The damage to Israel-Arab relations growing from the “Arab Spring” cannot be exaggerated. For example,
The new [Islamist – ed.] Tunisian government is gearing up to ratify a new constitution, and its language includes a section condemning Zionism and ruling out any friendly ties with Israel…
Israeli officials are concerned that government-sponsored hatred of Israel in Tunisia will spread to other Middle East countries, such as Egypt, potentially destabilizing the entire region. The officials noted that Tunisia is considered a moderate Arab country and has maintained friendly relations with Israel since the Oslo Accords were signed in 1993.
A section of the constitution? As far as I know, this is the first time any nation has defined itself in terms of opposition to Zionism, something normally associated with terrorist groups like Hamas and Hizballah. And Tunisia, which has never been at war with Israel and whose President called for the recognition of Israel in 1965, has been called “a voice for moderation and realism in the Middle East” by the US State Department. Not any more.
Tunisia was the Arab country that was considered most likely to have a democratic outcome to its “Arab spring” revolution. It did have a democratic election, but the Islamist ‘Ennahda ‘ party received a plurality of the vote.
Another (formerly) relatively moderate nation, Morocco, which had been relatively friendly to Israel, elected members of the Islamist “Justice and Development” party to a plurality of parliamentary seats on Nov. 26. Jonathan D. Halevi quotes an interview that its leader, Abdelilah Benkirane, gave in Gaza in 2009:
The inhabitants of Arab Morocco do not think there is only a duty to identify with the Palestinians, but want to wage a jihad struggle alongside them … Most unfortunately, the political circumstances, the borders, the soldiers, and the legal and military barriers that exist between the Muslims prevent these feelings from being expressed as they should … The Moroccans see the Islamic resistance movement Hamas as the mother of resistance and steadfastness. The Moroccans very much love the Hamas movement … and they love to recall at every occasion the acts of heroism and sacrifice of this great and mighty movement … All of the Moroccans stand beside the Palestinians and the noble Al-Quds [Jerusalem], and if the borders are opened to the Moroccans and the obstacles are removed, you will see how the masses come to help Al-Aqsa and Al-Quds.
More recently, he referred to Israel as a “hostile state” unless it adopts a one-state solution “like South Africa”. Halevi also notes that Benkirane signed several manifestos calling for jihad against Israel and condemning the US.
Tunisia and Morocco are not major powers and are not likely to engage in hostilities against Israel. Egypt, which is voting for a parliament today, is much more critical (and will almost certainly end up with an Islamist-dominated regime). So we have Iran, Lebanon, Libya, Turkey, Tunisia, Morocco and Egypt firmly in the Islamist circle or about to be, with the possibility that others will join them in the not-so-distant future.
Two things disturb me. One is that the Arab-Israeli conflict is becoming more and more an Islamist-Israeli or even Muslim-Israeli conflict. As a religious conflict, it becomes immune to diplomatic solutions. There can be no territorial compromise with the position of Hamas — which is supported by Morocco’s Benkirane — that insists that there is no place for a Jewish state of any size on ‘Muslim land’.
But note that even a military solution short of total war is unlikely to end the conflict. Israel’s attempts to ‘teach a lesson’ to Hamas and Hizballah have failed, providing only a temporary respite while the terrorists rearm and prepare for the next round.
The other disturbing aspect of the situation is that while antisemitism was always a part of Islam to a greater or lesser extent — the contents of the Quran insure that it must be — the rise of Islamism is institutionalizing what can only be called — with deliberate irony — a crusade against the Jewish state.
The extreme Left — and even some not-so-extreme ‘progressive’ circles — in Israel and the West also seem to have absorbed this hatred as part of their conventional wisdom, something that is assumed as a starting point of discussion.
This comprises a huge challenge to Israel, both in terms of physical defense and in the information arena. One can only hope that there will be an ultimate recognition in Europe and America that Islamism is not only a problem for Jews, but threatens them as well.
Perhaps in that case the present situation — in which Europe and the administration in the US claim to be allies of Israel and concerned with its survival while actually working to undermine it and supporting Islamist takeovers — will change to one in which the West will truly become allied with Israel to create a united front against the forces that are working to propel the world back to the Seventh Century.