Why Israelis are Pessimistic about Arab Spring / Amichai Farkas

Feb.8 2012
Protests against Egypt's slow pace of reform continue to take place in Tahrir Square

Unlike in much of the Western world, here in Israel the Arab Spring has not been met with fanfare and high hopes. Considering the blatant anti-Semitism that’s all-pervasive in places like Egypt, Libya, and Tunisia, is it any wonder?

This was on my mind today when a friend named Avi came by to visit. When we sat down for some Turkish coffee, I asked him how he felt about the Arab Spring – would the new Arab regimes be more moderate towards Israel? Avi looked at me with a cynical smile and shook his head. If anything changes, he said, “it will only be for the worse.”

Sadly, Avi’s pessimistic outlook is entirely understandable when you look at the situation in the newly “liberated” Arab states, and at the new governments that have been put in place after Arab dictators have been ousted from office. For instance, earlier this year, when a Libyan Jew returned to Tripoli to reopen the historic Dar Bishi Synagogue after the fall of the murderous Moammar Gadhafi, he was nearly lynched. Hundreds of Libyan demonstrators took to the street to protest this Jewish man’s presence in Tripoli, carrying signs that read “there is no place for Jews in Libya.”

After a recent visit to Egypt, The Atlantic’s Jeffery Goldberg described anti-Semitism he uncovered among leaders of Cairo’s more “liberal-minded” political parties. During his meetings with such leaders Goldberg discovered that they were convinced that “Jews were conspiring to bring about the collapse of the Egyptian economy…. One [leader] suggested to me that George Soros, Benjamin Netanyahu, and a certain “Dr. Rothschild” were working jointly to buy the Suez Canal from Egypt.”

This anti-Semitism often bubbles over into violence, as BBC’s Thomas Dinham discovered during an encounter in Cairo. “While walking in the street someone pushed me from behind with such force that I nearly fell over,” he said. “Turning around, I found myself surrounded by five men, one of whom tried to punch me in the face. I stopped the attack by pointing out how shameful it was for a Muslim to assault a guest in his country, especially during Ramadan. Relieved that a seemingly random assault was over, I was appalled by the apology offered by one of my assailants. ‘Sorry,’ he said contritely, offering his hand, ‘we thought you were a Jew.’”

Israelis are realistic – we can’t afford not to be. To us it’s clear that the radical Islamist forces in the Middle East were the great beneficiaries of the Arab Spring. And so it is that, while the world continues to push Israel to offer more and more painful compromises for peace, much of the Israeli public believes that now is not the time to talk about peace. Rather, it’s a time for us to build strength – strength that we hope and pray will act as a deterrent to ever-growing hostile forces in the Middle East.

The involvment of the EU in the peace process caused its failure

The support given by the EU to the PA RESLTED IN THEIR REFUSAL TO TALK.

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