Friday, October 7, 2016

Israel's edge in the Middle East - Dr. Ephraim Herrera

by Dr. Ephraim Herrera

-- it is easy to imagine what they would do to Israel if they were able to harm us

The Arab Spring has cultivated a lot of green, the color of Islam, from Tunisia in the west to Iraq in the east. And this Muslim green very quickly yielded a lot of red: the blood spilled in the civil wars that continue to grip the Muslim world. This is particularly true of the war in Syria, which has taken the lives of hundreds of thousands and driven over 10 million people from their homes, leaving them with no hope of ever returning: The complete destruction of entire cities leaves no doubt about that.

Much has been said about the policy Israel should take. In fact, there is a consensus that the preferred policy is "do nothing, unless they hit us directly," and this is the policy the Israeli government has rightly taken. Less discussed are the lessons we should learn from the atrocities being committed in such close proximity to our borders.

The hallmark of civil wars is their unfathomable cruelty. The bombing of civilian areas, of hospitals, places of worship and schools is a daily occurrence. The use of chemical weapons, by those we refer to as rebels and by those aligned with the government, has become routine. If this is how Muslims are capable of behaving toward one another, it is easy to assume what they would do to Israel if they were able to harm us. Indeed it is not for love of man that all sides involved abstain from hitting us: Israel has succeeded in building a strong, dedicated and sophisticated military, which deters any threat against the Jewish state. In the Middle East, strength is respected.

The entire international community's willingness to ignore war crimes is an important phenomenon. Here and there, Western countries condemn Russian and Syrian bombings, and that is where it ends. Suicide attacks and car bombs that kill dozens in Iraq do not even make the headline news in the West. It is easy to surmise what would happen to the State of Israel were it not so strong: The Islamists, who frequently depict their war as against the Crusaders and the Jews, would commit similar war crimes, and one can assume that here, too, the world would stand on the sidelines. Our strength pays off.

Another point is also becoming clearer: Muslim countries detested by their citizens in the blood-drenched Arab Spring, with Egypt and Jordan at the forefront, are in need of -- whether openly or in practice -- Israeli assistance. Egypt has asked for and receives Israeli intelligence assistance on the war on Islamic State's Sinai branch. It has asked for and receives Israeli assistance in its negotiations with countries in Africa, first and foremost Ethiopia, on the issue of water from the Nile River. 

King Abdullah II of Jordan is faced with the internal threat of the Muslim Brotherhood, and the external threat of Islamic State and the Syrian branch of al-Qaida, as well as the threat of Iran, which aspires to realize a fertile "Shiite crescent" spanning from Doha to Beirut. Israel, in the interest of keeping the peace on its eastern border, will likely support Abdullah. The estimated billion-dollar deal signed last week to export gas is indicative of the nature of Israel's relationship with Jordan. Strength pays dividends.

When an official cease-fire with Hamas was discussed, it was rejected by Muslim Brotherhood spiritual leader Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi, his reasoning being that Israel's willingness to sign a deal was a sign of weakness; therefore, it is forbidden, according to Islamic law, to sign a cease-fire deal. In the Middle East, the strong are spared the need to use their strength: Their strength is the best guarantee -- if not of peace, at least of life without war.

The use of chemical weapons by the rebels and the regime has become routine. If this is how Muslims are capable of treating each other, it is only too easy to assume what they would do if they could harm Israel. 

Dr. Ephraim Herrera is the author of "Jihad -- Fundamentals and Fundamentalism."


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