Hassan Haidar
Dar Al-Hayat (Opinion)
May 12, 2011 - 12:00am

More than at any time before, the State of Israel on the anniversary of its founding seems similar to all other countries in the region, as its “regime” resorts to the same fear-mongering methods that were adopted by Arab regimes that have gone, as well as by others that still make use of them with their citizens to convince them of the absurdity of change and the danger of the alternatives.

Indeed, in Tunisia, Egypt, Syria, Libya and Yemen, regimes have made use and continue to make use of the same slogans, claiming that their departure would mean heading towards the unknown and towards instability, and would allow extremists, Salafists and Al-Qaeda supporters to attain power, with what this would mean in terms of obscurantism at the domestic level and enmity at the foreign level, which means that foreign forces should stop supporting those who demand freedoms and peaceful alternation of power.

In Israel, the regime has succeeded, ever since the assassination of Yitzhak Rabin in 1995, at adding a new fear to the apprehensions of its citizens, one embodied in the possibility of anyone leaning towards peace meeting with the same fate, after it had for long succeeded at promoting the idea that the Arabs were waiting for an opportunity to throw the Jews into the sea, in order to drive them to favor wars and always be prepared for them. It also exploited the instinct of the minority, based on the fear that their Arab surroundings would swallow up their state if peace were to prevail and relations to normalize. It thus disseminated this formula, which the founders of the Zionist state had adopted in order to keep Israelis hostage to their fears, so as for their tendency towards normal life not to prevail over their tendency towards war and fighting.

Yet it is inevitable for Israel’s Jews, who see how the slogans of Arab revolutions have been devoid of indications pointing to the conflict with them or of any desire to “eradicate” their state or even to reconsider existing treaties with it, to wonder whether the apprehensions which were thrust upon them and under which they have lived for more than 60 years are still useful for dealing with the factors present today, and whether it is still possible to use them as a framework for dealing with surroundings that are increasingly democratic, open and able to address the world in its own language and with its own concepts, especially as the Israeli stance on the Palestinian reconciliation recently did not depart from the customary style of panic-rousing, when Netanyahu rushed to say that it represents a major blow to the peace process, despite the fact that such a process has been completely stopped as a result of his government’s obstinacy.

Indeed, if Israel’s fears the radicalism of the Hamas movement, should not its citizens ask why it has not then taken the initiative of strengthening its agreements with the Palestinian Authority in Ramallah and of considering it an effective partner in the peace process, instead of doing what it could to weaken the PA, dwarf it and maintain its stability hostage to transfers of funds and to whimsical security measures?

The same applies to the situation in Syria, where the Israelis loudly voice their fears from change and from the establishment of a regime that would not maintain the calm prevailing on the Golan front. Should not Israelis ask their state why it has refrained and continues to refrain from returning the occupied Syrian plateau within the framework of permanent peace on this front?

Perhaps the right opportunity is available today for Israel to join the Arab movement that has gone beyond it. Indeed, the democracy it boasts of includes only its Jewish citizens, while arbitrariness is the instrument used with “its Arabs” and with the Palestinians in the occupied territories. It is imperative for the Israelis to rush towards change, before it is imposed on them from abroad, and they will go through a first test next September.


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