Israel and the Death of Pan-Arabism


GLICK011014Originally published by The Jerusalem Post

The so-called Arab Spring unleashed forces that have been dormant for a century. Like their counterparts throughout the region, Israel’s Arabic-speaking minorities are changing in profound ways. But our leaders fail to grasp the implications of what is happening.

Consider the Christian community.

Father Gabriel Nadaf, a Greek Orthodox priest from Nazareth, has become the symbol of this new period. Nadaf is the spiritual leader of an Israeli Christian movement calling for Israeli Christian youth to serve in the IDF. He is responsible for the 300 percent rise in Christian Arab enlistment in the IDF in the past year.

Nadaf does not hide his goal or his motivation. His seeks the full integration of Israel’s 130,000 Christians into Israeli society. He views military service as the key to that integration.

Nadaf is motivated to act by the massive persecution of Christians throughout the Arab world since the onset of the Arab revolutionary wave in December 2010.

As he explained in a recent interview with Channel 1, it is “in light of what we see happening to Christians in Arab countries, how they are slaughtered and persecuted on a daily basis, killed and raped just because they are Christians. Does this happen in the State of Israel? No, it doesn’t.”

Shahdi Halul, a reserve captain in the Paratroopers who works with Nadaf, declared, “Every Christian in the State of Israel should join the army and defend this country so it will exist forever. Because if, God forbid, the government is overthrown here, as it was in other places, we will be the first to suffer.”

These men, and their supporters, are the natural result of the most significant revolutionary development of the so-called Arab Spring: the demise of Arab nationalism.

As Ofir Haivry, vice president of the Herzl Institute, explained in an important article in the Mosaic online magazine, Arab nationalism was born in pan-Arabism – an invention of European powers during World War I that sought to endow the post-Ottoman Middle East with a new identity.

The core of the new identity was the Arabic language. The religious, tribal, ethnic and nationalist aspirations of the peoples of the Arabic- speaking region were to be smothered and replaced by a new pan-Arab identity.

For the Christians of the former Ottoman Empire, pan-Arabism was a welcome means of getting out from under the jackboot of the Islamic Laws of Omar, which reduce non-Muslims living under Muslim rule to the status of powerless dhimmis, who survive at the pleasure of their Islamic rulers.

But now pan-Arabism lies in ruins from North Africa to the Arabian Peninsula. The people of the region have gone back to identifying themselves by tribe, religion, ethnicity, and in the case of the Kurds and the Berbers, non-Arab national identity. In this new era, Christians find themselves imperiled, with few if any protectors or allies to be found.

As Haivry notes, Israel’s central strategic challenge has always been contending with pan-Arabism, which was invented at the same time that the nations of the world embraced modern Zionism.

Since its inception, pan-Arab leaders always saw Israel as the scapegoat on which to pin their failure to deliver on pan-Arabism’s promise of global Arab power and influence.

Israel changed its position on pan-Arabism drastically over the years. Once, Israel could see the dangers in pan-Arabism and Arab nationalism.

But since 1993, says Haivri, Israel’s national strategy has been based on appeasing the secular authoritarian pan-Arab leaders by offering land for peace to Syria and the PLO.

Haivry notes that Shimon Peres is the political godfather of Israel’s accommodationist strategy, which is rooted in a mix of perceived powerlessness on the one hand, and utopianism on the other.

The sense of powerlessness owes to the conviction that Israel cannot influence its environment. That the Arabs will never change. Israel’s neighbors will always see themselves primarily as Arabs, and they will always want, more than anything else, Arab states.

At the same time, the accommodationists hold the utopian belief that Israeli appeasement of Palestinian Arab nationalism will break through the wall of pan-Arab rejection, end hatred for the Jewish state, and even lead the Arabs to invite Israel to join the Arab League.

The so-called Arab Spring has put paid to every one of the accommodationists’ beliefs. From Egypt to Tunisia to Iraq to Syria, Israel’s neighbors are fighting each other as Sunnis, Shi’ites and Salafists, or as members of clans and tribes, without a thought for the alleged primacy of their Arab identity. What Israel’s Palestinian-state-obsessed Left has failed to realize is that many of Israel’s neighbors do not share the pan-Arab scapegoating of the Jewish state. So bribing the now largely irrelevant Arabs nationalists with another Arab state may do little more than create the newest victim of the Arab revolutions.

