x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

Anxiety grips Israel as it is reminded it of its fragility

An Arabic-language commentator says Israelis are increasingly concerned about their future in the Middle East. Other topics: Syria and Egypt.

Does Israel still have a future in the Middle East in light of the current regional unrest and domestic discontent?

According to Ali Badwan, a Palestinian commentator featured in yesterday's edition of the Dubai-based newspaper Al Bayan, this question about the longevity of Israel has become the main topic of conversation among Israeli elites these days. Clearly, as the Middle East seems to enter an indefinite phase of implosion, the writer suggested, Israel is feeling the squeeze.

"Talk about the survival of the 'Israeli entity' has become the main headline inside Israel, despite all the muscle-flexing and the arrogance that the country likes to exact on the Palestinian people and its neighbours," the columnist said.

Today, Israeli politicians and intellectuals are seriously asking: "Will the Jewish state survive without a real settlement with the Arabs and the Palestinians? And what would be the cost of that? What kind of identity will then emerge? Will Israel ever know peace otherwise?"

Despite the fact that the Israeli military machine is more powerful than ever, confidence in Israel's in-your-face politics of exclusion and self-righteousness are no longer accepted by large segments of the Israeli population, especially not the youth and the intelligentsia, Badwan said.

The escalating trend of draft avoidance among Israeli youth is just one symptom of that, he noted. For a nation that owes its existence to militarism, this is obviously bad news; so much so that the former commander-in-chief of the Israeli army, Gen Gabi Ashkenazi, said in a speech at the headquarters of the Israeli air force in Herzliya: "Draft evasion is shredding society and the army in Israel."

It is no surprise, then, that one of Israel's "ultra-Zionists", Gen Shaul Mofaz, who is also a former chief of staff of the Israeli army and current Kadima party leader, would make statements like: "The war that Israel is fighting today is more important for its future than even the war of independence in 1948."

By "war" Mr Mofaz meant the conflict between the Palestinian cause and the Zionist project to entrench a Jewish state, the writer argued.

Another former Israeli army leader, Gen Moshe Ya'alon, has in recent times admitted that the Israeli society's ability to withstand pressure is very limited, according to Badwan. In fact, Gen Ya'alon even cited the analogy between the state of Israel and a spider web in that it combines craftiness with brittleness.

The world, headed towards mutli-polarity amid waning American and western influence, is changing around Israel, the author said in conclusion. And now the roaring voices coming out of the Arab world are making Israel feel even less at home.

In Obama's term, mass murderers go free

President Barack Obama is not going to destroy Syria's chemical weapons supplies but he was able to wreck the Geneva Protocol of 1925, which prohibits chemical warfare, when he swallowed his threats to direct a blow at the Syrian regime.

It turned out the "red line" he had warned Bashar Al Assad about crossing was drawn in invisible ink, said Rajeh Al Khouri in the Lebanese daily Annahar.

"Perhaps Obama should have thought about his decision to postpone the strike, which was expected to begin at any given moment, and refer to Congress before he ordered fleets mobilised and before determining 90 targets to be hit by missiles," the writer opined.

The option to intervene militarily in Syria would be lost in the congressional labyrinth where political and electoral agendas intertwine in a war-weary country and with a president who vowed to withdraw from wars.

President Obama's complex political battle in Congress begins on September 9. On Thursday and Friday, he is expected to have a diplomatic face-off with Russian president Vladimir Putin at the G20 summit, where would try to reach a face-saving solution through a Russian decision to take Mr Al Assad to Geneva and arrange for a political transition process that would rule out the need for military action.

Mr Obama has regressed too far. Even Damascus accuses him of weakness and hesitance.

What if Egyptians had to wait for Obama?

Hypothetically speaking, what if Egyptians did rely on US president Barack Obama's stances regarding the events that were taking their country by storm?

What if Egyptian authorities had submitted to American pressure?

What would have happened if they had waited for the European Union, which was planning to punish all of Egypt following the dismissal of Mohammed Morsi and the collapse of the Muslim Brotherhood regime, asked the columnist Tariq Al Homayed in the London-based daily Asharq Al Awsat.

"Obviously, the wait would have been disastrous for Egypt and the entire region," he wrote.

"This is what makes the Saudi and Emirati positions on the issue crucial, as it changed the equation and took Egypt out of a dark tunnel."

The same reaction applies to Syria. Why should Arabs wait around for Obama's or Europe's hesitant reactions?

"Influential Arabs must have learnt the lesson well, especially in view of what Iran has done to them in Lebanon, Bahrain, Iraq, Yemen and now Syria," the writer added.

"Just as they didn't wait around for Obama's next step in Egypt, they shouldn't wait for him on Syria."

 

 

* Digest compiled by The Translation Desk

translation@thenational.ae