Excerpted from Optimism about Confronting Israel Growing among Arab Moderates after Lebanon War:
- Israel’s war with Hizballah in Lebanon has aroused great hope in the Arab world – that Israel can be defeated. “We had given up on the military option,” said Hani Hourani, director general of the Al-Urdun Al-Jadid (“New Jordan”) Research Center. “By taking the initiative, Hizballah created a new way of thinking about the whole conflict in the region.” “Even people like me, the moderate people, who never liked or supported Hizballah, we began to think twice about how we were wrong,” Hourani said.
- Renewed optimism about confronting Israel by force of arms is growing among the Arab world’s moderates, who share the view that Israel is a Western imposition on the region.
- Why are Arabs with business and political ties to the West, and even to Israel, jumping on the Hizballah bandwagon? Because their moderation derives not so much from an acceptance of the Jews’ historical right to a homeland in the Middle East, but from the Arabs’ repeated inability to defeat Israel. But if Israel can be beaten, then the whole equation changes.
- Moderation may be giving way to the hope that the clock in the Middle East can be turned back not just to 1967 but to 1948, when Israel did not exist. “The Arabs want the 1967 border for the moment,” said Abdel Mahdi al-Soudi, a sociology professor at the University of Jordan. The Arabs may sign peace treaties, but “nobody will sign on to end the conflict. Nobody will sign something saying Israel will be Israel forever.”
- It is this lack of acceptance of Israel, not Israeli actions or its disputes with the Palestinians, that perpetuates this endless conflict. Until the Arab world accepts Israel’s place on this small strip of land, this conflict will not end.