It is because they see what is happening to their co-religionists in the post-pan-Arab Middle East that more and more Israeli Christians realize they will lead safer, more prosperous and more fulfilling lives as Christian citizens in the Middle East’s only democracy than as pan-Arabs battling the Zionist menace.

But old habits die hard. Most of Israel’s elected Arab leaders owe their positions to their embrace of pan-Arabism. This embrace has brought them the support of the PLO and Europe, and since 1993, of the Israeli Left.

And so, since he first appeared on the scene, Father Nadaf’s life has been constantly threatened. Everyone from Arab members of Knesset to the Communist head of the Greek Orthodox Council has incited against him, calling him and his followers traitors to the Palestinian Arab nation.

He also threatens the Israeli Left. For its view of Israel’s strategic powerlessness and consequent need to appease its neighbors to remain relevant, the pan-Arab forces in the Arab world must be perceived as still dominant, even invincible. And so, the Israeli Left refuses to consider the larger strategic implications of the regional upheaval from which Nadaf’s initiative emerged.

Even worse, the official policy of the Netanyahu government appears based on this irrelevant Leftist view of the region. This is the implication of Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman’s defeatist speech at the Foreign Ministry’s annual conference of ambassadors on Sunday.

Liberman’s speech has been rightly viewed as the supposedly right-wing politician’s formal break with his ideological camp and his embrace of the Left. In his remarks Liberman let it be known, that like the Left, he now bases his positions on a complete denial or avoidance of reality. For this, he was congratulated for his “maturity” by Peres who was sitting on the stage with him.

In his speech, Liberman acknowledged that the Obama administration’s peace plan for Israel and the Palestinians is horrible for Israel. But, he said, it is better than the European Union’s peace plan.

Never considering the possibility of saying no to both, Liberman said he thinks we should accept the bad American deal. His only condition is that he insists that the PLO accept towns in the Galilee and their 300,000 Israeli Arab residents.

Liberman’s surrender of the Galilee is a key component to his population swap plan. Under his plan, Israel would retain control over the fraction of Judea and Samaria in which large numbers of Israeli Jews live, in exchange for the area of the Galilee that is home to 300,000 Israeli Arabs. This plan has reportedly been presented to US Secretary of State John Kerry as an official Israeli position.

In other words, the Netanyahu government has failed to recognize the implications of the death of pan-Arabism. In maintaining their slavish devotion to the two-state formula, and viewing the Arabs in the Galilee, Judea, Samaria, Jerusalem and surrounding states as an impenetrable bloc, they are placing Israel’s future in the hands of actors who have already disappeared or will soon disappear. Instead of building alliances with non-Jewish citizens of Israel, such as Druse and Christians, who are more than happy to defend Israel against Islamists and other regional fanatics, the Netanyahu government insists on placing the state’s future in the hands of pan-Arabs whose grip on power is slipping and who would never willingly coexist with Israel anyway.

Nadaf and his followers respond to the allegation – uttered by MKs like Haneen Zoabi and Basel Ghattas, among others – that they are traitors to the Palestinian Arab nation, with contempt.

“When someone tells me, ‘We’re all Arabs,’ I tell him, ‘No, we’re not all Arabs. You’re an Arab. I’m not,’” Halul told Channel 1.

Samer Jozin, whose daughter Jennifer opted for IDF service instead of medical school, agrees.

“Telling me I’m a Palestinian is a curse. I’m, thank God, an Israeli Christian and proud of it. And I thank God I was born in the Land of Israel,” he said.

The message couldn’t be clearer. We are basing our national strategy on a world that no longer exists.

Today our longtime allies the Kurds have carved out virtually independent states for themselves in Iraq and Syria.

Christians throughout the region are on the run. The Druse of Syria and Lebanon are exposed, without protection, and looking for help.

As for the Muslims, as Haivry notes, they are fragmented along sectarian and political lines, and at war with one another in battlefields throughout the region. While so engaged, they have little time to devote to blaming Israel for their failures.

