TLR 182- Threats, challenges, potential
This issue examines several topics, whose only common thread is ‘Arabs’, but whose substance is very different. The topics under discussion span both Section A] Regional Developments and also Section B] Domestic Politics.
With regard to the former, the starting point is the growing assessment that the Syrian civil war is in its latter stages, as the Assad regime — thanks to the Russian intervention and continued Iranian support — has regained control of most of the country. However, southern Syria, which includes the area bordering the Israeli Golan, is emerging as a potential new flashpoint between Hezbollah and its Iranian backers and between Israel. I review the historic and geo-political background of this area, as well as the interests of the numerous parties currently active there.
The discussion then moves to the parallel threat of a revival of tensions along the Israel-Lebanon border, after Hezbollah troops return to their home base from their involvement on Assad’s side during the long Syrian civil war. The IDF is actively preparing for this possibility, whilst issuing clear and sharp warnings to Hezbollah, Lebanon and Iran in an effort to deter the latter from reactivating this front.
Meanwhile, within Israel, a very different dynamic is at work between the Jewish majority and the country’s Arab minority. In stark contrast to the ‘apartheid state’ ravings of much of the European left, the Israeli Arab sector — which comprises over 20% of the country’s population — is enjoying a steady improvement in its material and psychological well-being. The emerging Israel Arab middle class — and, even more dramatically, the next generation of Israeli Arabs now in secondary and tertiary education — feel very positive about themselves and their future. They are changing the socio-political orientation of their communities, moving the primary focus to the demand for more and better services, along with greater equality of opportunity — and the response of the Israeli government has been not merely to agree, but to launch large-scale, multi-year programmes to address these demands and effect real changes.
In purely economic terms, the greater integration of this hefty slice of the population, especially in the labour market, will generate enormous benefits for everyone. But the long and tortuous process whereby Israeli Arabs become Arab Israelis will surely have far-reaching implications on the conflict with the Palestinians and with the wider Arab world.
A: Regional Politics
a) Trump wuz here
b) Gearing up to fight Hezbollah 2
c) …and to deter or destroy Hezbollah 1
d) Hamas sidelined and perhaps neutered
B: Domestic Politics
a) Israeli Arabs: A new generation with a different mindset
b) Crime, police and law and order – or, “all politics is local”