Popular Arab Hatred of Iran May Be Eclipsing Hatred of Israel

Feb. 26 2018

During the recent clash in Syria between Israel and Iran, Al Jazeera asked its Arabic-language Twitter followers where their sympathies lay. Some 12,800 people—56 percent of the respondents—voiced their support for Israel. While this survey is hardly scientific, writes Evelyn Gordon, it points to something important:

As one Syrian wrote [in response to Al Jazeera’s query], “no Syrian in his right mind” would support Israel in most situations, “but you will find millions of Syrians queuing up with the blue devils”—his charming term for Israel—“against the fascist sectarian regime that has surpassed all the monsters on earth in killing Syrians.” . . .

That most Arab governments now consider Iran a greater enemy than Israel isn’t news; their behind-the-scenes cooperation with Israel against Tehran has become an open secret. . . . What Al Jazeera’s informal poll shows is that . . . it’s not just in Arab capitals that Iran is now more widely loathed and feared than Israel, but also on the Arab street. . . . If Israel and its treatment of the Palestinians were still their top concern, they would instead be rooting for Iran against Israel—just as most of the Arab world did back in 2006 when Israel fought a month-long war with Iran’s wholly-owned Lebanese subsidiary, Hizballah.

This sea change in Arab attitudes has serious foreign-policy implications for anyone who calls himself a realist. . . . [F]or any realist who holds that America should align itself with Arab concerns because [there are more Arabs than Israelis in the Middle East, and Arab states have most of the region’s oil], the top priority now shouldn’t be another fruitless Israeli-Palestinian peace process but reining in Iran’s malignant behavior. . . .

As for all the self-proclaimed realists who remain fixated on Israel despite the change in Arab attitudes that has destroyed their main argument, perhaps it’s time to drop the “realist” label. The more accurate term for people who see Jews as the root of all evil under any and all circumstances is “anti-Semite.”

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Read more at Evelyn Gordon

More about: Arab World, Israel & Zionism, Israel-Arab relations, Syrian civil war

Palestinian Leaders Fight Economic Growth

Jan. 15 2019

This month, a new shopping mall opened in northeastern Jerusalem, easily accessible to most of the city’s Arab residents. Rami Levy, the supermarket magnate who owns the mall, already employs some 2,000 Israeli Arabs and Palestinians at his other stores, and the mall will no doubt bring more jobs to Arab Jerusalemites. But the leaders of the Palestinian Authority (PA) are railing against it, and one newspaper calls its opening “an economic catastrophe [nakba].” Bassam Tawil writes:

For [the PA president] Mahmoud Abbas’s Fatah officials . . . the image of Palestinians and Jews working in harmony is loathsome. . . . Instead of welcoming the inauguration of the shopping mall for providing job opportunities to dozens of Palestinians and lower prices [to consumers], Fatah officials are taking about an Israeli plan to “undermine” the Palestinian economy. . . . The hundreds of Palestinians who flooded the new mall on its first day, however, seem to disagree with the grim picture painted by [these officials]. . . .

The campaign of incitement against Levy’s shopping mall began several months ago, as it was being built, and has continued until today. Now that the campaign has failed to prevent the opening of the mall, Fatah and its followers have turned to outright threats and violence. The threats are being directed toward Palestinian shoppers and Palestinian merchants who rented space in the new mall. On the day the mall was opened, Palestinians threw a number of firebombs at the compound, [which] could have injured or killed Palestinians. The [bomb-throwers], who are believed to be affiliated with Fatah, would rather see their own people dead than having fun or buying attractively-priced products at an Israeli mall.

By spearheading this campaign of incitement and intimidation, Abbas’s Fatah is again showing its true colors. How is it possible to imagine that Abbas or any of his Fatah lieutenants would ever make peace with Israel when they cannot even tolerate the idea of Palestinians and Jews working together for a simple common good? If a Palestinian who buys Israeli milk is a traitor in the eyes of Fatah, it is not difficult to imagine the fate of any Palestinian who would dare to discuss compromise with Israel.

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More about: East Jerusalem, Israeli Arabs, Mahmoud Abbas, Palestinian Authority, Palestinian economy