Arab revolutions, Israeli fears

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Arab revolutions, Israeli fears

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What the wave of revolutions in the Mediterranean might change for Israel has been under debate among political analysts and academics in Paris, at a two-day meeting organised by the European Jewish Union with Israel’s Knesset parliament.

Security in the region was a key concern at the gathering. Not everyone has welcomed the rapid pace of the political ground shifting.

Predictability was one of the major thinking points for Alexander Zanzer, who is a political scientist.

Zanzer said: “The challenge for Israel is not its own democracy, it is to understand that there are also democratic voices which could emerge around them. Till now Israel was afraid of the unknown. They are afraid of who will come to power. They are afraid that in the beginning there will always be democratic voices, but that in eight months there will be a person in a long black robe, with a beard and a Kalashnikov standing in front of them: this is the fear they have. [However,] I don’t think that this will come, because television and social media have changed the equation dramatically.”

Knesset member Anastassia Michaeli talked about wishes versus reality, about the need for all parties working to resolve conflicts to deliver when they make a political commitment to compromise.

Michaeli said that signing a peace agreement does not necessarily mean it will be put into practice, and that Israelis still live in fear of terrorist acts carried out within their country. She lamented that life still for them feels like mere survival, and expressed an aspiration for a truly peaceful world.

It was clear from the discussions that the major changes taking place in Arab countries are also an important concern for countries with long-established democratic structures.