THE NEW MIDDLE EAST - STILL
By Louis Rene Beres
Professor, Department of Political Science, Purdue University
In essence, Israel's Prime Minister, Ehud Barak, resurrects the Shimon Peres cry for "a New Middle East." This New Middle East resembles "The New World Order." It never did exist. It does not exist. It can never exist. It will never exist. What is more, to believe that it does or will exist is conceivably very dangerous, as such a belief will generate policies built upon sand.
Israel, it seems, still believes in The New Middle East. It builds not only its current foreign policy, but also its very existence, upon this particular bit of fiction. Not surprisingly, unless it is turned around in time, Israel, like The New Middle East, will not exist. Here, the Jewish State, wedded to yet another government for which fantasy is de rigueur, would dissolve into the centuries. Exeunt omnes!
Some time ago, Arieh Stav, one of Israel's most gifted intellectuals and editor of the distinguished publication NATIV, opened an exhibition titled "The Peace - An Arab Cartoon." Displayed in Be'er Sheva for a month,this exhibition - tied to Stav's very important book - revealed some salient features of The New Middle East. In this utopian universe, as we learned from Arab cartoons, the Jew is demonized in ways that might have made Julius Streicher blush. Indeed, if one were to extrapolate present Arab attitudes toward Israel from their officially sanctioned drawings, we would see little difference between The New Middle East and the world of Der Sturmer.
The New Middle East is The Old Middle East. In 1972 Yehoshafat Harkabi published a major book titled ARAB ATTITUDES TO ISRAEL. At that time, in the days of The Old Middle East, Harkabi cited the Arab use of scurrilous language about Israel to include "the Zionist monster;" "the Zionist plague;" "the purulent abscess;" "the illegitimate daughter of Europe;" "a cancer in the heart of the Arab nation;" "the Zionist cancer;" "the gang of hypocrites and criminals;" "the focus of evil;" "dirt;" "filth;""sewage;" "the octopus;" "the spider;" "the bacillus of evil;" etc, etc, etc. Presently, as Stav's brilliant exhibition revealed, nothing, absolutely nothing, has changed. As for Hamas, its Charter still calls unambiguously for Muslims to deal with Jews in only one way: "Assault and kill; assault and kill; assault and kill."
Let us return to the Nazis. As objects of their propaganda, Jews were notorious because they allegedly devalued German life, threatened its "racial purity," and threatened its very physical survival. Hence, theJews were "pests," "parasites," "bloodsuckers," "child murderers," "molesters," etc, who exploited "real Germans," despoiled "Aryan" purity and, of course, always conspired to acquire power. These are precisely the same themes adapted by Arab propagandists against Israel, in The Old Middle East and in The New Middle East.
Shimon Peres, the creator of The New Middle East, remains - like his creation - a phantom that has worn out its shadow. By refashioning truth, the former Prime Minister transformed his considerable conceptual deficits into a shadowy new faith. Profoundly superficial, without any sensibility for the intrinsic, Peres offered a seductive vision for Israel that undermined Zionism's already precarious future. Before anything resembling a New Middle East could be born from the Old, a gravedigger would have to wield the forceps. It should hardly come as a surprise, therefore, that what we have today is not a New Middle East, but an ugly and lethal "Post-Zionism."
Diderot, in his political writings (Histoire des Deux Indes) describes the history of civilization: "The history of civilised man has been only the history of his misery. Every page has been covered in blood, some with the blood of oppressors, others with the blood of the oppressed." Failing to understand this, visionaries arise in every generation who wish to transcend human misery without first making the essential human changes. Thus, they focus incorrectly on structures of human governance and economics rather than upon the beings who must ultimately make these structures work. In the end, such incorrect reasoning must always lead to disappointment and to despair.
In The New Middle East, Israel's Arab and Islamic enemies remain committed to ridding the region of all Jews, to making The New Middle East judenrein. As long as this does not change, there is no point in pretending that there are overriding political/economic interests or systemwide commitments to "peace." In politics, as in every other sphere of human activity, all things move in the midst of death, and where death of "the other" is all-important there can be no reasonable talk of life.
LOUIS RENE BERES (Ph.D., Princeton, 1971) is Professor of Political Science and International Law at Purdue University, and Military and Strategic Affairs analyst for THE JEWISH PRESS. His writings are well-known to the current Prime Minister and to Israel's political, military and intelligence communities.