The New Mid-East school of thought underlines political correctness, but undermines the stability of the Real Mid-East. This has been recently verified by Western support of the “March of Democracy,” which has unleashed rampant violence on the Arab Street.
In defiance of an unpredictably raging Mid-East, the New Mid-Easterners call for a quick transition to democracy in Egypt and in other Arab countries. In spite of intensified intra-Arab violence, non-compliance, shifty policies and unreliability, the New Mid-Easterners call for Israel to assume more risks for peace and concede the mountain ridges of Judea and Samaria, which tower over Jerusalem, Tel Aviv and 80% of Israel’s infrastructure.
On September 15, 2000, a few days before the eruption of another wave of Palestinian terrorism (the 2nd Intifada), President Peres highlighted the central thesis of his book, The New Middle East, his blueprint of the two-states-solution. Speaking at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, Peres stated: “I doubt very much if the Palestinians will go back to terrorism…. I do not see Arafat, a person whom I respect, endangering what he has achieved …. I believe that the previous borders, made of barbed wire, of mine fields, of military positions, are irrelevant to our life. … [A] good hotel on the border will provide more peace and security than a military position…. Once a nation turns its focus on land to a focus on brains, borders are irrelevant.” According to Peres, the role model of New Mid-Easterners, the Mid-East would become an integrated economic region with open borders, shared natural resources, military technologies converted into peaceful technologies – a Mid-East devoted to the pursuit of democracy, peace, cooperation, mutual-gain and prosperity.
However, The Real Mid-East, through the horrifying turmoil afflicting Arab lands – irrespective of the Palestinian issue – has demolished Peres’ New Mideast. It has devastated the contention that the security threshold could be lowered significantly, because military forces, sectarianism, nationalism, borders and territorial sovereignty have supposedly lost their primacy.
Moreover, the underlying geo-political currents, which have dominated the Real Mid-East for the last 1,400 years – e.g. no intra Arab comprehensive peace, compliance, or democracy – magnify the irreplaceable role of the mountain ridges of Judea and Samaria in securing the survival of the Jewish State, a sliver along the Mediterranean Sea.
The New Mid-East delusion traumatizes contemporary Arab regimes. They witness its impact on Western policy-makers, who approach the stormy Arab Winter as if it were an Arab Spring, seeing the resurrection of Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Nelson Mandela and Lech Walesa in the merciless Arab squares and streets. Therefore, the West has provided tailwind to the replacement of pro-Western ruthless dictators with anti-Western ruthless dictators, rendering Arab regimes increasingly concerned about Western reliability and their own survivability. They are horrified by the recurrence of the 1979 “Iranian Debacle,” when Western policy-makers and public-opinion molders were bewitched by the “Youth Revolution” and the “March of Democracy” on the streets of Teheran, lending support to Khomeini’s battle against the staunchly pro-Western Shah of Iran. However, the Mullahs hijacked the “Iranian Spring;” they excluded all moderate elements from positions of power, instituted a repressive reign of violent and imperialistic Islam, and intensified terrorism, intolerance and anti-Western sentiments throughout the Middle East.
In October, 2011, Marwan Muasher, a Vice President at the Carnegie Endowment and former Deputy Prime Minister of Jordan, and Muhamm ad Faour, a senior associate at the Carnegie Mideast Center, served a wake-up call to New Mid-Easterners: “People in the Arab world will discover that their societies are not equipped with the skills and values needed to accept different, pluralistic norms of behavior…. Any romantic notions in the West that the 2011 Arab uprisings could create instantaneous democracy, in countries that have succeeded at toppling their leaders, are already shattering…. Democracy will thrive only in a culture that accepts diversity, respects different points of view, regards truths as relative rather than absolute, and tolerates — even encourages — dissent.”
The frivolous nature of the New Mid-East school of thought was exposed on October 28, 2011 by Raghida Dergham, the senior diplomatic correspondent for The London-based Arab daily, Dar al-Hayat: “The obsession of some Westerners with the so-called ‘Turkish model’ of ‘moderate Islam’, able to rule with discipline and democracy, seems naïve…. There is also some naivety in assuming than the “Iranian model” of religious autocratic rule that oppresses people, forbids pluralism and turns power into tyranny, can be excluded as a possibility.”
In 2011, the clash of civilizations – between Western democracies and Islamic imperialism – has shifted to a higher gear. In order to win the battle, it is incumbent upon Western democracies to disengage from the spell of the New Mid-East and reengage with the Real Mid-East.