatah was seriously following peace process and there was much hope that US pressures might prove efficient to end half-century conflict. And the precondition of Mohammud Abbas, the leader of Fatah, was stoppage of 'settlement building'. Israel did not stop and it, consequently, caused recurrence of stalemate in peace talks.
And thirdly, which I already hinted in above paragraph is: Israel can grow, develop and prosper without peace engagement, because non Palestinian parties can deal below to its political and economic stability.
Peace engagement disinclination of Israel can be understood from the very recent statements of Benjamin Netanyahu. When Hamas and Fatah in a historic move signed peace treaty, he clearly voiced out his anger that Mahmud Abbas openly had violated the peace initiative and his government might not negotiate with him unless he broke his ties with Hamas militants. In similar move, in Washington, he obviously rejected the suggestion of President Obama to accept retreating to pre-1967 borderline. He was fretting about lack of realization of Israel's concerns about its security issues, but, it is Israel which does not realize the global concerns about its inhuman behavior GAZA city and continue attacking defenseless civilians.
However, Israel has always been in wining position in this historical chess game, but it would be in her interest to reassess the long-lasting policy. Because the region without Osama bin Laden and Bin Ladenism may not characteristically appear as it was. If the world came to be ensured that extremism and fundamentalism are engraved in the history after current Arab democratic uprising, there would not remain an issue for Israel to build an illusionary fear and yield its real fruits.