From an Israeli perspective, one of the most striking elements of the evolving revolution in Egypt, Tunisia and other parts of the Arab world is the degree to which all of this is not about us.Significatiu, no?
For the tens of thousands of protesters who took to Egypt’s streets over the weekend, defying the curfew and calling for the departure of President Hosni Mubarak, Israel and the Palestinians were simply not on the agenda.
And the same was the case during the Jasmine Revolution in Tunisia earlier this month, and in the demonstrations intermittently taking place in Jordan, Yemen, Algeria and Morocco. No cries of death to Israel, no signs to “lift the siege” of Gaza, no chants against housing projects in Ariel.
And to all those who would answer this by asking what kind of egotistical people would think that everything is about them, that they are the center of all regional developments, just consider what everyone from US President Barack Obama, to US Chairman of Joint Chiefs of Staff Adm. Mike Mullen, to EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton and to French President Nicolas Sarkozy have been saying for years: that the Israeli-Palestinian issue is the main source of foment and ferment in the Middle East.
Remove that source of antagonism, this argument ran, move Israel out of the West Bank, stop building a new apartment complex in Gilo, and stability would be much easier to bring to the region.
Really? Truly? Let’s imagine that two years ago Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas had accepted with open arms Prime Minister Ehud Olmert’s offer of a Palestinian state on nearly 95 percent of the land, with a land swap for the rest, half of Jerusalem and an international consortium in control of the “Holy Basin,” would Mohamed Bouazizi in Tunisia not have set himself on fire, would rivers of people not be marching now in Egypt against Mubarak’s autocratic regime?
It’s clear that the tidal wave of popular anger against the Arab world’s “moderate” regimes would be washing over those regimes regardless of an Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement.
Why? Because Middle East instability is not about us – it is about them. It is about Arab unemployment, and Arab poverty, and Arab despair of a better future.