May 24, 2007:
Despite being a beacon of economic,
educational and military might in the Middle East, Israel has been shunned by
its Arab neighbors for over half a century. But no more. Since the 1990s,
Islamic radicalism has become a greater threat to Arabs than Israel ever was.
And in the meantime, many Arab nations have found it economically, militarily
and diplomatically worthwhile to develop working relationships with Israel.
Now, as Islamic radicalism becomes the popular
cause of Arab youth, Arab leaders have realized that, while there is no
compromise with radical Islam, you can do business with the Israelis. Doing the
math, Arab rulers have concluded that given the choice between working with the
Islamic radicals, or Israel, the latter is a safer, saner and more profitable
The only problem with all this, is finding a
suitable (that is, least stressful) way to break the news to the Arab people.
That may not be all that necessary. Opinion polls have shown the Palestinians
and Islamic radicals ratings falling over the past few years. While the
Palestinians are the largest, per capita, recipients of foreign aid on the
planet, and have failed, at every turn, to cut a deal with the Israelis. The
latest "intifada," began with a new wave of terror attacks against Israel in
late 2000. The Arab world was appalled at this, but dutifully got behind the
Palestinians. Not only did the Palestinians lose that war, but they made it
worse by embracing radical Islam, rather than peace negotiations, as a way out.
Despite Arab public opinion turning against the
Palestinians and Islamic radicals, there is still the Arab media, which
dutifully repeats 60 year old slogans about hating Jews and supporting Palestine,
and the long cherished idea of destroying Israel. Even some Western diplomats
have been approached by their Arab counterparts, looking for ways to jettison
the unsuccessful past, and introduce the Arab people to their new good
neighbor. Naturally, some politicians and journalists are fighting this trend.
Tradition, and all that, plus it takes a lot of effort to shift targets after
all these years. But Arabs are finally coming to realize that they either
change direction, or fall farther behind the rest of the world.