Writing in the London-based Saudi newspaper Al-Sharq al-Awsat this week, a prominent Saudi academic says Arab rulers can learn lessons from the Israeli government's handling of social protests. The Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI) reports that Amal Abd al-'Aziz al-Hazzani rejected assertions that military strikes following last week's Eilat terrorist attack were part of a plot to distract attention from social protests in Israel.
Many Arabs rejoiced "when the contagions of the Arab revolutions reach Israel," she wrote, thinking they would push that nation to the brink of collapse. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu would use torture and repression to crush the protests and would seek emergency help from the United States. Under this scenario, "the long story of Israeli tyranny would end without a single Arab batting an eyelash."
But the reality proved far different. Netanyahu, who had been traveling abroad, returned to Israel to "propose swift solutions to what the street was demanding" because he must answer to Israeli voters, Hazzani wrote. The Israeli government's approach was dramatically different from that of Syrian dictator Bashar Assad, "who deployed his tanks, nearly rusted from inactivity, against his own people."
When Israel targeted Gaza terror bases after Eilat, "the Arab League woke up from its slumber to condemn and censure" Israel. "We heard no such loud voice when the Syrian forces crushed the Al-Ramal refugee camp in Latakia," she added. "If only some of the Arab leaders would emulate Israel's leaders in their precision in dealing with their enemies."
In the Turkish daily newspaper Hurriyet, journalist Burak Bekdil noted that in January 2009, Islamist Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan told President Shimon Peres to his face that Jews know "how to kill" – referring to Arab deaths in conflicts with Israel. On numerous other occasions, Erdogan has portrayed the Jewish state as the main obstacle to peace in the region.
But the number of Muslims killed in the conflict with Israel is small compared with the number killed by other Muslims. Eleven million Muslims have died in violence around the world since 1948, Daniel Pipes and Gunnar Heinsohn of the University of Bremen found in 2007 research. But only 35,000 – or 0.3 percent – died in Arab wars with Israel. By contrast, more than 90 percent were killed by fellow Muslims.