Normalisation under the Barrel of a Gun
A short time ago, an Israeli analyst pointed out that more than 80 per cent of Arabs hate Israel.
This statement may be a reminder of the fact that the diplomatic relations with two neighbouring Arab countries, Egypt and Jordan, were established over 40 years ago with the former and nearly 25 years ago with the latter.
Nonetheless, normalisation with these two countries has not led to the establishment of a friendly relationship between the peoples of Egypt and Jordan and the government and people of Israel, as the near absolute majority of Egyptians and Jordanians refuse to visit Israel and build cultural, commercial or political relationships with the Israelis, while the latter may be inclined to do so.
When we look at the history of countries which waged several wars on each other like France and Germany we can easily see that building a friendship that was initiated from the beginning of the 1950s did not come as a result of the victory in war (achieved by one of them against the other, and consequently forcing a friendship on the loser as was the case with Egypt and Jordan, and naturally with the enormous support of Israel by the USA, and its strong economic pressure on the two Arab states.)
On the other hand, the policy of imposing sanctions against Germany and forcing its government to establish an inferior relationship with the victorious countries in WW1, was based on humiliating terms. This led only to a growing sense of grievance and resentment in the hearts and minds of German people. Consequently, successive German governments, and anti-war movements failed to prevent the rise of the Nazi Party, which exploited these common angry feelings that finally led its leader, Hitler, twenty one years later to wage another war, more horrendous than its predecessor.
Today, we witness three Arab countries normalizing their relations with Tel Aviv, despite the fact that they have no borders with Israel. This was, of course, achieved through the White House sponsorship and strong pressure, under the guise of threat and temptation.
Sudan, which has suffered for a long time from American economic sanctions and from several civil wars, was pushed into a corner: The Sudani state’s name will not be removed from the list of the states sponsoring terrorism unless it establishes diplomatic relations with Israel!
However, the Israeli analyst did not mention the reasons for the resentment that most Arabs feel towards Israel and its people. It is as if confiscating East Jerusalem, and ignoring the Peace Initiative, agreed at the Arab Summit in 2000, have no role in such negative collective feelings.
Had the successive Israeli governments, formed since the beginning of the century, agreed to the Arab initiative which was based on the principle of two states in return for full normalisation with Israel by all Arab states, we would have seen today a different Middle East region based on friendship and mutual respect between the two sides instead of the feelings of resentment and grievance among the people of the weaker party, while the stronger party, which enjoys the support of America, preserves the feelings of superiority and arrogance.
Instead of that, Israel went on realising what the far-right movements dream of, by confiscating the Syrian Golan Heights which were occupied by Israel in the July 1967 war, and carrying out its expropriation of West Bank lands and building settlements to mainly house the Jews who come from other countries.
And today the majority of Israelis feel a sense of euphoria, similar to that which the victorious would feel whether in wars or sports matches, to see several Arab states pressurised, and subsequently consenting, to normalise diplomatic relations with their country.
On the other hand, the Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu along with the Israeli far-right do not feel embarrassed when they confirm the policies of expropriating more lands in the West Bank, which will make, (if they continue in their endeavour), the establishment of an integrated and viable Palestinian state on its land impossible.
Now, the ordinary Arab person is facing one reality: a state keen to establish normal relationships with their country, and in the meantime this state keeps following the policy of destroying the conditions required to form a small Palestinian state which makes up no more than 20% of the whole Palestinian land before 1948.
Moreover, its current government continues to push for turning Israel into a Jewish state, in order to chase the Palestinian citizens out of Israel.
Additionally, the Israeli government keeps asserting that the Golan Heights is part of Israel, despite it being an occupied territory, according to international law.
So, will it mean a lot if Israel succeeds in establishing diplomatic and commercial relations with all Arab countries, without working on removing the deep feelings of anger among their peoples, due to Israeli leaders’ insistence on destroying the Oslo agreements with the PLO and confiscating the Golan Heights?
I wonder if the policies that the present Israeli government follows are not a reminder of the settler colonisation policy that France followed in Algeria in the nineteenth century, and if they won’t be harmful to its people in the future, at the hands of the grandsons of those who lost their homes, their lands, their fathers or their brothers, by Israel’s bulldozers and lethal weapons, with enormous support from the USA?
The current normalisation process, that is taking place these days under the barrel of Trump’s gun and his son in law Jared Kushner, looks like covering burning embers with layers of ash.
But what we see is the ash only; what we don’t see are the embers.