The Essential Enemy (Extract)

Extract of article in Issue 24, March 18, 2008 of The Jerusalem Report. To subscribe to The Jerusalem Report click here. We Arabs, or at least our regimes and media, seize every opportunity to depict Israel as the source of all evil in the Middle East. A recent example was the blanket condemnation of Israel for the breakout to Egypt of Gazans fleeing the Israeli blockade in late January. The reasons for the blockade were never mentioned. For more than half a century, the Arabs have portrayed Israel as their chief enemy, an "imperialist force," supported by the America, which constantly inflicts "genocide, starvation and human rights violations" on the Palestinians. Though they bemoan its existence, deep down the Arab regimes are glad that Israel is there. They have a culprit on whom they can blame their people's misery and disarray. If Israel did not exist, these regimes would have to invent another enemy and inflame other disputes, by demanding the return of Arab lands said to be occupied by Turkey (Al-Iskandaroun) and Iran (Arabstan). Israel ended its occupation of Gaza and southern Lebanon. Yet for both Hamas and Hizballah, this was not enough. Egypt got back its occupied land, but its official and media discourse is still belligerent and defiant. The animosity of Arabs towards Israel has become an article of faith, a kind of "religion." Israel is an unacceptable "evil" and Arabs are the "victim." This is beyond argument, beyond the need for realpolitik and tangible proof. Foolish people like myself who believe in co-existence are subjected to the wrath of the media and threats of the wrath of God. All kinds of conspiracy theories are concocted by the Arab media. Israel not only occupies Arab land and starves the Palestinians; it causes all kinds of rifts between Arabs. Hassan Nafaa writes in Cairo's Al-Ahram Weekly of January 26: "In keeping with its determination to drive wedges between Arab parties, Israel was instrumental in engineering the rift between Fatah and Hamas. It has been indefatigable in its efforts to goad the Palestinian Authority into reasserting control over Gaza and eliminating Hamas and Islamic Jihad in the West Bank." Nafaa adds: "Tel Aviv has never been serious about a peaceful settlement to the conflict and remains intent upon realizing the two goals of holding on to occupied territory and fragmenting Arabs." The writer, a commentator on Arab affairs, is a professor of sociology living in Germany. Extract of article in Issue 24, March 18, 2008 of The Jerusalem Report. To subscribe to The Jerusalem Report click here.