When Arabs kill Arabs, what should Israel do?

There are people in the world who still stubbornly refer to the Arab Spring, clearly a term
which is associated with high hopes, almost idyllic picture of the Arab world. The truth is, that
there is no spring anymore, just gloom and with it so much blood. The blood of Arabs killed by their compatriots
in ever increasing numbers.

This is a situation bound to arouse much interest in Israel, being in the eye of the storm, the past
and very likely the target of the venom and hatred that seem to reign currently supreme in this troubled region of the world.
The official reaction of the Israeli government has been exemplary. I can’t think of one word of criticism, as it is
clear that any reaction by the government can be used against us, and so, in a manner so untypical of usual Israeli
instinct to talk and talk, the Netanyahu government is keeping silent. Arabs are always likely to blame
Israel, and so is the case now. I challenge those who command Arabic to read the tweets/facebook reactions from Egypt
in the last 48 hours, and they will be surprised to find out that it is all an Israeli wrongdoing… Mossad
and C.I.A got together, and innocent Egyptians are lying dead in the streets. Arab inability to
engage in a real, societal soul-searching process about their problems is indeed one of the main features of
Arab political discourse, which is characterized by the constant need to blame the OTHER, be it Israel, or
the US, or the WEST , as a collective name for the forces of evil which ganged up against Arabs and Muslims.
That is bad enough, and even worse than that, is the Western-Liberal sense of guilt towards the Third World in general, Arabs
and Muslims in particular, which is the driving force behind such gurus as Noam Chomsky and the late Edward Said.
So, the Arabs and their supporters tend to blame Israel automatically for all their troubles, and there is no need
therefore for us to unnecessarily provide them with ammunition.

In that sense, the Israeli government simply does what is right, which is not to say or do what it should not.
Accepting small numbers of wounded Syrians in Israeli hospitals is one thing, opening the gates to a flood of Syrian refugees is another.
I prefer Israel to remain the ultimate refuge place for persecuted Jews, and I personally happen to think that
this Israeli historic mission is far from over.
Just the other day we got a reminder about that, when 17 Jews were brought from Yemen. A small number, but
a symbolic testament to what can still be the case, if larger Jewish communities were to come under pressure in the future.
It is also right for Israel to help the Egyptian government, in fact EVERY Egyptian government when they fight
terrorists in Sinai, as well as it is right to go after any attempt on the part of Syria to transfer chemical and other
dangerous arms to undesirable hands.
It is not right though to be seen as if we want to actively participate in the bringing down of the Assad regime, for example.
A murderous regime by all accounts, but a regime which kept its border with Israel totally quiet for 40 years.
Clearly, this state of affairs presents Israel with a moral dilemma of the first order, and also calls into question the
long-held Israeli doctrine that democracy is the key to peace and stability in the Middle East. Well, Muhammad
Morsi was democratically elected, but he also referred to Jews as descendants of monkeys and pigs…
In sum, Israel is too close to the mayhem, potentially too vulnerable to the repercussions of the slaughters, to be in a position where
we take the moral high ground , while neglecting immediate far-reaching security concerns.
The Arabs are those who can decide their fate, and there is very little that WE can do about that, also very little that the mighty
US can do about that.

That is NOT to say, that we should impose complete diplomatic paralysis on ourselves, applying the attitude of wait and see
as a justification for doing nothing. Even at a time of so much turmoil around us, we could and should take
risks,for example entering into negotiations with the Palestinians.
When the time for decisions will come, and I for one, does not hold my breath, we shall have to apply extra
caution exactly because of the uncertainties offered by the Arab season of blood-letting, and we may have to take
some risks, though not all of them.
Now though is the time to talk, deliberate , consider options, check the intentions
of the other side. It may not improve dramatically our P.R standing in the world, but will
surely solidify the image of the responsible, mature state in a region plagued by so much violence and insecurity.

Policy considerations however should not preclude Jewish and non-Jewish supporters of Israel, both individual and organizations
from launching a P.R, Hasbara offensive in support of Israel, but about that in a separate article…

About the Author
Dr Josef Olmert, a Middle East expert, is currently an adjunct professor at the University of South Carolina