Infighting On Israel


An interesting debate has developed over at Commentary on Israel's reaction to the Arab 1848. Max Boot started it off by relaying what he was hearing in Israel:

Some Israelis I have spoken to have been hopeful about what is happening; most have not been. Their view is that they have learned to live with despotic regimes and now they fear the consequences of their overthrow. That’s an understandable impulse for a small nation in a rough neighborhood, but it can be carried too far; I had one professor tell me, for instance, that it would be have been much better to have left Saddam Hussein in power because he was a “stabilizing” influence on the region. This would be the same Saddam who invaded Kuwait and Iran, who massacred the Kurds and Shiites, who tried to get weapons of mass destruction and who, lest anyone forget, fired missiles at Israel.

Maybe scarred by his infamous statement that he wanted Ahmadinejad to win the last "election" in Iran, or having learned from it, Daniel Pipes, of all people, is psyched. Evelyn Gordon (an Israeli) not so much:

Over the past two decades, Israelis have lived through numerous regional changes, each of which, we were confidently assured by both our own leaders and the West would benefit us greatly. And in every single case, the change only made things worse. ... We were told Saddam Hussein’s ouster would make Israel safer. And while I fully agree with Max that nobody could lament Saddam’s demise from a moral standpoint, from a security standpoint it’s far from clear that Israel is safer with Iran as the uncontested regional power than it was with Iran and Iraq containing each other. With Iran racing toward nuclear weapons and threatening to wipe Israel off the map, it’s a bit naïve to expect Israel to deem Iran’s new status as regional superpower unimportant in the broader scheme of things.

Jonathan S. Tobin seemed to fall somewhere in the middle:

The problem today for Israelis is not so much that it is foolish for them to publicly lament the fall of Mubarak and oppose the revolutionary fervor sweeping the Arab world. They should not do that; but no matter what they say about these events, most Israelis understand that, for all the changes in the air, they are living in the same Middle East that they have inhabited for the past 63 years. The rest of us should realize this too and resist the temptation to indulge in magical thinking about Israel’s ability to appease either the Palestinians or the rest of the Arab world.

(Photo: A concrete barricade at a checkpoint at the Israeli Egyptian border on February 10, 2011 in Israel. By Uriel Sinai/Getty Images.)