Over a decade ago, 9/11 brought terrorism into households worldwide through their television sets. It inaugurated a decade where both a media and military war were launched on a pervasive ideology of terror, as terrorism is an integral part of radical Islam’s ideology, not just a mere tool. Superficially, the West seems to have won—Bin Ladin has been killed, Taliban leaders are on the run, and Al-Qaeda leader Awlaqi assassinated—but what is missing is a realistic understanding of the Middle East and, perhaps more alarmingly, a true understanding of the fatal flaw of American foreign policy.
The Middle East has been misinterpreted by the West since time in memoriam, and this fundamental flaw in Western understanding continues until today. The Arab Spring, portrayed by many as a spontaneous spread of democracy throughout the region, continues this tradition. The reality is that the Middle East is becoming more dangerous, not less, and Israel is facing a situation reminiscent of pre-1967.
As dictators fall in the Middle East in the light of popular descent, the fatal flaw in American foreign policy has become apparent. Somebody has noticed the metaphoric elephant in the lounge. The danger in the Arab world is the freedom of expression. Part of this “democratic,” freer expression is their hatred of the West and of Israel. As Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu once noted: Radical Islam does not hate America because of Israel; they hate Israel because they are reminded of America.
Arab Spring’s Players
As the Arab Spring becomes winter, storm clouds are emerging. Those who fought for the overthrow of Western-supported dictators are increasingly anti- Western. If radical Islam does not encourage them to hate the West, half a decade of American foreign policy will.
In Egypt, the pro-Western military oligarchy, still supported by the USA, unsuccessfully protected the Israeli embassy as it was ransacked by the masses in September. The Israeli diplomatic staff had to be rescued in scenes reminiscent of US embassy in Tehran in 1979. What’s more, Israel is now faced with a very real security threat from the terrorist infiltration from the Sinai. Egyptian elections could lead to a victory of the radical Islamic Brotherhood. No wonder Hamas’s leader Kahled Mashaal has considered moving their headquarters to Cairo.
In Libya, Gaddafi is now dead, but who are the rebels the West has been supporting? US Secretary of State Clinton has declared that the US recognizes the Transitional National Council headed by Mustafa Abdul Jalil as the legitimate leadership of Libya. Yet Abdelhakim Belhadj, who is now one of the most important rebels in Libya, is a former jihadist and was arrested by the CIA in 2004. Meanwhile weapons from Libya are increasingly finding their way to Gaza.
In Lebanon, Hizbullah, a radical Shiite group backed by Iran, effectively controls the country since their assassination of the country’s former Prime Minister Hariri in 2005. In the theater of the absurd, Lebanon chaired the Security Council of the UN in September when the application for Palestinian statehood was presented, and North Korea chaired the UN conference on disarmament. Hizbullah’s missiles threaten Israel today. Many believe another war between Israel and Hizbullah is not a matter of if, but a question of when.
Perhaps more optimistically, Hizbullah is beginning to feel pressure for its support of the Assad regime in Syria. Assad’s regime is Alawite, but much of his army is predominantly Sunni. The logic of Hizbullah’s leader Hassan Nasrallah’s insistence on supporting Assad’s massacre of many Shiites is beginning to be questioned by some of the organization’s followers. The Syrian government continues to kill its own people relentlessly. Opposition leaders estimate over 4,000 Syrians have been killed. At the time of this writing, it is unclear what the nature of the opposition is.
Israel is increasingly concerned with what will happen prior to the inevitable collapse of the Assad regime. Nervously Israel wonders whether Assad will seek to divert attention from his inevitable demise by inciting Syrian–Israeli attention in the Golan Heights.
Turkey seeks to fill the power vacuum left by Syria in the region and never misses an opportunity to lambast Israel. The latest threat has been to escort Palestinian-supporting ships on the way to Gaza with Turkish naval vessels.
God’s Blessing Needed
The sands of the Middle East are shifting in a storm of global proportion. If a Palestinian state is created, Israel would break God’s covenant with the Jewish people. It would be left 17 kilometers wide (10.5 miles) in a world that has never been less certain. If a Palestinian state is not created, Israel faces 3.2 million Palestinians seeking independence. Perhaps readers will understand the prayer that the Jewish people recite each week in synagogues worldwide:
“Our Father in Heaven, Rock and Redeemer of the people Israel; bless the State of Israel, with its promise of redemption. Shield it with Your love; spread over it the shelter of Your peace. Guide its leaders and advisors with Your light and Your truth. Help them with Your good counsel. Strengthen the hands of those who defend our Holy Land. Deliver them; crown their efforts with triumph. Bless the land with peace, and its inhabitants with lasting joy. And let us say: Amen.”
Source: Neil Lazarus is an internationally acclaimed speaker in Middle East Current Affairs, Public Diplomacy, and Effective Communication Training, www.awesomeseminars.com
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