April 17, 2017
The day after 70 of his Arab brethren perished in a horrific gas attack in Syria, King Abdullah II of Jordan stood at a White House press conference and repeated the biggest lie of the past half-century: “The Israeli-Palestinian conflict … is essentially the core conflict in our region.”
For decades, this great lie has served as the lifeblood for Arab leaders looking to change the subject from the vicious conflicts of the region and the oppression of their own people.
Their countries may be in total meltdown, but if they pivot to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, they know the international community and much of the media will lap it up. Arab dictators are simply getting a good return on their investment in Jew-hatred.
Thanks to their brilliant job of promulgating this hatred for so long throughout their societies, whenever things start to heat up they can just serve up the perfect scapegoat: “It’s all about the conflict with the Jewish state!”
That is how we ended up with the sorry spectacle of an Arab king telling the world with a straight face that the conflict with the Jews is the key problem in the region.
Never mind that when Foreign Policy announced its “Ten Conflicts to Watch in 2017”, the top three came from King Abdullah’s own region, and, needless to say, none of the 10 mentioned Israel or the Palestinians.
The first was Syria and Iraq, where after nearly six years of fighting, an estimated 500,000 people have been killed and some 12 million uprooted.
The second was Turkey, which, as Foreign Policy reports, “is facing worsening spillover from the wars in Syria and Iraq and a spiralling conflict with the PKK (Kurdish Workers Party). Politically polarised, under economic strain, and with weak alliances, Turkey is poised for greater upheaval.”
The third was Yemen, where the war has created “another humanitarian catastrophe, wrecking a country that was already the poorest in the Arab world.
With millions of people now on the brink of famine, the need for a comprehensive ceasefire and political settlement is ever more urgent.”
You can go down the list and find conflicts throughout the region that make the Israeli-Palestinian conflict look like a therapy session.
From rampant Islamic extremism and political turnover to economic stagnation and age-old sectarian hatreds, the region is bursting with volcanoes that have absolutely nothing to do with Israel or the Palestinians.
I’m sure you remember the famous Arab Spring protests of 2011, when tens of millions of Arabs exploded on to streets across the Middle East because they couldn’t take it any more. The funny thing is, none of the protesters was screaming about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Instead, they were screaming for basic stuff like human rights, civil rights, freedom, economic opportunities, and so on.
In other words, they wanted what their Arab brothers and sisters already have in Israel, where Arabs have made it all the way to the Israeli Supreme Court. How’s that for dark irony?
That might explain why Arab leaders are so intent on making Israel the biggest problem of the region. They know that the truth is the exact opposite — that Israel is not the biggest problem but the actual solution to the Middle East.
As much as it pains them to admit it, they know their countries would be a lot better off if they were more like Israel. They see how constant innovation in Israel keeps improving the quality of life; how Israel’s open society has created a vibrant and progressive culture; how Israeli Arabs have more freedoms and economic opportunities in the Jewish state than in any country of the region.
If you’re an Arab leader raised on Jew-hatred, how humiliating must that be?
But there’s something else these hypocrites know well — they know the Israeli-Palestinian conflict won’t be solved anytime soon, certainly not with the region in violent turmoil and the prospect that the West Bank would turn into another terror state if Israel left. This is great news for leaders petrified of losing their power.
It means their trusted Jewish scapegoat is alive and kicking.
These insecure dictators, who couldn’t care less about the welfare of the Palestinians or of their own people, know that as long as a solution to their favourite conflict remains far, far away, they can keep milking the big lie and live to see another day.