by Barry Rubin
The first event in Glenn Beck’s series of events in support of Israel was an outstanding success, though walking through a minefield of sensitivities. Held in the historic Roman-build coliseum in Caesarea, the program mixed Christian and Jewish themes—stressing the commonality of world views and spiritual values.
Beck estimated that 60 percent of the audience was Israeli and Jewish, and many of them were Orthodox, a sign that this community, at least in Israel, isn’t afraid of allying with Evangelical Christians In addition, Beck organized viewing parties around the world, including in some Muslim-majority countries where even watching a pro-Israel event over computers would have to be done in secret.
And here’s a great first-hand report of the event by Yisrael Medad. And here’s another report with photos
What’s really impressive is that even left-wing Haaretz was impressed, and that’s about as close to a miracle as you’re going to get this week.
The call for support of Israel comes at a critical moment. In addition to the terrorist attack on the Egypt-Israel border and a foiled kidnapping attempt in Bersheva, more than 100 rockets struck Israel over the weekend. Three longer-range Grad missiles were shot down by Israel’s Iron Dome system which passed its first series test in combat conditions.
At an emergency meeting of the Israeli parliament’s Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, committee, Shaul Mofaz, a retired general and the number-two leader of the center-left Kadima Party, called for Israel to hit Hamas hard in order to “topple their infrastructures and create a system of ties with Egypt in order to prevent terrorism coming from its border.”
The international crisis is overshadowing the social protest movement in Israel, another reminder that national defense spending inevitably trumps housing and other needs, a matter of guns over kosher butter. The build-up of forces and installations on Israel’s southern front is going to be costly.
Under ordinary conditions, Israel would be gearing up for at least a heavy round of airstrikes against Hamas military installations, rocket factories, and the like. But there’s a new factor in the equation and Hamas knows it.
Within Egypt the old anti-Israel hysteria is building again. An Egyptian who took down the flag from Israel’s embassy—located in an ordinary apartment building—has become a national hero. Speaking live on al-Jazira television, he said, “Millions of Arabs want to pull that flag….This is a message to Israel that we can send millions of martyrs for the good of our country,” he said. A mob burned the flag, chanting, “The path to Jerusalem leads through Cairo.”
One “liberal” activist remarked, “After the revolution people don’t believe there should be concessions to an apartheid regime and what he did was take action in reshaping the official stance.”
Remember the April 6 Youth Movement, the “moderate” “Facebook kids” who began the revolution to overthrow the Mubarak regime, saluted by President Barack Obama? As I pointed out months ago, it was easy to ascertain that this was a radical, left-oriented group allied with the Muslim Brotherhood though not a single mass media outlet—or apparently U.S. government agency—did the simple research required.
One of the Movement’s leaders remarked that the flag-burning was, “A new blow by the people to Israel and the United States and its failed diplomacy.”
Below is a video of the flag-burning. The sound isn’t clear but the best we can figure out the slogans include: “Go, go, and if you don’t understand, I mean, go,” referring to closing the Israeli embassy; “We vow to set fire to it,” meaning to burn up Israel like the flag; and “Down with Israel!” Some say that slogans heard include, “Stop selling them [Israel] gas!” and “Let’s burn them with gas!”
The problem is that despite so many examples in the past—from the Iranian revolution’s hostage-taking to suicide bombers and September 11—many in the West still don’t believe that Middle East revolutionaries—Islamist, leftist, and radical nationalist—believe it when they say they are going to destroy Israel. They are not merely interested in material gain, higher living standards, and democracy. And the brave minority that doesn’t go along with this world view gets trampled.
Have no doubt that even in the Egyptian military there are many officers who share this enthusiasm or even hysteria.
My view remains that the military junta will keep the country, which is also fighting local Islamist revolutionaries in Sinai, stable. But when elections happen—perhaps in November—and a new government takes office, the prospects for an Israel-Hamas war or even something wider or going to be very high in 2012.
Incidentally, here’s a useful guide to the “Arab Spring” so far, compiled by LebanonNow. It includes casualties, refugees created, and a summary of events.
Barry Rubin is director of the Global Research in International Affairs (GLORIA) Center, editor of the Middle East Review of International Affairs (MERIA) Journal, and Middle East editor and a featured columnist at PajamasMedia http://pajamasmedia.com/barryrubin/. His latest books are The Israel-Arab Reader (seventh edition), The Long War for Freedom: The Arab Struggle for Democracy in the Middle East (Wiley), and The Truth About Syria (Palgrave-Macmillan). The website of the GLORIA Center is http://www.gloria-center.org. His articles published originally in places other than PajamasMedia can be found at http://www.rubinreports.blogspot.com