War in Gaza, or rather a genocide as it looks right now, sends shocking waves all over the Middle East and Muslim world. City streets, the very beating heart of political engagement for many societies around the region, are full of sorrow and anger, people want action. At the same time the Middle Eastern authorities are reacting to the crisis at a very slow pace, showing much more caution. Nevertheless, one very huge illusion was killed on 7 October. Middle East, the heart of civilisations, will not know a stable peace, unless this peace includes Palestinians, their hopes and perspectives for the future. Is the West taking that into consideration?
President Biden has brought the US closer to authoritarians in the Middle East, in sharp contrast to his campaign pledges to emphasize human rights. The Biden administration initially opposed the Trump administration-brokered Abraham Accords, but eventually came around to them because of the mistaken notion that putting together arms deals with oppressive governments and passing them off as “peace” would improve the security and prosperity of the United States and in the end will strengthen the US interests in the region.
However, playing along lines of Israeli views at regional politics, especially going forward with its normalization of relations with Saudi Arabia for instance, was doomed from the beginning.
Crisis of Zionism
One thing was a growing far-right menace in Israel. As we have seen when it comes to Brexit or Trump, Bolsonaro and others, or in many other instances, far-right rhetoric can get into the mainstream, without winning votes. However, in Israel not only kahanist zealots made their way into the government, but also made Likud, party of Netanyahu, a far right player, who stands now, together with them, for “killing all of the Arabs” and “using atomic bombs against Gaza”. Right now even “liberal”zionists, like Lapid, are using words that Itamar Ben Gvir would use one year ago. And this is just an advanced stage of a process that started long ago, not after Hamas’ attack.
Problems which are not addressed – like economic collapse of Israel, when it comes to the housing market for example, and the problem of on-going polarization between liberal zionists and religious zealots – will at some point explode. Haaretz columnists say again and again that the civil war might have broken out not so long ago. Economic problems were being deliberately solved by occupation means: by creating a huge grayzone for people to search for cheaper commodities in the West Bank as settlers. Resentment and brutality towards Palestinians was added as an extra.
Extrapolation of problems and their export, however, has limits. At some point, this crisis struck the whole society when the new government was vouched for and radicals came into power. This created a point of no-return and coming explosion, everyone was just asking how things will go off?
Recruits crisis, housing crisis, economic problems, settlers and liberals, judicial reforms, massive demonstrations… all that could lead to complete collapse. We saw on 7 October that the supposedly perfectly working state was absent. Where was the IDF? Where was the super-intelligent weaponry of occupation? Nowhere near Gaza.
Last two years were one of the bloodiest years for Palestinians living under Zionist Apartheid. Somewhere in the background the horror of occupation and bonded labor was taking place. All of the commentators were watching just what was happening in Tel Awiw, with just a small number of analytical journalists or experts following what was going on in the West Bank, Gaza and smaller Arab communities in Israel itself. If someone was an expert, he or she knew that the explosion might occur in occupied territories. And finally it did.
The internal crisis of Israel made Hamas incursion into Israeli territory possible. There was a lot of talk about the Third Intifada, but nothing on this scale has ever reached monitors and tables of experts and observers. The fact that it did not come across minds and actions of the IDF shows us how huge was, and is, the crisis of Zionism at its center.
Bibi might be a perfect scapegoat for the whole crisis. However even if he becomes one, he is also a perfect figure to represent the dead end that zionism is facing right now. News and analysis around the US maneuvering around the Gaza Crisis as well as the collapse of different illusions around Israel show us that he might become a scapegoat of Biden’s administration. It became possible also thanks to the strength of anti-zionist movement in the US and infowar that after initial two-three weeks has been so far lost by Israeli propaganda machine. Netanyahu’s illiberal moves against his own compatriots actually set a stage the future downfall. Netanyahu’s departure is certain. But whoever comes after, will be a nightmare that should keep us from sleeping at night.
Even if politics is a knot of individual ambitions and grand factors such as economy, demography and others. Netanyahu’s ambitions played a huge role in the last 30 years of Israel politics. Sometimes, especially in the last years, it’s hard to divide between a vision or in-fighting compromises taken just for inner-politics measures and his own sake, nevertheless, a scheme can be distilled.
It was actually an all-inn blunder. Playing va banque, by normalizing genocide mongerers, at the same time representing a hawkish policy saloon, not only against Palestinians, but also towards Syria, Lebanon or Iran, and at the same time playing in some kind of 4D chess with all peninsular Arab countries, was something that was going to explode – or give a carte blanche for killing Muslim opposition in the region. However, it was just one piece of the equation that needed to fall in order to kill the whole operation.
After the whole political crisis, and the latest diplomatic realignment of Saudi Arabia with Iran, made to the music from Beijing (!), when Bibi’s cards seemed weak, Hamas attacked. Its incursion destroyed the whole vision of re-approachment with Arab countries, strengthened the crisis inside Israel in the long run, and destroyed in a mid-run an illusion of democratic state, friendly to anyone who’s willing to respect its existence.
Where is Diplomacy?
There is no discipline in Israeli politics. This profoundly affects a possible development of the current situation. On one hand we have genocide of Palestinians in Gaza and violence in the West Bank at the same time. We see that there is no End-Game scenario in Tel Awiw, there is no idea of how to cope with this situation. There are no negotiations in the background, there are no talks, no communication between Palestinian and Israeli stakeholders. Even hostage negotiations are disrupted by the hawkish approach of the IDF. Impossible? Let’s keep in mind that a couple days after declaring war on Ukraine, Russian emissaries met with an Ukrainian delegation and negotiation channels were kept open.
A diplomacy guidebook for Israel would not be even that complicated. Branding Hamas as terrorists, not bombing Gaza, creating a coalition of Arab countries that detest Muslim Brotherhood, creating a diplomatic no-go zone around Palestinian cause, and then even using splits between Palestinians to hit Hamas… However, the IDF and its state want genocide. And if we go on a total war, everything might happen. Right now we hear this from both Zionists and Palestinians. No one knows what – apart from more violence and more victims – comes next. One thing, however, seems certain.
There is no peace in the Middle East without Palestinian sovereignty.