Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Do You Understand our Neighborhood?

One of our readers Stuart L. Fischman, DMD provided this article which poses a question most Israelis have on their lips:-

Thomas Friedman writing in “ New York Times” stated:

“...there is an unspoken question in the mind of virtually every Israeli that you need to answer correctly: ‘Do you understand what neighborhood I’m living in?’ If Israelis smell that you don’t, their ears will close to you. It is one reason the Europeans in general, and the European Left in particular, have so little influence here”.

“The central political divide in Israel today is over the follow-up to this core question: If you appreciate that Israel lives in a neighborhood where there is no mercy for the weak, how should we expect Israel to act?”

Every time Israel tries to give up land for peace it ends up being attacked by Palestinian missiles and criticized by the international community. This happened following the withdrawal from Gaza, when Hamas made targets of civilians throughout Israel. It happened when Israel left the “buffer” in South Lebanon and Hezbollah, armed by Iran, aimed rockets at schools and hospitals in the north.

The neighborhood is certainly not hospitable and is predictably unstable. A look at the map reveals what our neighbors are like. Lebanon has not had an elected government since the assassination of Hariri and the southern border is fully re-supplied with Iranian missiles, under the “watchful eye” of the UN observers “enforcing” Security Council resolution 1701. Recall that Israel was encouraged to negotiate a withdrawal from the Golan Heights with the “moderate” Assad government of Syria. Jordan is ruled by a Hashemite monarchy, but has a Palestinian population majority, and is economically weak. King Abdullah II is not the clone of his father, King Hussein. Egypt is currently ruled by a new Pharaoh who has reluctantly accepted the peace treaty with Israel. The porous Sinai border is now being protected by a security barrier to deter smuggling of weapons, drugs and illegal immigrants into Israel. Gaza—I’ll let the “Pillars of

Defense” operations speak to that!

Prime Minister Netanyahu told members of the foreign media that when the Hamas leaders openly called for Israel’s destruction the only thing he heard was a deafening silence.

“Where was the outrage?” he asked.

“Where were the UN resolutions? Where was President Abbas?

“Why weren’t the Palestinians summoned to European and other capitals to explain why the PA president not only refused to condemn this but declared his intention to unite with Hamas?

“We cannot accept that when Jews build homes in their ancient capital of Jerusalem the

international community has no problem finding its voice, but when Palestinian leaders openly call for the destruction of Israel, the one and only Jewish state, the world is silent.”

The West doesn’t understand what is going on here—what this neighborhood is like. President Obama and the European Union, having failed to see that the Arab Spring could turn into a bitter winter, are now in the strange position of apparently supporting a dictatorial Egyptian regime led by the Muslim Brotherhood, at the expense of the opposition which is seeking democracy and religious freedom. Opposition politician Mohamed ElBaradei stated, “Adoption of a divisive draft constitution that violates universal values and freedoms is a sure way to institutionalize instability and turmoil”.

And the West is in a quandary over Syria, wanting to rid it of mass-murderer Bashar Assad, while trying not to hear the calls for jihad being yelled by many of his opponents – “calls so bloodcurdling you don’t need to be fluent in Arabic to understand them”, as Liat Collins observed in the Jerusalem Post.

The emergence of the Syrian National Coalition and the associated Joint Military Council means that the West and its allies are now backing a Muslim Brotherhood dominated coalition as the replacement for the Assad regime. The leader of this coalition is Ahmed Mouaz al-Khatib who is closely associated with the Damascus branch of the Muslim Brotherhood. He has a long history of anti-Semitic, anti-Western and anti-Shi’a remarks (he praised Saddam Hussein, for example, for “terrifying the Jews” and wrote an article asking if Facebook was an “American-Israeli intelligence website”). The Brotherhood is by far the best-organized single body within the coalition.

Could things have been different? As with Egypt, perhaps, if the West had perceived the risks and opportunities clearly at the start. This might have triggered a vigorous policy of support for non- Islamist opposition and fighting elements, which were there. The result is that the force now facing the retreating Assad regime is split between differing brands of Sunni Arab Islamism – some aligned with the West, some directly opposing it, but all holding fast to fundamentally anti- Western ideologies.

It is always appropriate close on an optimistic note. Israel is a strong country. We are a true democracy with a strong economy. Our life expectancy for both Jews and Moslems is among the highest in the world. There is much to be proud of.

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