Dr. Mordechai Kedar
Years of research spent studying Arab discourse, media and culture - in the original Arabic - have led me to the incontrovertible conclusion that most of the Arab population hopes the day will come when Herzog is prime minister of Israel, for that day - at least according to the viewpoint of most Arabs - is the beginning of the end of the state of Israel .The reason is simple: Herzog is seen as a person of weak character, unimpressive and spineless. He did not serve as a combat officer and was, instead, an officer in my unit, 8200, which is made up of brilliant nerds with the obligatory round-framed eyeglasses.
The Middle East's agenda is set by stereotypes and images, and the image Herzog projects is so weak that any threats Israel might pronounce would be met with derision. The distance from that derision to all-out war is a short one.
And the opposite is just as true: anyone who radiates power, strength, threat and danger enjoys comparative tranquillity because the bullies leave him alone. This is the reason the Arabs hated and respected Ariel Sharon and Moshe Dayan – they were afraid of them. Sadat made peace with Israel because he could not defeat the Jewish state despite the surprise factor he had in opening the Yom Kippur War and his early success in crossing the Suez Canal. Hussein also made peace with Israel, hoping it would use its power to help him face the Baath party of Syria and Iraq. Arafat agreed to a hudabiyya peace - that is, a temporary "peace" for as long as the enemy is too strong to defeat – after the failure of the first intifada.
The pressures he will undergo will be much greater than those exerted on Netanyahu, because the White House and the Arab world will sense that his days as Prime Minister are numbered and therefore, they must make every effort to squeeze as much out of him as they can for the short period that Israelis will let him function before waking up to realize the imminent catastrophe and removing him from his seat as they did to Ehud Barak when he gave in to Arafat.
Not one of the soul weary people – those who talk non-stop about "peace" – can deal in a suitable manner with the cruel and difficult cultural environment in our neighborhood, one which, in the best case, will kick him in the rear as a warning before plunging a dagger into his neck.
Ths is an ongoing mission, especially since every once in a while some "brilliant" figures appear, claiming to have just patented their invention of the wheel and found the way to be accepted by our neighbors as a legitimate and welcome entity.
Dr. Mordechai Kedar is a senior lecturer in the Department of Arabic at Bar-Ilan University.
He served in IDF Military Intelligence for 25 years, specializing in Arab political discourse,
Arab mass media, Islamic groups and the Syrian domestic arena. Thoroughly familiar with
Arab media in real time, he is frequently interviewed on the various news programs in Israel.
Translated to English by Rochel Sylvetsky.