Saturday, May 7, 2011

The Tragedy of Stasis, The Fear of Change

 Israel's World Steps Aside

A rather important development in the endless struggle between Israel and the Palestinians "slipped by" the news coverage it deserved this week.  The global impact of the bin Laden killing, perhaps rightfully, seemed to inundate every other story on the "news."

What story?

Hosted by the diplomatic efforts of a new Egyptian foreign policy, the West Bank Palestinians and the Gaza Palestinians have apparently made some sort of ideological compromise which might offer at least the prospect of a re-unification between the two.  The differences between the West Bank Fatah and the Gaza Hamas are significant, but, as it turns out, perhaps not perpetually so.

Of course, recent history has shown us that the old adage, the  "Devil is in the Details," has traditionally reached new depths of complexity when the "details" are Palestinian "details."

MeanMesa has no interest in writing yet another history book about the Israeli-Palestinian "blame game."  However, the "news" mentioned above can possibly mark a fundamental change in the environment of this conflict. Although the prospect of a unified Palestinian "state" emerging from the previously static  political landscape holds all sorts of frightening possibilities, the mere fact of movement may also hold the promise of an improvement.

Opportunity seldom arrives in a nicely wrapped package with a ribbon.  Especially not in this neighborhood.

We're All Dancing As Fast As We Can
A couple of months ago a MeanMesa post on this topic would have faced an intricate description of linkage.

The Iranians enjoyed full access to Syrian Hezbollah.  The Syrian autocracy enjoyed this Iranian interest in using Syria as an urban collector to funnel mischief into Lebanon, and, by the way, continue to torment Israel by fomenting hate to anyone who would still listen.

Hezbollah's beach head in Lebanon was "uber-convenient" for the re-supply and re-inflamation of the Hamas wing nuts in Gaza.  Israel's internal politics converted this standing threat into political fodder in election after election -- something not too unlike what we have seen here in domestic US politics.

Mubarak's Egyptians and, in large part,  the other 19th Century reactionaries in the Arab League had to maintain the equivalent of "plausible denial" by superficially -- and cynically --  dabbling in the conflict with a few shallow efforts at "peace negotiations," uniformly designed to go absolutely nowhere.  The absolute maintenance of impossible "pivot issues" such as Palestinian refugee repatriation into Israel, the "two state solution" and the abandonment of West Bank settlements kept the process conveniently "air borne" for years.

Money wise, the Israelis were entirely comfortable with the "high return of investment" cost of maintaining state intelligence operatives such as Massad in active roles on both sides of all their borders.  The Saudi Royalty, perpetually locked in the endless fear of an Iranian Islamic Revolution unfolding between their oil wells, had no hesitation in painlessly injecting a few million dollars here and there to keep the train wreck lubricated.

To its credit, the Obama Administration began some time ago to slowly withdraw the traditional US "unconditional acceptance" part of the "close ties" agreement with the Israelis.  The message was clear.  The support would continue, but the rampaging Israeli colonialism must be pared back to something rational, and, in the worst case scenario, something remotely legal and mature.
At least, something workable, that is, something the domestic Israeli lobbyists could live with which still held the prospect of movement on the Palestinian side.  You know.  The Obama style of "softening" up the combat arena before the big push.

Then, As In "What Then?"

Then, in the last three months, the Earth moved under their feet.  

Whose feet?  

The Earth moved under all of their feetThe entire Middle East moved under all of the feet left standing on the "Earth" of the  Middle East.

No matter how unsettling to the "complete control" demands of the domestic codependents, Obama -- still taking the risks which inevitably run with his whole cloth fabric version of actual leadership -- may be playing the last hands of the Middle East poker game.  Don't think for a minute that this gnawing conflict doesn't have its own clutch of benefactors and protectors, either.

Further, this is not the "first trip to the rodeo" for MeanMesa.  This little blog has been trying to inject some new ideas -- any new ideas -- into this stagnant system of "bait and switch" for some time now.

Putting Israel on "The List"

All of this wouldn't amount to much more than more complaining if there were nothing emerging from the projector at this point in the film.  Happily, this is not the case.  There is something rather significant rolling out of this old video as we speak.

There is a list of Arab states making immense changes.  There are a few more interesting countries which have not quite joined the list yet, but seem to be dangling at the precipice of joining.  MeanMesa visitors know all about what is unfolding in the Middle East region -- and why these developments are unfolding there, too.

If we attempt a mapping of similarities between Israel and all of its neighbors, we see the neighbors chafing under local war lords who have held power in the "old" Arabia, a typically violent,  autocratic "Arab model" for far too many decades.  But what do we see when we consider Israel in the same way?  Has the "sparkling gem" of Middle Eastern democracy also been "held captive" in somewhat the same way?

In the Israeli version of this bloody stagnation, the captors have been the relentless "fear merchants," and the resulting "conceptual autocracy of terror" has, with a few exceptions, kept the Israeli side of any possible movement just as stagnant as what has transpired on the other side.

This is not to say that the "synthetic enemies" Israel has so carefully maintained all through these years are not actually dangerous.  It is, instead,  to say that Israel needs to face the same, refreshing chaos that its neighbors are facing.  The citizens on both sides of the conflict are exhausted from the relentless din of the battle horns.

The Arabs have moved ahead a little.  The Israelis have chosen in election after election to sustain the fortress psychology of the 1950's.  Perhaps they were all in their blast bunkers when the US President gave his speech in Cairo.  Whatever happened, the Israelis, at least the Israeli government, missed the cue.

Development wise, what had been the pathetic third world nightmare of the Arab Middle East has now passed the "sparkling democracy" of Israel.  Now, the Israeli state must join its neighbors on "the list."  The names found there are those of people who have finally moved beyond the mindless terror games of their respective dictators.

To gain a place on "the list," the Israelis must now also "break the spell."  The Israeli government is not going to do this any more than the Tunisian, Egyptian, Bahrainian, Yemeni, Jordanian, Lebanese, Jordanian and probably the Syrian governments have.

Still, look at "the list."
Is this really the best you can do? (map source)

The Earth is moving. (Map source)

One central player, Israel, remains locked in the endless -- and profitable -- mindset of yesterday.  MeanMesa isn't suggesting surrender.  However, it has become clear that the old men filled with old thoughts, not to mention a few rather shady allegiances scattered along the way, in the Israeli government need to wake up.

Learn how to negotiate.  Learn how to treat your neighbors decently -- with water rights, by respecting property ownership, by proportional responses when the wing nuts next door act badly.  None of this is rocket science.  It has more to do with today's newspaper and your kitchen calendar.

Try to think new thoughts.  Try to remember what's valuable to you -- like peace.

The Earth has moved under your feet

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