“Birth pangs” of Condi Rice’s “new Middle East” (Beirut airport: 2006)
The real birth pangs of a new Middle East (Tahrir Square today):
And Israel trembles.
Here, one of Bibi’s typically anonymous cabinet ministers not only speaks condescendingly to Arabs fighting for their freedom, but virtually quotes one of Richard Perle’s more noxious and absurd bon mots, that democracies never start wars:
“We believe that Egypt is going to overcome the current wave of demonstrations, but we have to look to the future,” says the minister in the government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu…While it may be more efficient to deal with a strongman in Cairo…and a King in Amman, democracies make better neighbors, “because democracies do not initiate wars,” he says.
“Having said that, I’m not sure the time is right for the Arab region to go through the democratic process,” he adds.
The minister…cites the Gaza Strip as a signal warning of the risk that comes with asking the people what they want. The seaside territory…elected the militant Islamist group Hamas in a 2006 election that had been carried out at the urging of George W. Bush, when the President was casting the invasion of Iraq as a mission to introduce democracy to the Middle East.
All well and good in the long run, according to the official, but Arab societies demand “a longer-term democratization process,” one accompanied by education reforms that would encourage the election of moderates. “You can’t make it with elections, especially in the current situation where radical elements, especially Islamist groups, may exploit the situation,” he says. “It might take a generation or so.”
That sounds like the Likudist view of the entire Israeli-Arab peace process, one explicitly advanced by Avigdor Lieberman among others. I’ve got something to tell this guy: democracy, or whatever’s happening in Egypt ain’t gonna wait a generation or even a year. It’s comin’ and comin’ fast. And it ain’t gonna slow down for anyone least of all a Likud cabinet minister.
Israel, I’m sorry to say, appears almost as much a dinosaur as the strong men who are falling like, well dinosaurs. It is as tone-deaf, as entrenched, as in favor of a failed status quo, and as incapable of reform as any Egyptian or Tunisian tinpot dictator. For example, this is the headline in a Haaretz story: Israel urges world to curb criticism of Egypt’s Mubarak. What is it about Egypt that Bibi just doesn’t get? Mubarak is finished. The old order is finished. It may be possible for Israel to achieve a satisfactory modus vivendi with whoever takes power, but this nonsense simply won’t due unless Bibi wants to goad Egyptians into hating Israel more than even do now.
There is a bit of unintentional acuity in the statement of an official likely connected to Lieberman’s foreign ministry:
Jordan and Saudi Arabia see the reactions in the West, how everyone is abandoning Mubarak, and this will have very serious implications.”
And isn’t that all to the better? Let kings and potentates tremble. Let them consider their fates and act accordingly. Let them consider whether a failed, cold peace is satisfactory to their people. Or whether the region demands something more and better from the State of Israel.