33 thoughts on “With Egypt, Turkey Lost as Israeli Allies, Where to Turn? – Tikun Olam תיקון עולם إصلاح العالم
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  1. When I went to Israel, I often detected when talking to Israelis – young ones of the liberal persuasion or older, wiser ones – a feeling among them that Israel is not as strong and secure as the hawks in Israel or their fans in America believe it to be. I think there are many in Israel who believe that they cannot bank on the weakness of the Arab and Muslim states around them forever.

    Israel has, I think, built its position in the region based on the assumption that the Arabs will remain weak and helpless forever and that ‘the West’, of which they think they are a part, will forever be the preeminent civilisational bloc in the world.

    Certain Israeli politicians – chief among them Netanyahu and Lieberman – are clinging to the old assumption that they will remain disproportionately powerful in the Middle East for the foreseeable future.

    One problem, I think, is that if the Arabs were to ‘rise’ and gain increased power, one might have assumed that this would be a gradual process. I think historians probably hoped that we would be able to see it coming.

    But that is not the Arab way. Our history is one of dramatic success or dramatic failure and we have never found a middle way. This is important to remember. The Arabs have a gift for shocking the world and the Arab Spring came, literally, over night.

    Israel now needs politicians of great imagination who are able to adapt to new regional dynamics. Clinging to the old, worn-out buffoons who served Israel well historically will do no good. Israel needs to carve out for itself a fresh place in the region based not on the region as the Likudniks and American Zionists wish it to be, but on how it actually is.

    It is difficult – and I know this from conversations with my father -for the Arabs and indeed the Turks to accept their diminished stature in the world. All of us harboured a desire to change it, and it is changing now.

    Israel needn’t face catastrophe as the region changes. They need simply to go back to ’67 borders, get rid of the settlements – down to the last man – divide Jerusalem and make Lieberman persona non grata.

    I really believe that Israel can be part of the region. But it has to be on equal terms. In Europe, we would not tolerate a small state like Switzerland holding the rest of us to ransom. But then, small states around the world tend to accept their size and pursue good relations with their neighbours as a matter of objective necessity. So too should Israel.

    Like Taiwan, Israel needs to recognise that it is small and while it may hate its bigger neighbours, antagonising them is simply no longer an option.

    Taiwan and China today have their difference but they trade and they talk and they have made excellent advances. This has come about, incidentally, with reduced American interference in cross-strait affairs.

    Israel can have a bright future in our region, but throwing its weight around like the petulant child of international politics does it no good. And future generations of Israeli children will not thank their parents for leaving them such a mess. Or balagan, if you will.

    1. omar-

      As an Israeli reader your comment is most interesting. However it does raise some necessary questions. For instance you state that in order to be accepted into the region Israel must withdraw to the 67 lines. Presumably this demand is based on the assumption that Israel’s security concerns will be taken care by some agreement with the neighboring countries. However seeing how flimsy the peace agreement with Egypt is the question is how do you convince a pragmatic Israeli like me to relinquish the very tangible safety of territory for the ephemeral of a piece of paper?

      You also point out the great success of the arab spring. However as an Israeli onlooker I don’t see much to rejoice. Egypt is in a very serious danger of falling under fundamentalist regime, Syria is a bloodbath and Libya is virtually an anarchy, non of the essential problems of the Arab world – lack of education, primitive mindset etc, has not bean dealt with. You claim that Arab culture is about to enter a period of greatness yet I do not see how that will happen/

      1. You’re putting the cart before the horse. One of the great sources of instability & provocation in the region is Israel’s refusal to resolve the Palesitnian issue. It causes tremendous resentment among all Arab countries & many Muslim as well. So for example, the violence in Egypt, while it may have domestic causes, also is lit by frustration with israel esp. when it invades its country & kills its soldiers. Therefore, if you resolve the I-P conflict you get MORE stability, not less. There is one huge festering sore that no longer causes major infection in the body politic. As for protecting Israeli security, there would be all sorts of guarantees in the form of international peacekeepers who could/would separate the Israelis fr any neighbor w. whom there might be tension or conflict. This would be for the protection of Israel as well as its neighbors.

