Gazawall by flickr.com
Israel just recently lost its only real friend in the Middle East; no, not the Egyptian people but, rather, the dictator Hosni Mubarak. Change is in the air, the long reign of ruthless dictators is rapidly ending. The transformation of the Middle East has generated a momentum that cannot be stopped nor suppressed as the people have tasted the beginnings of freedom. Israel's leaders must adapt to these changes or they will find that this historic turn of events will not bode well for the future of their nation.
Israel and its leaders have been largely silent during this Middle East revolutionary process. They are, no doubt, in a state of uncertainty as they watch nation after nation bend to the demands of the people for a representative form of government. They need to see the handwriting on the wall that clearly indicates that this is a new Middle East, one in which the people will no longer allow themselves to be dominated and controlled by either oppressive dictators or the militant policies and actions of Israel.
The loss of Israel's dictator/ally, Mubarak, will prove to be a tremendous blow to Israel and its agenda of dominance. Mubarak was a force for Israel as he not only kept the Egyptian people in a state of suppression, but he also was a great help to Israel in maintaining its cruel, inhuman blockade of the people of Gaza. Now he's gone and there already are indications in Egypt that those currently in control do not intend to be coerced or otherwise pressured to do the bidding of Israel.
To show how very quickly things can change, and for the better, just look at this headline: "Egypt Reopens Gaza Border Crossing." The article by Jason Ditz in antiwar.com reports the stunning news that the Egyptian military junta has opened the border crossing to the Gaza Strip. How fantastic and unexpected that such a great humanitarian gesture could happen in such a short time; what a great turn of events for the besieged people of Gaza who have endured years of unconscionable treatment by the government of Israel, supported by Mubarak.
There have been other surprising moves. In another totally unexpected action, Egypt, on February 21, allowed two Iranian warships to pass through the Suez Canal into the Mediterranean Sea on their way toward Syria, the first time that this has been allowed since 1979. Also, natural gas shipments to Israel have been suspended due to an explosion and some of the leaders of the Egyptian revolutionary movement have stated that they do not favor continuing shipments to Israel.
In another ominous sign, these same leaders have indicated that they are not committed to maintaining either the long-standing peace treaty with Israel or the alliance with Israel against Iran; further, that they are willing to consider the possibility of doing business with Iran. So the relationship between Egypt and Israel going into the future appears to be quite problematic at best.
But wait, there's yet more another problem for Israel. Turkey, a former ally, has suspended diplomatic relations with Israel because of Israel's commando attacks on six ships that were carrying humanitarian supplies to Gaza in May of 2010. In what Turkey has referred to as a barbaric act, nine activists were killed, eight of them Turkish nationals and one a Turkish-American. While Turkey has demanded an acknowledgment of what happened and an apology, Israel has refused to take responsibility for its actions and refuses to apologize. And so any relationship between Turkey and Israel may be severed.
At this point, let's prepare a scorecard to show which major Middle East nations are allied with Israel and those who are considered to be against Israel and its policies. Those for Israel: Jordan (although shaky) and Saudi Arabia (kind of, sort of, depending). Now those who do not side with Israel: Egypt, Turkey, Iran, Iraq, Lebanon, Syria; also the Palestinian Authority, Hezbollah and Hamas. When we consider that Israel has a population of 7.6 million, or about 2% of the total population of the Middle East, that could be very worrisome for its future.
Since Israel became a state in 1948, it has been involved with numerous military confrontations and conflicts with its neighbors that have severely damaged its reputation and its standing in the region. But the greatest turmoil that it has created in the region has been its relentless occupation and expansion of land once held by the Palestinian people. Please note on the image at the top of this article just how radical a change has taken place in the country over time. The dark portion represents Palestinian land and the white, that of Israel. The leftmost picture shows the land apportionment in 1946, the middle is the period from 1949-1967, and the rightmost is in the year 2000. As you can see, the land occupied by the Palestinians is now minuscule, completely dwarfed by that of Israel.
This relentless encroachment into land formerly considered a part of Palestine and the continued oppression of those people is a distinct violation of human rights. But this process continues unabated, aided and supported by the U.S. Over many decades since 1948, the United Nations and the Security Council have brought up resolution after resolution condemning Israel's actions against the Palestinians and various Middle East neighbors. However, the U.S. has vetoed every one of those resolutions, nearly 70 in total, to prevent any kind of censure or sanctions against Israel.
In the most recent example of this, the U.S. has once again shamelessly vetoed a UN resolution condemning Israeli settlement expansion. The vote in the Security Council was 14 to 1 with the U.S. voting no on the resolution even though Britain, Germany and France voted in favor of it. This latest miscarriage of justice, approved by President Obama, has angered the entire body of UN nations, in particular the 130 nations that had backed its creation. This act by Mr. Obama is yet one more brazen, unconscionable use of a U.S. veto to facilitate Israel's continued stranglehold on Palestine and the people of Gaza.
The big question, yet to be resolved, is: considering the rapidly spreading revolutionary movement in the Middle East, does Israel think that it can continue the same aggressive militant policies and actions that have, for so many decades, dominated and controlled the nations of that critical region of the world? Perhaps this biblical phrase, "Whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap" describes Israel's current position in Middle East affairs. Or in modern day language, "your deeds, good or bad, will repay you in kind."
So, what of the future of Israel in the new Middle East? Well, it will be a great opportunity for Israel to adjust to the changing times and reverse its long history of aggressive, belligerent behavior against its neighbors. If, however, it fails to seize the moment and continues on its current path of using force rather than diplomacy and cooperation, it will find that, no matter how many vetoes the U.S. uses to shield its human rights violations, it will become isolated, excluded and marginalized within the Middle East.