A View from Israel

Against the Current, No. 151, March/April 2011

Michael Warschawski

MICHAEL WARSCHAWSKI, A founder of the Alternative Information Center in Jerusalem, spoke with The Real News Network on Israeli reactions to the Egyptian uprising. The full interview appears at http://therealnews.com/t2/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=31&Itemid=74&jumival=6292. Below are some brief excerpts of Warschawski’s comments.

THE ISRAELI LEADERSHIP is much worried about what is happening, because there is a new actor which was never taken into consideration as an actor, meaning the Arab peoples, the Arab masses.

As every government, the government knows how to deal with a government, with an army, in peace relations or in war relations. But when you have this factor of millions of people moving into the streets and having their own say and making their own deeds, this is something which is worrying any government, and certainly the Israeli government. One of the Israeli Parliament members said recently, with Mubarak we could talk business; with these masses, we don’t know how to talk.

The second thing is that when we are speaking about Arab masses in a broader way, the Muslim masses, this is always perceived not only by the Israeli public opinion but by the Israeli ruling elites as a threat. The masses are a mob. The Arab masses are an entity motivated first of all and above all by their hate of Israel — though, as we could have seen, Israel was not a major topic in the mobilization, either in Tunisia or in Yemen or in Egypt.

But then there is a second aspect of the Israeli mentality: How could they not speak about us? So there must be a trick somewhere. We must be a primary concern. They should love us, or at least hate us, but they cannot ignore us. The fact that Israel was definitely not front, central, or at all an element in the mass mobilization in the Arab world is something which destabilizes somehow the Israeli media and Israeli public opinion.

Certain experts in the Israeli media are trying to calm the worries in the Israeli elite and among the Israeli people, and to say the army is in control and we don’t have to be too much worried by military government…

[Warschawski was then asked about the government’s response to potential social instability inside Israel due to rising prices and the growing wealth gap.]

The Israeli government will try, in my opinion, to create a diversion in order to keep stability inside and not to have a social explosion…

The problem now for the Israeli government [is] what is happening with Iran. No one can foresee what would be the result of the mass mobilizations, which are occurring in Iran too.

Iran was an easy target of the security propaganda, not for an Israeli operation — they are not stupid enough to attack Iran — but to make Iran the main threat in the area, and then to attack maybe Lebanon, maybe Gaza again, in order to humiliate the Iranian leadership.

The Israeli government will try to make a diversion and to use military force. There is no doubt this is its intention (but) for the time being,  the American administration, whatever administration will be in Washington, doesn’t need today an Israeli troublemaker in addition to what is shaking the whole Middle East.

(The “war on terrorism”) in fact is a made-in-Israel invention. Bibi Netanyahu, already in the late ‘80s, invented the global threat, after the collapse of Soviet Union, the global threat. At the beginning it was international terrorism, then it became, gradually, Islamist terrorism, and now, and with the neoconservative ideology, it is Islam as a threat to the so-called Judeo-Christian civilization.

This oversimplistic division of the world between the civilized people defined as Judeo-Christian and the new barbarians, which are the whole Muslim world, is an old neoconservative philosophy and is a strategy for the neoconservative government in Israel, though they have been (weakened) because their policy of global war was a failure.

Right now [in Israel] there is no substantial opposition, neither in the Parliament, which is divided between the far right and the far, far right, with a Labor Party totally betrayed by Ehud Barak and totally marginalized after Barak has liquidated his own party. Kadima is the main opposition party but is totally divided internally and has no perspectives. And in the streets or in among the public, the situation is good enough, both on the level of security and on the economic and social level, that there is no reason to expect in the near future any kind of radicalization against the present policy.

ATC 151, March-April 2011