The Biggest Loser in the Arab Spring? By Joel Schwartzman

A recent article in the Tower Magazine puts the lie to the claim that Israel was/is the big loser in the Arab Spring. Once Mohammed Morsi’s regime fell in Egypt, Israel’s strategic situation improved markedly in the Middle East. Hamas has been rocked back on its heels. The Egyptian army has bounded into the Sinai desert in an attempt to rid itself of Hamas fed terrorists who were well armed with sophisticated weaponry that had flowed out of post- Gaddafi Libya. In Israel’s north, Syrian power has been greatly decreased in a civil war which plods along day after blood filled day. The Iranians have poured their treasure and troops (read the New Yorker article on the Al Quds leader, Sulimane) into propping up their ally, Bashar al Assad, using currency that could have strengthened Hezbollah and made them an even greater threat to Israel. Hezbollah, in its own right, has been revealed to be the sectarian army that it is, no longer the entity which, to establish its Lebanese bona fides, swore that its sole purpose was to wipe the Jewish state off the map. It now has been unmasked as the Iranian lackey that it is, promoter of worldwide terrorism, and purveyor of death and destruction for Syrian civilians and insurgents alike. King Abdullah of Jordan is breathing easier now that its own Muslim Brotherhood has been forced back into the background.

Couple this with the statistics which show that Israel isn’t being overtaken, population wise, by its Arab population, and the strategic picture for Israel looks altogether brighter than “blue bird,” misinformed pundits had claimed it was.

Several other conclusions and questions have arisen. American policy toward Egypt is a conundrum. We seem to have sided with the Muslim Brotherhood, no friend of Israel and even less so, it appeared, to freedom, democracy and good governance. We continued our support even as Morsi was falling, alienating every segment of Egyptian society and frustrating our Israeli ally. The Army in Egypt is certainly no institution of demonstrated, democratic directions. However, who is to say that it will not move in the direction of a more stable country, allowing and eventually encouraging the rise of new political parties, ones which will be more representative of the full spectrum of the Egyptian society? If the U.S. were wise, it would be encouraging such a path rather than announcing cut backs in military aid which only serves to anger the Egyptian people.

The Tower article seemed to rejoice over Israel’s having come through the Arab Spring strategically sounder, its economy streaming along, its society intact and relatively unscathed. To some who will read this posting, this may rankle and disturb. This certainly isn’t the news that will push Israel to make dire concessions to the Palestinians. It is up to each reader to determine whether Israel either is or isn’t dedicated to making peace with their PA neighbors, although as I and others have maintained all along, Israel seems more eager than do their counterparts to bring their conflict to an end. Regardless of where one might line up along the lines of a two state solution and what might get the parties there, to see Israel as the big loser of the Arab Spring and of the “population wars” seems a flawed understanding of what is occurring in the Middle East. Would that players in our own government might also take note.


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