CHANGE IS IN THE AIR

BLOG 522

June 21, 2021

WISE ON THE MIDDLE EAST

Each week Robert L. Wise, Ph.D., explores the Middle Eastern situation, ranging from Egypt through Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, Israel and the surrounding area. Wise first traveled to Israel and the neighboring countries in 1968. Two of his sons taught in Jordan and Lebanon universities. Wise presents an objective view of the behind the scenes situation in these countries.

CHANGE IS IN THE AIR

Here’s a couple of indicators that real change is occurring in the Middle-East. A new poll released Tuesday finds a dramatic surge in Palestinian support for Hamas following last month’s Gaza conflict, with around three-quarters of the Palestinian population viewing the Islamist terrorists as victors in a battle against Israel to defend Jerusalem and its holy sites.The poll by the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research also found plummeting support for Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, who was sidelined by the fighting but is seen internationally as a partner for reviving the long-defunct peace process. The poll found that 53% of Palestinians believe Hamas is “most deserving of representing and leading the Palestinian people,” while only 14% prefer Abbas’ secular Fatah party.

Abbas has delayed elections for years and was supposedly set for an immediate election. These numbers do not spell success for him.

On the Israeli side, there is new hope. Israel’s 36th government is a coalition of the courageous. Each leader who has led his or her party into this strange and unwieldy government has taken a risk. Among the leaders of this coalition, none has been more self-sacrificing than Yair Lapid. Though Lapid was the senior politician within the anti-Netanyahu coalition and head of its largest party, he deferred to Benny Gantz, who seemed the more likely to defeat Netanyahu. And now he has deferred to Naftali Bennett, leader of one of the coalition’s smallest factions. In so doing, Lapid has embodied the meaning of leadership and love for Israel, restoring to our politics its lost nobility. 

Two Israels were on display at the Knesset swearing-in ceremony for the new government. There was the Israel of desecration, MKs (Members of Knesset) shouting, faces contorted with hate, trampling on the dignity of the state as they refused to allow the prime minister-designate to speak at his own inauguration. And there was the Israel of Naftali Bennet and Yair Lapid, speaking with passion and reason and self-control as they presented their coalition of healing.

After years of officially inspired campaigns of hatred and divisiveness, contrived to serve one man’s political needs, we have the most diverse government in the country’s history. After the worst violence between Israeli Arabs and Israeli Jews since 1948, we have the nation’s first Jewish-Arab coalition.  

If the new coalition achieves nothing more than liberating Israel from those who have tried to unravel the delicate balance between nationalism and democracy, decency and power – dayenu, it is sufficient. If the new coalition achieves nothing more than offering a counter-vision of an Israel that strives to respect and manage its essential differences and place the country above sectarian needs – dayenu.  

Can this coalition last? Given its bare majority and inner contradictions, the odds aren’t brilliant. And yet even if it doesn’t survive its term, it has already won.   

My latest books:

I Marched with Patton: A Firsthand Account of World War II

Alongside One of the U.S. Army’s Greatest Generals!

by Frank Sisson (Author), Robert L. Wise (Author)

You can find I MARCHED WITH PATTON on Amazon.

82 Days on Okinawa: One American’s Unforgettable Firsthand Account of the Pacific War’s Greatest Battle!

You can find 82 DAYS ON OKINAWA on Amazon.

by Art Shaw (Author), Robert L. Wise (Author)

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Filed under Gaza, Israel, Palestinians, The Middle East

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