A Revealing Spat Between Israel and the Arab League

A Revealing Spat Between Israel and the Arab League

A strange but very revealing little spat broke out between Israel and the Arab League in recent days. On the surface, the disagreement over the most minor of issues looks less than trivial. What shows through its thin cloth, however, is one of the most insidious reasons why peace between Israel and Arabs has remained so stubbornly elusive.

Here is what happened: In what was undeniably a landmark event, the 22-member Arab League decided on July 8 to send a delegation to Israel for discussions about peace prospects. Israelis could hardly contain their excitement. For decades the Arab League stood at the forefront of efforts to deny Israeli's right to exist. Starting in 1945, even before Israel's founding, the League ordered a boycott of goods produced by "Zionists," and later extended that boycott to any company, anywhere in the world, doing business with Israel. (The boycott, incidentally, still stands, although it has sprung many leaks.) On the day Israel was founded, the League coordinated an attack by several Arab armies designed to destroy the newborn state in its cradle.

So, when the League voted to send a delegation, Israelis found the move significant; a welcome sign of Arab acceptance. The Arab League, however, bristled at any suggestion that the decision to send the delegation -- made up of representatives from Jordan and Egypt, the two Arab countries that have relations with Israel -- meant very much at all.

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