Revolution and Oppression in the Arab World

( Shlomo Avineri - In the West, the emergence - for the first time in Arab history - of popular mass movements threatening and eventually toppling autocratic leaders was a welcome development. In Israel, the sudden overthrow of a leader who kept peace with Israel for 30 years appeared as threatening the strategic and moral achievement of Egyptian President Anwar Sadat's momentous move of 1977 to reach out to the Jewish state. For the West, the agenda was about democracy; for Israel, it was peace. With the National Democratic Party dismantled, this leaves the Muslim Brotherhood as the only major public force, and given its widespread networks, it is difficult to see how anyone can prevent it from becoming the hegemonic power in a future structure of Egyptian politics. The ability of rulers in Bahrain, Yemen, Libya and Syria to withstand popular demonstrations suggests that the forces of democracy are still weak in many Arab countries, and the willingness of oppressive regimes to use ruthless power should not be underrated. It is clear that Egypt will develop a much more critical approach to Israel: while popular in Egypt, this approach will not enhance the peace process. The writer, professor of political science at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, served as director-general of Israel's Foreign Ministry.

2011-05-06 00:00:00

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