By Tammy Obeidallah
Two dictators gone in less than a month. Mass protests from Yemen and Bahrain to Algeria and Libya. In Lebanon, Hezbollah—due to a broad coalition of Muslim, Christian and now Druze support—named the country’s new Prime Minister. Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmedinejad hailed these recent developments as the start of "a new Middle East free from U.S. and Israeli interference." Somehow I doubt this ‘new Middle East’ is what then Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice envisioned when she was having her infamous ‘birth pangs’ in 2006.
The predictable hypocrisy contrasting US reactions to the demonstrations in Egypt which toppled Mubarak as opposed to those that transpired in Iran after Mahmoud Ahmedinejad’s re-election illustrates that “democracy” is only to be lauded when the movement is pro-Western. In a Muslim society, that means it has to be “moderate” and friendly to Israel.
Rather than focusing on the reforms that will hopefully benefit the beleaguered citizens of these erstwhile U.S.-backed dictatorships, Western discussions of the various revolts are dominated by fears of “Islamic fundamentalist takeovers,” propagated by Israeli paranoia. Precious time and resources are spent attempting to placate the Jewish State. In fact, it was this very desire to protect Israeli interests that led to the establishment of Western puppet despots throughout the Arab World in the first place.
Of course the Israeli military juggernaut has nothing to fear, but everything to gain from playing the victim, which they have done so well for almost sixty-three years. These quintessential opportunists are indeed capitalizing on this unprecedented upheaval. Israeli reactions have ranged from trepidation to outright panic that the new Egyptian government may not uphold the peace treaty with the Jewish State after “radical Islamists” like the Muslim Brotherhood take over.
Islamic scholar Imran Hosein predicted in 2003 that one day Arab dictatorships would be swept away, leaving the people to think they were going to have a legitimate representative government. He stated, “It is in this scenario that Israel will say ‘we have to do something; if we just sit here and do nothing, the State of Israel will be destroyed and the Jews will all be slaughtered,’” precipitating a “pre-emptive strike” of unprecedented proportions.
If this seems like a doomsday scenario or a little too far-fetched, one has only to look as far as Jerusalem University Online.com, which has posted ads on Facebook warning that “Israel could be gone tomorrow: join our ‘Without Israel’ campaign to ensure it doesn’t happen.”
On the contrary, Egyptian officials have been a little too quick to assert the peace treaty between that nation and the Jewish State will remain intact. Press TV reported that according to an Israeli spokeswoman, Defense Minister Ehud Barak talked with Head of Egypt’s Higher Military Council Mohamed Hussein Tantawi by telephone two days after Hosni Mubarak was ousted from power. The Egyptian military leadership said it would respect all the country’s international treaties, including the peace pact with Israel.
Former US Ambassador to Iraq Edward Peck was quoted on Press TV: “The Egyptian government now seems to intend to continue the same path of cooperating with the blockade of the people in Gaza. This has always been one of the things that the Egyptian people and the other people in the area did not like … and perceive as the Egyptian government’s acquiescence in supporting what Israel is doing with the Palestinian people.”
As we have seen this past month, it is ultimately the people who will effect positive change in the reason. Corrupt governments must be brought down and bodies such as the United Nations must be discredited as counterproductive wastes. Where else could some 120 nations co-sponsor a resolution condemning Israeli settlements in the West Bank, only to have their voices canceled out by one nation, the very one funding the illegal occupation of Palestine? Such travesties of international law will no longer be tolerated as momentum gains for demonstrations against these settlements and the boycott and divestment campaign of the Zionist State itself.
It is encouraging to see the preliminary reports that Egypt will allow two Iranian ships to transit the Suez Canal and open the Rafah border crossing with Gaza, at least for humanitarian purposes. These are hopeful indications of, as President Ahmedinejad said, “a new Middle East, free from U.S. and Israeli interference.” Only after that interference disappears for good can there be hope for justice and peace in the region.
– Tammy Obeidallah contributed this article to PalestineChronicle.com.