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Palestine, the Arab Spring, and the Middle East Lobby

Article by Jack Ross.
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During the upheavals sweeping the Arab world, a common refrain among hawkish supporters of Israel has been that the Arab street is indifferent to the plight of the Palestinians, and thus the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is not at the heart of Middle East troubles. In theNew Republic, Jamie Kirchick argued that the much-touted divide between democracy promoters and pro-Israel hawks was proof that neoconservatives were not in thrall to the Israeli rightwing. [1] On the Commentary blog, John Podhoretz was particularly gratuitous, running with the headline, “Palestinians Killing Jews While Other Arabs Seek Freedom.” [2]

Contrast these notions with the sermon of Muslim Brotherhood spiritual leader Yusuf al-Qaradawi, which during the official celebration of the overthrow of Mubarak regime in Tahrir Square prompted the crowd to chant that it would march on Jerusalem. And while Palestinian flags were notably absent among the protestors in Egypt, they have been a much more common sight in Yemen and Bahrain.

For their part, the Palestinians have begun in earnest to put into practice the example set by the Egyptians. In stark contrast to Podhoretz’s inaccurate inferences, on March 15, tens of thousands demonstrated in the Palestinian territories for a new unity government to recommit to a non-violent intifada (see also, Samer Araabi, “Is It Palestine’s Turn?” Right Web, April 5, 2011).

While it is true that since these Palestinian demonstrations began there has been a sudden increase in violence among Palestinian militants, this could be interpreted as an effort by Hamas to get out in front of any uprising. The Israelis, out of habit, are answering in kind by threatening a new invasion of Gaza, with several exchanges of fire having already taken place as of this writing.

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