Libya may be on the brink, but danger of Arab Spring turning against Israel is very real

If Gaddafi finally goes, marvellous. But don't take your eye off Israel where events could spiral out of control. The Jew hatred must stop.

The Middle East is a notoriously tricky area
The Commentator
On 21 August 2011 10:17

All the talk on the news channels over the weekend has been on the imminent demise of Colonel Muammar Gaddafi. We've heard it all before of course.

But his denunciation of the rebels as "rats" and the image of a Libyan female presenter wielding a hand gun live on TV news does suggest the regime knows it's in trouble. Fingers crossed.

But, as we have long argued, Libya is a strategic diversion to the real problems in the Middle East, namely the Iranian nuclear programme and the danger of the (ludicrously named) "Arab Spring" turning violently against the State of Israel.  

With the latter thought in mind, last week's massacre by Palestinian terrorists (operating out of the Sinai) of at least eight Israelis led to a train of events which may yet prove instructive.

Israel pursued the suspected attackers into the increasingly chaotic and lawless Sinai Peninsula where attacks on a gas pipeline from Egypt to Israel have become more and more common. The Israeli pursuit that followed the Palestinian massacre then led to the deaths of several Egyptian officers.

Israel has expressed regret, but thousands have gathered outside the Israeli Embassy in Cairo, burning the Israeli flag and chanting the usual mantras about death to the "Zionist entity".

For its part, the Egyptian government has been threatening diplomatic consequences, and (amazingly) blaming Israel for failing to secure the Sinai border. Right now, the Egyptians have no interest in matters spiralling out of control, and the United States and the Europeans are pushing hard to keep the lid on things.

Nonetheless, you can see how it  could all go terribly wrong at some point in the not too distant future. Syria has already attempted to divert attention from its own appalling repression by provoking violent demonstrations up in the Golan Heights.

And as regimes across the region (Egypt in particular) come under increasing pressure to deliver real political, social and material change, that old favourite in the Middle East -- scapegoating the Jews -- could all too easily become the strategy of choice.

We're not prophets of doom. But with the Palestinians pushing for a resolution on unilateral statehood at the United Nations in September (after which mass demonstrations among the Palestinians and others can be expected) it would be foolish to rule out the prospect of serious problems ahead.

Amr Moussa, an Egyptian presidential candidate and former Secretary-General of the Arab League, said in response to recent events: "Israel must understand that the day our sons get killed without a strong and appropriate response is gone and will not come back."

And as Douglas Bloomfield wrote in an article in the Jerusalem Post in July:

"Marwan Barghouti, a popular potential successor to [Palestinian Authority President] Abbas, in a statement from the Israeli prison where he is serving five life sentences on terror-related murder convictions, called for a "peaceful million-man march" in Arab, Muslim and Western capitals to coincide with September's UN session. But at the same time he advocated "struggle and resistance on the ground" - buzzwords for terrorism."

This is why it is vital that Britain and other European states join the US in opposing the Palestinian move.

More broadly, it is equally vital that we keep a close eye on what is going on inside the Arab and Muslim world and make it crystal clear that the Jew-hatred that governs large sections of their societies is unacceptable and must be stopped. 

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