The fuel for the flames

As I sit here in Jerusalem and watch not just a war of words but also exchanges of rockets and air strikes between Israel and Hamas, it feels as if we are at one of those hinge points in the Middle East. The Arab Awakening has initiated changes without transformation. It has produced new governments, principally Islamist-led, but no certainty about how the region will ultimately evolve. Will these new governments be driven by their ideological beliefs and aspirations that are inherently anti-western and anti-Israel? Or will they rationalize that long-term Islamist aims can and must wait in order for them to act in a way that will be necessary to improve their economies, lest they lose the legitimacy they may currently have with their publics — publics that now have an expectation that their needs and hopes should count for something? Nowhere are these questions more likely to be put to the test than in Egypt today, particularly with the events in Gaza. Hamas is quite literally an outgrowth of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt. They are not just sister parties, they are organically linked. Emotionally, ideologically and even politically, given the mood on the Egyptian street as pictures of Palestinian casualties in Gaza provoke anger, President Mohamed Morsi instinctively supports Hamas. Rex Features via AP Images A Palestinian women cries at the funeral of Audi Naser after he was killed in an Israeli air strike on the Gaza Strip. And, so, without any recognition that Israeli civilians are… [Read full story]

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