Dr Jonathan Spyer of the Rubin Center for Research in International Affairs at the IDC in Herzliya has written a sober, sombre and insightful retrospective of his five years of visits to Syria throughout the developing civil war.
“By summer, the stage was set for the civil war to come. The death toll was rapidly mounting. Western leaders called for Assad’s resignation in August. But Assad was going nowhere. These were the days of the Arab Spring. People power and demonstrations were supposed to be enough to bring down the dictators. This happy narrative neglected to note a fact of salient importance. Deposed dictators – Zine El Abidine Bin-Ali in Tunisia, Hosni Mubarak in Egypt, Ali Abdullah Salah in Yemen – had fallen not only or mainly because of popular unrest against them. They were deposed because their patron, the United States of America, chose to abandon them in their hour of need. Assad had chosen different friends. He wasn’t aligned with the West, but with Russia and the Islamic Republic of Iran. And the response of these two powers, from the very outset, was to provide the dictator with whatever level of support he required to stay in his seat.”
Read the whole article here.
Over at the Gatestone Institute, Douglas Murray ponders the topic of “Excuses” for Terrorists.
“When Israel is attacked, the steps of the Israeli embassies in London and other European capitals are not littered with flowers, teddy bears or candles, or scrawled notes of sympathy. Indeed, whenever Israelis are attacked and murdered, there is a response at Israel’s embassies. It tends to be less teddy-obsessed; it consists more of crowds roaring in rage against Israel and having to be held back from further antagonism by the local police.
It is possible that there are those who believe Israel is simply on a different continent from Europe and that, despite being an essentially Western society, it is not one to which we feel sufficiently close. Whenever a terrorist outrage occurs in a Western capital these days, there are always those who ask why the mourning for Paris or Brussels, say, is stronger than the mourning for Ankara or Beirut.
But the Paris/Brussels question for Jerusalem rarely, if ever, gets asked. One could take the lowest road and say it is because in Israel the victims are Jews. But there is also an explanation just as true. It is that Israel is seen as different because when Israel is attacked by terrorists, it is seen by a great number of people in the West not to be an innocent victim. It is seen as a country which might have in some way brought the violence upon itself.”
With the surge in terrorism against Israelis that began last autumn having reached its six-month landmark, political scientist Dr Daniel Polisar takes a look at the Palestinian opinion polls which might provide some insight into where it is heading.
“The uprising has also failed to elicit substantial sympathy for the Palestinians or to blacken Israel’s reputation in significant circles in the West—despite the potential “David versus Goliath” appeal of teenage boys and girls wielding knives and scissors and dying or being disarmed and arrested at the hands of Israeli policemen and soldiers. To be sure, there have been the occasional egregious pieces of reporting, most notably by the BBC when it headlined a story about the stabbing deaths of two Israeli civilians by diverting attention to police actions aimed at stopping the perpetrator from continuing his killing spree: “Palestinian Shot Dead after Jerusalem Attack Kills Two.””
Published at Mosaic, the entire article is available here.