Why Israel Didn’t Win

November 25, 2012 § 1 Comment

Adam Shatz has a superb piece in the LRB, the best analysis of the changing regional dynamic I’ve read so far. Two passages in particular stand out:

That Netanyahu stopped short of a ground war, and gave in to key demands at the Cairo talks, is an indication not only of Egypt’s growing stature, but of Israel’s weakened position. Its relations  with Turkey, once its closest ally in the region and the pillar of its ‘doctrine of the periphery’ (a strategy based on alliances with non-Arab states) have deteriorated with the rise of Erdogan and the AKP. The Jordanian monarchy, the second Arab government to sign a peace treaty with Israel, is facing increasingly radical protests. And though Israel may welcome the fall of Assad, an ally of Hizbullah and Iran, it is worried that a post-Assad government, dominated by the Syrian branch of the Muslim Brothers, may be no less hostile to the occupying power in the Golan: the occasional rocket fire from inside Syria in recent days has been a reminder for Israel of how quiet that border was under the Assad family. Israeli leaders lamented for years that theirs was the only democracy in the region. What this season of revolts has revealed is that Israel had a very deep investment in Arab authoritarianism. The unravelling of the old Arab order, when Israel could count on the quiet complicity of Arab big men who satisfied their subjects with flamboyant denunciations of Israeli misdeeds but did little to block them, has been painful for Israel, leaving it feeling lonelier than ever.It is this acute sense of vulnerability, even more than Netanyahu’s desire to bolster his martial credentials before the January elections, that led Israel into war.

[…]

The Palestinians understand that they are no longer facing Israel on their own: Israel, not Hamas, is the region’s pariah. The Arab world is changing, but Israel is not. Instead, it has retreated further behindJabotinsky’s ‘iron wall’, deepening its hold on the Occupied Territories, thumbing its nose at a region that is at last acquiring a taste of its own power, exploding in spasms of high-tech violence that fail to conceal its lack of a political strategy to end the conflict. Iron Dome may shield Israel from Qassam rockets, but it won’t shield it from the future.

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§ One Response to Why Israel Didn’t Win

  • pabelmont says:

    “The Arab world is changing, but Israel is not.” Well, not exactly.

    Israel is not becoming more democratic but, even among the Jews, less democratic. The peace camp is being legislated against. Israel is also changing against the Palestinians, becoming more clearly and outwardly outrageous and racist.

    It is as if Israel has observed its (near) pariah status in the public consciousness of the world for years and now avidly or recklessly courts it, depending on the western money-corrupted governments to defend it (USA and UK in particular but not alone).

    As noted in the essay, there is a closer convergence today between the Arab governments and their people w.r.t. Israel and the Palestinians,, but this convergence has not been permitted in the older and more “orderly” (i.e., oligarchic) democracies.

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