The Arab world is in the midst of great turmoil because of radical changes. The Arab people, after generations of suffering under megalomanic, cruel dictatorships, have decided to revolt, ushering changes that will create a different Arab world. It remains to be seen the direction that it will go.
The buds of new Arab governments in Tunisia, and Egypt are starting to show after their first democratic elections in generations. There are signs that religious Muslim party coalitions will be taking over post-revolution Tunisia and Egypt in the midst of severe turmoil. The direction of Libya is still unclear. The secularists, who were the initiators of the revolutions, will be forced off the scene. These states are in the midst of confusion and the aims of the "Arab Spring" in the direction of democracy and economic stability seems very confused and unclear. In Syria, the uprising has become violent with President Bashar el Assad's forces massacring hundreds of Syrians daily. The attempt to overthrow the Assad regime is bloody and the opposition is being oppressed ruthlessly.
The newly elected governments have many problems to address. If the Arab electorate in the various countries undergoing radical changes does not succeed in creating economic stability, alleviating severe unemployment and the resulting poverty, very little will be achieved in assuring a successful transition towards democracy, human rights and dignity. The challenges are great and a successful outcome is far from being realized at this stage. There is seething dissatisfaction and the road to orderly change will remain evasive for an indefinite period.
The biggest fear by far for the West is whether the emerging new governments in Tunisia, Egypt and Libya will be pragmatic in its dealings with the non-Moslem world. Many questions remain unanswered. The hope of the non-Moslem world is that pragmatism will take preference over religious extremism, and its severe restraints on the citizens under their rule, will not be an obstacle to peace or a solution to the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict.
In Israel, the attitudes towards the sweeping changes in the Arab world remain unclear. The present government seems to be obsessed with Iran's nuclear ability and its danger to Israel. There is much hype in the media about how long it will take Iran to develop its nuclear ability to threaten Israel. There is debate on whether Israel should attack Iran's nuclear facilities with or without US support. This could be a side issue to take the pressure off Israel in negotiating a peace treaty with the Palestinians. While the Iranian nuclear threat is being debated, Israel continues to build illegal settlements in the occupied territories.
Salaam Fayyad, the PM of the Palestinians, has stated that President Ahmadinajad of Iran is damaging the Palestinian cause by his bluster and rhetoric. He knows that the Iranian nuclear threat is no less dangerous for the Palestinians as it is for Israel. Apart from that Ahmadinajad's vision is clear - domination of the Middle East with Shiite Islam ruling over the Sunnis who are the majority. There is no democracy in Iran and Syria (a cruel massacre is going on there against Syrian protesters of the cruel Assad regime), Iran's close ally.
Israel is keeping a low profile in its attitude towards the sweeping changes taking place in the Arab world. It is consolidating its control over Palestinian lands and building illegal settlements to make the two-state solution to the conflict unattainable. PM Netanyahu speaks about supporting a two-state solution while his right wing coalition is doing everything to torpedo it. The art of Netanyahu Government obfuscation has reached new heights. Netanyahu talks about peace and a two-state solution and blames the Palestinian side for the deadlock.
Obfuscation is not only in the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict but also in the way problems in the Israeli workplace are handled. Procrastination and ignoring genuine grievances and injustices is an art well-developed in Israel. While obfuscation in the Arab world is a result of uncertainties because of dramatic changes, in Israel it is directed at its citizens where intentional obfuscation is the name of the game. The purpose - industrial quiet accompanied by crude capitalist greed.
When one does not agree with the right wing coalition who is insensitive to citizen's grievances, the dissatisfaction remains simmering under the surface without any solution being found. Organized strikes are less effective today than in the past.
Inefficient people in senior positions in government departments who have a history of abusing employees and slandering them seem to be immune from being dismissed. This is common practice. It is hardly surprising when the "only democracy in the Middle East" is a democracy for cartels in high places. The government departments are filled with inefficient burocratic technocrats whose sensitivity for the treatment of employees in various sectors is almost non-existent. In Israel there is no legal address for employees who have suffered verbal abuse, slander and libel unless it is a newspaper scoop. Good manners are not a well known quality amongst many Israelis who have authority whether it is employer – employee relations or behaviour towards Palestinians when it comes to negotiations. The arrogance seems to seep through. Obfuscation is an art well honed.
I have just written a companion piece regarding the turmoil in the Mideast just as you were writing yours. My focus, unlike your own, was not on Israel. I would voice disagreement about your term "illegal settlements". No "new" settlements are being built. Furthermore, it is disputed whether or not these developments in Judea and Samaria are "illegal" or not. The fact is, the Green Line, as delineated in 1967 between Jordan and Israel, was a ceasefire line between the two opposing armies. Moshe Dayan handled the logistics from the Israeli position and the commanding general of the Jordanian troops handled it from Jordan's side. The expression, "The Green Line", came about because the ceasefire line was delineated with a green felt pen. The line on the map in green was obfuscated to some extent because, so a witness once told me, because of the thickness of the pen. You did not mention, incidentally, that some Israeli politicians have offered a trade of lands so that the area of the settlements in the Westbank, about 5% of the whole Westbank,, could be made up for by the rich geographical area in Israel known as the "Triangle Area" populated almost entirely by Arabs. Trading geographical areas is not without precedent in international treaties. Besides having a large population east of the Green Line (about 300,000), the area appears necessary for Israel's security needs.
