Arab Spring and the Israeli “Enemy”

Protests throughout the Arab world

— by Abdulateef Al-Mulhim

Thirty-nine years ago, on Oct. 6, 1973, the third major war between the Arabs and Israel broke out. The Yom Kippur War lasted only 20 days. The two sides were engaged in two other major wars, the War of Independence in 1948 and the Six Day War in 1967, but these three wars were not the only Arab-Israel confrontations.

From the period of 1948 and to this day, many confrontations have taken place. Some of them were small clashes, and many of them were full-scale battles, but there were no major wars apart from the ones mentioned above. The Arab-Israeli conflict is the most complicated conflict the world has ever experienced. As the 40th anniversary of the Yom Kippur War approaches, many people in the Arab world are beginning to ask questions about the past, present and future with regard to the conflict.

  • What was the real cost of these wars to the Arab world and its people?
  • A harder question, that no Arab national wants to ask: What was the real cost for not recognizing Israel in 1948 and why didn’t the Arab states spend their assets on education, health care and the infrastructures instead of wars?
  • But, the hardest question that no Arab national wants to hear is whether Israel is the real enemy of the Arab world and the Arab people.

More after the jump.
I decided to write this article after I saw photos and reports about a starving child in Yemen, a burned ancient Aleppo souk in Syria, the under-developed Sinai pennisula in Egypt, car bombs in Iraq, and the destroyed buildings in Libya. The photos and reports were shown on the Al-Arabiya network, which is the most watched and respected news outlet in the Middle East.

The common thing among all what I saw is that the destruction and the atrocities are not done by an outside enemy. The starvation, killings and destruction in these Arab countries are done by the same hands that are supposed to protect and build the unity of these countries, and safeguard the people of these countries. So, the question now is, who is the real enemy of the Arab world?

The Arab world has wasted hundreds of billions of dollars, and lost tens of thousands of innocent lives fighting Israel, which they considered to be their sworn enemy. An enemy whose existence they never recognized. 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 human lives and finally, the Arab world had many dictators who used the Arab-Israeli conflict to suppress their own people.

These dictators’ atrocities against their own people are far worse than all of the full-scale Arab-Israeli wars.

In the past, we have talked about why some Israeli soldiers attack and mistreat Palestinians. Also, we saw Israeli planes and tanks attack various Arab countries. But, do these attacks match the current atrocities being committed by some Arab states against their own people?

In Syria, the atrocities are beyond anybody’s imaginations. And, aren’t the Iraqis the ones who are destroying their own country? Wasn’t it Tunisia’s dictator who was able to steal $13 billion from his owm poor people? And how can a child starve in Yemen, if their land is the most fertile in the Arab world? Why would Iraqi brains leave a country that makes 110 billion dollars from oil export? Why do the Lebanese fail to govern one of the tiniest countries in the world? And what made the Arab states start sinking into chaos?

On May 14, 1948, the State of Israel was declared. And just one day after that, on May 15, 1948, the Arabs declared war on Israel to get back Palestine. The war ended on March 10, 1949. It lasted for nine months, three weeks and two days. The Arabs lost the war and called this war “The Nakbah” (catastrophic war). The Arabs gained nothing, and thousands of Palestinians became refugees.

Again in 1967, the Arabs, led by Egypt under the rule of Gamal Abdul Nasser, went in war with Israel, lost more Palestinian land, and made more Palestinians refugees, who live now on the mercy of the countries that host them. The Arabs called this war “The Naksah” (the upset). The Arabs never admitted defeat in either wars, and the Palestinian chaos got more complicated. And now, with the never-ending Arab Spring, the Arab world has no time for the Palestinians refugees or Palestinian chaos, because many Arabs are refugees themselves, and under constant attacks from their own forces. Syrians are leaving their own country, not because of the Israeli planes dropping bombs on them. It is the Syrian Air Force which is dropping the bombs. And now, Iraqi Arab Muslims, most intelligent brains, are leaving Iraq for the west. In Yemen, the world’s saddest human tragedy, play is being written by the Yemenis. In Egypt, the people in Sinai are forgotten.

Finally, if many of the Arab states are in such disarray, then what happened to the Arabs’ sworn enemy, Israel? Israel now has advanced research facilities, top universities and advanced infrastructure. Many Arabs don’t know that the life expectancy of the Palestinians living in Israel is far greater than in many Arab states, and they enjoy far better political and social freedom than many of their Arab brothers. One of the judges who sent former Israeli President Moshe Katsav to jail was an Israeli Palestinian.

Even the Palestinians living under Israeli occupation in the West Bank and Gaza Strip enjoy more political and social rights than in some places in the Arab World.

The Arab Spring showed the world that the Palestinians are happier and in a better situation than their Arab brothers who fought to liberate them from the Israelis. Now, it is time to stop the hatred and wars and start creating better living conditions for the future Arab generations.

Abdulateef  Al-Mulhim is from Saudi Arabia, and a former Saudi Commodore. He graduated from the State University of New York, Maritime College, class of 1979. Currently, he writes weekly columns for the Saudi English paper, the Arabnews, and for the Saudi Arabic paper, Alyaum.

Reprinted with permission from Arab News.