Thursday, July 31, 2014

What Arab Leaders Care About and the End of Israeli Exceptionalism

This just goes to show that most Arab leaders only really care about their preserving themselves. When the plight of the Palestinians could be used as a way to rally their population in some nationalist cause, they used it as much as they could. But once the Muslim Brotherhood won the first free and fair Egyptian election, a lot of Arab leaders began seeing the MB as a threat to their own regime--especially with the recent history of the Arab Spring. (Hamas is an offshoot of the Muslim Brotherhood and is generally considered to be the Palestinian chapter of the organization). Now that the Palestinian group that dominates in Gaza is viewed as a personal threat, they are pitching all their rhetoric about Palestine overboard. Aside from Lebanon, none of Israel's neighbors have any real fear of being attacked by Israel these days. So while Israel is not really viewed as a threat anymore, the Muslim Brotherhood and/or political Islam is. This is not a change of heart, it is all about maintaining their own power. That is all it has always been about.

I also wonder how this will affect Israel in the long term if this dynamic with its neighbors holds up. For years Israel has justified its strong-arm tactics and refusal to abide by agreements and conventions of the international community (e.g. the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty) on the notion that it is a small country in a hostile neighborhood that is surrounded by its enemies. In essence, it argued that it was allowed to act in a way that would have it deemed a rogue state if it were any other country (e.g. Israel's nuclear program has no international monitoring at all. That is less than North Korea and Iran) out of necessity. Because, unlike every other country, Israel faced a constant existential threat from its neighbors. If that ceases to be the case, will Israel actually start following international norms or will it just become an outright rogue state?