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03 2012

The Arab Spring

Syndicated from: Steve Paikin

In the Middle East, it’s all about who’s David and who’s Goliath. And the problem is, different actors are playing both of those parts all the time. When it comes to the Israeli-Palestinian problem, Israel clearly has become Goliath to the underdog Palestinians, who now play the role of David. The Old City of Jerusalem. But open the lens a little wider, and compare Israel (population 7.7 million) to the Arab world (population 300 million), and clearly the Israelis see themselves as David in that scenario.  And given the massive changes ushered in by the Arab Spring, Israelis think that David and Goliath comparison just got qualitatively worse. Israelis see a neighbourhood becoming increasingly Islamist, as their staunch allies (eg. Hosni Mubarak) give way to unreliable new governments. “I see wishful thinking from The West,” says Yossi Klein Halevi, a fellow at the Shalom Hartman Institute.  “The joy at the fall of Mubarak in The West was seen as madness by Israel. He’s your most reliable ally in the Arab world! Obama should have supported the demonstrators with humility, not thrown Mubarak overboard.” What’s Klein Halevi’s greatest fear related to the wider Arab world? “The pro-Western Arab leaders are out,” he says.  “The Pro-Iran Arab leaders are in. This is a short-term disaster for Israel. You should be under no illusion that this will end happily any time soon. The West needs to free itself from its wishful thinking.” Jews and Muslims share a beach in Tel Aviv As down as Klein Halevi is about the Israeli-Arab relationship, he’s even more pessimistic about Iran. And that’s the subject of the next blog post.

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