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.”