[lit-ideas] Re: Muslims (plural) disrupt Israeli philharmonic concert for Dutch Queen

  • From: Phil Enns <phil.enns@xxxxxxxxx>
  • To: lit-ideas@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Sat, 10 Sep 2011 18:08:11 -0400

Veronica Caley wrote:

"I am very interested in how [the Palestinian/Israel conflict] is going to end."

There are strong incentives for virtually all the actors in the region
to make sure that the conflict does not end.

1. The Palestinian Authority is thoroughly corrupt and with the
creation of a Palestinian state there would be tremendous pressure
from donor countries that this corruption come to an end. Also, the PA
would be forced to run free and fair elections and the outcome of
these elections would no doubt see many of those currently in power,
thrown out, and perhaps even punished for crimes they have committed.

2. Hamas identifies itself as a resistance movement and the removal of
its raison d'etre would likely cause a splintering along the various
ideological fault lines that currently exist within the movement. Once
the common bond of resistance is gone, the different Islamic hardline
and nationalist groups would turn all those guns against each other.
What comes after Hamas?

3. Israel - Any final agreement would require the Israeli government
to give up land it now controls, land that a powerful minority of
settler groups and hardline Orthodox Jews consider integral to Israel.
Such an agreement would be political suicide for any Israeli
government and most likely lead to splits within the Israeli armed
forces. There would be a considerable number of Israeli soldiers who
would refuse to obey orders to remove Jews from land that many Jews
consider to be part of Israel. Could Israel survive?

4. Egypt - What was true before the fall of Mubarak, but is now even
more an issue, Egyptian authorities do not want to have a radicalized
Islamic presence on its borders. The fear is that a Palestinian state
with a hardline Islamic government would aid and encourage Islamic
extremists in Egypt. Under Mubarak, Egypt was quite happy to have
Israel keep the Palestinian militants in check and maintain the
blockade along its border. Now, the Egyptian authorities are in a far
more difficult situation, having to give the appearance to its
citizens of giving more support to Palestinians without that support
actually benefiting those groups which could be a threat to stability
in Egypt. For the powers that be in Egypt, it is far better that the
status quo in the Palestinian Territories be maintained.

5. Hezbollah - Much like Hamas, Hezbollah has its raison d'etre in
being a resistance movement. Much of its funding comes from Iran and
its long term strategic goals are made in consultation with Iran, so
as long as Iran is committed to maintaining the Palestinian conflict,
Hezbollah has a strong incentive to keep the conflict alive.
Furthermore, in Lebanon, Hezbollah defines itself as a resistance
movement against Israel, defending both Lebanon and Palestinians.
While Hezbollah has made significant moves towards becoming a
responsible actor in Lebanese politics, it continues to use the
resistance card in order to safeguard its position in Lebanese

6. Syria - With regards to Israel, Syria has two primary interests:
the return of the Golan Heights and maintaining influence in Lebanon.
One of the negotiating points for Syria is the offer of reducing
support for Palestinian militants in exchange for the Golan Heights.
As long as Israel hangs on to the Golan Heights, the Syrians will want
to put pressure on the Israelis by supporting the Palestinians and
encouraging conflict. Also, the Syrians have influence with Hezbollah,
with many Hezbollah leaders living in Damascus. Through Hezbollah,
Syria is able to exercise influence in Lebanon, which Syria sees as
within its sphere of control. A Palestinian/Israeli agreement would
considerably weaken Hezbollah which in turn would weaken the influence
of Syria in Lebanon.

7. Iran - To Muslims around the world, Iran presents itself as a
revolutionary movement defending the Islamic world. The
Palestinian/Israeli conflict is the most obvious example of this
revolutionary activity. Iran has been the primary source of supplying
weapons and training to Palestinian militants. The continuation of
this conflict allows Iran to maintain its street cred in the Islamic
world. It also serves to distract Iranians from the increasingly
difficult conditions in Iran. The continuing spread of the Arab Spring
in combination with a resolution of the Palestinian/Israeli conflict
would be a nightmare for Iranian authorities.

8. Other Middle East countries - For several decades now, Arab leaders
have used the Palestinian/Israeli conflict as a distraction from their
own corruption and failings. The fear is that once this bogeyman is
gone, Arab people might turn their attention to improving the
conditions in their own country. The Arab Spring has led many Arabs to
demand changes in their countries. A resolution of the
Palestinian/Israeli conflict would only contribute to this tsunami
sweeping the region.

Unless the dynamics in the region radically change, I don't see much
hope of a resolution. There are just too many strong incentives to
keep the conflict going and not enough to bring about peace.


Phil Enns
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