Sunday, August 22, 2010

Salim Mansur on israel and the Arabs

If Israel didn't exist, the Arab regimes would have to invent it. How else could they stay in power. Prof Mansur compares and contrasts.

Don’t blame Israel for Arab failures


Last Updated: August 21, 2010 2:00am

TEL AVIV — Size matters, and in geopolitics it can be critically important.

A grasp of this elementary fact could provide a better understanding for, and empathy with, a small country besieged by hostile powers on its borders.

Yet this fact often escapes people living in countries of continental dimensions with large spaces empty of inhabitants — as in Canada, the U.S., Russia, Australia and the E.U. — and they may, ironically at times, display a chauvinism reflecting the size of their country.

The fact of how small Israel is territorially, and how this fact deepens its sense of vulnerability, weighs down upon anyone who visits the country.

As I write sitting at a cafe on Tel Aviv’s waterfront, I remember how this city and Haifa to the north were targets of Saddam Hussein’s Iraqi Scud missiles during the 1991 Gulf War.

Israel is merely a dot relative to the Arab world, and yet made responsible, in the logic of the anti-Zionist bigots, for the problems of the Middle East and the inability of the Arab-Muslim culture to deal with the challenges of the modern world.

Consider the following: The Arab world, excluding Iran and Turkey, is comprised of 22 countries stretching from the Gulf to the Atlantic Ocean with a total area around 13 million sq. km and a population of nearly 350 million.

In terms of territorial size, only Russia is larger than the Arab world at 17 million sq. km.

Israel is barely 22,000 sq. km, or about three times the size of New York City, with a population of 7.5 million of which 20% are Israeli Arabs.

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