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On Junky Cars & Middle East Peace
Israel - Middle East
Friday, January 03, 2014
Alf Cengia

I recall some two years or so ago writing an end of year column and noting the almost universal expectations for a Palestinian state, and subsequent peace in the Middle East in the coming year. That all went well, didn't it?

And here am I again at the beginning of a New Year saying I told you so, cynic that I am!

There are those who insinuate there will be peace in the Middle East when Israel returns Palestinian land it stole, or after Israel allows a Palestinian State (as if it ever stood in the way), or after it brings down the checkpoint walls around Bethlehem. This mantra has been repeated so often by "presumably" reliable sources, that it has embedded itself in the minds of many.

They remind me of one or two Used Car Salesmen I met in Australia many years ago. They didn't wear those infamous check suits and loud ties (not that there's anything wrong with that) as they're often portrayed doing. But they probably should have. They were selling junks on wheels, yet they could spin a rusted car into a highly sought after classic.

They'd inform you that you were lucky to be in the right place at the right time. It often worked. I fell for it, as did some of my friends. When you want something desperately enough, you sometimes close your eyes to the cold truth that the object of your admiration is a dud.

It was only after one ignored the sales shtick and took a cold objective look at the car that one noted rust had nearly eaten clear through some of the panels that weren't actually bogged up. If the car looked too clean underneath, it likely meant there had been an excessive oil leak. Of course, the remarkably low mileage on the speedometer should have been a dead giveaway to the less gullible; while another trick was to put sawdust in the transmission.

Likewise, don't believe the anti-Israel gossip mongers. They're also selling junk, and people keep swallowing the same lines.

In the lead up to Christmas 2013, the English St James Church decided to put Matthew 5:9 into practice by conducting a publicity campaign on the "wall around Bethlehem", consequently demonizing Israel. In fact it took them eight months to plan that Christmas event. That's dedication for you! This is an early peek into the anti-Israel antics of the upcoming Christ at the Checkpoint Conference in early 2014.

Yet, as Melanie Phillips points out, the wall doesn't surround Bethlehem. Its erection had nothing to do with racism, nor was it designed to incur any hardship on Palestinians. It was simply for protection. Phillips correctly notes:

"It [the wall] has been constructed not to oppress Palestinians but solely to prevent Israelis from being murdered by Arabs."

Left wing Ha’aretz journalist Ari Shavit (unsurprisingly) is another purveyor of Israeli culpability. His book My Promised Land: The Triumph and Tragedy of Israel is a New York Times best seller. One of Shavit's grievances is that Israel keeps committing sins like stealing West Bank land. People read Shavit's book and his Jewish identity lends credibility to the myth that Israel is justly suffering because of its own "sins."

In a soberly critical review of Shavit's book, Ruth Wisse observes:

"...according to Shavit himself, his fears arise less from what Arab and Muslim leaders intend to do to Israel than from what Israel has done to them.” (Emphasis mine)

I wonder what history Shavit has been sourcing. Would you buy a used car from him?

Even if we had a unified Palestinian State, Arab leaders have made it clear from the outset that they refuse to recognize a Jewish State. Didn't they move quickly to eradicate Israel even before it could even accumulate that multitude of sins? And didn't Arafat reject the Camp David offer?

In another look at Shavit's book, David Hornik writes:

"And there is the fact that, amid the horrific bloodletting in Syria and Iraq, the strife and brutality in Egypt, Lebanon, and Yemen, the savage persecution of Christians throughout the region, the poverty and corruption, one can fairly ask whether Israel—or anyone—has a moral obligation to create another Arab state; one, as Shavit acknowledges, capable of “endangering Israel’s security” to put it mildly."

The Middle East is somewhat like a slowly sinking ship devastated by an increasing number of holes in its hull. These problems are symptomatic of Islamism and complex conflicts within those nations. They cannot be attributed to Israel and cannot be fixed by Israel's extinction. Yet the only thing Israel's neighbors unanimously agree on is Israel's extinction.

Speaking of holes, Morsi conquered Egypt and abruptly fell. Like wise, the Muslim Brotherhood has fallen into hard times, and yet Egypt's problems continue. Turkey was once seen as a possible unifying leader. Yet Erdogan is now facing a failing economy, while his government is in danger of imploding. As David Goldman notes, "Turkey is falling apart."

The person to keep a close watch on in 2014 is Russian President Vladimir Putin. Putin is a man of action with a vision for Russia's re-emergence as a world power. The realization of that vision is dependant on Russia's economic relationship with countries in that region. Don't rely on him to compromise Russia's advantage in the region by overly pressuring Syria or Iran. He is now also courting Egypt. This comes at a time when the United States has threatened to cut funding to Egypt!

Joel Rosenberg puts it succinctly:

"Vladimir Putin sees himself not so much as Russia’s president but as an old-time Czar for the modern age. All knowing. All powerful. Unchecked power. Determined to expand his territory and grow his power and personal wealth. This is what makes him so dangerous."

Watch closely any developments in Israel's gas explorations. How might Putin and Israel's neighbors engage a future energy independent Israel? Also, keep a watchful eye on Temple Mount news. There appears to be an ever growing interest by Jews in that site.

Arutz Sheva noted in October 2012:

"Bayit Yehudi advances monumental new bill to ensure regular prayer hours for Jews on the Temple Mount; first since 1967."

Yet any successful bill will be met with strong resistance by all Muslims. They regard Jewish presence as defiling their holy site. How might this all play out if (and when) the interest in the Temple Mount gains momentum?

We will not see peace in the Middle East in 2014. There will be more of the same and perhaps even some more unpleasant surprises.

About Alf Cengia

Last article: Expecting the Unexpected

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