Being surrounded has never been a comfortable situation for any country. But the way Israel is behaving as its neighbors topple dictatorships one by one, flies in the face of what has been United States public policy for decades: support for the idea of democracy in the Arab world
However many diplomatic or undiplomatic moves Israel makes to forestall the Arab spring, or turn it to what it perceives as its advantage, nothing is going to stop the tide. What will Israel do when it is surrounded, not by dictatorships with a more or less pronounced Muslim orientation, but by peoples demanding ‘life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness’ as protesters across the Middle East are doing?
Anyone doubting this turn of events should read Paul Amar’s article in the May 23rd issue of The Nation, under the title Egypt After Mubarak . It spells out in detail where the ‘revolutionaries’ are coming from, and that is from the very same places as middle class citizens from developed countries who are out on the streets protesting the consequences of the financial crisis.
In the age of smart phones, BBC International and Al Jezeera, entire popuations have broken free of the Middle Ages to call for freedom. In Egypt, the five month old movement that forced Mubarak to step down wahts him tried before an army tribunal - as they are being tried, or that both should be tried in front of civilian courts.
Not surprisingly, the Arab spring that calls for human rights and democracy includes in its goals freedom for the Palestinians. Yesterday on Democracy Now, a Palestinian human rights activist named Fadi Quran called for ‘a larger, humanistic type of approach. We want freedom, justice and dignity and we won’t give up until we achieve those goals.The United States needs to understand that what Palestinians are asking for is what makes America great.’
Referring to the border crossings by Palestinians from Syria and other neighboring countries into Israel on the 63rd anniversary of ‘The Nakba‘ or ‘catastrophe‘, that expulsions of Palestinians by the newly declared Israeli state represent, he said: Pointing out that ‘they only wanted to return home. Quran noted that Israel was created under a racist ideology, the need to get rid of Palestinians, which was easily seen as ‘anti-Semitism’ and even a desire to see the Israelis driven out. Now Palestinians just want to catch up with the democratic societies, the new alliance between Fatah and Hamas recognizes that as is so often the case in history, their people are ahead of them.
As for Israel, what can Washington possibly do to protect the ‘only Democratic country in the Middle East’ from having to become a team player in a newly democratic neighborhood?