The Syrian Civil War Is Changing Arab Attitudes toward Israel

Oct. 10 2019

As Bashar al-Assad and his allies continue their bloody repression of his domestic enemies, many Arabs no longer see Israel as the greatest enemy; similarly, both Arab rulers and their subjects are less inclined to admire Iran and Hizballah for their “resistance” against the Jewish state, and more inclined to see them as strategic threats to their own countries, made morally repugnant for participating in the slaughter in Syria. Hadeel Oueis, who spent several months in prison in Syria for her role in the early days of the uprising, explains:

[The] Syrian war with its catalyzing of new alliances has reinforced the conviction of a broad group of Arab governments and peoples that Iran and political Islam are the real enemies that pose an existential threat. . . . This is not to say that the rhetoric of resistance against Israel is faltering in the Arab sphere. Arab meetings and summits continue to focus on the Israel-Palestinian conflict. But [many Arabs are aware that] the crimes committed by the “axis of resistance”—which includes Assad’s Syria, Hizballah, Hamas, Iran, and Palestinian Islamic Jihad—against Arabs have been far worse than even the [distorted accounts found] in “resistance” literature about Israel.

For example, more than a half-million Syrians, including civilians and their children, have been killed at the hands of Iranian agents and other local Syrian groups. By contrast, Israeli hospitals during this period provided displaced Syrians with healthcare and safe rooms away from Assad’s barrel bombs and Iranian militias. This initiative, while small, has had an impact on the attitudes of segments of the Syrian community, where the contrast between Iranian and Israeli actions toward Syrians stood in sharp relief.

At the grassroots level, open access to the Internet has also expanded young Arabs’ access to and understanding of Jews, Israelis, and Israel. Ironically, [the teenage Palestinian provocateur] Ahed Tamimi’s experience in Israeli jails . . . has become a major point of comparison between the rule of law and respect for rights in Israel and the treatment of young members of the political opposition in the jails of Arab countries.

Read more at Washington Institute for Near East Policy

More about: Arab anti-Semitism, Arab World, Bashar al-Assad, Syrian civil war

The Palestinian Prime Minister Rails against Peace at the Council of Foreign Relations

On November 17, the Palestinian Authority (PA) prime minister, Mohammad Shtayyeh, appeared at the Council on Foreign Relations, America’s most prestigious and influential foreign-policy institution. While there, Shtayyeh took the opportunity to lambast Arab states for making peace with Israel. Dore Gold comments:

[Perhaps Shtayyeh] would prefer that Bahrain, Sudan, and the United Arab Emirates declare the end of their conflicts with Israel only after all Palestinian political demands are met; however, he refused to recognize that Arab states have a right to defend their vital interests.

Since 1948, they had suspended these rights for the sake of the Palestinian cause. What Shtayyeh ultimately wants is for the Palestinians to continue to hold their past veto power over the Arab world. Essentially, he wants the Arabs to be [like the] Iranians, who supply Palestinian organizations like Hamas with weapons and money while taking the most extreme positions against peace. What the Arabs have begun to say this year is that this option is no longer on the table.

Frankly, the cracks in the Palestinian veto of peace that appeared in 2020 are undeniable. Shtayyeh is unprepared to answer why. The story of that split began with the fact that the response of the Palestinian leadership to every proposal for peace since the 2000 Camp David Summit with President Clinton has been a loud but consistent “No.”

Read more at Jerusalem Post

More about: Israeli-Palestinian Conflict, Palestinian Authority, U.S. Foreign policy