A reader has sent me an essay (Amir Taheri, “Forget the Palestinians: Arab states have too much else to worry about”, New York Post, July 12, 2015). Take a look at it. I have edited it:
‘Hi there! Any news from Palestine?”
This is how a prominent Arab writer, Walid Abimerchid, started his latest newspaper column last week, going on to describe a “growing fatigue with the whole Palestine issue.”
He notes that the so-called peace process has run into sand. President Obama is focused on forging an alliance with the mullahs of Tehran; no other major power seems interested in touching the issue. The international peace-broker Tony Blair has quietly resigned amid general indifference. French President François Hollande made some noises about “a new initiative” but quickly thought better of becoming involved in “something no one is interested in.”
The Arab columnist’s concern reflects the current mood in the Middle East. For the first time in decades, Palestine has been shut out of the news in favor of Syria, ISIS, sectarian wars and the growing aggressiveness of an Iran encouraged by Obama’s grand strategy of retreat.
Most of the foreign press in Israel has moved to Beirut and Istanbul to cover the sectarian wars in Lebanon, Syria and Iraq….
[One important reason the ‘Palestinian’ issue has lost much of its luster] was cited the other evening by a Jordanian businessman, Abu Furas, at a Ramadan fast-breaking dinner in London. “Today, no Arab feels safe in his country,” he said. “Ironically, the sole exceptions are Palestinians in the West Bank because they know Israel will defend them if ISIS attacks. Even in Gaza, most people secretly believe that Israel is their ultimate protection against ISIS fighters trying to strike roots in the Sinai.”
Though the idea of Arabs being saved by Israel from massacre by their own brethren sounds fantastic, events on the ground lend it some weight.
Palestinians living in the Yarmouk refugee camp in Syria have been massacred both by Bashar al-Assad’s troops and throat-cutting mujahideen from ISIS. The massacre of Christians, Yazidis and Druze minorities by Islamist groups in Syria and Iraq contrasts with the safety those groups enjoy in Israel.
For weeks, Jordan has been bracing itself for an attack by ISIS on Zarqa, a Palestinian-majority city near Syria. Such a move would bring ISIS close to the West Bank and Israel proper, in which case, some Jordanians believe, the Jewish state would stop its spread.
“Today, Arabs see that their own house is on fire,” says a Dubai businessman. “In such a situation one could hardly think of burning someone else’s house.”
Eyad Abuchaqra, a prominent Lebanese commentator and TV personality, cites another reason for dwindling interest in the Palestinian issue. “One might call it Palestinitis,” he says. “Arabs realize that there are many other issues that affect their lives, indeed their existence.”
The idea that it is now Iran and not Israel that poses an existential threat to Arabs receives almost daily confirmation with outlandish statements by Khomeinist leaders in Tehran. “Iran is trying to create a Persian Crescent as the core of its empire,” claims Lebanese Interior Minister Nihad Manshouq. “That now represents the principal threat faced by Arabs.”
“Today, it is Iran and not Israel the Arabs ought to worry about,” says Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, leader of the Afghan Hizb Islami (Islamic Party) who was sheltered, financed and armed by Tehran for decades.
Not surprisingly, Iran’s leaders try to keep the Palestine issue on the front burner by casting themselves as the “liberators of Jerusalem.”
That was the theme of the “Jerusalem Day” events last week presided over by President Hassan Rouhani and inaugurated with a message from “Supreme Guide” Ali Khamenei. Both men promised to “liberate Palestine” and wipe Israel off the map.
But their show attracted less attention than at any time in the past 30 years. The Khomeinist regime’s TV station in Tehran complained that global media had ignored “Jerusalem Day” but could hardly restrain its jubilation when reporting a small pro-Iran gathering in Jerusalem itself, where some posters of Khamenei were distributed among visitors to the Al Aqsa Mosque.
The Khomeinists missed the irony of Israel being the only government in the Middle East, outside Iran itself, to allow such a demonstration.
My comment: The ‘Palestinian Cause’ is built upon the lie that Israel is both Apartheid and brutally Nazi-like in its treatment of ‘Palestinians’. This essay tells a different story. It tells you what many of us in Israel already know: Arabs are safer in Jewish Israel than anywhere else in the Middle East.
You might want to remember this essay. It’ll come in handy the next time you read another ‘hate-Israel’ article, news story or commentary.