The recent revolutions that swept several countries in the Middle East have created a new situation that can seriously affect the current peace treaties between some Arab countries and Israel. These include the Camp David peace treaty with Egypt.
Arab regimes that pretended to be friends with Israel have allowed — for several decades — unprecedented levels of anti-Semitism to flourish in their societies.
Unlike anti-Semitism in the Arab world during the 1950s and 1960s that was predominantly political, the current form of anti-Semitic views in the Arab world is predominantly religious in nature. This change makes addressing anti-Semitism much more complicated and difficult to dissuade.
It appears that some of the former Arab leaders allowed anti-Semitism so that they could always blame Israel for the problems within their countries — including terrorism.
Currently, there are two important trends that could affect the course of the relations between Arabs and Israel.
The first trend is caused by having more hostile governments toward Israel as a result of these revolutions. The worst case scenario of this trend is if such governments decided to end their peace treaties with Israel.
The second trend is one that can have a positive impact on Arab-Israeli relations:
- Arab countries are now more concerned about their local national problems after the revolutions than with the Palestinian issue. For example, despite the attempt of some religious scholars such as Sheikh Al-Quradawy attempting to resurrect the Palestinian issue with Egyptians, the general theme of the revolution in Egypt has been focused on the domestic situation rather than the Arab-Israeli conflict. This trend was also noticed in other Arab countries such as Tunisia and Bahrain.
- The logic that was used in the past that Israel is behind all the problems in the Arab world has become invalid as the same logic was used by the former Arab regimes to defame the revolutions and the revolutionaries by claiming that popular revolt in the Arab world was an Israeli conspiracy and that the revolutionaries were being paid by Israel.
- Challenges to the orthodox Islamic way of thinking that suppressed individual thoughts and freedoms are now available on mainstream media in the Arab world. For example, there is a rising doubt about the accuracy of the authentic books of the Hadith (words and actions) of Prophet Muhammad. Some of these Hadith were behind the mainstream Islamic teaching that Muslims must fight all Jews and kill them. As an example of this rising doubt about Hadith books a main stream TV Egyptian Channel called Dream 2 has aired recently several discussions with Adnan Al-Refaaii that created unprecedented doubt about the accuracy of the Hadith books. These discussions (in Arabic) were on a program called “Fi Sabeel Al-Hikma” (In the Path of Wisdom).
Israel cannot rely solely on the above positive trends as Islamist based anti-Semitism is deeply imbedded in the minds of millions of Muslims. In fact, ensuring Israel military superiority is the best antidote for wars in the area.
The Muslim Brotherhood repeatedly stood against the peace treaty with Israel but now has recently announced that they will respect the treaty. This was not simply because they changed their views about Israel and the Jews but it was primarily because of the fear of Israeli military retaliation.
The organization knows very well that if they came to power and canceled the peace treaty with Israel, Israeli military retaliation could paralyze the country and prove beyond doubt to many Muslims that the slogan of the Muslim Brotherhood “Islam is the solution” is a hoax.
Israel must learn the lesson that all its negotiations with the Palestinians to stop terrorism inside Israel were virtually fruitless. On the contrary, a single powerful attack on Gaza in the winter of 2008-2009 that created fear in the mind of the Palestinians from the Israel military power managed to almost stop Palestinian terror attacks inside Israel until today.
The existence of the security barrier has also possibly contributed to such an effect.
Fear is an important and influential component of the Arab Muslim minds. If Israel lost its military superiority in the area, the new Arab governments will be encouraged to end the peace treaties with Israel which can drag the whole area into wars. The best guarantee to maintain peace treaties in the area is to ensure the military superiority of Israel in the Middle East.
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