Thursday, January 27, 2011

Changing Focus in the Middle East

What should one take from what's going on in the Arab world?

The Arab world is in stasis. The Tunisian strongman has been deposed, Egypt is on the brink, Algeria is simmering, so is Yemen and Jordan. Syria is also weary of an attempt at Islamic revolt. The Palestinians, ever divided, are exchanging journalistic fire with Qatar over the recent document leak in Al-Jazeera. And of course, Hizballah's coup in Lebanon.

Quite the few days we are having over there, no?

The most interesting new development at least from my perspective as an Israeli is that for the first time to my knowledge, there is an all encompassing crisis in the Middle East and Israel is not at the centre of it all.Of course the theme of the 'Palestine Papers' is the peace negotiations from the Palestinian perspective, but it's almost secondary to the message conveyed.

The stasis in the Arab world is a result of a deep divide between the people (that is to say, the emerging middle class) and their small clique of rulers who have been regarding the country as their own 'Hawillah'. While the mechanisms of state power in Israel are far from perfect, they are light-years ahead of what's going on with our next door neighbours.

Despite my worries, despite the uncertainties, I cannot help but hope that Israel's Arab neighbours succeed in establishing consensual governments based on true democratic values. And I will wish the people on the street all the luck in the world!

With that being said, I am also a bit of a cynic... I do not recall many revolution that persisted free of blood. There was the American revolution, the Glorious Revolution, and that's almost it I believe. There is nothing to suggest that  an Arab world revolution will not be bloody, will give rise to nationalism of the ugliest kind and instability.

But then I am also an optimist :)


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