Monday, October 06, 2003

Temporarily at least, my computer is working again. (No idea how long it'll last, although maybe whatever it was that was causing the noise in the fan has worked itself loose.)

(I'm almost out of the habit of blogging.)

So, the two major stories now are the bombing in Haifa (19 dead, more wounded, although this time involving Israelis of both Jewish and Arab descent) by a Palestinian woman that belonged to Islamic Jihad, and the attack on a Syrian training camp by Israeli jets. I'll talk about the jet thing later, but first, Haifa.

The Haifa bombing has prompted renewed calls for Arafat's expulsion and/or extermination. Thing is, nothing has really changed. If the Israelis remove him, they'll either wound or kill dozens (perhaps hundreds) of Palestinians trying to get to him, and lose a comparable number of soldiers. Even if they do succeed, he'll just keep running things from France or Saudi Arabia or wherever, communications being what they are nowadays, and any new Palestinian leadership will simply attach a demand for his return to any negotiations that take place. They'll have to do that even if they don't like the guy, or they'll face the wrath of a population that will see his removal as a national humiliation. Not a good place to be when you're being forced into a civil war.

If the Israelis kill him, on the other hand, he'll be an instant martyr, as visible a symbol of the conflict and of Arab nationalism as anything to date. I'm sure that they know quite well how important this role is- expect the "Arafat our Martyr" posters and songs and such to get rolled out the instant his EEG goes flat. Plus, any attack on Arafat will likely lead to breathtaking collateral damage, if the typical Israeli technique of using missiles for assassination holds true against Arafat. (I'd hope it wouldn't and that they'd use a more discriminating technique. I don't necessarily expect it, but I do hope.)

Still, there are going to be a lot of very angry Israeli Arabs right now, and that's a more significant development than the calls for Arafat's ouster. Israeli Arabs just lost their own sons and daughters to the Palestinians, a group that they would normally sympathize with. This is going to prompt some questioning: if the Palestinians are attacking indiscriminately, then why not let Sharon and the Israeli government do whatever they want? Even the most virulently anti-semetic Arab is going to tell the Jihadis to screw off if he's not an Islamist himself, and it'll renew his interest in both a peaceful solution to the conflict and any nascent dislike of Islamists.

After all, the claims that Arabs are better off in Israel than they would be under any number of Arab leaderships in the area (including the PA) do have a real point to them, even if they are usually made by transparent apologists for Likud policy. They can vote, they have rights, they have freedom of speech, and have the opportunity to become a significant part of a Labour coalition. Even if they don't believe that the "demographic dilemma" will lead to their being a massive electoral force in a few years, they're still not going to let a good thing go. Assuming that the Jewish Israelis don't threaten to transfer Israeli Arabs over to Jordan, (thus directly threatening said Israelis), they've got a lot more to lose by supporting these guys than by opposing them, and any goodwill will have been annihilated by this attack on their own. This, of course, benefits the Jewish Israelis, because anything that makes Arab Israelis identify more with the "Israel" part of their identity than the "Arab" part of their identity aids national cohesion and security. Important, that.

Thing is, the Palestinians should know this. Was this an attack on secular Arabs, or was this an oversight? Either way, assuming that Israelis don't go down the rabbit hole of attacking Arafat, Israeli Arabs and Israeli Jews may have become a little more united. I'm all in favor of such unity; I just wish that it didn't come on the heels of tragedy.

No comments:

Post a Comment