Commentary Magazine


Contentions

No, Of Course Palestinian Protests Aren’t Part of the Arab Spring

Anti-Israel analysts spent decades peddling the myth of linkage. According to that very convenient canard, the Arab-Israeli conflict was the root cause of Middle East pathologies, rather than Middle East pathologies—especially Arab and Muslim anti-Semitism, and the refusal to accept a Jewish presence in the region—being the root cause of the Arab-Israeli conflict. It followed not only that a peace deal built on Israeli concessions would engender positive regional change, but that the deal was a vital prerequisite to that change.

Then Wikileaks came along and showed that foreign policy experts were 100% backward when it came to the priorities of Arab leaders. Analysts, including and especially those echoed by the White House, had insisted that mobilizing regional action against Iran was impossible because Arab leaders were too fixated on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Leaked diplomatic cables illustrated that exactly the opposite was the case. Arab leaders were beside themselves with frustration because the administration was obsessing over Israel even as Iran gobbled up more and more of the Middle East. Linkage advocates had been substituting their own wishful thinking, and their own hostility towards Israel, for reporting and analysis.

So a new pretext had to be found. Linkage 2.0 was that, while Arab leaders didn’t much care about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the Arab Street was stuck on it. “Don’t focus on the opaque inside baseball that we’ve been parsing for years in order to build our ethos and push an anti-Israel line,” ran the argument from self-styled experts, “focus instead on how the average Arab citizen can’t get past the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.” Then the Arab Spring came along and showed that the average Arab citizen had other things on his or her mind.

Some brave souls are still trying to cling to the old line. Yesterday J Street’s anti-Zionist co-founder Daniel Levy flatly asserted that “it is clear that Palestinian statelessness is a defining issue and key prism through which America is viewed.” He invoked General Petraeus’s Congressional statement about Afghanistan, in which the General ostensibly testified that Israeli construction in East Jerusalem endangers US troops abroad. That’s not what Petraeus said, of course, but it’s convenient for the anti-Israel left to pretend that it is, so they do. The implication is that uneducated Afghan cave dwellers who’ve never seen a globe care desperately about whether Gilo gets new gas stations, and that’s kind of absurd, but the argument means that Israel is again to blame for Middle East violence, so why not?

Still, for less committed partisans than Levy, in the aftermath of Wikileaks and the Arab Spring, linkage is now trotted out only ruefully, as a kind of pro-forma gesture to the expectations of the audience. A new justification for obsessively focusing on Israel had to be found: “The Arab Spring has come to Israel.” It’s the world’s most predictable game of Mad Libs. Something is happening in the Middle East, so take that and put “. . . Israel” at the end.

The theory is—on its face, by definition, as a matter of what words mean—fairly silly. The Nakba Day mobs were organized by the Assad regime in Syria and by Hezbollah in Lebanon. The Syrian regime’s thugs are currently mowing down hundreds of pro-democracy protesters. Hezbollah is a Lebanese proxy of the Iranian government, is responsible for the murder and suppression of the pro-democracy March 14 movement, and has provoked a democratic crisis so deep that Lebanon hasn’t had a government for the last four months. Syria and Hezbollah are at the precise opposite poll of the Arab Spring. Yet somehow their stage-managed stunts are extensions of pro-democracy sentiment, which also conveniently means that Israel has to desperately appease Palestinian leaders with territorial concessions.

More broadly, with the President about to embrace the Arab Spring, it’s helpful for anti-Israel partisans if “Arab Spring” became synonymous with “pressure on Israel.” So they’ll pretend that it does, until they can’t credibly pretend any more, because that’s how Middle East analysis proceeds. There are few consequence for being wrong, provided that one is toeing the proper anti-Israel ideological line, and so casual and exquisitely timed anti-Israel themes can be invented, trotted out, and then discarded as political expediency demands.


Join the discussion…

Are you a subscriber? Log in to comment »

Not a subscriber? Join the discussion today, subscribe to Commentary »





Welcome to Commentary Magazine.
We hope you enjoy your visit.
As a visitor to our site, you are allowed 8 free articles this month.
This is your first of 8 free articles.

If you are already a digital subscriber, log in here »

Print subscriber? For free access to the website and iPad, register here »

To subscribe, click here to see our subscription offers »

Please note this is an advertisement skip this ad
Clearly, you have a passion for ideas.
Subscribe today for unlimited digital access to the publication that shapes the minds of the people who shape our world.
Get for just
YOU HAVE READ OF 8 FREE ARTICLES THIS MONTH.
FOR JUST
YOU HAVE READ OF 8 FREE ARTICLES THIS MONTH.
FOR JUST
Welcome to Commentary Magazine.
We hope you enjoy your visit.
As a visitor, you are allowed 8 free articles.
This is your first article.
You have read of 8 free articles this month.
YOU HAVE READ 8 OF 8
FREE ARTICLES THIS MONTH.
for full access to
CommentaryMagazine.com
INCLUDES FULL ACCESS TO:
Digital subscriber?
Print subscriber? Get free access »
Call to subscribe: 1-800-829-6270
You can also subscribe
on your computer at
CommentaryMagazine.com.
LOG IN WITH YOUR
COMMENTARY MAGAZINE ID
Don't have a CommentaryMagazine.com log in?
CREATE A COMMENTARY
LOG IN ID
Enter you email address and password below. A confirmation email will be sent to the email address that you provide.