Arab Spring In Israel?

The recent fervor of Democratic reform that has hit the Near East is spreading like wildfire, passing over boarders and religions. The traditional order of oligarchy, hierarchy, and dictatorship is falling apart under the feet of the Egyptian government. From Haaretz.com, a Israeli News website “the A chair of the IMF’s policy-setting committee was sentenced to 30 years in jail”, tyrants are now answering for their abuses of power and its making the rest of the Middle East restless. As Western powers intervene in the civil unrest, as in Tunisia where Kaddafi is fighting with NATO led militia, things for stable dictators are now wobbly at best. What effect does this political unrest have on other countries in the region? The effects of Arab Spring in Palestinian Israel may be a fair representation of other Arab countries headed toward massive governmental reforms. Israeli’s have occupied Palestine for over half a century, treating the Palestinians cruelly. Major protests have erupted out in Israel, the agenda for a Palestinian state causing much of the turmoil. Tension between Palestinian and the Jewish community has never been good, ever since the creation of the state in 1948, the question of what to do with the displaced Palestinians has yet to answered. As talk for a separate Palestine in Israel gets louder, the wave of Arab Spring may inspire a solution to finally be made.

From July 2009, Sam Bahour wrote about the hard right positioning of the Israeli government, and what it meant for the future of occupied Palestine. “Palestinians have been dispossessed, occupied and brutalized year in, year out since 1948 by an Israel that continues to talk peace while waging war,” from the Washington Report on Middle Eastern Affairs. With the recent election of a postionalist prime minister who hates the Arabs, a peaceful solution seemed bleak. Until, that is, the outbreak of Arab Spring. Revolutionary Egypt is right under Israel, pro-Palestinian Syria is at the eastern border, and militaristic Hezbollah is in the west. All of this uncertainty can only mean trouble is on Israel’s doorstep, and it is. The Palestinian/Israeli relationship has become exceedingly more violent in the past few weeks. On the anniversary of Israel’s independence, a massive wave of protest broke out in mid may, “Ten people were killed and hundreds injured as some protesters attempted to breach Israel’s borders and clashes broke out with Israeli security forces.” From the article “Nakba protests bring Arab Spring to Israel’s Doorstep” on ChristenScienceMonitor.com by Ariel Zirulnick. The Nakba protest may be the first sign of Arab Spring as the tyranny that has existed in Israel has its days numbered. Nakba is Arabic for “catastrophe”. Israel’s Independence Day was seen as a catastrophe for the Arab nations surrounding it as they were humiliated militarily and symbolically in the succeeding wars and aggressive political agendas. As protests swell up along the border, and in Gaza, Israel has a lot to be nervous about.

Palestinian activism is not the only thing being energized by Arab Spring; the United Nations has agreed to consider Palestine as a member. The implications of this would be immense, but yesterday, June ninth 2011, the United States expressed its intention to block Palestinian membership in favor for continued peace talks. “The US [position] is that the peace process is the only option,” Erekat, the Palestinian representative, told the PA’s Al-Ayyam newspaper. If there is to be no support from the United Nations for a two state solution, than the Palestinians aren’t left with very many options for peace. The Palestinians can resume peace talks and get nowhere while the Jewish prime minister continues to lie about expanding settlements into Palestinian territory. Another option for the Palestinians is the military one, as the sometimes called “terrorist group” Hezbollah strengthens its alliances and base, Israel may find itself with an insurrection. This scenario is rather unlikely as it would delegitimize the Palestinian statehood movement internationally and discredit Hezbollah further as a terrorist organization breaking down future peace talks.

