The Causes of Arab-Israeli Unrest Don’t Lie in Economic Disparities

Aug. 13 2021

In a recent speech, the Israeli internal security minister Omer Bar-Lev claimed that the shocking outbreaks of rioting and violence among Israel’s Arab citizens during the May war with Hamas were largely the results of socioeconomic inequality. Examining the historical record from the pre-state era to the present, Efraim Karsh shows a steady trend of growing Arab incomes and quality of life, coupled with successive waves of increasing radicalization—much of the latter resulting from the ideological influence of extremist Palestinian leaders.

The process [of Arab radicalization] began with the June 1967 war, which brought Israeli Arabs into renewed direct contact with both their West Bank and Gaza brothers and the wider Arab world. . . . For the first time since 1948, Israeli Muslims were allowed by Arab states to participate in the sacred pilgrimage to Mecca and Medina, thus breaking an unofficial ostracism and restoring a sense of self-esteem and pan-Arab belonging—and encouraging a correlative degree of estrangement from Israel.

Radicalization only grew worse, Karsh argues, following the Oslo Accords, and worse still following their collapse in 2000:

By the time of the 2009 national elections, some 40 percent of Israeli Arabs were denying the existence of the Holocaust while one in two were opposed to sending their children to Jewish schools or having Jewish neighbors. Small wonder that the 1990s and 2000s saw the demise of Arab votes for Jewish/Zionist parties and their diversion to militant, purely Arab parties that were openly opposed to Israel’s very existence; this process gained considerable momentum in the 2010s.

The May 2021 Israeli Arab riots, like their October 2000 precursor, were not an act of social protest but a nationalist/Islamist insurrection in support of an external attack. It was not socioeconomic grievances that drove the Israeli Arabs to wreak wanton violence on their Jewish compatriots for the second time in twenty years but the growing radicalization attending the decades-long betterment of their socioeconomic condition. The more prosperous, affluent, better educated, and politically aware the Israeli Arabs have become, the greater their leadership’s incitement against their state of citizenship—to the point where many ordinary Arabs have come to challenge openly their minority existence in the Jewish state.

Of course, many Israeli Arabs would still be content to get on with their lives and take advantage of the freedoms and opportunities afforded by Israel, no matter how much they might resent their minority status in a Jewish state.

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Read more at BESA Center

More about: Israeli Arabs, Israeli society, Second Intifada

 

Why Is Iran Acquiring Property in Venezuela?

In June Tehran and Caracas concluded a major twenty-year cooperation treaty. One of its many provisions—kept secret until recently—was the transfer of 4,000 square miles of Venezuelan land to Iranian control. Although the territory is ostensibly for agricultural use, Lawrence Franklin suspects the Islamic Republic might have other plans:

Hizballah already runs paramilitary training centers in restricted sections of Venezuela’s Margarita Island, a tourist area northeast of the country’s mainland. The terrorist group has considerable support from some of Venezuela’s prominent Lebanese clans such as the Nasr al-Din family, who reportedly facilitated Iran’s penetration of Margarita Island. . . . The Maduro regime has apparently been so welcoming to Iranian intelligence agents that some of Hizballah’s long-established Latin American network at the tri-border nexus of Brazil, Argentina, and Paraguay has been overtaken by Hizballah activities on Venezuela’s Margarita Island.

Iran’s alliance with Venezuela most importantly provides Tehran with opportunities to target U.S. interests in Latin America and potentially the southern United States. Iran, along with the Chinese Communist Party, is in the process of strengthening Venezuela’s military against the U.S., for instance by deliveries of military drones, which are also considered a threat by Colombia.

While air and seaborne arms deliveries are high-profile evidence of Iran’s ties with Venezuela, Tehran’s cooperation with Venezuelan intelligence agencies, although less visible, is also intense. The Islamic Republic’s support for Hizballah terrorist operations is pervasive throughout Latin America. Hizballah recruits from Venezuela’s ten-million-strong Lebanese diaspora. Iran and Hizballah cooperate in training of intelligence agents and in developing sources who reside in Venezuela and Colombia, as well as in the tri-border region of Brazil, Paraguay, and Argentina.

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Read more at Gatestone

More about: Iran, Latin America, Venezuela