Hezbollah rally in Lebanon
Photo: Reuters

They're not all al-Qaeda

Op-ed: Idea that all our enemies would use any weapon to destroy us based on paranoia, ignorance

Chemical weapons have been stored in the warehouses and basements of blood-thirsty dictator Bashar Assad's army for years, and now, as his reign may be coming to an end, Israel fears these weapons may end up in the hands of another blood-thirsty dictator, Hassan Nasrallah.


Israel, which has internalized the threat of hundreds of missiles with chemical warheads along its northern border, is setting a red line on the transfer of these and other "tie-breaking" weapons from Syria to Arabs in Lebanon.


To those who still claim, as Yitzhak Shamir did nearly 30 years ago, that the Arabs are the same Arabs, just as the sea is the same sea, this issue should be confusing or unnerving, because what's the difference between an Arab with a mustache and an Arab with a galabia? They're all the same anyway, right? They all want to annihilate us, so we must maintain a policy of force and distrust toward all of them.


But the reality is apparently more complex. The problematic aspects of dangerous weapons leaking to Hezbollah are clear. On the other hand, relating to the enemy as some crazed and blood-thirsty element that will use every destructive tool in its possession, is a combination of paranoia and lack of understanding. There is a reason why Nasrallah avoided hitting Haifa's oil refineries during the Second Lebanon War and why Saddam Hussein fired only conventional missiles at Israel during the Gulf War. And let us not forget Bashar Assad, who did not retaliate after unknown forces destroyed his nuclear plant.


These words are not coming from the Left and are not being written to compliment the enemy. Rather, they are aimed at introducing a more mature and in-depth discussion on everything that falls under the title: Arab. Al-Qaeda is not Hezbollah, just as Abbas is not Hamas – and even within Hamas there are several shades of grey. The public debate, in which the politicians suck up to talkbackers who classify every Arab as a dictator and modern-day Hitler, is superficial and juvenile. Such discourse may lead to a shallow and dangerous policy.


When Yair Lapid says we should talk to them because we do not trust them, he contributes to allaying fears related to the negotiations, but when he refers to the 11 Knesset members from the three Arab parties as "Zoabis," he is trivializing the important discussion regarding Israel's Arabs. Hanin Zoabi is not Ahmad Tibi, just as Mohammad Barakeh is not Azmi Bishara. Not all Arabs are the same, and this is true for Israeli Arabs as well.


So far Israel has exhibited a mature and restrained policy vis-à-vis Syria, indicating that behind closed doors, far from the furor of the masses, our leaders do not relate to all Arabs and threats in the same manner. The naïve desire in Israel to see an Arab-free Middle East cannot dictate policy. We live in a dangerous and hostile neighborhood, and in this neighborhood we must learn to swim with the current, not only against it, and interpret reality in a mature way.


When we are disgusted by Beitar Jerusalem fans because they make no distinction between a Muslim from Chechnya and an Arab from Qalqilya, and when we are shocked when the team's coach claims there is a difference between European Arabs and Israeli Arabs – we must keep in mind that they represent the extreme part of a larger phenomenon.



פרסום ראשון: 02.03.13, 22:30
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