Israel Is Not the Arabs' Enemy, Arab Dictators Are
Arab dictators have long blamed external powers for their enormous failures at home. More than any country or historical event, Israel has been scapegoated for Arabs' lack of scientific advancement, human development, political and social reforms, and respect for human rights.
Since Israel declared itself a state in 1948, Arab autocracies, their state-run media, and echoing intellectuals have focused on blaming Israel and its small but incredibly industrious Jewish population for the Arab world's own political, social and economic failures. While Arabs have long been mired in wars, poverty, and intolerance, the Israelis have been busy building one of the most vibrant democratic nations in the world.
As this courageous former Saudi naval officer correctly stated,
"The Arab world has many enemies and Israel should have been at the bottom of the list. The real enemies of the Arab world are corruption, lack of good education, lack of good health care, lack of freedom, lack of respect for the human lives and finally, the Arab world had many dictators who used the Arab-Israeli conflict to suppress their own people."
The sentiments expressed by this Saudi analyst are held by many, but not enough Arabs, especially among Palestinians, whose interests can best be served not through warfare, but by striking deals and allying themselves with the Israelis and obtaining the liberties Israeli Arabs currently enjoy.
Using the Arab-Israeli conflict to divert their subjugated populations' attention from their enormous failures, the Arab regimes have created societies that can easily be baited into mob violence directed at religious minorities or foreign embassies. Examples of this have been dangerously evident in recent years due to several highly-publicized incidents of cartoonists and other critics portraying Islam and the Prophet Muhammed in a negative light.
The volatile nature of Arab dictators and societies, as illustrated during recent uprisings in Syria, Libya, Yemen and elsewhere, provides yet another example of these failures and the dangers these autocrats pose for the Arab public. The broader consequences of those failures -- war and political instability -- should be of significant concern to the international community and action must be taken before they cause the world further pain.
The Israelis, the US and the European Union ought to reach out and support those Arabs who believe in true democratic values, like the Saudi author noted above, and who are willing to pay the price to be free.