-- April 6, 2012- Passover Reflections,and The Dangers of the "Arab Spring"

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Israel Update
A Daily Analysis
By Marc Schulman

April 6, 2012- Passover Reflections,and The Dangers of the "Arab Spring"

It's erev Pesach, and this morning's Israeli papers have traditional interviews with the Prime Minister, Netanyahu and other leading officials. In the interviews that I skimmed this morning, Netanyahu projected the confidence of a prime minister who can clearly complete his full term in office, and if the public opinion polls are accurate, will have no problem winning reelection. Friends who oppose Netanyahu keep asking why is he so popular? The answer is simple. Whether Netanyahu is responsible, or not, Israel has enjoyed unprecedented peace over the past three years– and despite the world's economic difficulties, unprecedented prosperity. How much of that can be credited to Netanyahu as prime minister? Probably, not much. Interestingly take a look at this morning's article in the New York Times about Hezbollah's fear of being isolated.(Loyalty to Syrian President Could Isolate Hezbollah) Deep in the article is a reference to the fear of inflicting on its members what happened to them during the second Lebanon war. So, however traumatic that war was for Israelis, it clearly achieved part of its goal, deterrence. So much of the relative quiet that Israel has enjoyed is no doubt due to the second Lebanon war and the war in Gaza, (both under Olmert.) Netanyahu has of course also gained from the Iron Dome Defense System, begun under Defense Minister Perez. Regardless of the causes, Netanyahu is enjoying the fruits; and with no credible opponent, Netanyahu should sail to victory in the next election.

Events in the south remind us of the dangers that the "Arab Spring" has brought. While many worry that the Muslim brotherhood is on the way to taking over Egypt, and as a result, Egypt could, once again, become an adversary of Israel, the more immediate threat is Egypt becoming a failed state; a failed state that borders Israel, with 90 million residents. The rocket attack on Eilat from the Sinai is indicative of the fact that Egypt has almost no control over what goes on in Sinai. This is a problem that did not start with the revolution, since part of the problem has been the systematic neglect of the Bedouin of Sinai by the Egyptian government for a generation. However, the implosion of the Egyptian central government has made the situation with the Bedouin all the more dangerous.

Lastly, in his first interview, in this morning's papers, the new commander of Israel's northern command, expressed concern that the stockpile of chemical and biological weapons that Syria has might fall into the hands of the Hezbollah. He stated that if that happened, it would be a moment that "shover hakaylim", which literally mean breaks the utensils, meaning totally changes the status quo, in a way that would force Israel to act.

On that note… Chag Samech.

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