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ICSR BLOG SERIES Part 8: Atkin Fellow Perspectives on the Arab Spring

06/07/2012

Each day I am baffled by the force of public despair. Cynically, I had thought Middle-Eastern societies were immune to the revolutionary demonstrations seen over the past months. I thought religion, authoritarian rule and underdeveloped social structures would hamper the rising up for equality.  As change swells through the region I wonder how pervasive these changes will be, or will they merely further entrench people in stagnation as bureaucrats jostle for control? I wonder what will happen when loaded connotations of the single words “change” or “justice” do not align with what the public thought they had fought for. I am scared of how stable nations and international powers will seek to take advantage of this period of flux. I wonder if Western and/or US support will corrupt possible earnest leaders, and whether Israel has just gained another decade to stall resolving its conflict with the Palestinians.

Will the Palestinians succeed in bringing a UN vote on Palestine in September? I wonder whether centrists and left-wing Israelis – wherever they are – will rise up and say enough is enough, or has my nation passed the point of caring? I want to believe that most Israelis still have a common vision for completing the state of Israel and that the people have a medium for communicating this vision and that 60 years of conflict has not killed our ability to sway control away from the quibbling of politicians for the sake of politics.

The Atkin Fellowship illuminated for me that while the parameters of regional agreements exist (as they have for several years), underlying fantasies and myths about “justice” stand in the way of change and regional leaders do little to curb these narratives from contemporary culture. The events of the region proved to me that people will not swallow pipe-dreams of rosy futures for long, and that leaders must serve reality with a heavy dose of transparent action planning.