        The reason the peace with Egypt is so flimsy is because Israel acts with brute disregard for its obligations to its neighbors as I described above (not the invasion of Egypt’s territorial waters I reported tonight).

        As for whether you’re a pragmatic Israel or not–that remains to be seen. You may or may not be. Frankly, most Israelis in the center-right political sphere think there views are far more liberal than they really are. And as for whether or not there’s anything for Israelis to rejoince in in the Arab Spring, I think the whole point is NOT what Israelis think or want regarding this. It’s your job to accomodate to these developments the best way you can. This is a raging river & you can’t tame it or change its course. You have to figure out how to navigate it & respect it. You refuse to do so at yr peril.

        Egypt is in a very serious danger of falling under fundamentalist regime

        This is nonsense. YOu have no understanding of what’s really happening in Egypt. Fundamentalist regime? Whatever are you talking about?

        non of the essential problems of the Arab world – lack of education, primitive mindset etc, has not bean dealt with.

        Are all “pragmatic Israelis” like you racist? Among all yr “essential problems” of the Arab world you neglect to mention freedom or democracy. Interesting omission. That’s most important for them currently. I realize democracy & freedom are values less important for Israeli Jews like yrself since you more or less enjoy them. But interesting that you don’t think having yr Arab neighbors enjoying them as well is important.

        1. “This is nonsense. YOu have no understanding of what’s really happening in Egypt. Fundamentalist regime? Whatever are you talking about?”
          so there is absolutely zero chance that an organization like the Muslim brothers or the Egyptian army will take over?

          “Are all “pragmatic Israelis” like you racist? Among all yr “essential problems” of the Arab world you neglect to mention freedom or democracy.”
          In a society Where phenomenon’s like honor killing, stoning fornicators, hanging homosexual, Mutilation, female circumcision etc are widespread and acceptable, the lack of freedom and democracy is pretty obvious.

          1. You originally said Egypt had been taken over by a fundamentalist regime which of course is false. Now u change course & demand that I assure u there’s “zero chance” Islamic fundamentalists will take over Egypt. I’d say there’s about as much chance Moshe Feiglin will be Israel’s next PM.

        2. Sorry richard but I was realy looking forword to read omars response to my comment. I find omars pragmatism to be refreshing. I believe a majority of Israelis whould support his position if not for the objections and fears I pointed out.

        3. Truth be said I am quit amazed by the cavalier attitude I discern among “progressives” toward the Israel-egypt peace agreement. In order to replace tangible land for pieces of paper (and even international peace keepers are ultimitly nothing more then pieces of paper) a lot of trust is required. if the Egypt peace agreement turns out to be non-binding why should the Israelis relay on them in the future?

      2. You mention Israel’s security concerns.

        As an Israeli, you mustn’t allow yourself to be so naive and so fooled by your government. The idea that the ’67 borders are indefensible is a hoax perpetrated by your government as an excuse to maintain continuous conflict with Israel’s neighbours. You will find, as well, that senior individuals in Israel’s security establishment have indicated that the ’67 borders are defensible.

        In any case, Israel is the only country that dares to burden the entire region with its security. Grow up. You don’t see the Chinese asking the Russians to cater for their security needs. It just isn’t how mature states behave.

        The peace agreement with Egypt is not flimsy. It is, in fact, not a peace agreement. It is an infringement against Egyptian sovereignty and dignity and it must be re-negotiated from top to bottom. Egypt’s recent revolution means that things they were scared to talk about have now become legitimate items on the agenda of national debate.

        The Egyptian people rightly recognise that they cannot support a peace treaty with a nation that kills their soldiers. They cannot support a treaty that colluded with the Mubarak mafia family to defraud the Egyptian people of gas revenue. They cannot support a treaty with a country that oppresses other Arabs. On that basis, the treaty should be torn-up and renegotiated with the Arab Republic of Egypt as an equal partner.

