Thursday, March 10, 2011

The "Only Democracy in the Middle East"? Hardly.

As pro-democracy and freedom movements sweep the region, Israel's policies look more retrograde.

The US Campaign's National Advocacy Director, Josh Ruebner, published this yesterday on Huffington Post...

Ever since Israel began to transition from a charity case to a strategic partner of the United States--an evolutionary process from the mid-1950s to the early 1970s--its supporters in the U.S. political arena have brandished a variety of arguments to justify the unusually close relationship.

From Egyptian President Gamal Abdul Nasser's Czech arms deal and subsequent embrace of the Soviet Union in 1955 until the dissolution of the bipolar superpower system in 1991, Israel's supporters maintained that this Western bastion served U.S. interests by thwarting the advance of Communism in the Middle East.

The abrupt end of the Cold War necessitated a new argument, and the rising lethality of transnational terrorism in the 1990s and 2000s provided one: Israel and the United States shared a common enemy and struggle in the "war on terror." In a shell-shocked post-9/11 political environment, this talisman did the trick well for a time. Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon encapsulated this meme just two days after September 11, declaring to Secretary of State Colin Powell that Palestinian Authority President Yasser Arafat "is our Bin Laden."