Creeping Zionism

Creeping Zionism


The ongoing carnage in Gaza by the Israeli Defense Force has so far taken the lives of over a 1300 Palestinians and wounded over 6000. The war on Gaza has led to international outrage and condemnation. Thousands have taken to the streets protesting against the massacre. The 19th of July saw over 100,000 people march to the Israeli embassy in London. “Operation Protective Edge” has united people of all faiths and no faith in many parts of the world, reinforcing Israel’s deteriorating public profile and image. The script that Israel uses each time to justify the killing of civilians in Gaza, which is that of “Hamas using civilians as human shields” is beginning to enervate.

Whilst many have come together in their repulsion of the slaughter of the people in Gaza, there has also been a force that has divided the Arab world in their response and stance towards the current violence. The Palestinian and Israeli conflict has long been an area that has unified all Arab nations.However, this latest offensive in Gaza has revealed an ever-increasing gulf in the Arab World. Middle East alliances are more tangled than ever and have been further amplified with the ongoing sectarian conflicts post the Arab Spring. This current state of affairs partially explains the alliances and attitude each Arab nation has adopted.

Academics and analysts have attempted to explain Middle Eastern alliances by categorizing them into sectarian divisions and have spoken of an emerging “Shia Crescent” and “Sunni axis.” However even this theory is flawed as it doesn’t take into consideration the cross sectarian alliances that many Arab nations share. For example, the close relationship between Hamas and Iran, the latter leading this speculated “Shia crescent” has been a staunch supporter of Hamas in recent years, which many of the other Arab countries consider to be a terrorist organization. However, many question Iran’s support for Hamas and the Palestinian cause in general, claiming that it is simply to attain regional hegemony and prove Iran’s influence and show that its power extends beyond the Shia communities of Syria, Lebanon and Iraq and to further its foreign policy agenda. In summary, Iran’s support for Hamas has recently been branded as a geopolitical and strategic alliance rather than a genuine attempt to further the Palestinian cause.

There also seems to be an increasing milieu of Zionist rhetoric in many of the Arab nations, most notably in Egypt. Egypt, Israel and Saudi Arabia are seen as the main allies of the US in the region. Therefore it is no surprise that the USA’s unequivocal support for Israel’s right to defend itself against Hamas “militants” is echoed in the Egyptian government of Abdel Fatah El Sisi. Sisi’s hostility towards Hamas is due to this latter being a part of the Muslim Brotherhood who was ousted as the ruling party in Egypt in the military coup of July 2013. Egypt has adopted the method of Israel, which is to demonize Hamas through their policies and media. The civilian population of Gaza is paying a heavy price for Egypt’s hostility towards Hamas. We all know that Gaza is the most densely populated area in the world and the 1.8 million residents are under complete blockade. The only way out for Gazans is through the Rafah border with Egypt. Egypt continues its closure of the border, during the most critical times, like now. The people of Gaza are in desperate need of basic food supplies and medical aid. They cannot leave the Strip, even during heavy bombardments, making Gaza the biggest open-air prison on the planet. Yet, the Egyptian government remains resolute in their decision to keep the Rafah border closed.

Hamas has been presented as one of the leaders of terrorism in the region by the Egyptian government. Egyptian public support for the Palestinian resistance has wavered as a result of this destructive propaganda. Whilst there is still support amongst some Egyptians for the Palestinian cause as a whole, the recent violence in Gaza has given rise to unwarranted remarks by public figures in Egypt. Egyptian media has gone as far praising the Israeli aggression in Gaza. Azza Sami, a writer for state daily Al-Ahram, went so far as to congratulate Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Twitter: “Thank you Netanyahu, and God give us more men like you to destroy Hamas!”

Comments like the one above, in support of Israel’s military aggression in Gaza, reveal a much deeper and melancholy reality in the Middle East. This suggests that language, culture and religion are no longer unifying factors. The Israeli stimulus has never been as prevalent in Egypt as it is now under Sisi, which is why Turkish Prime Minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan who is a supporter of the Muslim Brother, stated that Egypt is a non-reliable mediator to negotiate a ceasefire.

[symple_box color=”blue” text_align=”left” width=”100%” float=”none”]Nishaat Ismail
Nishaat Ismail is completing a MSc in Middle East in Global Politics: Islam, Conflict and Development at Birkbeck University of London. Nishaat has also a BA in History from the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) in London. Nishaat specialises in the politics of the Middle East and North Africa.