This state of affairs has implications for Israel’s Arab Muslim minority. None of the regional warring Muslim camps are natural homes for Israel’s Muslim community. A community that has lived in an open, free society for 65 years does not naturally turn to Salafism. Israel is a much easier fit for most Israeli Muslims.

At a minimum, no one is better off if Israel forces them to cast their lot with any of the warring factions in Syria or Lebanon, or the increasingly irrelevant forces in the Palestinian Authority. There may very well be hundreds of Muslim versions of Father Nadaf just waiting for a signal from our government that we want them to lead their community into our society.

The post-pan-Arab Middle East exposes the truth that has been obscured for a century. The Jews and their Jewish state are a natural component of our diverse neighborhood, just like the Kurds, the Christians, the Druse, the various Muslim sects, and the Arabs. The demise of pan-Arabism is our great opportunity, at home and regionally, to build the alliances we need to survive and prosper. But so long as our leaders insist on clinging to the now irrelevant dream of appeasing the defunct pan-Arabists, we will lose these opportunities and convince our allies that we are treacherous, disloyal and temporary.

Caroline Glick’s new book, The Israeli Solution: A One State Plan for Peace in the Middle East, is due out on March 4.

Freedom Center pamphlets now available on Kindle: Click here.

  • Judahlevi

    Israel needs to be pluralistic and accepting of all, including other denominations of Judaism. Nonetheless, Israel is a moral giant compared to its neighbors when it comes to human rights and acceptance of others. Still, more can be done.

    The UN and the rest of the world should stop their double standards and apply their moral outrage to Israel’s neighbors, and their human rights violations, instead of concentrating everything on Israel. The UN has become a home of anti-Semitism and has lost its credibility due to this fact.

    • ObamaYoMoma

      What you expect, the General Assembly of the UN had been under the control and enormous influence of the 57 state OIC for decades?

  • Phương Trinh

    A community that has lived in an open, free society for 65 years does not naturally turn to Salafism.

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    ap

    • khalid

      dont fool your selves the artificial entity emplanted in the region by western powers can never be accepted coexisted with by the ppl natives of the mid east ipromise you not in athousand years still early to make conclosions concerning the arab revouloutions keep dreaming aliens

  • Jeff Ludwig

    It’s a brilliant analysis, but is it true? The Arab personality or mindset is very unstable. The Arab world is, using the word in a layman’s sense, schizophrenic — there is a split between living life normally and spasms of derangement led by the more permanently deranged. Hence, strange as it might sound, it seems to me that the Arab world surrounding Israel is both pan-Arab and non-Pan-Arab. There’s clearly a fragmentation in the Arab world that doesn’t fit neat categorizations. Thus, as Ms. Glick says, it may be that the Israeli government needs to be more cognizant of and responsive to opportunities of new non-pan-Arabist trends, but at the same time understand that many of the Arab masses and leaders are themselves also still thinking in the older pan-Arabist way. Pan-Arabism was the special baby of Nasser and later Saddam Hussein who imagined himself to be the “new” Nebuchadnezzar. But their pan-Arabism was based on rule by the military in a form of secularized-yet-Islamic socialism. This is different from the pan-Arabism of the Muslim brotherhood based on Sharia Law and a dictatorship as a precursor to the establishment of a new caliphate. At this in turn is different from the Pan-Arabism of the Shi’a Iranians who are also allied with Sharia, but have a more apocalyptic vision driven by the soon coming of the Twelfth Imam. My point is that there are Arab viewpoints that are dissident as Ms. Glick suggests, i.e., not pan-Arab, but also among pan-Arabists there are different schools of thought with different emphases. Of course, she is correct in believing that all the “competing” pan-Arab ideologies uniformly have an undying hatred of Israel, whereas among the non-pan-Arabists we find a mixed bag of views about Israel. My question is this: do the non-pan-Arabists exist in sufficient numbers to really make a difference in favor of Israel’s survival in the Middle East? How much clout do these non-Pan-Arabists ultimately have. Even in the article, the Christian Arabs are distancing themselves from the (Muslim) pan-Arabists for their own safety. How useful will they be then for the safety of Israel?

  • AlexanderGofen

    1) The concept of pan-Arabism as an ethnic unity is erroneous because it ignores the existence of Christians of Arabic ethnicity – a suppressed and persecuted by the Arab islamic majority. Moreover, Christianity is not attached to a particular ethnicity, and it ignores ethnicity.

