المقالة بالعربيّة By: Maher Al Junaidy
Ever since 1948, one Arab generation after the other has witnessed some stage of the ongoing conflict with the ‘usurping entity’. Battles were resolved in favour of “imperialism’s illegitimate daughter” in the form of settlements, occupations, destructions, divisions and massacres. But more importantly, battles were strategically resolved in favour of a modern democratic state. One which succeeded in attracting Jews from around the world; from Russia to America, Bologna to Ethiopia, Iraq, Syria, Egypt, Morocco and Yemen. It succeeded in creating viable solutions for the cultural and social differences of these peoples. It succeeded in ensuring their security, and in managing their economy and their shared future within an “alleged country” supposedly surrounded by enemies on every side, and with Arab nations lying in wait armed to the teeth with their immortal message, their unitedness, pride, might and glorious past extending from calm Atlantic to rebellious Gulf.
Over the past 65 years, the “state of gangs” also succeeded in consecrating its political status on the Middle East’s turbulent map, finally becoming the region’s most capable in addressing international public opinion and explaining its position and concerns, and thus gaining international sympathy for its visions and ambitions. This in addition to the ability to mobilise global support for its plans, strategies, defence and security.
Total gains on the other side, by contrast, are excessively gloomy. Arab countries have consistently failed to defend the homeland from material and moral destruction, or protect their peoples from massacres or displacement. They have failed to build strong economies that can keep pace with the times, achieve development, and address worsening social and demographic problems. They failed to create new civilised, humanitarian and modern formulas to address historical cultural and ethnic issues within their nations. They failed to embed even the simplest concepts of ‘supreme national interest’ – in its truest sense – among their citizens.
As a result, many supporters were betting on the Arab Spring, publicly and privately, in the hope that the Arab Spring era would be the catalyst to developing new approaches to the conflict with Israel. In the hope that Arab youth, driven by pure dynamism and pragmatism, would change conflict paradigms and move past the approaches, illusions and hollow nationalistic slogans brandished by failed regimes. “National Unity”. “Strategic Balance”. “Resistence”. “People’s Liberation War”. “Everything for the Battle”. “Conflict of Existence Not Conflict of Borders”. All of which, in the end, only served absolute tyranny, corruption, destruction, and the deepening of social rifts.
Two years into the Spring, we are yet to see the fruition of these hopes. This is due to many factors, perhaps the most prominent of which is the freezing of the Arab Spring at the gates of Damascus because of the steadily worsening geopolitical entanglements. The newly elected powers failed to keep pace with, and live up to, the expectations and visions of the young rebels. They also took an opportunist and elitist approach to creating a constitutional, civil and political formula that would embrace and protect the youth of their nations. The result was that the task of “redrawing the fields of engagement with Israel” became once again a persistent but prohibited issue, surrounded by thorns of shame, betrayal and yes-men; a quagmire that would contaminate and shred anyone who dared wade into it or even address it.
There is nothing to indicate that the Arab Spring’s newly elected political powers, specifically the Muslim Brotherhood, will cease to use the same dictatorial “tools of deceit” – this time with an Islamic flavour. It is also highly unlikely that the political powers that lost in the very same elections, specifically nationalists and leftists, will shun this approach either. Highly unlikely given that these powers combined, in one way or another, still represent an unauthoritarian category of the dying regimes.
For 65 years, nationalist, leftist and Islamist ideologies, whether in power or not, have collaborated in their narratives; through preaching and in the media they painted the theatre of conflict with Israel according to the single priority of keeping regimes in power. They also collaborated in formulating the mindset of their “audience/people” in such a way that pushed the entitlements of the era – be they economic, social, civil or cultural – to the bottom of the list of priorities. Thus the essential first fruits of this long-living conflict were tyranny, underdevelopment and the exacerbation of problems. And facing this conflict is subsequently reduced to two options, and two options alone; it’s either the Israeli agenda or the regimes’ agenda.
If the Arab Spring is to bury “the tools of deceit” alive, and if it is to replace this approach with a rereading of the theatre of conflict – starting with defining the enemy, its characteristics and variables, and on to formulating strategies to face this enemy by setting priorities according to the interests of communities and citizens – then it needs to break the taboo of thinking the unthinkable. This requires that the newly elected Arab Spring powers disclose their intellectual, organisational and political narratives. A new youthful and contemporary analysis of the conflict with Israel is bound to reveal the true catalysts behind Israel’s aggressiveness and the essence of its policies, so that they may be read in the context of the realities and the deepening dilemmas faced by our societies.
Let us first admit that since its inception, “the Jewish state” has not for one moment lived under threat of its dissolution. That it has achieved remarkable progress in terms of overcoming the social and economic dilemmas that awaited it. That it has achieved superior scientific, technological and military advances which cannot be compared to our own deteriorating state of affairs in the second decade of the 21st century. Let us also admit that Arab authoritarian regimes formed a protective shell for that state and served as its frontline defence through convenient narratives of the details of conflict, and through the rampant corruption of our countries’ ruling and economic infrastructures. And even in the very foundations of a military built on “resistance” which was revealed to be effective only in the face of our own peoples.
This is the promising era of the Arab Spring, still in its faltering infancy. It is a Spring that seems to be waiting for a happy Damascene event that will break with prevailing narratives to propose alternatives that will hit Israel in the heart of its aggressiveness, rather than protect it for another 65 years under the guise of even more illusions and slogans.