As to "obfuscation", while your description of Israeli society appears pretty accurate according to my sources, why do you confine yourself to Israel on this point? For instance, the playacting of Fatah in terms of its refusal to meet with Israeli governmental authorities is also meant to obfuscate and create theatre in the international community. The development of a pact between Fatah and Hamas (one which will never actually occur) also impacts negatively on progressive talks for peace. In addition, the Palestinian educational systems both in the Westbank and Gaza continue to villify the Jewish state and the Jewish people making sure that a new generation of Arabs will have developed an anti-Israel anti-Jewish mindset. While this occurs, Abbas makes statements in his English broadcasts that he definitely seeks a peaceful solution. Let's add that he honours terrorists by naming town squares after them yet denounces Israel for not coming to the table. His most recent honour was for the female who lured an unsuspecting sixteen year old Jewish boy into her clutches whenceforth he was brutally murdered by her (Arab) compatriots. She was recently set free in the huge prisoner swap between Israel, Gaza and the Westbank. So you fail to note that what Abbas says to the international community in English and what he actually does are quite contradictory and I would call this "obfuscation". One more point: While I do not contradict the inequities and problems which you cite in Israeli society, why are you not evenhanded in citing the vast inequities, problems and injustices in Palestinian society? Just a thought.
Ghazi, Jordan and Israel had no right whatever to be fighting over Palestinian land, and they had no business to divvy up the land between themselves.
The land is Palestinian, as is much of Israel, and Palestinians need to be offered proper compensation for all the land, businesses and farms they once owned. The suggestion of land exchanges or trade-offs is ridiculous because the land you are wanting to trade is originally owned by Palestinians, and was never purchased by Israel or Israelis from the original owners. It never was legally a part of the Jewish State. It is not yours to trade or exchange.
You continue to make up statements which you portray as inevitable truths, Sussan, and, as a result, you have no credibility.
The subject of my article was about the confusion in values in Israeli society and this does not mean that obfuscation does not exist in the Palestinian Authority. I am well aware of that and the double standards that the Palestinian Authority cannot be condoned under any circumstances. However, my article was based on a wider perspective concerning the Arab Spring and the transitions that are occurring. True - the road is bumpy and whether democracy will result at the end of it all is a big question mark. My point is that the obfuscation in the Arab Governments is because of the turmoil and uncertainties of the future. In Israel the situation is not comparable. Here there is a rule of law and the double talk coming from a country that prides itself on Western democratic models and values should not obfuscate its citizens and its employees with double talk. We expect better from the Israeli establishment and this goes for negotiations for peace with the Palestinians as well. We, Israelis are responsible for our own attitudes and honesty in what we do and cannot take responsibility for the Palestinian Authority obfuscations by using double talk.
Thanks for your sharing Shimon.
Thanks too for the various commentators on mepeace who refrain from personal attacks. It is great that mepeace can be used as a place to discuss issues as a way to build understanding of different points of views and different life's experiences rather than being used as a place to silence and defame others through aggressive tactics.
Continuing your point on the PM of Palestine's rejection of Iran's actions 12 Jan 2012
The Prime Minister of the Palestinian Authority, Salam Fayyad, has attacked the behaviour of Iranian President, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and said that he shares Western - and Israeli - concerns with the Iranians' nuclear project.
Speaking in his Ramallah headquarters, Prime Minister Fayyad said that the Palestinians were "greatly harmed" by the Iranian leader's conduct.
President Ahmadinejad, he said, should stop acting as a supposed spokesman for the Palestinians. The Iranian president was concerned only with increasing Iranian influence in the region.
This is the first time that a Palestinian leader has been so explicit in condemning Iranian involvement in the conflict. Iran funds and supplies both Hizbollah and Hamas, the main opposition to Prime Minister Fayyad's Fatah party.
The Iranian leader's involvement, he said, made an already bad situation far worse: "We are greatly harmed by President Ahmadinejad projecting himself as a spokesman for the Palestinians. He seeks the destruction of Israel. We do not. We are deeply troubled by Iran's interventions and we suffer from them."
Prime Minister Fayyad also said that he was concerned about the Iranian regime developing a nuclear weapon, and contrasted Iran with the Palestinian state he was seeking to build, which would be "secular, open and culturally sensitive"
Palestinians criticising Ahmadinejad - 11 September 2010
Palestinian Authority Minister Mahmoud Habbash made these remarks days after a Palestinian Authority spokesman lashed out at Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad for criticizing Palestinian negotiations with Israel, and PA President Mahmoud Abbas in particular.
"The one who does not represent the Iranian people, who falsified election results, who oppressed the Iranian people and stole authority has no right to speak about Palestine, its president or its representatives," Abbas spokesman Nabil Abu Rudaineh said last week, referring to the Iranian president.
Abbas to Ahmadinejad: Mind Your Own Business - 5 September 2010
Concerning illegal settlements
Settlements are illegal under international law Article 49(6) IV Geneva Convention. Settlements prejudice future political solutions by creating facts on the ground to the benefit of the occupier. Settlement undermine international peace and security as they set the precedent for future international conflict. If states can see that territorial gains can be made through conquest and settlement then states will use Israel's example as precedence. The same action has occured by China in Tibet.
Settlements will be (are) the death of the two state solution. You cannot have two states if there is not a viable state for Palestinians. Israel may argue defensible borders - an argument that can be argued by Palestinians. Palestinians have successively lost territory since British conquest in 1918.
There are many who argue that we have now past the point of a two state solution. The situation looks grim as Jewish ultranationalists continue to seek for a Greater Israel based on a distortion of religious belief and the transfer of Palestinians (a name such groups do not even recognise) from even within Israel.
"distortion of religious belief", Stewart? Perhaps you would care to explain this statement in terms of the history of the Jewish people on this land. It's not Australia, after all.