Friday, August 17, 2012

Questions From Arabs and Muslims

Dr. Nimrod Goren, who heads a group named Mitvim, the Israeli Institute for Regional Foreign Policies, posted the following after a discussion at the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs at Syracuse University (New York, USA) last fall on November 14.

He was pleased to be able to engage in a policy dialogue with counterparts from the broader Arab and Muslim world.  He discovered a "curiosity to learn more about Israel and some willingness to engage in constructive dialogue with moderate Israelis".  Of course, I would also wish to engage in constructive dialogue with moderate Arabs but there really are so few of them, if at all.  I once did a joint television interview with Sari Nusseibah but Ziad Abu-Zayyad refused to debate me before a group from abroad.

Goren was well aware of "the widespread criticism against Israel and its policies that exists in those [Arab] countries".

He then listed key questions raised in the meeting by the Arab and Muslim participants:

1) Why are Israelis so preoccupied with their lack of security and with the threats they are facing, while Israel is actually the strongest regional power and is the one posing the major threats to the welfare of the region and its peoples?

2) Is the Israeli government serious about reaching an agreement according to the 1967 lines? If so, why is it building so much in the settlements, allows human rights violations, and does not act against confiscation of Palestinian lands?

3) Is the two-state solution at all still possible? Is there support in Israel for the one-state option? Does Israel have plans of making Jordan more Palestinian?

4) If Israeli public opinion polls show that a majority supports peace and the concept of the two-state solution, why do most Israelis vote for right-wing parties that oppose peace? How strong is Israel's civil society and does it put pressure on the government to promote peace?

5) Why is Israel playing for time? Doesn't it understand that it has to make progress towards peace or it will remain internationally isolated? Its standing in the world is already deteriorating. The UN is constantly voting against it, and even Israel's Western allies do not believe Netanyahu anymore.

6) What is the role of the Jewish lobby in the US in shaping Israeli and American policies? Why is this lobby so supportive of hawkish Israeli policies? Was this always the case?

7) Why is Israel so concerned with the Arab Spring? Why doesn't it support democratization in the Middle East? How does it plan to deal with the new regimes that will emerge in the Arab world?

8) Ahmadinejad claims that Iran can destroy Israel with three missiles. Does Israel take these threats seriously and does it regard Iran as an existential threat?

9) Why aren't moderate and pro-peace Israeli voices brought to the attention of the Arab public, via Al-Jazeera and other media outlets? People in the Arab world don't know that there are many people in Israel that think this way.

I wonder how he answered them.

Of course, the question reveal more about those that asked them than any reply Goren could provide.


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