At this stage in the game, it seems like the most likely choice for the Palestinians is to ride the wave of Arab nationalism and secure their freedom by force. They could forcibly demand their rights through negotiations and if those fail revolt is sure to ensue. After the Nakba protest, the world has put their eyes upon Israel and the border where the activists crossed. On the day of Israel’s victory against its Arab neighbors another protest had been planned, one that was sure to cause much violence and relinquish no advance toward the protesters goal. Likewise, due to the frenzy of Arab Spring Israel was adamant on stopping the protest and closing the border, the efforts taken have made a difference, described in “Palestinian Activism energized by Arab Spring by Yasmine Ryan from aljazeera.net.” Israel pressured Lebanon’s fragile interim government not to allow Sunday’s protest to go ahead, as did the US and several European countries. Seeking to maintain good relations with the Lebanese authorities, and to avoid more deaths, the organizing committee agreed to call off the march”. Just because the protesters backed down from this demonstration does not mean they have called it quits. Independent protesters still advanced on Israel in sighting violence on both sides of the border, leaving casualties and wounded on both political sides. As I write, the Palestinian leaders are communicating with all the border organizations around Israel to plan a combined offensive campaign for Palestinian freedom. If a peaceful solution is not implemented soon, Arab Spring may engulf Israel from both inside and out.

If there is to be a Palestine, it must first get its government in order. Currently the two large political leaders had been in a quasi civil conflict, but “Last month, the Palestinian rivals, unnerved by unrest sweeping the Arab world, announced plans to reconcile and form a caretaker government to prepare for elections next year” Published June 14, 2011 from Gulfnews.com by Nasouh Nazzal. The two rivals have since joined together in political unity for the upcoming fight for independence.  The rivalry started in 2006 when the Hamas party won a democratic election and was challenged by the Fatah party with assassinations and violence. The two factions have sparred off against one another for the past five years. It seemed that no peace would come to the Palestinian government, until Arab Spring united the government. Why would Arab Spring bring stability to the government? Arab Spring has inspired cooperation in the hope that soon there will be an uprising carried out by both Fatah and Hamas together. As a third party, Egypt oversaw peace talks between the two rival parties, producing an agreement to work together until the 2012 elections happen, in which a new government will be democratically put in place, hopefully. If the alliance holds till then is anyone’s guess, but because of the wave of Arab pride, the disgraceful infighting has come to a hiatus.

Since Israelis occupied the Palestinians land, they have struggled to find a new home. Refugees have poured into the bordering countries, causing an international situation. Thousands of displaced Palestinians are just waiting for the chance to rush the border and come back home under the Palestinian flag. In Israel there are routine demonstrations and protests against the occupation from the Palestinians, but “With popular protest sweeping Arab neighbors through the Middle East, some believe that such small-scale protests could spark a broader uprising – one that would potentially involve Palestinian refugees in neighboring countries and their Arab supporters.” From the article Feeling winds of Arab Spring, Israel douses sparks of Palestinian uprising by Joshua Mitnick of csmonitor.com. These refugees are just the kind of angry revolutionaries who want a Palestinian State and are ready to fight for it, when the time is right. With a united Palestinian government, heightened international attention, refugees lining the border and the aggressive Israeli response make the situation ripe for violence. If peace talks don’t resume for a solution than one may come about unwillingly from either side or the international community.

In over fifteen Middle Eastern countries, deadly protests are breaking out weekly. The United States has decided to support these democratic uprisings. In Egypt and Tunisia, the people have stood up for justice and have had their calls answered. With the large, hostile Palestinian population in Israel, and an even larger displaced population in the bordering countries Arab Spring is undoubtedly gaining momentum. The Nakba protest was just a warm up for the massive protests cooking right now. With violent clashes every day it seems, the world view of Israel and how it is dealing with the protests has been negative. The rejection of the United States for Palestine to be represented in the United Nation will force the government to continue talks with the Israeli prime minister. Unfortunately the Israeli prime minister has no sympathy for the mistreated Palestinian’s or their cause to have a home. It is ironic that the Jewish people came to Israel because they were a displaced people, and now they are the ones who displace others. A catalyst for change will occur if further negotiations between the Palestinians and Israelis do not prove to be productive, mass violence is sure to ensue in Israel.

-By: Scott Cichowlas