Mahathir Mohamed may not know this. He reads the paper, about protests in Gaza, or tunnel-building by Hamas, or perhaps he pays too much attention to the U.N., which seems to spend half its time, and more than half of its resolutions, condemning the mighty empire of Israel. But Israel is not the only, and not even the main, source of troubles in the Middle East. Sunni-Shi’a rivalries, ethnic disputes, tribal conflicts, persecuted minorities (Copts, Chaldeans Assyrians, Yazidis), hugely corrupt rulers who continue to appropriate or steal so much of their nation’s wealth — not just the grasping ayatollahs in Iran, and the ruling families in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, the Emirates, Qatar, but also the leaders of oil-poor countries: Mubarak, Ben Ali, King Hussein, and even Mahmoud Abbas, who has diverted to himself and his sons $400 million dollars in aid meant for the “poor Palestinians,” and we mustn’t overlook the amazing multi-billion dollar fortunes of the leaders of Hamas, Khaled Meshlal, and Musa Abu Marzook, who have surpassed Abbas, each managing to put 2-3 billion dollars into his own pockets.
In every one of these conflicts (sectarian, ethnic, tribal, religious) and the colossal greed that despoils the Middle East, Israel has had no part. Take Israel out of the picture, hypothesize its non-existence, and what are we left with? The same conflicts, the same greed.
We might ask Mahathir Mohamed if he really thinks, as he appears to, that before Israel came into existence, the Middle East was a model of tranquillity. Has he forgotten the endless battles in Arabia between rival tribes, and especially that between the Al-Saud and the Shammar tribe, finally won by the former who created “Saudi” Arabia? Does he remember how the Hashemites were driven out of the Hejaz? Or how long the Shia and Sunni tribes in Yemen have been fighting?