donderdag 21 november 2013

The new Middle East

Until a few years ago, the mental picture of the Middle East in the minds of many Western people was roughly that of a black spot at the height of Israel/Palestine, surrounded by white or neutrally colored areas.

Such was the dominant image of the Middle East in the West : that of generally benevolent, peaceful, interesting populations with a cancer in their midst, namely Israel . If people had no family or friends in Israel, they didn’t go there on vacation, imagine. Destinations such as Syria, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the UAEmirates, on the contrary, were interesting and accepted.

That things is not that black and white has now become clear to most people. Syrians seem to be capable of mutual violence which in coarseness and size exceeds the familiar Israeli-Palestinian conflict many times. Egypt appears less to be the nation of right-minded, tolerant citizens than they and we had always thought it to be. The country experiences ever more and bloodier clashes between Muslims and Christians and secularists. And the primitiveness of Saudi Arabia is visible through all the cracks of its tremendous wealth.

That’s why in the public mind gradually another photo rises to the surface. This more recent picture of the Middle East shows, in my opinion, on the whole area more black and probably paints Israel a bit more in shades of gray.

Not because there’s actually changed much in Palestine and Israel. The occupation of the West Bank and the humiliations Palestinians must undergo are just as outrageous and unacceptable as they were. But the perception of the whole area has changed: there is less of indications in black and white, there is more sense for proportions and recognition of the violence that is present over the full width of the Middle East, affecting all residents of the area.

Of course, even now there are conspiracy theorists who blame Israel for everything, up to the behavior of Morsi (or Sisi ) and Assad (or the rebels ) to it . But where tourism – apart from the jihadists – to Syria and Egypt has decreased or no longer exists, the number of tourists to Israel is rising.

Also see Delegitimization