Tags: Iran | Israel | Middle East | khalifa | lebanon | nazi

Arab Leaders Support Israel, Condemn Hezbollah

israel lebanon border searching for hezbollah rocket remnants
Israeli soldiers search for remains of a rocket near the village of Avivim on the Israel-Lebanon border, Monday, Sept. 2, 2019. Hezbollah militants on Sunday fired a barrage of anti-tank missiles into Israel, prompting a reprisal of heavy Israeli artillery fire in a rare burst of fighting between the bitter enemies. (Ariel Schalit/AP)

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Thursday, 05 September 2019 02:47 PM Current | Bio | Archive

Israel and Hezbollah are at it again.

The current round of saber rattling is neither surprising nor historic.

But what is historic is the reaction of the Arab world’s leadership.

With few exceptions, Arab leadership has been silent as Israel and Hezbollah (the Islamic, extremist, Shiite, military group based in Lebanon) exchange fire power.

And some Arab leaders have even taken the historic step of publicly voicing their support for Israel.

While that alone is a sign of massive change, it’s not yet cause for celebration.

Normalization, the euphemism used by many in the Mideast to put the kibosh on public interactions between the Jewish state and her many Arab neighbors, is not quite around the corner but it's inching closer and closer to reality.

And for that, we have Iran to thank or to blame, depending on your political bent and perspective. The forces for normalization are gaining momentum principally because the major counter-force — for them as well as for Israel and the West — is Iran.

Many leaders in the Arab world including the intelligentsia are rabidly anti-Iran.

They view Iran as a threat to the entire region. They also know that Israel has the undeniable ability to check Iran and so they are siding with Israel. For Israel, unlike the United States, there is no downside to confronting Iran. It is them or us, literally, do or die.

In the case of Hezbollah the equation becomes vividly clear.

Hezbollah equals Iran. Hezbollah is a proxy of Iran. Hezbollah gets its weapons, its training, its money, all from Iran.

Hezbollah takes its commands from Iran. Hezbollah has at least 130,000 rockets. Hezbollah will only unleash those rockets when Iran gives the word.

And recently, Iran has sent the command and Hezbollah has sent the rockets flying.

On Sept. 1 Prince Khalifa, the Foreign Minister of Bahrain, tweeted: He not only tweeted in Arabic, he also tweeted the Google Translate of his tweet so that the world would know what he and the rest of the leadership of Bahrain was thinking.

And, they think that Hezbollah and Lebanon are simply wrong and that Israel is correct.

The message Prince Khalifa sent out to the world is that Lebanon was wrong while "standing by watching battles take place on its borders."

He wrote that the decision to: "make war, peace or stability should be the decision of the state."

He celebrated Israel and Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu for slapping down Iran or, as he called it "Iran's ugly face." Then Bahraini Foreign Minister Khalifa concluded with the phrase "Netanyahu knows what to do against Hezbollah."

Historic is a bit of an understatement.

As for the remainder of the Arab world, their silence speaks almost as loudly as Prince Khalifa’s tweet. In the past, the Arab world’s response was both loud and automatic.

There was wall-to-wall condemnation of Israel. But not now — not in September, 2019.

Of course, there is blowback. Iran aside, there are people in the Arab world, in the highest echelons of Arab leadership and on the Arab street, who are wary of any change whatsoever.

Embracing Israel, however informally is not only frightening, it is an anathema to their very existence.

But they are no longer the majority and they are no longer intimidating other voices into silence. Arab political leaders and diplomats are becoming more pragmatic.

They believe that good terms with Washington, D.C. requires some type of relationship with Israel.

They rightly understand that the U.S. is pushing normalization as a way to avoid a larger conflict in the region.

And even more than the United States, they do not want that conflict to erupt.

But sometimes the blowback needs to be managed.

And that’s what is happening in Morocco.

After a year of construction work, just as the work was about to be completed, Morocco's first Holocaust memorial was destroyed. The structure was located just outside of Marrakesh, the country's largest city, when a bulldozer mowed it all down.

The bulldozer was hired by the local municipality.

Morocco's Holocaust memorial was sponsored by a German group dedicated to teaching the lessons of Holocaust and creating bridges between people. The name of the group — which has pledged to raise more funds and see the building to its completion, is called PixelHelper.

The memorial received media coverage and the media coverage caused blowback.

The ostensible, or publicly presentable, reason for the memorial’s destruction was that the construction was not legal.

The real reason was that those who were challenging the memorial claim that their government is getting too close to Israel and this memorial was further proof.

The shame is that Jews of the Arab world were murdered under the Nazis.

They were attacked, ghettoized, and even deported under the Nazis. This Holocaust memorial was intended to be a memorial to those Jews and to the LGBT community, who was also targeted by the Nazis.

Normalization with Israel comes with risks. Two steps forward, one step back. And sometimes the local extremists need to be mollified. But it’s still two steps forward.

And it's still historic.

Micah Halpern is a political and foreign affairs commentator. He founded "The Micah Report" and hosts "Thinking Out Loud with Micah Halpern" a weekly TV program and "My Chopp" a daily radio spot. A dynamic speaker, he specializes in analyzing world events and evaluating their relevance and impact. Follow him on Twitter @MicahHalpern. To read more of this reports — Click Here Now.

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Normalization with Israel comes with risks. Two steps forward, one step back. And sometimes the local extremists need to be mollified. But it’s still two steps forward. And it's still historic.
khalifa, lebanon, nazi
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Thursday, 05 September 2019 02:47 PM
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