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Protest in Cairo's Tahrir Square (archives) Photo: AFP
Protest in Cairo's Tahrir Square (archives) Photo: AFP
 
 

Elections don’t interest Arab world

Op-ed: Middle East countries too busy with Arab Spring chaos to take any real interest in Israeli elections

Guy Bechor
Published: 01.22.13, 18:09 / Israel Opinion

As opposed to previous years, these Israeli elections interest the Arab world very little. The Arab world is busy with its tragedies and crises – a civil war in Syria, riots and the burning of a courthouse in Egypt, complete disintegration in Libya, disintegration on a lower scale in Tunisia and concern over Iran. The Israeli issue has been taken off the agenda almost entirely over the past two years. If in the past the Arabs obsessed over this issue to divert attention from the real problems in the Arab world, today these problems have already surfaced, so there is no need to deal with Israel.

 

The interest in the Israeli and Palestinian issues has declined significantly in the Middle East. This is why there is almost no mention of the elections for the 19th Knesset.

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Two years after the outbreak of the Arab riots, Israel is now viewed across the Arab world as a small country that does not play a key role in the region. The Arab world is more concerned with the bitter fate that awaits the Arab countries.

 

Only Al-Jazeera is still covering the Israeli elections extensively, albeit not as extensively as in the past. Today's coverage is based on Al-Jazeera's desire to blame Israel for all the troubles. But it's simply not working; the Arab world is in mourning. Al-Jazeera's artificialness is ridiculous. After reporting of a massacre in Syria, deaths in Egypt and Yemen, chaos in the Maghreb, hostages and anarchy, the network reports that "Palestinian prisoners are not giving up on their demand to be given access to educational material in the occupation's prisons."

 

Since we live in a reality of tough Islamic regimes that are not always diplomatic, the Arab League's call for Israel's Arabs to vote so they can prevent the establishment of a right-wing coalition "that will promote racist laws and ethnic cleansing" did generate some interest. Of course the words "Israel" and "Israel's Arabs" did not appear in the League's statement. Instead it referred to the "1948 Arabs," a derogatory term used in the Arab world to describe Arab Israelis because they allegedly gave up and did not fight in the War of Independence.

 

"The radical Right in Israel is striving to pass anti-Arab laws whose aim is to ethnically cleanse the Arabs," the statement read. "Forecasts see the majority voting for the extremist, racist Right, which doesn't want peace but wants a Jewish state that considers Arabs a risk for Israel."

 

This call stirred an odd discussion. Arab Israelis criticized this call on social networks: Why is the Arab League legitimizing the elections in Israel instead of calling to boycott them? "It is better to embarrass Israel," responded a senior official in the Arab League, which is irrelevant and has no influence on the Arab street.

 

 

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