In the region, severe violence particularly in Syria and Libya has been grabbing headlines. Although many Westerners react by supporting “rebels,” reports of repression and strengthened extremism in Egypt suggest that merely replacing one Middle Eastern regime with another hardly guarantees the flowering of democracy.
The Middle East indeed poses difficult dilemmas for the West, but the chances of avoiding mistaken policies are higher if it is understood that violence and repression are endemic to the region for deep-seated cultural reasons. In that light, for instance, the U.S. and its European allies might have thought twice before jumping in to support Libyan “rebels” who are no less barbaric than the regime they hate.
But whereas Western forces eventually leave hotspots like Afghanistan, Iraq, and Libya, Israel is in the Middle East to stay, and has to live for a long time with its own and others’ blunders. To Israelis who are more attuned to the region and less to Western hopes and visions, it has seemed all along that building a Palestinian military force is one such blunder — especially when such a force is eventually supposed to assume security responsibility in a sovereign state squeezing Israel into indefensible borders.
While it would be nice to see Sunday’s murderous incident as a fluke, again, an awareness of the Palestinian culture of extreme anti-Israeli and anti-Semitic incitement suggests the opposite. In fact, in another incident last year an Israeli soldier was stabbed to death by a PA police officer, and the Second Intifada began when a Palestinian officer shot his Israeli counterpart dead on a joint patrol — amid other such cases.
It’s to be hoped that MK Danon’s initiative to get Congress aware of the problem will bear fruit.