It is beginning to look like Bahrain’s ruling family has calculated correctly that its close allies in Washington, London, and Brussels do not care enough about al-Khawaja to risk challenging al-Khalifa hard-liners and their Saudi allies by publicly pushing for his release or by making clear that Bahrain’s continued stonewalling will have a price.
It is difficult not to be struck by the contrast between the ‘Asian-like’ energy of Israel’s economy and civil society, and the purely defensive nature of its approach to political change, both within and outside the country, writes Dominique Moïsi. A recent law bars Israeli citizens from supporting Western boycotts aimed at reversing the country’s settlement policies and at backing an independent Palestinian state. While Israel has never been so affluent, dynamic and confident, it also has never been so isolated internationally.
Israel could have embraced the Arab Spring as an opportunity, rather than as a profound risk. If Arab citizens could transform their culture of humiliation into a culture of hope, perhaps they would be able to reconcile themselves with Israel’s existence. But Israeli leaders reacted purely negatively to the Arab upheavals. In their estimation, a complex regional environment has now become even more dangerous, making prudence even more urgent.
Being equal to the events in the Arab world is, firstly, a matter of seeing them for what they are – a historic opportunity to leave behind the sterile trade-off between dictatorship and Islamism, and thus also the ‘security preference’ that long weighed down upon relations with countries in the southern and eastern Mediterranean.