    2) The concept of Jewishness as nothing but an ethnic unity (or even a unity of 12 ethnic tribes) is erroneous because…

    a) It ignores the most crucial aspect of the Judaism as a faith and philosophy; and…

    b) A person of any ethnicity may become a Jew via the process of learning and conversion called Giyur. The Judaism too is not strictly attached only to 12 Jewish tribes as it may adsorb any ethnicity. Therefore…

    3) The concept of secular Zionism and of Israel as a home of Jews in ethnic sense only are flawed because…

    c) They reduce Jewishness to ethnicity only, and so…

    d) They lose the ULTIMATE justification of Israel’s existence as the God’s plan and God’s promise. Without the Godly aspect, Israel is merely a negligibly small “ordinary ethnic state” readily sacrificed by the so called “world community” at a whim.

    4) Of all faiths beside Judaism itself, Christianity alone recognizes the Divine role of Israel. Therefore every brand of Christianity which has rid of the so called “replacement doctrine” is a natural ally of Israel. See more in http://www.resonoelusono.com/DeclarationForIsrael.htm

    • Bamaguje

      A non-Jew who converts to Judaism is a Judaist, not a Jew.
      Just as being a Muslim doesn’t automatically make one an Arab.

      • AlexanderGofen

        Consideration of Jews as ethnicity (or even 12 ethnicities) is a modern invention. By definition, Jews are people adhered to Judaism. And this presumes that people of any ethnicity may become a Jew by conversion.

        • Bamaguje

          12 tribes of Israel is in the Torah/Old testament, so it’s not a modern invention.

          • AlexanderGofen

            Indeed, the 12 tribes (ethnicities) of antient Israel was (is) a reality. However, to be a (spiritual) Jew means adherence to Judaism, not necessarily to a particular tribe.

      • defcon 4

        So what do you call Ethiopian Jews sunshine?

        • Bamaguje

          Ethiopian Jews are converts to Judaism, not ethnic Jews. Genetic studies have proven that they are not ethnic Jews but are related to other neighbouring Africans.

          • defcon 4

            Gee, they’ve been around since pre-BCE and you still don’t consider them Jews eh? BTW, how do you know they’re converts? Let’s see some proof of your theory.

          • Bamaguje

            Around where? They were in their home in Africa before Israel evacuated them based on claims that have been scientifically proven to be false.

            You want proof? See: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10592688

            Even common sense should serve as a guide. Jews are semitic Caucasians from the Middle east.who didn’t intermarry with non-Jews. So how did the semitic Caucasian Jews in Africa become Black?

            Falashas (Ethiopian Jews) are Jew wannabes on account of their adopting Judaism, period!!

  • ConcernedCitizen999

    The self-proclaimed enemy of Israel is Islam, not pan-Arabism.
    Pan-Arabism is a tool that was used by the Soviets to help them fight and defeat America (and America’s ally Israel) and thereby gain world domination for Communism.
    Pan-Arabism is a Potempkin village, another fake false-front organization and Communist tool.
    Pan-Arabism was also a tool used by the British when they were trying to demolish the non-Arab Ottoman empire.
    Again, it was a somewhat artificial facade erected by third parties for ulterior motives, but now those third parties are dilapidated and fading away, while the eternal forces of nationalism and religion (Islam) are rising up and reasserting themselves.
    Pan-Arabism was never the greatest threat to Israel, as it was always somewhat of an artificial construct, with no real support in the hearts of the Arab people.
    Islam is the real threat to Israel.
    But the rise of Arab nationalism, an ethno-nationalism, based on the tribe and territory can be a good thing for Israel.
    For what else is Zionism for Israel but Jewish ethno-nationalism.
    You might say that the solution for Israel is Zionism, but not just Zionism for Israel, but an Arab Zionist ethno-nationalism for each Arab nation.
    When each Arab state makes ethno-nationalism a higher priority than pan-Arabism or Islam, then Israel will have fellow nation states that share a fundamental priority, they will have something in common and they will become allies and not enemies, they can band together to help each other defend their own ethno-nationalism..
    A world organized on the principle of the national ethno-state is potentially a stable peaceful world.
    A world based on the internationalist idea of a one-world-government, whether that government is Communist or an Islamic Caliphate, is a world that can only come about after it has destroyed all the nation states that stand in it’s way, and it will be a world controlled by that immoral dictatorial despotic totalitarian megalomanic who seeks all power, who has no care for the individual, or any nation in particular and who’s only rule is that the end justifies the means..
    It is the internationalist forces of Communism, the Islamic Caliphate, or even the deranged sotto communist EU project (a la Bat Ye’or) that threaten to destroy Israel, just as those internationalist forces are now destroying the nation-states within their own area of control, in Europe and in the Islamic world, and just as the Communist internationalism destroyed in the most horrible way the nations and nation-states that were not so long ago held captive in the Soviet Communist world.
    Arab ethno-nationalism can be your friend.
    Pan-Arabism is not the problem, pan-Islam is the problem, and it should be defeated by strengthening the nation-state for all of Israel’s neighbors.

