Arab Commentators Seek to Explain Why Israel Is So Far Ahead of Other Middle East States
avatar by Benjamin Kerstein
Egyptians celebrate in Cairo’s Tahrir Square following the announcement that President Hosni Mubarak had resigned, February 2011. Photo: Jonathan Rashad.
Over the past several months, a series of Arab commentators have sought to explain why Israel appears so far ahead of the Arab world in politics, economics, and military power.
According to translations published on Thursday by the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI), the general consensus was that Israeli democracy gives the country this strength. In particular, the emphasis on the rule of law, the fight against corruption, and the importance of education.
Although the commentators at times engaged in racist rhetoric and smeared Israel as an “apartheid” state, they nonetheless acknowledged that Arab nations have failed in their basic responsibilities to their citizens, whereas Israel has not.
Reda Abd Al-Salam, the former governor of Egypt’s Al-Sharqiya province and a lecturer at Mansoura University in Egypt, noted, “The Arab and Muslim peoples live under regimes that for decades have engaged not in developing their peoples and establishing themselves in economy, society, science, and democracy, but in establishing their [own] rule.”
United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres reaffirmed his recognition of Judaism’s historic ties to Jerusalem and the Temple Mount last week, during a meeting with World Jewish Congress (WJC) President Ronald Lauder in New York.
The meeting took place just hours after the U.N. Human Rights Council (UNHRC) debated its controversial Agenda Item 7, which makes alleged Israeli “human rights abuses” a permanent discussion item.
The WJC released a statement affirming the secretary-general reiterated comments similar to those he had previously made on Israeli radio, in which he said, “It is completely clear the Temple that the Romans destroyed in Jerusalem was a Jewish temple.”
Thrilling a crowd of almost 18,000 at AIPAC’s annual policy conference on Monday, US envoy to the United Nations Nikki Haley promised a new era at the world body — one in which America is an unabashed and unequivocal ally of Israel and any other nation that stands in the way will feel its wrath.
“I wear high heels and it’s not for a fashion statement,” she said. “It’s because if I see something wrong, I will kick it every single time.”
Taking her diplomatic assignment just a few weeks after former president Barack Obama allowed an anti-settlements UN Security Council resolution to pass — by foregoing the US veto power — Haley told the spirited audience that such an episode would not transpire again on her watch.
Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi on Sunday discussed US-Egypt relations, Israeli-Palestinian negotiations and his upcoming trip to the White House with World Jewish Congress President Ronald Lauder.
Sissi is slated to visit the White House to meet US President Donald Trump during the first week of April, and the peace process is expected to be one of the items on the agenda.
“The next stage requires strengthening… of Egyptian-American relations at all levels,” Sissi told Lauder, describing the current relations between Washington and Cairo as “close, extensive and of a strategic nature,” according to an Egyptian readout of the meeting published by the Turkish Anadolu agency.
In a clearly intended rebuke to former US president Barack Obama, Israel’s Ambassador to the United States Ron Dermer told a packed crowd at the annual AIPAC policy conference that President Donald Trump’s administration has brought a level of closeness between the two allies that has eluded his predecessors.
“For the first time in many years, perhaps even many decades, there is no daylight between our two governments,” he said.
The United Nations Human Rights Council adopted five resolutions critical of Israel on Friday, despite opposition from the US and an unprecedented critique from the UK.
Britain supported two of the five resolutions, but threatened to vote against any future such motions against the Jewish state because of the “bias” by the UN body.
“We are putting the Human Rights Council on notice,” Britain warned in a statement. “If things do not change, in the future we will adopt a policy of voting against all resolutions concerning Israel’s conduct in the Occupied Syrian and Palestinian Territories.”
An Israeli resolution aimed at eliminating workplace sexual harassment has been adopted by consensus by the UN Commission on the Status of Women.
“The adoption of this resolution at the UN is a noteworthy achievement and an additional step towards the realization of Israel as a significant player at the UN,” Israeli UN envoy Danny Danon said in a statement on Friday. “Israel is proud to promote this important cause as we strive to put an end to this unacceptable scourge. The struggle against sexual harassment, and the successful promotion of women in the workplace, are of utmost importance and deserve suitable attention at the UN.”
By Stephen M. Flatow: Israel critic Peter Beinart has announced that when his children “near adulthood, I’ll encourage them to visit the West Bank.” Why? “So they can see for themselves what it means to hold millions of people…without free movement or due process,” he wrote in his column for The Forward.
The Beinart children are in for quite a surprise.
In his various articles and media appearances, Papa Beinart regularly accuses Israel of occupying and oppressing the Palestinians. I imagine that’s what the Beinart kids hear at the dinner table, too.
But when the young Beinarts arrive in Judea and Samaria, they will discover that dear old dad wasn’t telling them the whole story. In fact, he wasn’t even telling them a small piece of the story.