No Longer Special
While the world oohs and aahs over the new pope, Israelis are mulling an issue much closer to home for them -- is democracy in the Arab world good for them?
An interesting article in Haaretz Daily discusses the ramifications of bringing democracy to the Arab world and highlights the difficulty in defining democracy (please see my post Is The U.S. Really A Democracy?). (http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/pages/ShArt.jhtml?itemNo=566553&contrassID=2&subContrassID=4&sbSubContrassID=0)
The following excerpt from the article sums up the dilemma in which the Israelis find themselves:
Israel has contrasting interests: On one hand, democratic neighbors will be less threatening and will reduce the danger of war; on the other hand, Israel will lose its unique character in the region. The "shared values" that tie it to America will belong to other countries, as well.
By framing the issue as perpetual war v. being the favored son, the Israelis are missing the point. The question is not whether Arabs should or should not have democracy and whether Israel will benefit from democratic regime change. The more important question is now that the United States has colonized Iraq and Afghanistan, is Israel as strategically valuable? (http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/4439775.stm).
At this odd and unstable time in the state of Semitic World affairs (the Middle East is an imperialist term coined by the British to describe places in relation to England - since Arabs and Israelis are both Semitic peoples, the Semitic World is a more accurate and appropriate term), it is time for Israel and its Arab neighbors to wake up and redefine their nations as something other than pawns in the imperial chess game -- a chess game set up by the British and French in the Versailles Treaty that has divided the two peoples who had worked so well together in the past. Although Israel has been the favored pawn, it always has been a pawn nonetheless.
Sharon's coming of age and willingness to even discuss, let alone embark, on the Gaza disengagement plan illustrates the implicit recognition that Israel and the Arabs must reach their own solutions. The ability of the Palestinians and Israelis to hold to a truce for even a day shows that neither side needs the U.S. to dictate the terms of their relations the way the British and French did in the 1940's. The Semitic world is the center of civilization. While Europe was in the dark ages, Arabs and Jews lived together in Spain and North Africa in one of the most intellectually and culturally revolutionary times in history.
The question for Israel is not whether Arab democracy is a benefit. The question is whether it can forge positive relationships in the Semitic World without the interference of its U.S. master.