So an American friend who comes from a very different professional background than Max and I but has a lot of time on the ground in the region and has very sound judgment had this to say in response to my last post:
1) I agree that few Arab elites will see Iran as a winner in the latest unrest, even as Iran will continue to claim credit. The Iranian leadership is deeply worried about “contagion” undermining their hold on the country. They will grow more oppressive internally as they give lip-service to championing revolt abroad.
2) I’m unsure how “unshackled” Egypt will be from Israel. There will undoubtedly be some changes in Egypt’s approach to the Gaza Strip (more facilitation of humanitarian shipments, perhaps more support for anti-Israel initiatives in the UN and Arab League), but I see the Egypt-Israel relationship as a strategic bond cemented in bloody history and a realization that the 1979 Peace Treaty serves both sides. I would be deeply surprised if there was a strategic redefinition on the Egyptian side.
3) Agree with most of the negative longer-term challenges Israel will face, but think you could probably tone down (not water down) some of the assertions. I think Israel’s “Arab experts” are indeed overly focused on tactical and security needs, but there are important dissenting voices, so I’d be reluctant to write blanket statements without caveating language (“with few exceptions,” etc.). Also, I think many of your readers would not accurately understand “extreme religious Jews”: as you know, the ultra-Orthodox are “extremely religious” but hardly any of them serve in the IDF, and the bulk (even ultra-Orthodox living in settlements like Modi’in Ilit, Betar Ilit, etc) only care about Israel as a social welfare mechanism. I think “extreme religious-nationalist” or something similar would be more accurate, as most Haredi (the only population besides the Arabs growing at a significant rate) view religious nationalism as a blasphemy, replacing the Law with the Land.
4) Apart from the Kach-ists, etc, nobody in Israel talks about “putting the Arabs on trains” (and who would take them?). What’s happening is smaller-scale and more insidious: home demolitions, refusal of building permits in mixed areas, confiscations of disputed land, immigration obstacles, etc. I think we may see these efforts stepped up, rather than expulsion (Jerusalem ID holders, who aren’t Israeli citizens but enjoy special status, are under even more pressure). For this reason, I see the process as dragging out over a few years, even as recent events will add an impetus to organizing efforts.
Now in response to my friend, this advertisement on the allegedly left of center Haaretz is an ominous of whats to come.