I was reminded of the old saying “it takes one to know one”, when I read about the current situation in Palestine. There is a virtual civil war going on out there, with Hamas and Fatah jockeying for power – and tearing each other to pieces in the process. So neighboring Israel should be really worried; right? I wonder. Look at the fringe benefits to Israel. No more Katushya rockets are being lobbed from the other side; and there hasn’t been a suicide bombing for quite a while. The Palestinians have got their hands too full fighting each other, to bother about Israel right now. Which is not a bad thing – for Israel.
In a sense, the situation in Palestine right now is not that different from what is going on in Iraq. There is a near civil war there too. The difference lies in the reactions of the parties directly affected.
The USA, with a typically Western mindset, is worried that the increasing sectarian violence in Iraq will plunge that country into chaos and dismember it. Israel, on the other hand, would not be too concerned about the chaos in its neighborhood, so long as its enemies conveniently keep killing each other. After the two sides have fought themselves to a standstill, the resulting Palestine state will pose a much lesser threat to Israel. Moreover, for them, it’s a propaganda victory of sorts. Another example of hot-headed, politically-immature Arabs squabbling among themselves; and, for once, the usually vociferous Arab states cannot blame the ‘Zionist entity’ for the internecine battles. My hunch is that Mossad may be covertly encouraging the conflict; though that would be very difficult to prove.
To appreciate the difference in perception, one has to understand the Semitic mind which, in essence, is not that different from the Arab mind. They are from the same region after all. The common mistake the West makes in dealing with intransigent Arabs is the belief that the latter operate under the same set of ground rules as the former. Israel, however, understands that – in terms of civilization and mindset – the Arabs, particularly the more militant ones, are about a millennium behind. That is one reason why the Koran, written almost one and a half millennia ago, is so relevant and topical to them. They are still fighting the battles of Mohammed; they still regard those who do not share their faith as infidels, out to get them; and decreed by Allah to be converted or destroyed. That partly explains what is happening in Lebanon right now. Hezbollah, the ‘Party of God’ cannot stomach the fact of their country becoming a modern, secular state. In their minds, it is against the will of Allah; and must be resisted at all costs.
Israel knows this – and is cleverly exploiting it. It has studied its history. Upto the earlier part of the previous century – with the possible exception of the Ottoman Empire – petty Arabs sheiks were constantly fighting among themselves; thereby preventing the formation of any cohesive nation or kingdom. So Israel is quite content to stand by and watch the turmoil in Lebanon too. As long as Hezbollah has it’s hands full with other ‘enemies’, Israel will be off their radar. Another old foe, Syria, too, is too busy fermenting trouble in Lebanon to pay much attention to Israel.
So Israel has got a breather; and you can bet it is utilizing it wisely. While George Bush is pumping additional troops into Iraq – for a ‘surge’ of dubious effectiveness – Israel is building up its own defenses. It wants to be ready for the ‘enemy’, whenever he attacks. Israel is not out to make the world safe for democracy. It does not give a rat’s ass about democracy, or the world. The only country Israel cares about – is Israel. So far it’s worked pretty well for them.