Times a'changing in the Middle East? (10/20/05)

An interesting article today on the AP/Yahoo news wire:

In Kuwait, a leading newspaper published the following statement in their editorial section:

"Israel is not a bogey, and the notion of a greater Israel from the Nile to the Euphrates is no more than a scarecrow that the Arabs have used to justify their despotism, domestic injustice, and political, financial, and administrative corruption."

... WOW!!!

Finally, the Arabs in the Middle East are recognizing that their enemy isn't Israel or America, but rather their own leaders.   With Israel having given up the Sinai Penninsula to Egypt in the early 80s, southern Lebanon in the late 90s, and now the Gaza Strip to the fledgling Palestinian Authority, the myth of Israel as the devouring beast is slowly being debunked.  With free and fair democratic elections taking place in Afghanistan, Iraq, Lebanon and Palestine in the last year, and increasing pressures by reformers in several other Arab nations, the region's attention is slowly turning away from Israel and towards facing the challenges of reformers.

Further comments from Indonesia:

Indonesia's foreign minister met with Shalom (Israeli Foreign Minister) at the United Nations, and a prominent newspaper in the world's largest Muslim nation cautiously welcomed the talks by saying that "Israel, unlike what Arabs often said in the past, indeed cannot be `thrown into the sea.'" The Jakarta Post weighed in by suggesting that Indonesia "opening some form of relationship with Israel is a prerequisite" to playing a larger political role in the region. And Shalom himself published a landmark opinion piece in an Indonesian newspaper.

... and Pakistan:

After Shalom met with his Pakistani counterpart, President Pervez Musharraf told the American Jewish Congress that he could envision a day when there were more formal ties between the nations.

"What better signal for peace could there be than opening embassies in Israel by Islamic countries like Pakistan?" he asked.

Signs of change?  Who knows ... but when leading voices are willing to admit the need for reforms and recognize that Israel is neither a threat, nor something which can easily be erased, I think it's a sign of progress.

To read the rest of the story, click here.

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