        You say that you don’t rejoice in the Arab Spring. You fear a fundamentalist government in Egypt. This is simplistic thinking and, if I may, it is the kind of flaccid analysis that one might find on the more bizarre right-wing blogs in the US or the Glenn Beck show.

        You will simply have to come to terms with the fact that Egypt is a Muslim country and will remain so. The Egyptian people may vote for the Muslim Brotherhood. The Brotherhood, for its part, has indicated that it will not be fielding a candidate. The Brotherhood is a pragmatic organisation that has devoted its energies to providing services and help to the Egyptian people – clinics and other vital social services. They are a religiously conservative organisation but if they gain increased power and influence, it will be by dint of the will of the Egyptian people. It is no more to be feared than, say, the Israeli people bringing Yisrael Beiteinu to power with its mad bouncer Lieberman threatening to bomb the Aswan Dam. If anything, it is the Egyptian people who should fear who YOU vote for.

        Libya is not in anarchy. I am immensely proud of what the Libyan people have achieved. You wish it were in anarchy. As it happens, they have liberated their country from a mad dictator, and, despite the fact that they are armed to the teeth, Tripoli remains a Mediterranean jewel and is yet to turn into Baghdad.

        You are not the first Israeli that I have heard use the term ‘mindset’. It is a piece of pseudo-intellectual vocabulary that you must make an effort to expunge from your mind. It has no meaning and if you believe that you can quantify 300 million human beings by reading such gems as ‘The Arab Mind’, you will be sorely disappointed by our ‘mindset’ in the years to come. You – and indeed Richard Silverstein – would rightly be horrified if I used the term ‘Jewish mindset’. I don’t believe that there is such a thing.

        If the Arabs appear ‘primitive’ to an outsider, I would suggest that decades of foreign-supported degradation have made them appear thus. However, if you believe that an Egyptian uprising that was peaceful and beautiful is primitive, then you have a problem. If you believe that the people of Bahrain, who threw flowers at the soldiers who were oppressing them are primitive, you have a problem. If you believe that the Libyan people who rose against Gaddafi, forswore vengeance and swore unity are primitive, then you have a problem.

        Syria is a bloodbath because the people demand democracy and are being denied it.

        Perhaps you are scared that, after the Arab Spring, you will no longer be able to tell the international community that you are the ‘only democracy [sic] in the Middle East’?

        You don’t see how a period of Arab greatness will happen. Well, I would suggest that the Visigoths of Spain never saw the Alhambra coming either. But it did.

        1. In any case, Israel is the only country that dares to burden the entire region with its security.

          In fact, there are a few: Andorra, Liechtenstein, Monaco, San Marino, the Vatican, Luxembourg, you get the idea… Somehow I don’t see France, Italy, Switzerland, or Spain being overly concerned with those countries “burdening” them with their security. If and when Israel gets around to uncircle its wagons they might want to ask themselves why this is so. (Hint: it’s not because we Germans are trembling in fear of the mighty Luxembourgean army.)

          1. Bizarre. None of the countries you mention have nuclear weapons. Nor do they occupy anyone else’s land, commit massacres and throw their weight around.

            Nice try though.

          2. (@ Omar, 6:16pm)
            You’re right, of course, and it seems you’ve completely misunderstood me. Israel’s security (or “security”) is a burden for the region precisely because of its abysmal relations with its neighbours, and because of the preferential treatment (to put it mildly) by the West it has always enjoyed. When rejecting a Palestinian state on equal footing with Israel, Israelis like to talk of the “strategic depth” that would take away from them. None of the tiny European countries I mentioned has any strategic depth of their own, instead they rely for their security on their firm embeddedness in the region. Monaco’s “strategic depth” are its amicable relations with France, they have no desire (or perceived need) to attack France for more “Lebensraum” (discounting for a moment the inevitable consequences of such foolishness).
            That’s the kind of Israel I’d like to see some day, don’t you agree?

        2. Omar

          I am phrasing my response carefully. I don’t want this conversation to deteriorate to the mutual sneering and cursing so common in this field. I hope we can remain focused and civil.