  • Deagin

    What I found interesting is the idea of Christians joining the IDF. Is there any possibility of the State of Israel encouraging Christian refugees in the Middle East to find safety in Israel? And if more Christians would join the IDF it could help Israel in more ways than one. Christians around the world may begin to see Israel in a more positive light. An enemy of my enemy is my friend.

    • BagLady

      What a shame that people of “The Book’ can’t find a more effective ‘weapon’ than the gun.

      • Deagin

        What a shame that Muslim apologists like you don’t think that Jews and Christians have the right to defend themselves with guns when your people are threatening and killing them with guns. We would use the Bible which is the right word for “The Book” but Muslims do not allow proselytizing and rejection of Islam by a Muslim is a capital crime.

        • BagLady

          and “We” the majority, would argue that “The Book” refers to all three religions that have their feet in this clay. Ah yes, the Second Amendment that you hold so dear, regardless the glaring proof of its damaging effects on society.

          • Well Done

            Lumping Islam in with other religions is like putting horse dung in an apple barrel. Almost exactly as stupid. The second amendment has no damaging effects on society. Untrained people owning illegal guns is NOT the second amendment. It’s just simply criminal.

          • defcon 4

            Just because a lying, Jew hating, child molesting psychopath states his is an Abrahamic religion doesn’t make it so.

          • Jackson

            Comparing Muslimes with Jews and Christians exposes your grasp of Islame.

      • Doger Trader

        BAGLADY
        the fact that israeli arabs (the muslims) responded with horror to liberman’s suggestion to become Palestinians citizens and declare they are israelis and will stay that way is an honor medal to the state of israel. they know well- from first hand experience- what israel is offering.

      • UCSPanther

        History shows that the gun and its earlier equivalent, the sword are VERY effective, as is having exceptional warriors who can wield those weapons.

        The Mongols didn’t forge their empire by playing nice, the Normans didn’t influence British history by being nice and western civilization in general didn’t reach its prominence by playing nice either.

      • Hass

        As history has shown, peaceful talks are useless when facing Muslimes.
        So what would you suggest they use?

        • BagLady

          No good making statements in a tweet form. Give examples of these failures. No-one with any sense argues with facts.

          • Well Done

            So, then, does that mean you’re going to keep arguing?

          • BagLady

            I will level with you. I miss the website I used to spend time on — BBCGlobalMinds. Yes, yes the BBC,left wing blah blah blah. However, it was a great site with good programming behind it allowing a bit of nifty code so you could say things like “click here” and import graphics etc. When I first joined I was elated. Lots of really good writers and no holds barred. Soon after, the BBC sold off the media interests to one Vision Critical and everything changed. Suddenly, every other sentence was censored to the point posts were unintelligible. They closed it down, opened it up again and then, finally shut us down totally. They urge us to stay members and fill in their inane surveys.

            So, it would be nice to find similar sites, where posters take a little time and trouble with their posts and actually provide food for thought.

          • defcon 4

            Why don’t you try publicly arguing for equal rights for the najjis kaffir in any islamic state baghead?

          • BagLady

            Um? Why don’t you?

      • Well Done

        LOL bags, too fun. What’s really a shame is that Islamists won’t find an effective weapon at all. They cling to hatred.

