Insights into the Mid East

Eldad Beck speaking to students at the University of Sydney last week. Photo: Noel Kessel.

HOW hatred of Israel contributed to the failure of the Arab Spring, and the Arab world’s shocking treatment of Palestinian refugees were among the topics addressed by Israeli journalist Eldad Beck when he spoke at the University of Sydney last week.

Beck, who is currently the Berlin-based correspondent of Israeli newspaper Yediot Achronot, was a correspondent in Cairo when the Arab Spring erupted in Egypt in 2011.

Recalling the experience, he told audience members at the event hosted by the Australasian Union of Jewish Students how the positivity he had personally felt towards the uprising quickly dissipated based on two phenomena.

“First of all, that the demonstrations were becoming more and more under the influence of the Islamists,” he explained.“The other thing that I saw was the fact that very quickly the issue of Israel, as always, became a very hot topic of the demonstrations.”

Beck revealed that around half of the demonstrators’ demands related to Israel and Jews, a fact which was not reported in the mainstream media.

“From the very beginning, the anti-Mubarak movement was extremely anti-Israel and anti-Semitic,” he said.

Turning to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Beck reiterated the Jewish State’s concessions in recent decades in the name of peace. “For the last 40 years ever since we started negotiating with Egypt, Israel has been giving again and again,” he remarked. “And yet, what have we got in return?”

He also reflected on the “unique phenomenon” of Palestinian refugees in Middle Eastern countries such as Lebanon. “The Arab countries have done absolutely nothing to integrate the Palestinian refugees,” he explained. “They are actually being forced to go on living in misery because the problem of refugees has to be kept alive to be used as a weapon against Israel.”

Stressing that “what we keep on hearing is the fact that Israel should do more and more and more, and give again and again,” he added. “As long as this situation goes on, we will not have peace in the Middle East.”

Asked how Zionists in the Diaspora can combat anti-Israel and anti-Semitic sentiments, Beck responded, “I don’t think that you can convince those people who are filled with hate to change their attitude towards Israel or the Jews because, to a large extent, nowadays the hate of Israel is the old hate of Jews. Instead of hating Jews, which is not very politically correct, they hate Israel, the state of the Jews.”

ELENORE LEVI