          There is a deep contradiction in your thinking that I don’t think you realize. At the one hand you claim that Israel’s security concerns are exaggerated, actually a hoax. Presumably after withdrawing to the green line Israel will lose its territorial advantage but it will gain something even more significant – a peace agreement decorated by abu mazens very own signature.
          But then you go ahead and basically admit that agreements signed by Arab regimes aren’t really worth the paper they are written on. They are susceptible to periodic “revisions” and “re-negations” based on the latest mob riots and political machinations. Under these circumstances how do you expect to convince Israelis to take Arab peace agreements seriously? Would YOU sign a financial agreement with a businessman known to “revise” and “re-negotiate” his contracts whenever he feels like doing so?
          In fact this is exactly what Israeli hawks have been arguing all alone. And here you come along, omar, glibly condoning the irresponsible behavior of Egypt thus proving that the Israeli hard-liners where right all along! Can you realize how frustrating this is for any genuine peace supporter?
          I would expect you, from all people, to realize the importance of trust in international relationship and insist, for the sake of future agreements, that Egypt should meticulously fulfill its part in the peace agreement. Unfortunately you seem to have been carried away by the juvenile rhetoric of el jazeera talk show hosts.

          (As an aside I find your description of the Israel-Egypt peace agreement as an “infringement against Egyptian sovereignty and dignity” to be incomprehensible. Sure, Egypt agreed to limit its military presence in north Sinai, to encourage Israeli tourism in Sinai, to start full diplomatic relationship with Israel. But in return Egypt received the entire Sinai Peninsula back to the last grain of sand. What’s undignified in that?)

          1. omar

            The Arab world is sourly lagging behind the western world (Israel included) on any conceivable standard of human progress – be it education, science, medicine, technological innovation, economy, agriculture, envirmental sustainability etc. this despite the fact that Arab countries have been blessed with natural wealth that Israel can only dream about.
            I do hope the Arab world will know a period of greatness (together with all of humanity) but in order for that to happen lots of work will have to be put in to pull Arab society out of its current stagnation and especially changing the attitudes and outlook that created that stagnation to begin with. Your euphoria is a bit early.

          2. Bran

            In fact this is exactly what Israeli hawks have been arguing all alone. And here you come along, omar, glibly condoning the irresponsible behavior of Egypt thus proving that the Israeli hard-liners where right all along! Can you realize how frustrating this is for any genuine peace supporter?

            Some hawks maybe, but most Israeli right wingers, particularly from the far right, just use it as an excuse to extend their “rights” to more territory. They secretly rejoice that there are Hamasniks and Hezbollahniks for them to exploit.

            Under these circumstances how do you expect to convince Israelis to take Arab peace agreements seriously? Would YOU sign a financial agreement with a businessman known to “revise” and “re-negotiate” his contracts

            A businessman can sue if the contract is broken. Whomever signed the contract can be sued, if it is an individual or the company if it’s a business entity.

            The problem with your analysis is that Israel DID NOT MAKE PEACE WITH EGYPT. If it did most Egyptians would support it. It made peace with a dictator.

            Same with Jordan. Supposedly, Israel has relations with Jordan, but what if the monarchy falls? That is looking more and more a possiblity now. Most Jordanians DO NOT support their country’s relations with Israel.

            All of Israel’s neighbours bar the extremist groups have said they don’t want any kind of recognition until Palestine is established.

            Either that, or the one state solution.

            The current situation cannot exist forever. Either it will two states, one state with equal rights for all, or Israel will be gone.

            Israeli rightists will have to decide which they want, because if it continues like this, eventually the third option will be a reality.

      1. Well Dad is Libyan and Mum is English. I have both passports.

        So I went to Israel on my British one but still had to ‘come out’ as Libyan to the security people…

        Cheers for the comments, guys =)

    2. Omar

      I find your notion of Israel being “small” compared to its neighbors to be a little strange. For instance lets compare Israel with Syria. Syria is indeed much “larger” then Israel in territorial size and population but these are trivial parameters. How about averge income? Industrial production? Technological innovation? Invirmente protection? Culture? I think that in modern society these parameters are much more significant then then mere size.
      Israel is shorter and narrower then Syria or egypt. It is not smaller.