        • BagLady

          and this hatred does not dissipate with US aggression but feeds on the bullets, growing fatter by the year. We know our strategy doesn’t work but we are incapable of thinking outside the box or, dare I say it, admitting defeat and going home.

      • SDLakeshore

        What a shame the enemies of the “People of the Book,” are not willing to lead by example.

  • dougjmiller

    Caroline, you hit another home run. You’re destined to be in the Hall of Fame. Thanks for all you say and do. The Jewish people owes you a great debt of gratitude.

  • ObamaYoMoma

    Nadaf is motivated to act by the massive persecution of Christians throughout the Arab world since the onset of the Arab revolutionary wave in December 2010.

    Here’s a couple of glaring problem: Christians are not just being persecuted throughout the Arab world. Indeed, they are being persecuted throughout the Islamic world, as the institution of dhimmitude is an integral part of Islamic culture that is governed and controlled by Sharia, which is divine Islamic totalitarian law. Moreover, it is not just Christians who are victims of persecution by Muslims, but, indeed, all non-Muslim infidels alike are persecuted by Muslims as well.

    Furthermore, the Arab revolutionary wave is not nor never was an Arab wave at all but an Islamic wave instead.

    It may be politically correct to say Arabs, but it nevertheless serves to conceal the harsh truth.

    Since its inception, pan-Arab leaders always saw Israel as the scapegoat on which to pin their failure to deliver on pan-Arabism’s promise of global Arab power and influence.

    Actually, what is and has been happening in Israel is an old fashion run of the mill jihad (holy war) to make Islam supreme in that part of the world. Indeed, the jihad being waged against the Jewish infidels in Israel through the greater Islamic world’s proxies, the so-called Palestinians, isn’t a dispute over territory illegally begotten by Israel, but instead a jihad to conquer Israel for Islam, and as such it is nothing more than one theater of jihad in the much greater worldwide global jihad being waged against all religions and all infidels the world over to ultimately make Islam supreme throughout the world.

    Indeed, the jihads being waged against the Hindus in India, the Buddhists in Southern Thailand, and the Christians in the Sudan, for instance, are all also individual theaters of jihad that all together when combined comprise the greater worldwide global jihad to ultimately make Islam supreme throughout the world.

    That the Arabs will never change.

    When Israel ceases seeing its enemies as Arabs and instead starts seeing its enemies as Muslims instead, which is what they actually are, then it will begin to change its defensive postures in a far more beneficial manner.

    Israel’s neighbors will always see themselves primarily as Arabs, and they will always want, more than anything else, Arab states.

    That’s ludicrous, Israel’s neighbors see themselves as Muslims and they will always want, more than anything else, Islamic totalitarian states where Islam is supreme. Not only that but all Muslim majority states outside of the Arab sphere, also are waging jihad if not by action in spirit against the infidel state of Israel that lies in the heart of Islamdom, as jihad (holy war) consist of both violent and non-violent action.

    At the same time, the accommodationists hold the utopian belief that Israeli appeasement of Palestinian Arab nationalism will break through the wall of pan-Arab rejection, end hatred for the Jewish state, and even lead the Arabs to invite Israel to join the Arab League.

    Talk about a delusion of grandeur, now that is a delusion of grandeur and then some! Meanwhile, nowhere in that sentence is the totalitarian ideology of Islam even mentioned.

    Indeed, the Pan-Arab movement was never more than taqiyya, i.e., stealth and deceptive jihad, used to dupe gullible useful idiots.

    Nevertheless, if Israel is to survive, its leaders must come to the stark realization that the jihad (holy war) being waged against it by the Islamic world through their proxies, the so-called Palestinians, is permanent and perpetual and will continue into perpetuity as long as Islam remains viable in the world and Israel continues to survive. Indeed, infidels making peace with Muslims is always deception.

    • defcon 4

      I seem to remember a young Israeli woman being arrested and persecuted (oops prosecuted) for creating artwork critical of Islam in Israel. Perhaps this could be the reason for the absolution of islam in this article.

      • ObamaYoMoma

        Nah…she is describing the Israeli Left’s delusional world in this article.

  • White Light

    What about the eighty percent of the Israeli Arab population who aren’t Christians or Druze?

  • White Light

    Pan-Arabism is dead, replaced by….liberal democracy? No, by Islamism.