04.11.2015 Author: Pogos Anastasov

A forgotten conflict could lead to a new war

3423423433The convulsions in the Middle East and the Syrian drama have pushed the Arab-Israeli conflict off the front pages of the newspapers and news sites, as if it had ceased to exist. Developments of the Palestinian tragedy appear in the press with all the less frequency, the media pay less attention to events in Israel and Palestine, and briefly report on what is happening out there in the “riots.” But if you are trying to forget about some fundamental facts or interpret them as something secondary, you run the risk of realizing one day that the problem has become surprisingly uncontrollable.

The Arab-Israeli conflict, and, more specifically, the fact that it has remained unresolved for almost 70 years, has played a significant role in the region going into a nosedive. It is precisely the inveteracy and severity of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict over such a long period that has become the breeding ground for radical political Islam, which has now appeared in all its glory.

The thermonuclear explosion in the form of the Arab Spring eclipsed this reality. Attempts to resolve the conflict became increasingly formal. Even back in 2009-2010, this was on Obama’s agenda on a permanent basis following his famous and, incidentally, very well-constructed speech at Cairo University on June 4, 2009, however the start of the Arab Spring put paid to the matter. New initiatives failed, and the old ones were consigned to history as Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the right-wing and ultra-right-wing forces of Israel that rally around him, placed their bets on the annexation of not only East Jerusalem, but also the entire West Bank.

The campaign led by the Head of Palestine in the UN for the recognition of their state transpired to be of little success, and besides the regular declarations of support for Palestinian independence by the international community, nothing came about. The International Quartet on the Middle East successfully placed stamps on meaningless statements, Arabs wrote angry articles in newspapers, and the situation continued to deteriorate. Israel has successfully pursued a policy of acquiring Palestinian land, seizing more and more areas under the guise of settlement. The Palestinian authorities appeared increasingly meek and helpless.

France, that turned into a pitiful servant of the dwarf monarchies of the Persian Gulf, had to face the shameful failure in its attempt to once again show the world its greatness, and, in the midst of the prolonged paralysis of the peace negotiations, to put forward this year an entirely unrealistic draft resolution to the UN Security Council, according to which in 18 months, Palestinians and Israelis have to come to agreement, and if they don’t, they will be sanctioned.

Meanwhile, in Israel, a monster was on the rise. Netanyahu, who surreptitiously sided with the most conservative and ultra-nationalist forces, apparently due to his age and a lack of gut feeling, missed a terrible threat to the sovereignty of his state. This power fed from the hands of the authorities, has now broken away like the radical Islamists, which the Arab authorities toyed with, and it won’t be easy, if not impossible, to drive the beast back into its cage.

The crux of the matter is the appearance or no more or less, in fact, a clone of the Islamic State in Israel, the Jewish one in this case. The movement is called the Revolt and declared itself earlier this year. It aims to destroy the modern democratic secular state with its independent judiciary and the separation of powers, and replace it with the Jewish Kingdom based on the laws of the Torah. Does this ring a bell? It is essentially the same caliphate, whereas Muslims and the “heathen” Christians will be declared “disbelievers”. They will be exiled, the Third Temple will be built and religious police will be commissioned: the mirror image of Saudi Arabia!

In August, Israeli authorities unleashed repression on the supporters of such ideas, primarily Meir Ettinger and Eviatar Slonim (grandson of well-known ultra-right preacher Meir Kahane). Another young man, Mordechai Meyer, was also arrested. All of them are suspected of attacks on Christian churches and on Palestinians in the West Bank. At the same time, several activists were detained in “illegally-built settlements”, that were in fact pre-existing settlements on the Palestinian land under suspicion of the same illegal activity.

These detentions were primarily ostentatious in nature to appease public opinion, because the Israeli secret service, Shin Bet, has long been aware of the presence of the “ideological infrastructure” created by young people. The main thing is that these ideas are no longer the “intellectual hobby” of several young men, but have become the active ideological platform of a greater number of followers in the ever increasingly right-winged and radicalised Israel.

The fact that it is not the rampant imagination of an immature youth was demonstrated by the bloody events that took place in October in East Jerusalem. The international press only vaguely mentioned possible reasons for it, but they are very clear and simple. Supporters of radical Jewish ideas began to appear at the Temple Mount in Jerusalem, where the famous Al-Aqsa Mosque is, and hold prayers there. This was seen by the Palestinians as a violation of the status quo of the Sacred places, as they presuppose that only Muslims pray there, and the others can only visit them at certain times and only as tourists. Let’s recall that the famous march of the former Israeli Prime Minister, Ariel Sharon, up to Temple Mount in 2000 triggered a “intifada” – a Palestinian uprising. And that is what is currently set to occur. In truth, it has only expressed itself in the form of Palestinian attacks on Israelis, who are being run down by cars and cut with knives. The police respond with gunfire. From October 1, about 50 Palestinians and seven Israelis have been killed. But it is clear that there is only one step left before a mass uprising takes place. And the Palestinians are currently ruled by forces just as radical as those who are building the “Jewish Kingdom” and are urging Jews to the Esplanade of Mosques. And this power is in all likelihood not going to be the Palestinian authorities who discredited themselves by collaborating with the occupiers, or even Hamas that has been bought from Iran by Qatar, but the Islamic State, expelled from the Syrian and Iraqi territories and forced to look for a new site on which to raise the flag of their Caliphate.

This explosive mixture of radical Islamists and equally radical Jews will certainly lead to another powerful explosion in the Middle East. And we will not have to wait long...

Pogos Anastasov, political analyst, Orientalist, exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook.”


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