  2. Omar

    “They need simply to go back to ’67 borders, get rid of the settlements – down to the last man – divide Jerusalem and make Lieberman persona non grata.”

    in june 4 1967 Israel stood on those borders, there wasn’t a single settler, Jerusalem was divided and Lieberman was in Moldova. for some reason peace and acceptance was not what the Arabs felt toward Israel so spare me.


    America has been in bed with Saudia since FDR met Ibn Saud, trashing Israel for considering to develope ties there is another example of hypocritcalitis.

    1. In 1967, Israel attacked Egypt & started the ’67 War. Are you claiming that Israeli was seeking acceptance when it did so? Or when it attack the Suez Canal with its colonialist partners France & England?

      As for Saudi Arabia, I point out Bibi’s hypocrisy, not my own. It’s Bibi who hates Muslims, not me.

      1. So Egypt was just minding it’s own business when Israel just attacked it out of the blue?
        blocking the Straits of Tiran, kicking the UN out of Sinai, assembling the mass army that’s all Zionist propaganda?

  3. I wonder if it has occurred to Liebermann and/or Bibi that the US State Dept has designated the PKK a terrorist organisation, and providing them with weapons would make them punishable under the “material support” law. It’s not like the PKK has the level of congressional support the MEK has.

  4. Aluf Ben is a liar. How can you post his article as “news” or facts?
    Liberman denys any intent to assist PKK in any way, but Aluf Ben said….

    1. Any idea why the press in Germany, Austria and Turkey is full of articles stating the same? I guess that makes clear it is Lieberman who doesn’t want to “remember” what he said.

      His remarks caused a storm of protest here. Why? Simply because this would mean an armed attack on a member-state of NATO. It’s very troubling that someone with the rank of minister should make such irresponsible remarks as doing so would have caused a war. He is simply back-pedalling his own comment.
      Maybe check out this:
      “Foreign Minister Lieberman formulates series of tough moves in response to Turkish steps; Israel to co-operate with Armenian lobby in US, may offer military aid to Kurdish rebels

      Kurdish rebel organisation is the terror group PKK. Supplying weapons to Kurdish rebels is equivalent of Turkish armed forces supplying weapons to Hamas. I doubt Israelis are dumb enough to do that. But Lieberman is dumb enough to threaten Turkey that he is on the verge of delivering weapons. No need to bash Aluf Ben you will have to focus on Lieberman.-

    2. Lieberman denies it because he lacks all discipline. He announces any little idea that comes into his head and he regrets is after. He’s a buffoon. He talks the talk and then realises that he should have kept his mouth shut.

      Your mistake is to consider Lieberman an actual statesman. He’s a thug in a suit and he knows it. He has the integrity and intellectual sophistication of a bouncer… oh wait…

  5. Great article, thank you.
    The current leadership in Israel are doing everything possible to destroy the possibility for Israelis to live in peace. The arabs have made many mistakes over the decades which led most of the world to support Israel since its creation. However, Israel lost the moral high ground during the last 10 years. In fact, the racism and exceptionalism is now much stronger on the Israeli side. Through the lobby, they used American money and resources (including DOD) to pursue the zionist agenda. Now that has started to backfire. America is bankrupt thanks to the zionist wars that have cost us $5 trillion and counting (Prof. Stieglitz estimate), the collapse of the ponzi scheme on Wall STreet (major funder of AIPAC) and other wasteful spending. Pretty soon, Americans are going to start asking the question: what are we doing in the ME?
    I am just afraid for the innocent Israelis who just want to live.
    The regime has nuclear weapons. The coalition of religious freaks and russian mobster are for sure going to use them when cornered completely.

  6. p.s.
    Israel has a history of training terrorist organizations.
    The PKK in Kurdistan (originally created as a marxist lenininst organization by the USSR to destabilize Turkey, Iraq and Iran) was trained by the Israelis. BBC had an episode about this:

    Israeli FM did say they will help PKK, a terrorist organization. Also remember, Israel is the one that founded and funded Hamas to destabilize the PLO.

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