The Clash of Civilizations

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It sounds as if nowadays’ Israelis are losing the marks of a collapsing Old World without finding the way to the new one. Many of them are not even aware that times are changing and that clinging with teeth and fingernails to a wreck is not granting safety when the sea is stormed. Their behavior is significant. Either they duck a head in the sand, like the ostrich, or they resort to threatening as the last weapon for the desperate!

In the first case, we have Sharon reiterating his well known positions in a recent speech to the Likud party in Kyriat Motzkin: there will be no negotiations under fire, and the Mitchell report would be implemented in stages after a seven day period of total quiet followed by a period of six weeks of confidence building measures before the resumption of negotiations! Maybe Sharon would like to negotiate in a graveyard with the dead, for there is no other place on earth where the quiet is total! Yet, even the graveyards today are not providing total quietness to their dead! But Sharon is still confident that his wishes are orders for the Palestinians! Well perched upon his moon, the granddad would never land even if the whole damned world goes crazy-mad with blood and blind violence. Latest news: the cranky man has almost forgotten his irritation with Bush’s “provocations”! He would not fire his awkward troublesome Foreign Minister, Perez, whose head is wanted by fellow likudists. He proposes another solution: ” When we reach the negotiations”, he said, ” they will be handled by the Prime Minister’s office. And I will stand at the head of the team that will handle the negotiations”! Much the worse for Perez! But since the negotiations are still a remote perspective, unless Mr. Bush forces the old man to landing from the moon, Perez may still hope to hold his job and some dignity. Not that Sharon seeks to humiliate the Nobel-prized maker of the Israeli nuclear bomb – a paradox? No, a fact- but he is rather willing to prove his diplomatic abilities! A hidden gift that nobody ever suspected in the supervisor of Sabra and Shatila’s butchery! Thus, the Israeli Premier said he has a diplomatic plan, ” but would not reveal it at this stage”! Who pretends that Sharon is a foreseeable warmonger?

In the second case, we have some Israelis threatening to go to the utmost “logic” with the nuclear weapons, if a Palestinian State is created! This is not a joke. Who, excluding Ex-President Reagan, may afford to play publicly with such matters for the fun of terrorizing the adversary camp? Sharon? – Wrong answer. He has not the ( … ) let’s say, the courage! But if you say for instance: Louis Rene Beres, the author of “Security or Armageddon”, the result is: Bingo! The latter writes on The Jerusalem Post (Oct.16): ” A Palestinian state should not be foolishly supported by the US” (…) because its creation ” alongside the State of Israel will heighten the risk of regional nuclear war considerably…” Then the writer goes on to explain that anyway Israel ” might resort to nuclear retaliation”, in case it ” feels close to defeat”!

Such talk is closer to megalomania than to lucidity. But the trouble is that many people in Israel might be misled to a murdering overdose of “power rapture”. We cannot say that those who chose Sharon as Prime Minister opted for moderation.

Some years ago, Israel was part of the Western defense system in the Middle East, along with Iran (under the Shah) and Turkey. The triangle was working as long as the game with the Soviet Union was progressing towards the Détente. In that build up, Israel was indubitably a corner stone. But two important events happened and changed completely the game and its rules: The revolution in Iran, and the collapse of the Soviet Union. A new regional order emerged wherein other states became key-players for the interests of the USA. Among those states, we name: Saudi Arabia and Egypt.

Seemingly, the Israelis- like some Arabs- are not willing to see these changes as they are actually. For them, the former Soviet Union was some kind of ominous stabilizer. Thanks to the cold war – and even to the Détente – the Western wind was favorable to them. But when the whole Communist Empire collapsed, they were challenged to finding a “reserve” player.

That’s the very source of the theory about the clash of civilizations: The West versus Islam!

Hichem Karoui is a writer and journalist living in Paris, France.

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