Israel: October 21, 2000

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 An emergency Arab summit held in Egypt ended without pleasing the radicals. Declining to get involved in the battles between Palestinians and Israelis, the Arab nations instead suggested that Arab nations with diplomatic relationships with Israel sever the ties. Few agreed to do that. A billion dollars was pledged for the Palestinians and Israel was loudly condemned. But calls for war were put aside. The Palestinians are pretty much on their own, as they have been since Israel was created in 1948. Arab nations have gone to war with Israel four times, and lost. No one wants to try again. The Palestinians are trying to get the UN involved, but that has not worked in the past, and won't work this time. The basic problem is that among the Palestinians there is a radical faction, with many sympathizers among the general population, who will settle for nothing less than the destruction of Israel. The Israelis also  have their own fanatics who want all Arabs driven from Israel. The big difference is that Israel is a functioning democracy and the Palestinians are not. Israel can keep it's wackos under control, the Palestinians cannot. The last "intifada" began in 1987 and went unchecked for five years before  running out of steam. This intifada is more violent than the last one, so it could not last as long. Israel control most utilities and food supplies to Palestinian neighborhoods, but even this might be enough to dissuade the armed radicals among the Palestinians. So far, many Palestinians would be content if Israel withdrew it's settlements from the West Bank and Gaza. But to do this, Israel would enrage it's own radicals. Similar situation with any deals on the status of Jerusalem. Things could get a lot worse. And not just in Israel. One item not mentioned, at least out loud, at the Arab summit, is the three demons that afflict the Middle East. First, there is the 2,300 years of outside rule (beginning with Alexander the Great and his Greek army and ending, in this century, with Western European armies.) All that remain of that is Israel, seen as European colonizers (even though much of the population are Jewish refugees from other Arab nations.) Then there is the fact that nearly all Arab states are run by dictatorships or absolute monarchies, with most of the wealth monopolized by a few percent of the population and a corrupt bureaucracy. Finally, there is Islamic fundamentalism, which calls for the expulsion of all "outsiders" and the establishment of honest government. All in all, not the sort of thing to make life easy for current Arab rulers. 

 

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